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IDF’s Gaza Assault …

… is to Control Palestinian gas, Avert Israeli Energy Crisis

Israel’s defence minister has confirmed that military plans to ‘uproot Hamas’ are about dominating Gaza’s gas reserves

by Nafeez Ahmed

The Guardian (July 09 2014)

Yesterday, Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas. The operation “won’t end in just a few days”, he said, adding that “we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas”.

This morning, he said:

We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command …  The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy.

But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya’alon’s concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion. Ya’alon dismissed the notion that “Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state” as “misguided”. The problem, he said, is that:

Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel’s past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel …

A gas transaction with the Palestinian Authority [PA] will, by definition, involve Hamas. Hamas will either benefit from the royalties or it will sabotage the project and launch attacks against Fatah, the gas installations, Israel –  or all three …  It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.

Operation Cast Lead did not succeed in uprooting Hamas, but the conflict did take the lives of 1,387 Palestinians (773 of whom were civilians) and nine Israelis (three of whom were civilians).

Since the discovery of oil and gas in the Occupied Territories, resource competition has increasingly been at the heart of the conflict, motivated largely by Israel’s increasing domestic energy woes.

Mark Turner, founder of the Research Journalism Initiative, reported that the siege of Gaza and ensuing military pressure was designed to “eliminate” Hamas as “a viable political entity in Gaza” to generate a “political climate” conducive to a gas deal. This involved rehabilitating the defeated Fatah as the dominant political player in the West Bank, and “leveraging political tensions between the two parties, arming forces loyal to Abbas and the selective resumption of financial aid”.

Ya’alon’s comments in 2007 illustrate that the Israeli cabinet is not just concerned about Hamas –  but concerned that if Palestinians develop their own gas resources, the resulting economic transformation could in turn fundamentally increase Palestinian clout.

Meanwhile, Israel has made successive major discoveries in recent years – such as the Leviathan field estimated to hold eighteen trillion cubic feet of natural gas –  which could transform the country from energy importer into aspiring energy exporter with ambitions to supply Europe, Jordan and Egypt. A potential obstacle is that much of the 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin Province lies in territorial waters where borders are hotly disputed between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Cyprus.

Amidst this regional jockeying for gas, though, Israel faces its own little-understood energy challenges. It could, for instance, take until 2020 for much of these domestic resources to be properly mobilised.

But this is the tip of the iceberg. A 2012 letter by two Israeli government chief scientists – which the Israeli government chose not to disclose – warned the government that Israel still had insufficient gas resources to sustain exports despite all the stupendous discoveries. The letter, according to Ha’aretz, stated that Israel’s domestic resources were fifty percent less than needed to support meaningful exports, and could be depleted in decades:

We believe Israel should increase its [domestic] use of natural gas by 2020 and should not export gas. The Natural Gas Authority’s estimates are lacking. There’s a gap of 100 to 150 billion cubic meters between the demand projections that were presented to the committee and the most recent projections. The gas reserves are likely to last even less than forty years!

As Dr Gary Luft – an advisor to the US Energy Security Council – wrote in the Journal of Energy Security, “with the depletion of Israel’s domestic gas supplies accelerating, and without an imminent rise in Egyptian gas imports, Israel could face a power crisis in the next few years … If Israel is to continue to pursue its natural gas plans it must diversify its supply sources”.

Israel’s new domestic discoveries do not, as yet, offer an immediate solution as electricity prices reach record levels, heightening the imperative to diversify supply. This appears to be behind Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement in February 2011 that it was now time to seal the Gaza gas deal. But even after a new round of negotiations was kick-started between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israel in September 2012, Hamas was excluded from these talks, and thus rejected the legitimacy of any deal.

Earlier this year, Hamas condemned a PA deal to purchase $1.2 billion worth of gas from Israel Leviathan field over a twenty year period once the field starts producing. Simultaneously, the PA has held several meetings with the British Gas Group to develop the Gaza gas field, albeit with a view to exclude Hamas – and thus Gazans –  from access to the proceeds. That plan had been the brainchild of Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

But the PA was also courting Russia’s Gazprom to develop the Gaza marine gas field, and talks have been going on between Russia, Israel and Cyprus, though so far it is unclear what the outcome of these have been. Also missing was any clarification on how the PA would exert control over Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.

According to Anais Antreasyan in the University of California’s Journal of Palestine Studies, the most respected English language journal devoted to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s stranglehold over Gaza has been designed to make “Palestinian access to the Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas wells impossible”. Israel’s long-term goal “besides preventing the Palestinians from exploiting their own resources, is to integrate the gas fields off Gaza into the adjacent Israeli offshore installations”. This is part of a wider strategy of:

… separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development. Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA, from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources.

For the Israeli government, Hamas continues to be the main obstacle to the finalisation of the gas deal. In the incumbent defence minister’s words: “Israel’s experience during the Oslo years indicates Palestinian gas profits would likely end up funding terrorism against Israel. The threat is not limited to Hamas …  It is impossible to prevent at least some of the gas proceeds from reaching Palestinian terror groups.”

The only option, therefore, is yet another “military operation to uproot Hamas”.

Unfortunately, for the IDF uprooting Hamas means destroying the group’s perceived civilian support base –  which is why Palestinian civilian casualties massively outweigh that of Israelis. Both are obviously reprehensible, but Israel’s capacity to inflict destruction is simply far greater.

In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the Jerusalem-based Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (Pcati) found that the IDF had adopted a more aggressive combat doctrine based on two principles –  “zero casualties” for IDF soldiers at the cost of deploying increasingly indiscriminate firepower in densely populated areas, and the “dahiya doctrine” promoting targeting of civilian infrastructure to create widespread suffering amongst the population with a view to foment opposition to Israel’s opponents.

This was confirmed in practice by the UN fact-finding mission in Gaza which concluded that the IDF had pursued a “deliberate policy of disproportionate force”, aimed at the “supporting infrastructure” of the enemy – “this appears to have meant the civilian population”, said the UN report.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is clearly not all about resources. But in an age of expensive energy, competition to dominate regional fossil fuels are increasingly influencing the critical decisions that can inflame war.

_____

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: and How to Save It (2010), and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, Zero Point (2014). Zero Point is set in a near future following a fourth Iraq war. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jul/09/israel-war-gaza-palestine-natural-gas-energy-crisis

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Winston Churchill: The Imperial Monster

Fear-Monger, War Criminal, Racist

by Michael Dickinson

CounterPunch (January 28 2015)

This week Britain is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. Millions of people worldwide watched his state funeral on television in 1965, and thousands of people lined the streets of London to pay their last respects as his cortege slowly passed. But I somehow doubt that President Obama will be adding his own warm words of remembrance for the iconic British wartime leader.

After all, his own paternal grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was one of 150.000 rebellious Kikuyu “blackamoors” forced into detention camps during Churchill’s postwar premiership, when the British governnment began its brutal campaign to suppress the alleged “Mau Mau” uprising in Kenya, in order to protect the privileges of the white settler population at the expense of the indigenous people. About 11,000 Kenyans were killed and 81,000 detained during the British government’s campaign to protect its imperialist heritage.

Suspected Mau Mau insurgents were subject to electric shock, whippings, burning and mutilation in order to crush the local drive for independence. Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned without trial for two years and tortured for resisting Churchill’s empire. He never truly recovered from the ordeal.

Africa was quite a playground for young Winston. Born into the privileged British elite in in 1847, educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, brought up believing the simple story that the superior white man was conquering the primitive, dark-skinned natives, and bringing them the benefits of civilisation, he set off as soon as he could to take his part in “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples”, whose violence was explained by a “strong aboriginal propensity to kill”.

In Sudan, he bragged that he personally shot at least three “savages”.

In South Africa, where “it was great fun galloping about”, he defended British built concentration camps for white Boers, saying they produced “the minimum of suffering”.   The death toll was almost 28,000.

When at least 115,000 black Africans were likewise swept into British camps, where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his “irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men”.

(On his attitude to other races, Churchill’s doctor, Lord Moran, once said: “Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin”.

Churchill found himself in other British dominions besides Africa.   As a young officer in the Swat valley, now part of Pakistan, Churchill one day experienced a fleeting revelation. The local population, he wrote in a letter, was fighting back because of “the presence of British troops in lands the local people considered their own”, just as Britain would if she were invaded.

This idle thought was soon dismissed however, and he gladly took part in raids that laid waste to whole valleys, destroying houses and burning crops, believing the “natives” to be helpless children who will “willingly, naturally, gratefully include themselves within the golden circle of an ancient crown”.

But rebels had to be crushed with extreme force. As Colonial Secretary in the 1920s, Churchill unleashed the notorious Black and Tan thugs on Ireland’s Catholic civilians, making a hypocritical mockery of his comment:

Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men’s passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination.

His fear-mongering views on Islam sound strangely familiar:

But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness.

“On the subject of India”, said the British Secretary of State to India: “Winston is not quite sane … I didn’t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s”.

When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance against British rule in India, Churchill raged that Gandhi:

… ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back. Gandhi-ism and everything it stands for will have to be grappled with and crushed.

In 1931 he sneered:

It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer of the type well-known in the East, now posing as a fakir, striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.

As Gandhi’s support increased, Churchill announced:

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.

In 1943 a famine broke out in Bengal, caused by the imperial policies of the British. In reply to the Secretary of State for India’s telegram requesting food stock to relieve the famine, Churchill wittily replied:

If food is scarce, why isn’t Gandhi dead yet?

Up to three million people starved to death. Asked in 1944 to explain his refusal to send food aid, Churchill jeered:

Relief would do no good. Indians breed like rabbits and will outstrip any available food supply.

Just after World War One, approximately one quarter of the world’s land and population fell within the spheres of British influence. The Empire had increased in size with the addition of territories taken from its vanquished enemies.

As British Colonial Secretary, Churchill’s power in the Middle East was immense. He “created Jordan with a stroke of a pen one Sunday afternoon”, allegedly drawing the expansive boundary map after a generous lunch. The huge zigzag in Jordan’s eastern border with Saudi Arabia has been called “Winston’s Hiccup” or “Churchill’s Sneeze”.

He is the man who invented Iraq, another arbitrary patch of desert, which was awarded to a throneless Hashemite prince; Faisal, whose brother Abdullah was given control of Jordan. Sons of King Hussein, Faisal and Abdullah had been war buddies of Churchill’s pal, the famous “T E Lawrence of Arabia”.

But the lines drawn in the sand by British imperialism, locking together conflicting peoples behind arbitrary borders were far from stable, and large numbers of Jordanians, Iraqis, Kurds and Palestinians were denied anything resembling real democracy.

In 1920 Churchill advocated the use of chemical weapons on the “uncooperative Arabs” involved in the Iraqi revolution against British rule.

“I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas”, he declared. “I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes. It would spread a lively terror.”

As Colonial Secretary, it was Churchill who offered the Jews their free ticket to the ‘Promised Land’ of ‘Israel’, although he thought they should not “take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience”. He dismissed the Palestinians already living in the country as “barbaric hoards who ate little but camel dung”.

Addressing the Peel Commission (1937) on why Britain was justified in deciding the fate of Palestine, Churchill clearly displayed his white supremacist ideology to justify one of the most brutal genocides and mass displacements of people in history, based on his belief that “the Aryan stock is bound to triumph”:

I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.

In fact, many of the views Churchill held were virtually Nazi.  Apart from his support of hierarchical racism, as Home Minister he had advocated euthanasia and sterilisation of the handicapped.

In 1927, after a visit to Rome, he applauded the budding fascist dictator, Mussolini:

What a man! I have lost my heart! …  Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world …  If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely from the beginning of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passion of Leninism.

(“The Bestial Appetites and Passions of Leninism”, eh? Where can I get a copy?)

But years later, in his written account of the Second World War (Volume Three), fickle-hearted Winston applauded the downfall of his erstwhile hero:

Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.

Britain’s American allies saw to that in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when they dropped their atomic bombs and killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Churchill had ordered the saturation bombing of Dresden, where, on February 13 1945, more than 500,000 German civilians and refugees, mostly women and children, were slaughtered in one day by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), who dropped over 700,000 phosphorus bombs on the city.

Prime Minister Churchill had said earlier:

I do not want suggestions as to how we can disable the economy and the machinery of war, what I want are suggestions as to how we can roast the German refugees on their escape from Breslau.

In Dresden he got his wish. Those who perished in the centre of the city could not be traced, as the temperature in the area reached 1600 degree Centigrade. Dresden’s citizens barely had time to reach their shelters and many who sought refuge underground suffocated as oxygen was pulled from the air to feed the flames. Others perished in a blast of white heat strong enough to melt human flesh.

Instead of being charged with being responsible for ordering one of the most horrific war crimes of recent history, in which up to half a million people died screaming in his firestorms, Churchill emerged from the war as a hero. An unwavering supporter of the British monarchy throughout his life, he was made a knight of the Order of the Garter, Britain’s highest order of knighthoods, by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

“The monarchy is so extraordinarily useful. When Britain wins a battle she shouts, ‘God save the Queen’; when she loses, she votes down the prime minister”, he once said.

Shortly after the Second World War was won, however, Churchill’s Conservative government was voted down by a Britain tired of battle, austerity, and hungry for change.

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”, said Churchill, and to a certain extent he succeeded. Despite the misery of conscription and the millions massacred, (and we won’t mention his eccentric habit of pacing about the office in the nude while dictating to male secretaries!), ‘Winnie’ became Britain’s great national icon, with his trade-mark cigar and V-sign, remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour The fat cigar clamped in his mouth a symbol of cocky British defiance, Churchill was genial courageous Big Brother figure, revered by the media. His stirring wartime speech:  “We shall fight them on the beaches! We shall never surrender!” makes no mention of “We shall bomb them in their cities! We shall make them suffer!”

Churchill’s brutality and brutishness have been ignored, but he never reckoned on the invention of the internet, or its power to allow authors to question his view of history and expose the cruelty and racism of the man.

When George W Bush moved out of the White House he left a bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval office. He’d used it to inspire him on his ‘war against terrorism’. Barack Obama had it removed.  I wonder if he found the bust offensive? Was it out of respect for the pain and distress his Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, suffered on Churchill’s orders ?

Removing a bust is a fairly simple matter, but toppling a statue is quite another. In Westminster Square in front of Parliament in London there are several statues of deceased politicians and dignitaries, one of which I find particularly distasteful. Hands clasped behind back, the jodphur-clad figure striding purposely forward is that of Jan Christian Smuts, racist forefather of the Apartheid system in South Africa.

As for Churchill, who, as Home Secretary, said:

I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilized and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race.

His hulking toadish statue stands tall on a granite plinth, clutching a walking stick, his unblinking bulldog gaze on the Houses of Parliament where he reigned twice as a Conservative Prime Minister.

If I were Prime Minister of Great Britain, one of the first things on my list would be the removal of memorials to facist-minded racist imperialists. The statues of Smuts and Churchill in Parliament Square would be the first to come down.

_____

Michael Dickinson can be contacted at michaelyabanji@gmail.com

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/28/winston-churchill-the-imperial-monster/

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The War You Don’t See

by Don Quijones

Raging Bull-Shit (January 29 2015)

If You Can’t Dazzle Them With Brilliance, Baffle Them With Bull.

— W C Fields

This is the fourth time in the last two years that Raging Bull-Shit has featured John Pilger’s must-watch documentary The War You Don’t See {1} (hence apologies to readers who have already seen it). The first time was in Autumn 2013, at the height of the West’s concerted misinformation campaign aimed at convincing the world of the need for NATO intervention in the Syrian civil war.

The second time was during the Spring of 2014, when rising tensions in Ukraine were being exploited by the West to paint Russia as the new evil empire and to demonise its strong-arm leader Vladimir Putin –  the man who almost single-handedly thwarted the West’s efforts to expand the war in Syria. As I wrote at the time, the readings on the bullshit counter were quite literally off the scale as every possible underhand attempt was made to neutralise Russia as a threat to the US’s imperial designs.

The third screening was in July last year, when Israel decided to send ground troops into Gaza for the first time since January 2009. As if that were not enough, Iraq once again descended into a pit of largely US instigated chaos and Ukraine was teetering on the verge of all-out civil (and of course, proxy) war. By last year, one thing had become exceedingly clear: war was once again the global growth industry.

This fledgling year has already begun with military escalation on a broad range of fronts, including the collapse of the ceasefire in Ukraine, a coup d’etat in Yemen, renewed Western “interest” in Syria and Israel’s attack against Hizbollah on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights – all in the name of grabbing oil for a company led by Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch and Jacob Rothschild {2}; it’s hard to imagine a more evil executive board!

That said, there is always reason for hope, even in the darkest hours. Most importantly, for the first time ever information is now truly global and can no longer be controlled at its source. As a result, more and more people are gradually awakening to the stark reality that when it comes to infringing the sovereignty of independent nations, unseating governments and committing crimes against humanity, no nation on Earth –  not Russia, nor China –  comes even close to the United States (and, of course, its lapdog NATO).

It’s time for us all to open our eyes to the war we don’t see {1}.

Links:

{1} https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422503916&feature=player_embedded&x-yt-cl=85027636&v=lDutkYQF9d8

{2} http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/how-islamist-rebels-engineered-israel-s-oil-grab-syria-740568063

Compártelo:

Categories: Uncategorized

The Mariner’s Rule

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (January 21 2015)

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

One of the things my readers ask me most often, in response to this blog’s exploration of the ongoing decline and impending fall of modern industrial civilization, is what I suggest people ought to do about it all. It’s a valid question, and it deserves a serious answer.

Now of course not everyone who asks the question is interested in the answers I have to offer. A great many people, for example, are only interested in answers that will allow them to keep on enjoying the absurd extravagance that passed, not too long ago, for an ordinary lifestyle among the industrial world’s privileged classes, and is becoming just a little bit less ordinary with every year that slips by.  To such people I have nothing to say. Those lifestyles were only possible because the world’s industrial nations burnt through half a billion years of stored sunlight in a few short centuries, and gave most of the benefits of that orgy of consumption to a relatively small fraction of their population; now that easily accessible reserves of fossil fuels are running short, the party’s over.

Yes, I’m quite aware that that’s a controversial statement. I field heated denunciations on a regular basis insisting that it just ain’t so, that solar energy or fission or perpetual motion or something will allow the industrial world’s privileged classes to have their planet and eat it too. Printer’s ink being unfashionable these days, a great many electrons have been inconvenienced on the internet to proclaim that this or that technology must surely allow the comfortable to remain comfortable, no matter what the laws of physics, geology, or economics have to say.  Now of course the only alternative energy sources that have been able to stay in business even in a time of sky-high oil prices are those that can count on gargantuan government subsidies to pay their operating expenses; equally, the alternatives receive an even more gigantic “energy subsidy” from fossil fuels, which make them look much more economical than they otherwise would.  Such reflections carry no weight with those whose sense of entitlement makes living with less unthinkable.

I’m glad to say that there are  fair number of people who’ve gotten past that unproductive attitude, who have grasped the severity of the crisis of our time and are ready to accept unwelcome change in order to secure a livable future for our descendants. They want to know how we can pull modern civilization out of its current power dive and perpetuate it into the centuries ahead. I have no answers for them, either, because that’s not an option at this stage of the game; we’re long past the point at which decline and fall can be avoided, or even ameliorated on any large scale.

A decade ago, a team headed by Robert Hirsch and funded by the Department of Energy released a study outlining what would have to be done in order to transition away from fossil fuels before they transitioned away from us. What they found, to sketch out too briefly the findings of a long and carefully worded study, is that in order to avoid massive disruption, the transition would have to begin twenty years before conventional petroleum production reached its peak and began to decline. There’s a certain irony in the fact that 2005, the year this study was published, was also the year when conventional petroleum production peaked; the transition would thus have had to begin in 1985 – right about the time, that is, that the Reagan administration in the US and its clones overseas were scrapping the promising steps toward just such a transition.

A transition that got under way in 2005, in other words, would have been too late, and given the political climate, it probably would have been too little as well. Even so, it would have been a much better outcome than the one we got, in which most of us have spent the last ten years insisting that we don’t have to worry about depleting oilfields because fracking was going to save us all. At this point, thirty years after the point at which we would have had to get started, it’s all very well to talk about some sort of grand transition to sustainability, but the time when such a thing would have been possible came and went decades ago. We could have chosen that path, but we didn’t, and insisting thirty years after the fact that we’ve changed our minds and want a different future than the one we chose isn’t likely to make any kind of difference that matters.

So what options does that leave? In the minds of a great many people, at least in the United States, the choice that apparently comes first to mind involves buying farmland in some isolated rural area and setting up a homestead in the traditional style. Many of the people who talk enthusiastically about this option, to be sure, have never grown anything more demanding than a potted petunia, know nothing about the complex and demanding arts of farming and livestock raising, and aren’t in anything like the sort of robust physical condition needed to handle the unremitting hard work of raising food without benefit of fossil fuels; thus it’s a safe guess that in most of these cases, heading out to the country is simply a comforting daydream that serves to distract attention from the increasingly bleak prospects so many people are facing in the age of unraveling upon us.

There’s a long history behind such daydreams. Since colonial times, the lure of the frontier has played a huge role in the American imagination, providing any number of colorful inkblots onto which fantasies of a better life could be projected. Those of my readers who are old enough to remember the aftermath of the Sixties counterculture, when a great many young people followed that dream to an assortment of hastily created rural communes, will also recall the head-on collision between middle-class fantasies of entitlement and the hard realities of rural subsistence farming that generally resulted. Some of the communes survived, though many more did not; that I know of, none of the surviving ones made it without a long and difficult period of readjustment in which romantic notions of easy living in the lap of nature got chucked in favor of a more realistic awareness of just how little in the way of goods and services a bunch of untrained ex-suburbanites can actually produce by their own labor.

In theory, that process of reassessment is still open. In practice, just at the moment, I’m far from sure it’s an option for anyone who’s not already traveled far along that road. The decline and fall of modern industrial civilization, it bears repeating, is not poised somewhere off in the indefinite future, waiting patiently for us to get ready for it before it puts in an appearance; it’s already happening at the usual pace, and the points I’ve raised in posts here over the last few weeks suggest that the downward slope is probably going to get a lot steeper in the near future. As the collapse of the fracking bubble ripples out through the financial sphere, most of us are going to be scrambling to adapt, and the chances of getting everything lined up in time to move to rural property, get the necessary equipment and supplies to start farming, and get past the worst of the learning curve before crunch time arrives are not good.

If you’re already on a rural farm, in other words, by all means pursue the strategy that put you there. If your plans to get the necessary property, equipment, and skills are well advanced at this point, you may still be able to make it, but you’d probably better get a move on. On the other hand, dear reader, if your rural retreat is still off there in the realm of daydreams and good intentions, it’s almost certainly too late to do much about it, and where you are right now is probably where you’ll be when the onrushing waves of crisis come surging up and break over your head.

That being the case, are there any options left other than hiding under the bed and hoping that the end will be relatively painless? As it happens, there are.

The point that has to be understood to make sense of those options is that in the real world, as distinct from Hollywood-style disaster fantasies, the end of a civilization follows the famous rule attributed to William Gibson: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet”.  Put another way, the impacts of decline and fall aren’t uniform; they vary in intensity over space and time, and they impact particular systems of a falling civilization at different times and in different ways.  If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, and depend on the wrong systems to support you, your chances aren’t good, but the places, times, and systems that take the brunt of the collapse aren’t random. To some extent, those can be anticipated, and some of them can also be avoided.

Here’s an obvious example. Right now, if your livelihood depends on the fracking industry, the tar sands industry, or any of the subsidiary industries that feed into those, your chances of getting through 2015 with your income intact are pretty minimal.  People in those industries who got to witness earlier booms and busts know this, and a good many of them are paying off their debts, settling any unfinished business they might have, and making sure they can cover a tank of gas or a plane ticket to get back home when the bottom falls out. People in those industries who don’t have that experience to guide them, and are convinced that nothing bad can actually happen to them, are not doing these things, and are likely to end up in a world of hurt when their turn comes.

They’re not the only ones who would benefit right now from taking such steps. A very large part of the US banking and finance industry has been flying high on bloated profits from an assortment of fracking-related scams, ranging from junk bonds through derivatives to exotic financial fauna such as volumetric production payments. Now that the goose that laid the golden eggs is bobbing feet upwards in a pond of used fracking fluid, the good times are coming to a sudden stop, and that means sharply reduced income for those junior bankers, brokers, and salespeople who can keep their jobs, and even more sharply reduced prospects for those who don’t.

They’ve got plenty of company on the chopping block.  The entire retail sector in the US is already in trouble, with big-box stores struggling for survival and shopping malls being abandoned, and the sharp economic downturn we can expect as the fracking bust unfolds will likely turn that decline into freefall, varying in intensity by region and a galaxy of other factors. Those who brace themselves for a hard landing now are a good deal more likely to make it than those who don’t, and those who have the chance to jump to something more stable now would be well advised to make the leap.

That’s one example; here’s another. I’ve written here in some detail about how anthropogenic climate change will wallop North America {1} in the centuries ahead of us. One thing that’s been learned from the last few years of climate vagaries is that North America, at least, is shifting in exactly the way paleoclimatic data would suggest – more or less the same way it did during warm periods over the last ten or twenty million years. The short form is that the Southwest and mountain West are getting baked to a crackly crunch under savage droughts; the eastern Great Plains, Midwest, and most of the South are being hit by a wildly unstable climate, with bone-dry years alternating with exceptionally soggy wet ones; while the Appalachians and points eastward have been getting unsteady temperatures but reliable rainfall. Line up your choice of subsistence strategies next to those climate shifts, and if you still have the time and resources to relocate, you have some idea where to go.

All this presumes, of course, that what we’re facing has much more in common with the crises faced by other civilizations on their way to history’s compost heap than it does with the apocalyptic fantasies so often retailed these days as visions of the immediate future. I expect to field a flurry of claims that it just ain’t so, that everything I’ve just said is wasted breath because some vast and terrible whatsit will shortly descend on the whole world and squash us like bugs. I can utter that prediction with perfect confidence, because I’ve been fielding such claims over and over again since long before this blog got started. All the dates by which the world was surely going to end have rolled past without incident, and the inevitable cataclysms have pulled one no-show after another, but the shrill insistence that something of the sort really will happen this time around has shown no sign of letting up. Nor will it, since the unacceptable alternative consists of taking responsibility for doing something about the future.

Now of course I’ve already pointed out that there’s not much that can be done about the future on the largest scale. As the fracking bubble implodes, the global economy shudders, the climate destabilizes, and a dozen other measures of imminent crisis head toward the red zone on the gauge, it’s far too late in the day for much more than crisis management on a local and individual level. Even so, crisis management is a considerably more useful response than sitting on the sofa daydreaming about the grandiose project that’s certain to save us or the grandiose cataclysm that’s certain to annihilate us – though these latter options are admittedly much more comfortable in the short term.

What’s more, there’s no shortage of examples in relatively recent history to guide the sort of crisis management I have in mind. The tsunami of discontinuities that’s rolling toward us out of the deep waters of the future may be larger than the waves that hit the Western world with the coming of the First World War in 1914, the Great Depression in 1929, or the Second World War in 1939, but from the perspective of the individual, the difference isn’t as vast as it might seem. In fact, I’d encourage my readers to visit their local public libraries and pick up books about the lived experience of those earlier traumas. I’d also encourage those with elderly relatives who still remember the Second World War to sit down with them over a couple of cups of whatever beverage seems appropriate, and ask about what it was like on a day-by-day basis to watch their ordinary peacetime world unravel into chaos.

I’ve had the advantage of taking part in such conversations, and I’ve also done a great deal of reading about historical crises that have passed below the horizon of living memory. There are plenty of lessons to be gained from such sources, and one of the most important also used to be standard aboard sailing ships in the days before steam power. Sailors in those days had to go scrambling up the rigging at all hours and in all weathers to set, reef, or furl sails; it was not an easy job – imagine yourself up in the rigging of a tall ship in the middle of a howling storm at night, clinging to tarred ropes and slick wood and trying to get a mass of wet, heavy, wind-whipped canvas to behave, while below you the ship rolls from side to side and swings you out over a raging ocean and back again. If you slip and you’re lucky, you land on deck with a pretty good chance of breaking bones or worse; if you slip and you’re not lucky, you plunge straight down into churning black water and are never seen again.

The rule that sailors learned and followed in those days was simple: “One hand for yourself, one hand for the ship”. Every chore that had to be done up there in the rigging could be done by a gang of sailors who each lent one hand to the effort, so the other could cling for dear life to the nearest rope or ratline. Those tasks that couldn’t be done that way, such as hauling on ropes, took place down on the deck – the rigging was designed with that in mind. There were emergencies where that rule didn’t apply, and even with the rule in place there were sailors who fell from the rigging to their deaths, but as a general principle it worked tolerably well.

I’d like to propose that the same rule might be worth pursuing in the crisis of our age. In the years to come, a great many of us will face the same kind of scramble for survival that so many others faced in the catastrophes of the early 20th century. Some of us won’t make it, and some will have to face the ghastly choice between sheer survival and everything else they value in life. Not everyone, though, will land in one or the other of those categories, and many those who manage to stay out of them will have the chance to direct time and energy toward the broader picture.

Exactly what projects might fall into that latter category will differ from one person to another, for reasons that are irreducibly personal. I’m sure there are plenty of things that would motivate you to action in desperate times, dear reader, that would leave me cold, and of course the reverse is also true – and in times of crisis, of the kind we’re discussing, it’s personal factors of that sort that make the difference, not abstract considerations of the sort we might debate here. I’ll be discussing a few of the options in upcoming posts, but I’d also encourage readers of this blog to reflect on the question themselves: in the wreck of industrial civilization, what are you willing to make an effort to accomplish, to defend, or to preserve?

In thinking about that, I’d encourage my readers to consider the traumatic years of the early 20th century as a model for what’s approaching us. Those who were alive when the first great wave of dissolution hit in 1914 weren’t facing forty years of continuous cataclysm; as noted here repeatedly, collapse is a fractal process, and unfolds in real time as a sequence of crises of various kinds separated by intervals of relative calm in which some level of recovery is possible. It’s pretty clear that the first round of trouble here in the United States, at least, will be a major economic crisis; at some point not too far down the road, the yawning gap between our senile political class and the impoverished and disaffected masses promises the collapse of politics as usual and a descent into domestic insurgency or one of the other standard patterns by which former democracies destroy themselves; as already noted, there are plenty of other things bearing down on us – but after an interval, things will stabilize again.

Then it’ll be time to sort through the wreckage, see what’s been saved and what can be recovered, and go on from there. First, though, we have a troubled time to get through.
_____

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {2} 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.

Links:

{1} http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/07/dark-age-america-climate.html

{2} http://www.aoda.org

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2015/01/the-mariners-rule.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Money for Stocks, Zilch for the Economy

Draghi’s “No-growth” QE

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch Weekend Edition (January 23 ~ 25 2015)

Let’s say you’re diagnosed with colorectal cancer. But instead of going to a professional for help, you decide to treat yourself with glycerol suppositories and high doses of Vitamin C.

Well, then, you’re probably going to die, right?

This same rule applies to economics. If you try to reduce unemployment and boost growth by doing something completely unrelated to the problem itself, like dumping trillions of dollars into financial assets, then you’re not going to get the results you want.

This is largely the problem we face today. All of the economies controlled by the western bank cartel – Australia, Canada, US, UK, Eurozone, and Japan – are suffering from chronic lack of demand, the likes of which could be easily remedied by following Keynes recommendation of “government directed investment”. But instead of putting people to work building bridges and fixing roads which would provide them with the money they need to spend at the shopping malls and car lots, our glorious bank masters have decided to subsidize all-manner of risky speculation by dropping rates to zero and pumping money into the financial markets.

The beneficiaries of this process, called Quantitative Easing, are the people who typically prosper from Central Bank policy: The Moocher Class.  Take a look at this chart from Bill Moyers {1}. This is “who wins and who loses” with QE.

Average Income Growth in US Recoveries:
Top 10% versus the Bottom 90%
(Graph: Pavlina Tcherneva)

file:///tmp/unnamed-2.jpg

See that small blue line heading straight down on the far right side. That’s you and me. We’re the victims of this policy. And, no, I am not going to bore you with a lot of blather about one percent-this and one percent-that. You’ve heard it a million times before, and don’t need to hear it from me.  But it IS important that you get a visual idea of how the policy works, because we’re not talking about a “free market” here. We’re talking about policy, the way the Central Bank rigs the system in order to transfer wealth to a specific group of powerful constituents. Let’s just call it political economy, because that’s what it is. The Fed keeps its thumb on the scale so its moneybags buddies can make out like bandits. That’s how it works.

Why does this matter?

Because on Thursday, European Central Bank president and former Goldman Sachs managing director Mario Draghi launched the latest iteration of QE. The ECB plans to buy sixty billion euros ($70 billion US dollars) in sovereign and agency bonds per month starting March 2015 until September 2016. That’s roughly 1.1 trillion euros altogether. So now global investors will be able to profit off stocks in the EU adding to their bulging cash-trove while widening the chasm between themselves and the lowly 99 percent.  Here’s part of the official statement from the ECB:

[The ECB] decided to launch an expanded asset purchase programme encompassing the existing purchase programmes for asset-backed securities and covered bonds. Under this expanded programme the combined monthly purchases of public and private-sector securities will amount to sixty billion euros.

They are intended to be carried out until end-September 2016 and will in any case be conducted until we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation which is consistent with our aim of achieving inflation rates below but close to two percent over the medium term. {2}

Did you catch that part about how QE will “be conducted until we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation”?

That means the bond-splurge could go on forever. It’s completely open-ended. But what Draghi fails to mention is that QE has never succeeded in reaching the central bank’s two percent inflation target. Never. Not in the US, not in the UK, and not in Japan. In fact, we can’t be sure that QE boosts inflation at all.  Judging from past experience, it certainly doesn’t look like it.  So for Draghi to say that he’s going to keep his foot on the gas until he hits his target is like me saying “I’m going to keep step-dancing until Mom gets over her Lupus”.

Is there a connection between step-dancing  and lupus?

Nope. Nor is there connection between QE and inflation, except asset inflation that is, which explains why stocks have more than doubled in the last five years. But stock prices don’t show up in the consumer price index, so Draghi can dump as [much] money as he likes into financial markets and it’s never going to show up in the [inflation] data. Pretty clever, eh?

And there’s no proof that QE lowers interest rates either, so the idea that loading up on government bonds, increases lending is also false. Check this out from economist John Aziz at Pieria:

[The] “presumption that central banks are lowering interest rates is at odds with the evidence. This graph via Matt O’Brien from last year shows that each time the Federal Reserve has commenced a program of quantitative easing interest rates have actually risen:

file:///tmp/unnamed-1.jpg

And each time the Federal Reserve has tapered its bond-buying programs, interest rates have fallen back lower. {3}

Can you believe it? So QE has had the exact opposite effect on bond yields (rates) that it was supposed to have, which makes sense when you realize that investors have just been following the actions of the Central Banks rather than market fundamentals. But -when QE ends – then investors return to the safety of bonds which pushes yields back down again. This has been particularly noticeable since the end of QE3. Yields on benchmark ten-year Treasuries have plunged from roughly 2.70% in October when the program ended to 1.83% today. In other words, it is cheaper to borrow money today than it was when the Fed was purchasing $85 in bonds every month.  This is not the way QE was supposed to work.

But here’s the deal: The way QE is supposed to work and the way it actually works, is the difference between public relations and reality.  Bernanke and Company know the difference. You can trust me on this.  Monetary policy is not a random, shot-in-the-dark experiment with uncertain outcomes. The reason that inequality has grown to levels not seen since the Gilded Age, is because the Fed knows who is supposed to gain from its programs, and implements its polices accordingly.  Nothing is left to chance.

So what’s Draghi’s game? Is he merely flooding the markets with liquidity to push stocks higher and further enrich the investor class or is there something else going on here?

How about the banks? Could EZQE (Eurozone QE) actually be a stealth bailout of the banks?

Check out this blurb from macronomy.blogspot.com {4}:

Societe Generale in their European Banks note from the 9th of January:

“600 billion euros of lost corporate lending … The European corporate loan book has shrunk by 600 billion euros since 2009, the point at which corporate credit volumes began to retreat. Around 450 billion euros of this shrinkage has taken place in the last three years –  the period of austere governments and regulators. Almost all of this correction is down to three banking systems: Spain (400 billion euros lost from peak), Italy (100 billion euros lost) and Greece (thirty billion euros lost).

“The total euro area banking system has shed seven trillion euros in assets since 2008. The first chunk of assets fell away in 2008 and 2009 (typically non-lending assets –  subprime, et cetera). The second chunk of assets has been falling away since 2011.

“At the total balance sheet level, it is actually Germany that has seen the lion’s share of the balance sheet decline. This is largely linked to the non-lending assets that fell away in 2008 and 2009.”

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uqkZNaEJGyE/VLlgDuCZggI/AAAAAAAANpw/yLFEzMQqZlc/s1600/SG%2BEuropean%2Bbanking%2Bsystem%2B7%2Btrillion%2Bin%2Blost%2Bassets.jpg

EU banks have lost “seven trillion euros in assets since 2008”?

Wow. It looks to me like the entire system is still in trouble six years after Lehman Brothers crashed. Could that explain what’s going on? Could that explain why Draghi has pushed so hard for QE; to bailout the banks?

Indeed. And while most experts agree that QE will do almost nothing to stimulate growth or reduce soaring unemployment, they also agree that it will push bank stocks higher, intensify their gambling operations, and help them to conceal their lack of capital.  The EU banking system is seriously under-capitalized and needs to be restructured so the debts can be written down.

QE helped to avoid that painful remedy in the US.  Draghi hopes it will work in Europe as well.

Links:

{1} http://billmoyers.com/2014/09/29/smart-charts-economic-recovery-1-percent/

{2} http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/22/ecb-policy-qe-text-idUSL6N0V133J20150122

{3} http://www.pieria.co.uk/articles/does_qe_lower_or_raise_interest_rates_the_evidence

{4} http://macronomy.blogspot.com/2015/01/credit-quality-street.html

_____

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press, 2012). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/money-for-stocks-zilch-for-the-economy/

Categories: Uncategorized

Russia in the Cross Hairs

by Paul Craig Roberts

Institute for Political Economy (January 26 2015)

Washington’s attack on Russia has moved beyond the boundary of the absurd into the realm of insanity.

The New Chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack, has declared the Russian news service, RT, which broadcasts in multiple languages, to be a terrorist organization equivalent to Boko Haram and the Islamic State, and Standard and Poor’s just downgraded Russia’s credit rating to junk status.

Today RT International interviewed me about these insane developments.

In prior days when America was still a sane country, Lack’s charge would have led to him being laughed out of office. He would have had to resign and disappear from public life. Today in the make-believe world that Western propaganda has created, Lack’s statement is taken seriously. Yet another terrorist threat has been identified – RT. (Although both Boko Haram and the Islamic State employ terror, strictly speaking they are political organizations seeking to rule, not terror organizations, but this distinction would be over Lack’s head. Yes, I know. There is a good joke that could be made here about what Lack lacks. Appropriately named and all that.)

Nevertheless, whatever Lack might lack, I doubt he believes his nonsensical statement that RT is a terrorist organization. So what is his game?

The answer is that the Western presstitute media by becoming Ministries of Propaganda for Washington, have created large markets for RT, Press TV, and Al Jazeera. As more and more of the peoples of the world turn to these more honest news sources, Washington’s ability to fabricate self-serving explanations has declined.

RT in particular has a large Western audience. The contrast between RT‘s truthful reporting and the lies spewed by US media is undermining Washington’s control of the explanation. This is no longer acceptable.

Lack has sent a message to RT. The message is: pull in your horns; stop reporting differently from our line; stop contesting the facts as Washington states them and the presstitutes report them; get on board or else.

In other words, the “free speech” that Washington and its EU, Canadian, and Australian puppet states tout means: free speech for Washington’s propaganda and lies, but not for any truth. Truth is terrorism, because truth is the major threat to Washington.

Washington would prefer to avoid the embarrassment of actually shutting down RT as its UK vassal did to Press TV. Washington simply wants to shut up RT. Lack’s message to RT is: self-censure.

In my opinion, RT already understates in its coverage and reporting as does Al Jazeera. Both news organizations understand that they cannot be too forthright, at least not too often or on too many occasions.

I have often wondered why the Russian government allows twenty percent of the Russian media to function as Washington’s fifth column inside Russia. I suspect the reason is that by tolerating Washington’s blatant propaganda inside Russia, the Russian government hopes that some factual news can be reported in the US via RT and other Russian news organizations.

These hopes, like other Russian hopes about the West, are likely to be disappointed in the end. If RT is closed down or assimilated into the Western presstitute media, nothing will be said about it, but if the Russian government closes down Washington’s agents, blatant liars all, in the Russian media, we will hear forever about the evil Russians suppressing “free speech”. Remember, the only allowable “free speech” is Washington’s propaganda.

Only time will tell whether RT decides to be closed down for telling the truth or whether it adds its voice to Washington’s propaganda.

The other item in the interview was the downgrading of Russian credit to junk status.

Standard and Poor’s downgrade is, without any doubt, a political act. It proves what we already know, and that is that the American rating firms are corrupt political operations. Remember the Investment Grade rating the American rating agencies gave to obvious subprime junk? These rating agencies are paid by Wall Street, and like Wall Street they serve the US government.

A look at the facts serves to establish the political nature of the ruling. Don’t expect the corrupt US financial press to look at the facts. But right now, we will look at the facts.

Indeed, we will put the facts in context with the US debt situation.

According to the debt clocks available online, the Russian national debt as a percentage of Russian GDP is eleven percent. The American national debt as a percentage of US GDP is 105 percent, about ten times higher. My coauthors, Dave Kranzler, John Williams, and I have shown that when measured correctly, the US debt as a percent of GDP is much higher than the official figure.

The Russian national debt per capita is $1,645. The US national debt per capita is
$56,952.

The size of Russia’s national debt is $235 billion, less than one quarter of a trillion. The size of the US national debt is $18 trillion, 76.6 times larger than the Russian debt.

Putting this in perspective: according to the debt clocks, US GDP is $17.3 trillion and Russian GDP is $2.1 trillion. So, US GDP is eight times greater than Russian GDP, but US national debt is 76.6 times greater than Russia’s debt.

Clearly, it is the US credit rating that should have been downgraded to junk status. But this cannot happen. Any US credit rating agency that told the truth would be closed and prosecuted. It wouldn’t matter what the absurd charges are. The rating agencies would be guilty of being anti-american, terrorist organizations like RT, et cetera and so on, and they know it. Never expect any truth from any Wall Street denizen. They lie for a living.

According to {1} the US owes Russia as of January 2013 $162.9 billion. As the Russian national debt is $235 billion, 69 percent of the Russian national debt is covered by US debt obligations to Russia.

If this is a Russian Crisis, I am Alexander the Great.

As Russia has enough US dollar holdings to redeem its entire national debt and have a couple hundred billion dollars left, what is Russia’s problem?

One of Russia’s problems is its central bank. For the most part, Russian economists are the same neoliberal incompetents that exist in the Western world. The Russian economists are enamored of their contacts with the “superior” West and with the prestige that they image these contacts give them. As long as the Russian economists agree with the Western ones, they get invited to conferences abroad. These Russian economists are de facto American agents whether they realize it or not.

Currently, the Russian central bank is squandering the large Russian holdings of foreign reserves in support of the Western attack on the ruble. This is a fools’ game that no central bank should play. The Russian central bank should remember, or learn if it does not know, Soros’ attack on the Bank of England.

Russian foreign reserves should be used to retire the outstanding national debt, thus making Russia the only country in the world without a national debt. The remaining dollars should be dumped in coordinated actions with China to destroy the dollar, the power basis of American Imperialism.

Alternatively, the Russian government should announce that its reply to the economic warfare being conducted against Russia by the government in Washington and Wall Street rating agencies is default on its loans to Western creditors. Russia has nothing to lose as Russia is already cut off from Western credit by US sanctions. Russian default would cause consternation and crisis in the European banking system, which is exactly what Russia wants in order to break up Europe’s support of US sanctions.

In my opinion, the neoliberal economists who control Russian economic policy are a much greater threat to the sovereignty of Russia than economic sanctions and US missile bases. To survive Washington, Russia desperately needs people who are not romantic about the West.

To dramatize the situation, if President Putin will grant me Russian citizenship and allow me to appoint Michael Hudson and Nomi Prins as my deputies, I will take over the operation of the Russian central bank and put the West out of operation.

But that would require Russia taking risks associated with victory. The Atlanticist Integrationists inside the Russian government want victory for the West, not for Russia. A country imbued with treason inside the government itself has reduced chance against Washington, a determined player.

Another fifth column operating against Russia from within are the US and German funded NGOs. These American agents masquerade as “human rights organizations”, as “women’s rights organizations”, as “democracy organizations”, and whatever other cant titles that serve in a politically correct age and are unchallengeable.

Yet another threat to Russia comes from the percentage of the Russian youth who lust for the depraved culture of the West. Sexual license, pornography, drugs, self-absorption. These are the West’s cultural offerings. And, of course, killing Muslims.

If Russians want to kill people for the fun of it and to solidify US hegemony over themselves and the world, they should support “Atlanticist integration” and turn their backs on Russian nationalism. Why be Russian if you can be American serfs?

What better result for the American neoconservatives than to have Russia support Washington’s hegemony over the world? That is what the neoliberal Russian economists and the “European Integrationists” support. These Russians are willing to be American serfs in order to be part of the West and to be paid well for their treason.

As I was interviewed about these developments by RT, the news anchor kept trying to confront Washington’s charges with the facts. It is astonishing that the Russian journalists do not understand that facts have nothing to do with it. The Russian journalists, those independent of American bribes, think that facts matter in the disputes about Russian actions. They think that the assaults on civilians by the American supported Ukrainian Nazis is a fact. But, of course no such fact exists in the Western media. In the Western media the Russians, and only the Russians, are responsible for violence in Ukraine.

Washington’s story line is that it is the evil Putin’s intent on restoring the Soviet Empire that is the cause of the conflict. This media line in the West has no relationship to any facts.

In my opinion, Russia is in grave danger. Russians are relying on facts, and Washington is relying on propaganda. For Washington, facts are not relevant. Russian voices are small compared to Western voices.

The lack of a Russian voice is due to Russia itself. Russia accepted living in a world controlled by US financial, legal, and telecommunication services. Living in this world means that the only voice is Washington’s.

Why Russia agreed to this strategic disadvantage is a mystery. But as a result of this strategic mistake, Russia is at a disadvantage.

Considering the inroads that Washington has into the Russian government itself, the economically powerful oligarchs and state employees with Western connections, as well as into the Russian media and Russian youth, with the hundreds of American and German financed NGOs that can put Russians into the streets to protest any defense of Russia, Russia’s future as a sovereign country is in doubt.

The American neoconservatives are relentless. Their Russian opponent is weakened by the success inside Russia of Western cold war propaganda that portrays the US as the savior and future of mankind.

The darkness from Sauron America continues to spread over the world.

Link {1} http://people.howstuffworks.com/5-united-states-debt-holders.htm#page=4

Copyright (c) 2013 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/01/26/russia-cross-hairs-paul-craig-roberts/

Categories: Uncategorized

The Anti-Russia Campaign Heats Up

Imperial Invective and Confrontation

by Bruab Cloughley
     
CounterPunch Weekend Edition (January 23 to 25 2015)

Russian aggression in Ukraine is an attack on world order and order in Europe. All of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. That has to be avoided. And nobody has the right to rewrite the results of the Second World War. And that is exactly what Russia’s President Putin is trying to do.

— Ukraine’s prime minister Yatsenyuk (January 07 2015)

The Germans invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, and looked poised to take Moscow by October that year … As the German armies swept further into the Russian heartland, one million Soviet troops were drafted to protect Kiev [the capital then, as now, of Ukraine] …   Kiev fell and 600,000 Soviet soldiers were captured …  Nazi rule over the territories they captured from Russia was draconian …  In the Ukrainian town of Kharkov, which was administered by the German army, 100,000 people died of starvation and disease.

War of the Century –  When Hitler Fought Stalin, by Laurence Rees (BBC Publications)

The Ukrainian prime minister’s poisonous perversion of the facts of history is a gruesome joke but was not treated as such by the media in the west which almost without exception endorses and publicizes Ukrainian pronouncements with zeal.  Statements by Russia’s leader, on the other hand, are either ignored or distorted.

In his New Year message for 2015 Russia’s President Putin referred especially to the decision of the Crimean people to quit Ukraine and accede once again to Russia. His words reflected the feelings of Russians in noting that

love for one’s motherland is one of the most powerful and uplifting feelings. It manifested itself in full in the brotherly support to the people of Crimea and Sevastopol, when they resolutely decided to return home.

Predictably, his speech was reported unfavorably and even offensively by western media which almost without exception carried headlines about Crimea being “a Ukrainian territory that Russia forcibly annexed in the spring”. The word “annex” is used by almost all western governments and their media when describing the move by the vast majority of Crimean citizens to rejoin Russia.

The venom of the west against Russia has been growing steadily and there is now a second Cold War caused by US-led western confrontation.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, has seized on the shambles in Ukraine to try to justify its continuing existence, following its destruction of Libya as a country and its humiliating failure in Afghanistan.

Russia has no intention of threatening its neighbours with whom it has major trade links that are extremely important to its economy, which much of the West, led by Washington, is attempting to destroy.  In furthering its aim of isolating Russia, NATO in 1999 brought Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into the military alliance.  Then in 2004 –  again without there being indication of the slightest Russian threat –   NATO expanded even more aggressively with the addition of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Then they brought in Albania and Croatia in 2009, and sought to include Georgia and Ukraine in order to have NATO forces menace Russia along its entire western border.

In March 2014 the ethnically Russian province of Crimea declared itself to be separate from Ukraine.  There was a referendum on sovereignty by its 2.4 million inhabitants. The declaration was strongly condemned by the United States.

Ninety percent of the inhabitants of Crimea are Russian-speaking, Russian-cultured and Russian-educated, and they voted to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” in order to rejoin Russia.  It would be strange if they did not wish accession to a country that not only welcomes their kinship, empathy and loyalty but is economically benevolent concerning their future.

In June 2014 President Obama declared that “we will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea” but has not said what he intends to do to reverse the free and open accession of the Crimean people to Russia.  Does he for one moment imagine that his much-publicized goal of “a Europe that is whole and free and at peace” would be attainable if Crimea were to be wrenched from Russia and given to Ukraine?  Does he seriously think that if Ukraine took over Crimea there would be any possibility that its inhabitants would, in the words of his own nation’s Declaration of Independence,  enjoy “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? Has Obama thought about what would happen if two million people who have made it clear that they do not want to be ruled by Ukraine, were suddenly ordered to accept rule by Ukraine?  And who would give such an order?

Obama’s aggressively anti-Russian speeches in the UN General Assembly and other forums have been pointlessly confrontational –  and they won’t be forgotten by the Russian people who don’t appreciate such absurdly bellicose slogans as “the United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world”.  This immature approach to international relations has become the hallmark of administrations in Washington and although regarded with hilarity by many millions around the world is nonetheless patronizing, supercilious and offensive.

The most recent instance of US-NATO knee-jerk endorsement of anti-Russia malevolence came on January 21 when Ukraine’s president Poroshenko claimed that Russia had “9,000 troops, 500 tanks, heavy artillery and armored personnel carriers” in the east of the country where Russian-speaking, Russian-cultured separatists are seeking to leave Ukraine. As reported by Reuters

Moscow challenged Poroshenko to present facts to prove his allegations. However, he won support from NATO.

The US has round-the-clock surveillance of Eastern Ukraine.  If Russia had 9,000 troops and 500 tanks there, be assured that western newspapers and TV channels would have been inundated with countless annotated photographs of troop positions and equipment, which are impossible to disguise. Where are the pictures?  Where is the evidence?

Certainly Russia supports the separatists of the east of Ukraine, just as the United States supports, equips and trains the rebels of Syria. The difference is that the Donetsk rebels are to all intents Russian and want to join Russia, while the US mission in Syria is “to build the capabilities of the moderate Syrian fighters to defend the Syrian people; stabilize areas under opposition control; promote the conditions for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Syria; and empower trainees to go on the offensive against ISIL”.  This is a totally unilateral endorsement of anti-government militancy without reference to those most directly affected by the war in Syria.

America, the great country which taught the world that “in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” has debased itself by selective interpretation of the reasons for its very foundation.  In modern times the US does not support declarations of independence, no matter how morally justifiable and practically desirable they might be, if they do not fit in with its policy of self-appointed indispensability.

A spirit of compromise and understanding appears to be as remote in Washington as does willingness to cease its increasingly virulent anti-Russia campaign of invective and confrontation.  If Washington had its way, the citizens of Crimea would be forced to accept rule by an alien nation while the government of Syria would be overthrown by US-trained rebels.  Deployment of US troops to the Middle East to train Syrian rebels to overthrow their government is mirrored by the forthcoming deployment of US troops to Ukraine with the mission “to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law”.

The anti-Russia campaign is gathering strength. The US-NATO military grouping ratchets up the tension by another few notches at every available opportunity, supporting a country whose prime minister asserts that Russia invaded Germany in 1941 rather than the other way round, and whose president has Russian tanks on his eyelashes.

Obama boasts that “America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters”.  What an achievement.  But he had better watch for the consequences to come.

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Brian Cloughley lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/the-anti-russia-campaign-heats-up/

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