Archive for July, 2016

A Stark Nuclear Warning

by Jerry Brown

The New York Review of Books (July 14 2016 Issue)



My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

by William J Perry, with a foreword by George P Shultz

Stanford Security Studies (2015)



I know of no person who understands the science and politics of modern weaponry better than William J Perry, the US Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997. When a man of such unquestioned experience and intelligence issues the stark nuclear warning that is central to his recent memoir, we should take heed. Perry is forthright when he says: “Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger” {1}. He also tells us that the nuclear danger is “growing greater every year” and that even a single nuclear detonation “could destroy our way of life”.

In clear, detailed but powerful prose, Perry’s new book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, tells the story of his seventy-year experience of the nuclear age. Beginning with his firsthand encounter with survivors living amid “vast wastes of fused rubble” in the aftermath of World War Two, his account takes us up to today when Perry is on an urgent mission to alert us to the dangerous nuclear road we are traveling.

Reflecting upon the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Perry says it was then that he first understood that the end of all of civilization was now possible, not merely the ruin of cities. He took to heart Einstein’s words that “the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking”. He asserts that it is only “old thinking” that persuades our leaders that nuclear weapons provide security, instead of understanding the hard truth that “they now endanger it”.

Perry does not use his memoir to score points or settle grudges. He does not sensationalize. But, as a defense insider and keeper of nuclear secrets, he is clearly calling American leaders to account for what he believes are very bad decisions, such as the precipitous expansion of Nato, right up to the Russian border {2}, and President George W Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, originally signed by President Nixon.

In his foreword to the book, George P Shultz describes Perry as a man of “absolute integrity”. His record is remarkable: PhD in mathematics, vast technical training and experience in high-tech business, management of research and weapons acquisition as an undersecretary of defense under President Carter, and deputy secretary and then secretary of defense under Bill Clinton.

Perry writes that he started young, at the age of twenty-six in 1954, as a senior scientist at Sylvania’s Electronic Defense Laboratories in what is now called Silicon Valley. Today we think of this part of the world as the home of Apple, Google, and Facebook, but back then the principal work was defense, the business of mass destruction. Within ten short years after the end of World War Two, both the Soviet Union and the United States had developed hydrogen bombs, which increased by a million times the destructive capability of the conventional bombs that had been available during World War Two. Children were taught to “duck and cover” under their desks and public buildings prominently displayed signs showing where to take shelter in case of nuclear attack.

Perry’s first job at the Electronic Defense Laboratories was “to evaluate a proposed electronic countermeasure system” intended to jam “the guidance signal of an attacking Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)”. After careful study, he reported that jamming could successfully reduce fatalities from a medium-size nuclear attack by about two thirds, that is, from 75 million immediate deaths to 25 million. But he later noted that this estimate did not take into account long-term deaths from radiation and “nuclear winter”. Nor did it include the tens of millions of wounded who couldn’t be treated or the total disruption of the economy and the fabric of our society.

This was the moment when Perry concluded that there could be no acceptable defense against a mass nuclear attack, an opinion from which he has never deviated. Many political leaders, including several presidents, have disagreed with Perry and have sponsored various types of anti-missile defense systems, the latest being the ballistic missile defense system now being installed in Eastern Europe.

Perry recalls that it was the fear of nuclear annihilation during the cold war that unleashed the billions of federal dollars that supported the secret defense work that began in Silicon Valley and then propelled it forward. As much as anyone, Perry is aware of the ways, secret and public, that technical innovation, private profit and tax dollars, civilian gadgetry and weapons of mass destruction, satellite technology, computers, and ever-expanding surveillance are interconnected. But he now uses this dark knowledge in an effort to reverse the deadly arms race in which he had such a pivotal role.

Perry was there at the beginning, as part of the elite and highly classified Telemetry and Beacon Analysis Committee, set up by the CIA and the National Security Agency to assess Soviet ICBMs. He was also on the team that analyzed the photographic images that our U-2 spy planes began collecting in 1956, until the program ended four years later when the Soviets shot down the plane piloted by Gary Powers. He was also part of the team assembled in 1959 by Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, to determine whether or not there was a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union. In fact, there was no gap but the report Perry worked on was kept secret for decades, as he reveals in his book.

Then, during the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Perry was chosen to be a part of the small group of analysts who worked day and night gathering information about the Soviet missiles being deployed on the island. They examined photographic and other data and prepared a written report that was delivered to President Kennedy each morning.

When President Kennedy addressed the nation and said that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be met by “a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union”, Perry knew exactly what that meant. He had been studying such nuclear strategies for ten years. Each day as he went to the analysis center, he thought to himself that this would be “my last day on earth”.

Perry says it was by luck that we avoided a nuclear holocaust in the Cuban crisis. Years later, we found out that there were some additional and dangerous circumstances that might have pushed us into nuclear war.

First, Perry writes, the Soviet ships approaching the blockade imposed by the US had submarine escorts that were armed with nuclear torpedoes. Because of the difficulty with communications, Moscow had authorized the submarine commanders to fire without further authorization. When an American destroyer tried to force a submarine to surface, both its captain and the political officer decided to fire a nuclear torpedo at the destroyer. A nuclear confrontation was avoided only because Vasili Arkhipov, the overall commander of the fleet, was also present on the submarine. He countermanded the order to launch, thereby preventing what might have started a nuclear war. {3}

Second, during the crisis, an American reconnaissance plane stationed in Europe wandered off course and flew into Soviet airspace. The Soviets immediately scrambled attack aircraft as did American fighters from an airbase in Alaska. The Americans were armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. Fortunately, the American reconnaissance pilot discovered he had blundered into Soviet airspace and flew away before any Soviet intercepts arrived.

At about the same time an American ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Base. Though this was a routine launch intended as a test, it could have easily been misinterpreted by the Soviets. Luckily, it wasn’t.

Tragically, despite coming so close to nuclear annihilation, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States did not make any effort to slow nuclear competition; they did just the opposite. Perry sees here the operation of “surreal … thinking” utterly at odds with the new reality of nuclear weapons. Yes, the hotline between Washington and Moscow was established, but otherwise strategic thinking in both the US and the Soviet Union went on as though nothing had happened.

Perry points out several particularly troubling aspects of the crisis. There were, he writes, advisers on both the Soviet and US sides who wanted to rush into war. The media, for their part, treated the crisis as “a drama of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ “. Finally he observes that political leaders seemed to gain approval with the public based on their willingness to initiate a war.

As a result, an even more sophisticated competition began, in nuclear warheads and in the vehicles to deliver them. Dean Rusk, the US secretary of state at the time, triumphantly declared that “we’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked” {4}. If that was meant to imply that America had won, he was wrong. The Soviets just stepped up their nuclear efforts and so did the US, each building thousands of dangerous nuclear devices that if ever used could obliterate large swaths of humanity.

Perry candidly recognizes that the nuclear threat also meant very good business for defense laboratories such as his own employer, Sylvania. His work there focused on understanding the Soviet missile and space systems and he found the challenges of this high-tech spying exhilarating and highly profitable. His mission was gathering cold war intelligence by technical means. But Sylvania had a problem. It was a world leader in manufacturing vacuum tubes at a time when the new solid-state technology was emerging. But Perry saw clearly that Sylvania’s analog technology would soon be replaced by digital technology based on Fairchild Semiconductors’ new solid-state devices, together with new small, high-speed computers then on the drawing boards of companies like Hewlett Packard. He decided it was time to strike out on his own and with four partners founded ESL, Inc.

The work of the new company would be top secret and it could not disclose either its products or customers. Nevertheless, during the next thirteen years, ESL, by winning one government contract after another, grew to over a thousand employees. Historically, the interpretation of intelligence had been exclusively reserved to government agencies, but several of the most critical targets of intelligence had become highly technical. They included ICBMs, nuclear bombs, ballistic missile defense systems, and supersonic aircraft. To collect data on these sophisticated weapons systems, Perry explains, required technical reconnaissance equally as complex. The federal government began to contract with private companies possessing the requisite knowledge and skills, and ESL was in the vanguard. Under Perry’s leadership, his company won long-term contracts for analyzing telemetry and beacon and radar data, and became indispensable to the national effort to understand the nature and extent of the Soviet threat.

The next step for Perry came with the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, when the new secretary of defense asked Perry to become undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. For the next four years, Perry threw himself into this work and, drawing upon all that he had learned, directed America’s major step toward improving competence on the battlefield. The strategy had three elements: (1) intelligent sensors to locate all enemy forces in real time; (2) smart weapons that could strike targets with great precision; and (3) stealth systems that could evade enemy radar. The great paradox of the nuclear age is that deterrence of nuclear war is sought by building ever more lethal and precise weapons. In Perry’s case, that was his mission and he carried it out with imagination and extraordinary skill. The problem he faced was that the Soviet army was seen to have a three-to-one edge in conventional forces, leaving America only with its nuclear forces to deter the Soviets from advancing into Europe.

The answer, concocted by both public and private experts, was to create a “radically novel and highly sophisticated offset strategy”. Through technology, America would offset the Soviet military superiority on the battlefield. The results included the F-117 and B-2 stealth bombers, smart artillery shells, short- and long-range cruise missiles, and reconnaissance aircraft.

Their utility had to wait more than a decade to be shown when, at last, during Desert Storm in the first Gulf War, the American military demonstrated its clear superiority. As Perry writes, “the F-117 flew about a thousand missions in Iraq, dropped about two thousand precision-guided munitions, of which about eighty percent hit their targets”, an accuracy previously unimaginable. “Not a single aircraft was lost during the nightly runs over Baghdad”, despite the “hundreds of modern Soviet-designed air defense systems”.

Success unfortunately can lead to overconfidence and I wonder whether the success of the first Gulf War lulled George W Bush into thinking that another war could be fought with similar results. We now know that technical prowess can’t necessarily overcome the human factors of ethnic division, historical enmity, and religious belief.

Perry was responsible for important technological advances with respect to US nuclear forces. He helped launch the B-2, a strategic nuclear bomber, capable of use in both nuclear and nonnuclear missions; revitalized the aging B-52 with air-launched cruise missiles; put the Trident submarine program back on track; and made an ill-fated attempt to bring the MX ICBM, a ten-warhead missile, into operation.

Although he didn’t believe that nuclear deterrence required that we match our adversary weapon for weapon, he acceded to the political pressure to keep up with the other guy. Then as now, Perry writes, he believed that America would possess all the deterrence it needs with just one leg of the so-called triad: the Trident submarine. It is very difficult for armies to track and destroy it, and it contains more than enough firepower to act as a deterrent. The bombers provide only an insurance policy for the unlikely contingency of a temporary problem with the Trident force, and also have a dual role in strengthening our conventional forces. Our ICBM force is in his mind redundant. Indeed the danger of starting an accidental nuclear war as a result of a false alarm outweighs its deterrent value.

Many experts agree, but presidents follow the political and highly dangerous path of sizing our nuclear force to achieve “parity” with Russia. Such a competitive and mindless process always leads to escalation without end. {5}

Perry tells us that parity is “old thinking” because nuclear weapons can’t actually be used – the risk of uncontrollable and catastrophic escalation is too high. They are only good for threatening the enemy with nuclear retaliation. Our submarine force, equipped with nuclear weapons, is virtually invulnerable and can perform that deterrent function well. (It should be noted that the doctrine of deterrence is severely criticized by those who worry about the implications of threatening mass slaughter {6}.)

Through his first period at the Defense Department under President Carter, Perry showed great confidence in the power of high technology to offset enemy forces and protect American security. But in 1994, when he became President Bill Clinton’s secretary of defense, the US faced an entirely different set of security problems. The cold war was over, and the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union were located not only in Russia, but also in three new republics that were not capable of protecting them.

Perry gave these “loose nukes” his highest priority. He was able to arrange for the dismantling of all of the thousands of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. He movingly tells of visiting a silo built for the Soviet SS-19 missile and watching it disintegrate in a cloud of smoke. Earlier he had visited the site and was briefed by young Russian officers on how the hundreds of missiles under their control would have been fired at targets in the United States. Observing a practice countdown at a site that at that very moment was targeted by American missiles, he realized what an absurdity had been created by nuclear competition.

There followed heady days, under SALT II, when thousands of missiles and warheads were destroyed and huge quantities of chemical weapons eliminated in both Russia and the United States. Loose nuclear material was secured and Russian nuclear scientists were actually given nonmilitary work at a technical institute established in Moscow. This was all made possible through a program (that is now discontinued) sponsored by two senators, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, for which Congress provided substantial funding. In retrospect, Perry sees this destruction of weapons and sustained cooperation between Russia and the United States as a minor miracle. Both countries even cooperated militarily during the war in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.

But such goodwill did not last long. In 1996, Richard Holbrooke, then an assistant secretary in the State Department, proposed to expand Nato by bringing in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic nations. Perry thought this was a very unwise move and should be delayed at all costs. A prominent group of fifty leading Americans, both conservative and liberal, signed a letter to President Clinton opposing Nato expansion. Among the signers were Robert McNamara, Sam Nunn, Bill Bradley, Paul Nitze, Richard Pipes, and John Holdren {7}. It was to no avail. Perry was the lone cabinet member to oppose President Clinton’s decision to give Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic immediate membership in Nato {8}.

That year, 1996, turned out to be the high point in Russian-American relations. The Nato expansion began during President Clinton’s second term. After President George W Bush was elected, Nato was expanded further to include more nations, reaching all the way to the Russian border. Bush also withdrew the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (“ABM”) Treaty, and started deploying an ABM system in Eastern Europe, thereby repudiating the important achievements of Richard Nixon and fostering the illusion that a defense could successfully defeat a determined attack of nuclear missiles.

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink is a rare accounting of the last six decades of American policy in the new age of nuclear danger. Perry makes it clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is great and that even Washington, DC, is not safe from attack. In fact, he lays out a plausible scenario of how terrorists could fashion an improvised nuclear device and blow up the White House and Capitol Hill, killing more than 80,000 people and totally disrupting our society. Perry also warns that a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could occur – with devastating global impacts.

Since the book’s publication, the dangers identified by Perry have only intensified: the latest US defense budget proposes spending $1 trillion on nuclear modernization over the next several decades {9} This modernization plan contemplates a complete update of our nuclear triad, including new cruise missiles, nuclear submarines, ICBMs, and bombers. The Russian defense minister recently announced in response that Russia will “bring five new strategic nuclear missile regiments into service”. This comes after President Putin revealed that Russia will add more than forty new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal {10}.

And, just this month, as the US broke ground on a future missile defense site in Poland and formally activated a missile defense site in Romania, Putin warned: “Now after the placement of these missile defense elements, we have to think how to neutralize the threats for the security of the Russian Federation …” {11} (emphasis added).

No one I have known, or have even heard of, has the management experience and the technical knowledge that William Perry brings to the subject of nuclear danger. Few have his wisdom and integrity. So why isn’t anyone paying attention to him? Why is fear of a nuclear catastrophe far from the minds of most Americans? And why does almost all of official Washington disagree with him and live in nuclear denial? Perry himself may provide the answer:



Our chief peril is that the poised nuclear doom, much of it hidden beneath the seas and in remote badlands, is too far out of the global public consciousness. Passivity shows broadly. Perhaps this is a matter of defeatism and its cohort, distraction. Perhaps for some it is largely a most primal human fear of facing the “unthinkable”. For others, it might be a welcoming of the illusion that there is or might be an acceptable missile defense against a nuclear attack. And for many it would seem to be the keeping of faith that nuclear deterrence will hold indefinitely – that leaders will always have accurate enough instantaneous knowledge, know the true context of events, and enjoy the good luck to avoid the most tragic of military miscalculations.



While many complain of the obvious dysfunction in Washington, few see the incomparably greater danger of “nuclear doom” because it is hidden and out of public consciousness. Despite an election year filled with commentary and debate, no one is discussing the major issues that trouble Perry. It is another example of the rigid conformity that often dominates public discourse. Long ago, I saw this in the Vietnam War and later in the invasion of Iraq: intelligent people were doing mindless – and catastrophic – things. “Sleepwalking” is the term historians now use for the stupidities that got European leaders into World War One and for the mess they unleashed at Versailles. And sleepwalking still continues as Nato and Russia trade epithets and build their armies and Moscow and Washington modernize their nuclear overkill. A new cold war.

Fortunately, Bill Perry is not sleepwalking and he is telling us, in My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, to wake up before it is too late. Anyone can begin by reading his book.


{1} William J Perry, “A National Security Walk Around the World”, 2016 Drell Lecture, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University (February 10 2016).

{2} “The descent down the slippery slope began, I believe, with the premature Nato expansion, and I soon came to believe that the downsides of early Nato membership for Eastern European nations were even worse than I had feared” (page 152). ↩

{3} “The Man Who Saved the World”, Secrets of the Dead, PBS (October 23 2012).

{4} See Stewart Alsop and Charles Bartlett, “In Time of Crisis”, The Saturday Evening Post (December 08 1962).

{5} See Edmund G (Jerry) Brown Junior, “Nuclear Addiction: A Response”, Thought, Volume 59, Number 232 (March 1984).

{6} “For the past fifteen years, and particularly in the context of the Cold War, we, the Catholic bishops of the United States, have reluctantly acknowledged the possibility that nuclear weapons could have some moral legitimacy, but only if the goal was nuclear disarmament. It is our present, prayerful judgment that this legitimacy is now lacking.” Pax Christi Bishops in the United States, “The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence: An Evaluation”, open letter (June 1998).

{7} A full text of the letter and a full list of signers are available at

{8} As George Kennan told The New York Times in 1998: “I think [Nato expansion] is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.” See Thomas L Friedman, “Foreign Affairs; Now a Word from X”, The New York Times (May 02 1998).

{9} Jon B. Wolfstahl Jeffrey Lewis and Marc Quint, “The Trillion Dollar Nuclear Triad”, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey (January 2014).

{10} Maria Kiselyova and Polina Devitt, “Russia to deploy new divisions on Western flank, form nuclear regiments”, Reuters (January 12 2016).

{11} Ilya Arkhipov and Marek Strzelecki, “Putin Warns Nato Missile Shield is Threat to Peace in Europe”, Bloomberg (May 13 2016). Existing US law allows for the deployment of a missile defense system to prevent a “limited ballistic missile attack” (see The word “limited” was meant to prevent the deployment of a large missile defense system aimed at Russia or China. The proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 contains a particularly dangerous provision introduced by Senator Ted Cruz that strikes the word “limited” from existing law and thereby lays the groundwork for an expanded missile defense system directed at Russia and China (see Such action would have a hugely destabilizing impact upon an already precarious world order.

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Categories: Uncategorized

“Real, Imminent Threat” …

… that Next World War will be Initiated by First Strike EMP Weapon

by Jeremiah Johnson, nom de plume of retired Green Beret, US Army Special Forces (Airborne) via {1}

Zero Hedge (July 27 2016)

There has been a tremendous amount of technological interchange between North Korea, the Russians, and the Chinese. North Korea has also been working for years in the refinement (development) of its nuclear arsenal, especially in partnership with Pakistan and Iran. In a press conference at the Pentagon on October 24 2014 reporters were briefed by General Curtis Scaparrotti, the US Military Commander in Korea. This is what the general had to say:



I believe they [the North Koreans] have the capability to have miniaturized the [nuclear] device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially, actually deliver what they say they have.



On March 9 2016, Kim Jong-Un for the first time stated that North Korea had accomplished the miniaturization of nuclear warheads that are compatible with ICBM’s. Admiral William Gortney, Commander of US NORTHCOM was in front of a Senate Committee on March 10 2016 briefing them on the potential North Korean nuclear threat. The Admiral stated it was “prudent to assume Pyongyang had the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead” and deliver it via ICBM that could actually strike the continental US

Finally (and the most compelling proponent of the danger posed by North Korea), Dr Peter V Pry, the foremost expert on Electromagnetic Pulse (“EMP”) threats by established and rogue nations has long upheld that Iran and North Korea hold an EMP first strike as central to their current military doctrines. Pry has spent countless hours briefing Senate Investigating Committees on the dangers of an EMP strike by these two nations.

This year the North Koreans have ramped up their missile tests exponentially, building off of their R&D for the past five years. Kwangmyongsong-3, Unit 2 satellite was placed into orbit December 12 2012. Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite was successfully launched February 7 2016. In April 2016 they tested an ICBM engine. May 2015 saw their claim of a successful Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (“SLBM”) test, their first. Then this year, March 23 2016, (as reported by CNN‘s Don Melvin, Jim Sciutto, and Wil Ripley on April 24), their success became a reality. Here is an excerpt from that report by CNN:



After previous launch attempts by Pyongyang failed, this one seems to have gone much better, one US official noted.

“North Korea’s sub launch capability has gone from a joke to something very serious”, this official said. “The US is watching this very closely”.

Asked whether the test was successful, another US official told CNN, “essentially yes”.



The missile traveled thirty kilometers as opposed to the 300 kilometers intended by North Korea, but this is the point: North Korea successfully launched the missile from the submarine. As can be seen, a US official categorized the test as being successful, as well as another one noting the seriousness of North Korea’s newfound capability. They have recently been launching short and medium-range missiles in tests, and these tests have been conducted regularly over the past six months and almost nonstop.

On July 22, Jane’s Defence Weekly {2} reported that North Korea has constructed a fortified structure (docks) that can potentially shelter ballistic missile-carrying submarines. Although the report was just made, it was satellite photo imagery that indicated these submarine pens had neared project completion and they were being covered with earth. The satellite photos indicated that the two enclosures measure 490 feet in length by 32 feet in width, with there being about fifty feet in between the two of them. The project had actually been started back in October of 2013.

These are pretty serious reports, and as much as they are laughed at and disparaged, the North Koreans are in deadly earnest about doggedly attaining advances in their nuclear forces’ capabilities. In March of 2016, North Korea threatened that it would conduct a “preemptive and offensive nuclear strike”. The “balance” that has been made is simple, effected by simpletons, as such.

The North Koreans threaten to strike and bluster their nuclear capability. The United States responds with, “Oh, they can’t do that”, or “they don’t have the technology”, or some other such scoffing characterization.

The frightening thing about this tete–a–tete is that neither side’s leaders or elites will face any kind of danger or peril that would result from a nuclear conflagration, but the populations of both countries would suffer immeasurably. A general and an admiral have stated their belief in the miniaturization capabilities of North Korea regarding nuclear warheads. The foremost expert on the EMP has provided prima facie evidence before the Senate and numerous commissions attesting to those capabilities. Each day North Korea ramps up its tests and its threats. Russia and China publicly whisper their disapproval of such actions and words while taking no steps to actually stop them.

The next world war will be initiated by a first strike utilizing an EMP weapon.

There is no timetable. The threat is real, and it is imminent. It is a matter of time before it is carried out. Do you want something more tangible? Here it is. Now would be a good time to construct the necessary Faraday cages {3} for your sensitive electronic equipment you wish to have after a war commences. You’ll also need emergency food {4}, water, medicine, and a stockpile of materials to defend it {5}, hopefully in a remote location {6}.

Naysayers and politicians have one thing in common: denial of the reality of a situation. The difference is that the first group is usually unprepared when it happens and they are ignorant of the situation (in terms of information, and this partially due to denial). The politicians and leaders are the exact opposite: they deny the reality to obfuscate their complete knowledge of the reality, and they are completely prepared for what will unfold {7} … and those politicians and leaders are prepped and defended on your dime, in every way.









Categories: Uncategorized

Retrotopia: The Far Off Sound of Guns

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (July 20 2016)

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

This is the twentieth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator is forced to rethink his ideas about progress even further, as the Lakeland Republic and the other nations of post-US North America are confronted by a sudden crisis with all too familiar roots …



* * * * *



A phone rang in the darkness. For a moment I had no idea where I was, but then the bed shifted, footsteps whispered across the floor, and Melanie’s voice said, “Hello”. I blinked, and tried to guess what time it was. It felt as though we hadn’t been sleeping for long.

“Okay”, she said then, in a completely different tone. I finished waking up in a hurry. You don’t hear someone speak like that unless something’s gone very, very wrong. “Okay”, she said again. “I’ll be in as soon as I can. ‘Bye”. The handset clicked into its cradle, and Melanie said, “Peter?”

“What’s up?”

“Trouble. Texas and the Confederacy are at war.”

I sat up and said something unprintable.

“Pretty much”, she agreed, and turned on a light. She was as naked as I was, of course, but the look on her face wasn’t particularly alluring.

“Any details?” I asked.

“Just a few. Texan ships attacked three Confederate drilling platforms around one o’clock; no word on damage yet. The Confederate navy came out, and there’s fighting going on in the Gulf right now.”

“That’s bad”.

“There’s worse. The Confederate Army’s crossed into Texas territory between Shreveport and Texarkana. Our people down there think there’s division-strength units involved.”

I gave her a blank stare for a long moment. “Okay”, I said, getting out of bed. “You’re going in right away, of course”.

“Yes. Not the way I’d have chosen to end a really pleasant evening.”

I took her in my arms and kissed her. “No argument there”, I said when the kiss was done. “Give me a call when you get some free time”.

“I’ll do that”, she said, with a smile. “If you can stand it, stay close to your phone. I may be able to arrange something for you.”

I promised I would, and then she headed for the shower, and I pulled my clothes on, called a cab, and let myself out. She was right, it was a hell of a way to end a really pleasant evening, but if you’re in politics you get used to that kind of thing. I knew that, and so did Melanie; if things worked out, we’d find some time to spend together before I took the train back to Philadelphia, and one way or another –

I stopped the thought in its tracks. Later, I told myself. Later, when a couple of really hard decisions are over and done with.

The sky was still pitch black when I left the apartment building, stood on the curb waiting for the cab. The clop-clop of horse’s hooves announced its arrival a couple of blocks in advance. Moments later I was inside, watching the city of Toledo in its sleep. Here and there a light shone in a window, or a lone figure hurried down the street. It seemed hard to believe that not much more than a thousand miles away, robot tanks, assault drones, and long files of young men with guns were streaming through the pine woods of northeast Texas.

The cab got me to the hotel promptly enough, and I paid the cabby, said good morning to the tired-eyed desk clerk, and headed up to my room. I didn’t really expect to get more sleep, but decided to give it a try, and blinked awake four hours later with the pale gray light of morning coming in through the window. The clock said quarter past eight; I hurried through a shower, got myself shaved and dressed, weighed the odds that Melanie might call if I took the time to run to Kaufer’s News to get the morning Blade, and decided to call the concierge instead. Not five minutes later a bellhop knocked on the door with a copy. “We got a stack of ’em down at the desk”, he told me. “Half the guests are gonna want one as soon as they wake up”. I thanked him and gave him a good-sized tip, and he grinned and made off.

The paper didn’t have much more information on the current state of affairs than I’d gotten from Melanie, but the reporters had done their background research; the inside of the front section had big articles sketching out the history of the quarrel, running through both sides’ military assets, quoting a couple of experts from Toledo University on the potential outcomes of the war, that sort of thing. Tucked away toward the end was a terse little article about two more satellites being taken out by debris. I was maybe halfway through that last article when the phone rang.

“Peter? It’s Melanie. Can you get to the Capitol by nine-thirty?”

“Sure”, I said. “What’s up?”

“There’s a courtesy briefing for the North American diplomatic community – the ambassadors will be meeting with Meeker; this is for attaches and staff. I’ve arranged to get you in as a special envoy from Ellen Montrose’s staff.”

“No kidding. Thank you, Melanie.”

“Sure thing”. She gave me the details, we said our goodbyes and away I went.

The city was wide awake as I walked the four blocks to the Capitol. Newspapers and conversations in low voices were everywhere. The streetcars, horsedrawn cabs, and occasional cars still rolled down the streets; lamps shone in windows, contending with the gray winter light; nothing visible had changed since the morning before, and everything had. I remembered stories some of my older relatives used to tell about the first days of the Second Civil War – carefully sanitized stories coming over the mass media, wild rumors carried by blogs and private emails, and everywhere the sense that something had changed or shifted or broken once and for all, and the world would never be quite the same afterwards.

Somehow, the morning around me felt like that. I told myself not to be silly; there had been other wars since Partition – the three-way scramble between Texas, the Confederacy, and the Missouri Republic in ’37, the Confederate-Brazilian invasion of the Lakeland Republic in ’49, and the ongoing civil war in California – but this felt different.

“Extra!” shouted a paperboy on the sidewalk in front of the Capitol, where people were streaming by. “Richmond’s declared war”. He was selling copies nearly as fast as he could hand them out, but I managed to get one before his canvas bag was empty. I wasn’t the only purchaser to turn toward the Capitol’s big front entrance, either. We filed in the doors, and then some of us turned right toward the Senate end of the building, went down the first big staircase we found, and ended up in front of a big door flanked by two guards in uniform and a man in a wool suit. I recognized him after a moment: Stuart Macallan, the Lakeland Republic’s assistant secretary of state for North American affairs.

“Mr Carr”, he said, shaking my hand. “Good to see you again. Yes, you’ve been cleared – favor to the incoming administration in Philadelphia.” He winked, and I laughed and went on to the coatroom, where I shed hat and coat before going further.

The room inside was a big comfortable space with a podium up front and rows of tables and chairs facing it, the kind of place where important press conferences and public hearings get held. All the usual impedimenta of a high-end briefing were there – pitchers of ice water on each table, and so on – and something I hadn’t expected: a notebook and pen in front of each place. Of course I understood the moment I saw them: lacking veepads, how else were the attendees going to take notes? Even so, that reminded me how many details of life in the Lakeland Republic I still hadn’t seen.

I sat down and opened the paper. The Confederate Congress had voted to declare war, as the boy said; the Texan legislature was expected to return the favor shortly. In the meantime, the naval battle in the Gulf was ongoing, with people along the coast reporting distant explosions and smoke plumes visible on the horizon. Nobody was sure yet what was happening on the land front; the entire region from Shreveport and Texarkana west to the suburbs of Dallas was closed to journalists, and the entire highway system was off limits to anybody but government and military, but long lines of army-green trucks were streaming east across Texas toward the war zone, and a reporter who’d gotten as far north as Henderson before being turned back by military police reported that he could hear artillery rolling in the northern distance like summer thunder.

Someone sat down at the chair next to mine, and I did the polite thing and turned to greet him. “Hank Barker”, he said as we shook hands, “with the Missouri Republic delegation”. I introduced myself, and he brightened. “You’re Ellen Montrose’s envoy here, aren’t you? Once this is over, if you’ve got a minute to talk, that’d be real welcome.”

“Sure”, I said. It wasn’t until then that I noticed that he was dressed the way I was, in typical Lakeland business wear. Most of the other people filing into the room wore bioplastic, though we weren’t the only ones in wool. “Got tired of bioplastic, I see”, I commented.

He nodded. “Yep. You see this sort of thing more and more often these days, out our way. ‘Course a lot of the wool and leather Lakeland uses comes from our side of the Mississippi, so it stands to reason.”

I glanced at him, wondered whether any other Lakeland Republic customs had found a foothold across the Mississippi. The Missouri Republic’s big, reaching from the river to the crest of the Rockies and from what used to be Kansas and the northwestern two-thirds of Missouri to the border of West Canada, but a lot of it’s desert these days; it’s pretty much landlocked – its only ports are river towns on the Mississippi and Duluth on Lake Superior – and if they were paying off World Bank loans and coping with the same economic pressures we were in the Atlantic Republic, they’d have to be in a world of hurt. Before I could figure out how to ask the question that was on my mind, though, the last of the attendees had taken their seats and a familiar figure rolled his wheelchair across the low stage to one side of the podium.

“I’d like to thank you all for coming”, Tom Pappas said. “We’re still waiting for more details from the war zone – ”

“Like everyone else”, said a voice with a French accent close to the front of the room.

“I’m not arguing”, Pappas said, with a broad grin. “But we’ve got a basic idea what’s going on, and we can also fill you in on our government’s response”.

An aide, a young woman in Lakeland army uniform, came up onto the stage, went to the back wall and pulled on a cord. Down came a big, brightly colored map of the eastern half of the Republic of Texas and parts of the Confederacy adjacent to it. Pappas thanked her, took a long pointer from behind the podium, and wheeled over to the map.

“The three drilling platforms the Texans attacked last night are here”. The pointer tapped a patch of blue water in the Gulf. “Those are the ones Bullard claimed were using horizontal drilling to poach Texan oil. Based on what information we’ve gotten at this point, all three platforms were destroyed. The Confederates counterattacked less than an hour later, and both sides suffered significant losses – they’ve both got decent anti-ship missiles, and you know how that goes.”

A murmur spread through the room. “The thing is, the Confederates didn’t just fire on the Texan ships”, Pappas went on. “They used long range missiles to target Texan offshore oil assets. We’re not sure how many were targeted and how badly they were hit, but it doesn’t look good.

“Right now there’s still fighting going on, and both sides are bringing in naval assets from outside the area. Texas has a short term advantage there. The Confederates have a lot of their ships on the Atlantic coast, and it’s going to take a while to get them around the south Florida shoals and bring them into action, but once those arrive, the Texan navy’s going to be in deep – trouble.”

That got a laugh. “Okay”, he said, and moved the pointer up to tap on the area between Shreveport and Texarkana. “That’s a sideshow. Here’s the show that matters. As far as we can tell, the Confederacy’s thrown three divisions into the ground assault: one armored division, two infantry. More are being brought up as fast as the transport grid will carry them. The Texans are throwing everything they’ve got on hand into the fighting. It’s anyone’s guess whether they can get enough of their army into play before the Confederates reach Dallas; I’m guessing they will. Meanwhile Texan drones and land based missiles have been hitting military targets as far as the Mississippi, and the Confederacy’s doing the same thing – we’ve had reports of missile strikes as far west as Waco.

“And this is where it gets ugly. Both sides have allies overseas. The Confederates have already asked Brazil to intervene; no word from Brasilia yet, but given their track record in the past, it’s probably a safe bet that they’ll get Brazilian munitions and advisers, and maybe more. Texas has a mutual-aid pact with China, and after the business in Peru two years ago, the Chinese have got to be itching for an opportunity to take Brazil down a peg or two; a proxy war would be one way to do that. So we could be facing a long and ugly war.

“That’s the military situation. Stuart, you want to fill them in on our response?”

Stuart Macallan climbed up onto the stage. “Sure. Point number one is that we’re staying out of it. We’ve declared ourselves neutral, and President Meeker is working with the other North American governments right now to draft a joint declaration of neutrality and an appeal to the combatants to accept an immediate ceasefire and settle this at the negotiating table, using the mechanisms set up in the Treaty of Richmond.

“Point number two is that we’ve ordered a defensive mobilization all along the southern border, just in case. Those of you who know anything about our military know that this isn’t a threat to anybody, unless they decide to invade. If you’re not familiar with our system, Colonel Pappas here can fill you in on the details after we finish.

“Point number three is that we’re going to look for every possible way to expedite trade agreements with the other North American republics. Half our exports go via the Mississippi, and I know some of our neighbors are in the same boat – so to speak. We’re prepared to help the other North American republics keep their economies intact, to the extent that we can, and we’d welcome any help you can give us along the same lines.

“Finally, there’s the petroleum situation. For all practical purposes, the Gulf oil fields, onshore and offshore, have just dropped off the face of the Earth, and they’re going to stay that way until this whole business gets resolved. That’s a big enough fraction of world oil production to send markets into a tizzy. It won’t particularly affect us, as you know,. but it’s going to be a problem for pretty much everyone else in North America. We’re going to look at agreements with each of your countries to try to cushion the economic hit, but whatever you’re paying for fuel these days – our best estimate is that it’s going to double, maybe triple, maybe more, if you can get it. The way so much oil production is locked up in long term contracts, some of you probably won’t be able to get it at all.”

Hank Barker, sitting next to me, shook his head. Under his breath: “We are so screwed”.



* * * * *



Back here in 2016, I’m delighted to announce the impending publication of David Fleming’s astonishing book Lean Logic, an encyclopedic guide to the principles and practice of life in a deindustrializing world. Fleming was a central figure in the British sustainability movement for decades, and played an important role in the founding of the UK Green Party, the Transition Town Movement, and the New Economics Foundation; he spent some thirty years assembling Lean Logic as a comprehensive book on the ways of thinking and acting we’re going to need to get through the mess ahead. (I’m quite sure it’s still in print in the Lakeland Republic in 2065!) The hardback edition is now available for preorder at



* * * * *



John Michael Greer is Past Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {1}, current head of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn {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.





Categories: Uncategorized

The Power of “Nyet”

by Dmitry Orlov

Club Orlov (July 26 2016)

The way things are supposed to work on this planet is like this: in the United States, the power structures (public and private) decide what they want the rest of the world to do. They communicate their wishes through official and unofficial channels, expecting automatic cooperation. If cooperation is not immediately forthcoming, they apply political, financial and economic pressure. If that still doesn’t produce the intended effect, they attempt regime change through a color revolution or a military coup, or organize and finance an insurgency leading to terrorist attacks and civil war in the recalcitrant nation. If that still doesn’t work, they bomb the country back to the stone age. This is the way it worked in the 1990s and the 2000s, but as of late a new dynamic has emerged.

In the beginning it was centered on Russia, but the phenomenon has since spread around the world and is about to engulf the United States itself. It works like this: the United States decides what it wants Russia to do and communicates its wishes, expecting automatic cooperation. Russia says “Nyet”. The United States then runs through all of the above steps up to but not including the bombing campaign, from which it is deterred by Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The answer remains “Nyet”. One could perhaps imagine that some smart person within the US power structure would pipe up and say: “Based on the evidence before us, dictating our terms to Russia doesn’t work; let’s try negotiating with Russia in good faith as equals”. And then everybody else would slap their heads and say, “Wow! That’s brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that?” But instead that person would be fired that very same day because, you see, American global hegemony is nonnegotiable. And so what happens instead is that the Americans act baffled, regroup and try again, making for quite an amusing spectacle.

The whole Edward Snowden imbroglio was particularly fun to watch. The US demanded his extradition. The Russians said: “Nyet, our constitution forbids it”. And then, hilariously, some voices in the West demanded in response that Russia change its constitution! The response, requiring no translation, was “Xa-xa-xa-xa-xa!” Less funny is the impasse over Syria: the Americans have been continuously demanding that Russia go along with their plan to overthrow Bashar Assad. The unchanging Russian response has been: “Nyet, the Syrians get to decide on their leadership, not Russia, and not the US”. Each time they hear it, the Americans scratch their heads and … try again. John Kerry was just recently in Moscow, holding a marathon “negotiating session” with Putin and Lavrov. Above is a photo of Kerry talking to Putin and Lavrov in Moscow a week or so ago and their facial expressions are hard to misread. There’s Kerry, with his back to the camera, babbling away as per usual. Lavrov’s face says: “I can’t believe I have to sit here and listen to this nonsense again”. Putin’s face says: “Oh the poor idiot, he can’t bring himself to understand that we’re just going to say ‘nyet’ again”. Kerry flew home with yet another “nyet”.

What’s worse, other countries are now getting into the act. The Americans told the Brits exactly how to vote, and yet the Brits said “nyet” and voted for Brexit. The Americans told the Europeans to accept the horrendous corporate power grab that is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”), and the French said “nyet, it shall not pass”. The US organized yet another military coup in Turkey to replace Erdogan with somebody who won’t try to play nice with Russia, and the Turks said “nyet” to that too. And now, horror of horrors, there is Donald Trump saying “nyet” to all sorts of things – NATO, offshoring American jobs, letting in a flood of migrants, globalization, weapons for Ukrainian Nazis, free trade …

The corrosive psychological effect of “nyet” on the American hegemonic psyche cannot be underestimated. If you are supposed to think and act like a hegemon, but only the thinking part still works, then the result is cognitive dissonance. If your job is to bully nations around, and the nations can no longer be bullied, then your job becomes a joke, and you turn into a mental patient. The resulting madness has recently produced quite an interesting symptom: some number of US State Department staffers signed a letter, which was promptly leaked, calling for a bombing campaign against Syria in order to overthrow Bashar Assad. These are diplomats. Diplomacy is the art of avoiding war by talking. Diplomats who call for war are not being exactly … diplomatic. You could say that they are incompetent diplomats, but that wouldn’t go far enough (most of the competent diplomats left the service during the second Bush administration, many of them in disgust over having to lie about the rationale for the Iraq war). The truth is, they are sick, deranged non-diplomatic warmongers. Such is the power of this one simple Russian word that they have quite literally lost their minds.

But it would be unfair to single out the State Department. It is as if the entire American body politic has been infected by a putrid miasma. It permeates all things and makes life miserable. In spite of the mounting problems, most other things in the US are still somewhat manageable, but this one thing – the draining away of the ability to bully the whole world – ruins everything. It’s mid-summer, the nation is at the beach. The beach blanket is moth-eaten and threadbare, the beach umbrella has holes in it, the soft drinks in the cooler are laced with nasty chemicals and the summer reading is boring … and then there is a dead whale decomposing nearby, whose name is “Nyet”. It just ruins the whole ambiance!

The media chattering heads and the establishment politicos are at this point painfully aware of this problem, and their predictable reaction is to blame it on what they perceive as its ultimate source: Russia, conveniently personified by Putin. “If you aren’t voting for Clinton, you are voting for Putin” is one recently minted political trope. Another is that Trump is Putin’s agent. Any public figure that declines to take a pro-establishment stance is automatically labeled “Putin’s useful idiot”. Taken at face value, such claims are preposterous. But there is a deeper explanation for them: what ties them all together is the power of “nyet”. A vote for Sanders is a “nyet” vote: the Democratic establishment produced a candidate and told people to vote for her, and most of the young people said “nyet”. Same thing with Trump: the Republican establishment trotted out its Seven Dwarfs and told people to vote for any one of them, and yet most of the disenfranchised working-class white people said “nyet” and voted for Snow White the outsider.

It is a hopeful sign that people throughout the Washington-dominated world are discovering the power of “nyet”. The establishment may still look spiffy on the outside, but under the shiny new paint there hides a rotten hull, with water coming in though every open seam. A sufficiently resounding “nyet” will probably be enough to cause it to founder, suddenly making room for some very necessary changes. When that happens, please remember to thank Russia … or, if you insist, Putin.

Categories: Uncategorized

Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play

Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?

by Ellen Brown

Web of Debt Blog (July 25 2016)

Fifteen years after embarking on its largely ineffective quantitative easing (“QE”) program, Japan appears poised to try the form recommended by Ben Bernanke in his notorious “helicopter money” speech in 2002. The Japanese test case could finally resolve a longstanding dispute between monetarists and money reformers over the economic effects of government-issued money.

When then-Federal Reserve (“Fed”) Governor Ben Bernanke gave his famous helicopter money speech to the Japanese in 2002, he was talking about something quite different from the quantitative easing they actually got and other central banks later mimicked. Quoting Milton Friedman, he said the government could reverse a deflation simply by printing money and dropping it from helicopters. A gift of free money with no strings attached, it would find its way into the real economy and trigger the demand needed to power productivity and employment.

What the world got instead was a form of QE in which new money is swapped for assets in the reserve accounts of banks, leaving liquidity trapped on bank balance sheets. Whether manipulating bank reserves can affect the circulating money supply at all is controversial. But if it can, it is only by triggering new borrowing. And today, according to Richard Koo, chief economist at the Nomura Research Institute, individuals and businesses are paying down debt rather than taking out new loans. They are doing this although credit is very “accommodative” (cheap), because they need to rectify their debt-ridden balance sheets in order to stay afloat. Koo calls it a “balance sheet recession”.

As the Bank of England recently acknowledged, the vast majority of the money supply is now created by banks when they make loans. Money is created when loans are made, and it is extinguished when they are paid off. When loan repayment exceeds borrowing, the money supply “deflates” or shrinks. New money then needs to be injected to fill the breach. Currently, the only way to get new money into the economy is for someone to borrow it into existence; and since the private sector is not borrowing, the public sector must, just to replace what has been lost in debt repayment. But government borrowing from the private sector means running up interest charges and hitting deficit limits.

The alternative is to do what governments arguably should have been doing all along: issue the money directly to fund their budgets. Having exhausted other options, some central bankers are now calling for this form of “helicopter money,” which may finally be raining on Japan if not the US.

The Japanese Trial Balloon

Following a sweeping election win announced on July 10th, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he may proceed with a 10 trillion yen ($100 billion) stimulus funded by Japan’s first new major debt issuance in four years. The stimulus would include establishing 21st century infrastructure, faster construction of high-speed rail lines, and measures to support domestic demand.

According to Gavyn Davies in the July 17th Financial Times:



Whether or not they choose to admit it – which they will probably resist very hard – the Abe government is on the verge of becoming the first government of a major developed economy to monetise its government debt on a permanent basis since 1945.

… The direct financing of a government deficit by the Bank of Japan (“BoJ”) is illegal, under Article 5 of the Public Finance Act. But it seems that the government may be considering manoeuvres to get round these roadblocks.

Recently, the markets have become excited about the possible issuance of zero coupon perpetual bonds that would be directly purchased by the BoJ, a charade which basically involves the central bank printing money and giving it to the government to spend as it chooses. There would be no buyers of this debt in the open market, but it could presumably sit on the BoJ balance sheet forever at face value.



Bernanke’s role in this maneuver was suggested in a July 14th Bloomberg article, which said:



Ben S Bernanke, who met Japanese leaders in Tokyo this week, had floated the idea of perpetual bonds during earlier discussions in Washington with one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s key advisers …

He noted that helicopter money – in which the government issues non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date and the Bank of Japan directly buys them – could work as the strongest tool to overcome deflation …



Key is that the bonds can’t be sold and never come due. In QE as done today, the central bank reserves the right to sell the bonds it purchases back into the market, in order to shrink the money supply in the event of a future runaway inflation. But that is not the only way to shrink the money supply. The government can just raise taxes and void out the additional money it collects. And neither tool should be necessary if inflation rates are properly monitored.

The Japanese stock market shot up in anticipation of new monetary stimulus, but it dropped again after the BBC aired an interview with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda recorded in June. He ruled out the possibility of “helicopter money” – defined on as “essentially printing money and distributing payouts” – since it violated Japanese law. As the Wall Street Journal observed, however, Bernanke’s non-marketable perpetual bonds could still be on the table, as a way to “tiptoe toward helicopter money, while creating a fig leaf of cover to say it isn’t direct monetization”.

Who Should Create the Money Supply, Banks or Governments?

If the Japanese experiment is in play, it could settle a long-standing dispute over whether helicopter money will “reflate” or simply hyperinflate the money supply.

One of the more outspoken critics of the approach is David Stockman, who wrote a scathing blog post on July 14th titled “Helicopter Money – The Biggest Fed Power Grab Yet” Outraged at the suggestion by Loretta Mester of the Cleveland Fed (whom he calls “clueless”) that helicopter money would be the “next step” if the Fed wanted to be more accommodative, Stockman said:





This is beyond the pale because “helicopter money” isn’t some kind of new wrinkle in monetary policy, at all. It’s an old as the hills rationalization for monetization of the public debt – that is, purchase of government bonds with central bank credit conjured from thin air.



Stockman, however, may be clueless as to where the US dollar comes from. Today, it is all created out of thin air; and most of it is created by private banks when they make loans. Who would we rather have creating the national money supply – a transparent and accountable public entity charged with serving the public interest, or a private corporation solely intent on making profits for its shareholders and executives? We’ve seen the results of the private system: fraud, corruption, speculative bubbles, booms and busts.

Adair Turner, former chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority, is a cautious advocate of helicopter money. He observes:



We have been left with so much debt we can’t just grow our way out of it – we should consider a radical option.



Not that allowing the government to issue money is so radical. It was the innovative system of Benjamin Franklin and the American colonists. Paper scrip represented the government’s IOU for goods and services received. The debt did not have to be repaid in some other currency. The government’s IOU was money. The US dollar is a government IOU backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States”.

The US Constitution gives Congress the power to “coin money [and] regulate the value thereof”. Having the power to regulate the value of its coins, Congress could legally issue trillion dollar coins to pay its debts if it chose. As Congressman Wright Patman noted in 1941:




The Constitution of the United States does not give the banks the power to create money. The Constitution says that Congress shall have the power to create money, but now, under our system, we will sell bonds to commercial banks and obtain credit from those banks. I believe the time will come when people [will] actually blame you and me and everyone else connected with this Congress for sitting idly by and permitting such an idiotic system to continue.



Beating the Banks at Their Own Game

Issuing “zero-coupon non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date” is obviously sleight of hand, a convoluted way of letting the government issue the money it needs in order to do what governments are expected to do. But it is a necessary charade in a system in which the power to create money has been hijacked from governments by a private banking monopoly engaged in its own sleight of hand, euphemistically called “fractional reserve lending”. The modern banking model is a magician’s trick in which banks lend money only a fraction of which they actually have, effectively counterfeiting the rest as deposits on their books when they make loans.

Governments today are blocked from exercising their sovereign power to issue the national money supply by misguided legislation designed to avoid hyperinflation. Legislators steeped in flawed monetarist theory are more comfortable borrowing from banks that create the money on their books than creating it themselves. To satisfy these misinformed legislators and the bank lobbyists holding them in thrall, governments must borrow before they spend; but taxpayers balk at the growing debt and interest burden this borrowing entails. By borrowing from its own central bank with “non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date”, the government can satisfy the demands of all parties.

Critics may disapprove of the helicopter money option, but the market evidently approves. Japanese shares shot up for four consecutive days after Abe announced his new fiscal stimulus program, in the strongest rally since February. As noted in a July 11th ZeroHedge editorial, Japan “has given the world a glimpse of not only how ‘helicopter money’ will look, but also the market’s enthusiastic response, which needless to say is music to the ears of central bankers everywhere”. If the Japanese trial balloon is successful, many more such experiments can be expected globally.


Ellen Brown is an attorney, Founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt (2007). Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution (2013), explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

Categories: Uncategorized

Not So Fast!

NSA Whistleblower: Not So Fast On Claims Russia Behind Hillary Clinton Email Hack

by WashingtonsBlog (July 26 2016)

The mainstream media alleges that Russia was behind the hack of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The media is parading out the usual suspects alleged experts to back up this claim.

Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level National Security Agency (“NSA”) whistleblower in history, William Binney – the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”) – what he thinks of such claims:



Edward Snowden says the NSA could easily determine who hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails:

But mainstream media say it couldn’t:

The mainstream media is also trumpeting the meme that Russia was behind the hack, because it wants to help Trump get elected. In other words, the media is trying to deflect how damaging the email leaks are to Clinton’s character by trying to somehow associate Trump with Putin. See for example



Who’s right?

Binney responded:



Snowden is right and the mainstream media is clueless. Here’s what I said to Ray McGovern and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (“VIPS”) with a little humor at the end. [McGovern is a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials. McGovern is co-founder of VIPS.]

Ray, I am suspicious that they may have looked for known hacking code (used by Russians). And, I’m sure they were one probably of many to hack her stuff. But, does that mean that they checked to see if others also hacked in?

Further, do they have evidence that the Russians downloaded and later forwarded those emails to wikileaks? Seems to me that they need to answer those questions to be sure that their assertion is correct. Otherwise, Hillary Rodman Clinton and her political activities are and I am sure have been prime targets for the Russians (as well as many others) but without intent of course.

I would add that we proposed to do a program that would monitor all activity on the world-wide NSA network back in 1991/92. We called it “Wellgrounded”. NSA did not want anyone (especially congress) to know what was going on inside NSA and therefore rejected that proposal. I have not read what Ed has said, but, I do know that every line of code that goes across the network is logged in the network log. This is where a little software could scan, analyze and find the intruders initially and then compile all the code sent by them to determine the type of attack. This is what we wanted to do back in 1991/92.



The newest allegation tying the Clinton email hack to Russia seems to be all innuendo.

Binney explained to us:



My problem is that they have not listed intruders or attempted intrusions to the Democratic National Convention (“DNC”) site. I suspect that’s because they did a quick and dirty look for known attacks.

Of course, this brings up another question; if it’s a know attack, why did the DNC not have software to stop it? You can tell from the network log who is going into a site. I used that on networks that I had. I looked to see who came into my local area network (“LAN”), where they went, how long they stayed and what they did while in my network.

Further, if you needed to, you could trace back approaches through other servers et cetera. Trace Route and Trace Watch are good examples of monitoring software that help do these things. Others of course exist … probably the best are in NSA/GCHQ and the other Five Eyes countries. But, these countries have no monopoly on smart people that could do similar detection software.

Question is do they want to fix the problems with existing protection software. If the DNC and Office of Personnel Management are examples, then obviously, they don’t care to fix weakness probably because the want to use these weaknesses to their own advantage.



Why is this newsworthy?

Well, the mainstream narrative alleges that the Clinton emails are not important … and that it’s a conspiracy between Putin and Trump to make sure Trump – and not Clinton – is elected.

But there are other issues, as well …

For example, an allegation of hacking could literally lead to war.

So we should be skeptical of such serious and potentially far-reaching allegations – which may be true or may be false – unless and until they are proven.

Categories: Uncategorized

We May Be at a Greater Risk …

… of Nuclear Catastrophe Than During the Cold War

Astounding increases in the danger of nuclear weapons have paralleled provocative foreign policy decisions that needlessly incite tensions between Washington and Moscow.

by Conn Hallinan

Foreign Policy in Focus (July 20 2016)
“Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War”, warns William Perry, “and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”

A former US defense secretary from 1994 to 1997, Perry has been an inside player in the business of nuclear weapons for over sixty years. And his book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink (2015), is a sober read. It’s also a powerful counterpoint to Nato’s current European strategy, which envisions nuclear weapons as a deterrent to war: The purpose of nukes “is to prevent major war, not to wage wars”, argues the Alliance’s magazine, Nato Review.

But as Perry points out, it’s only by chance that the world has avoided a nuclear war – sometimes by nothing more than dumb luck – and, rather than enhancing our security, nukes “now endanger it”.

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis is generally represented as a dangerous standoff resolved by sober diplomacy. In fact, it was a single man – Russian submarine commander Vasili Arkhipov – who countermanded orders to launch a nuclear torpedo at an American destroyer that could have set off a full-scale nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States.

There were numerous other incidents that brought the world to the brink. On a quiet morning in November 1979, a NORAD computer reported a full-scale Russian sneak attack with land and sea-based missiles, which led to scrambling US bombers and alerting US missile silos to prepare to launch. But it turned out there was no Soviet attack – just an errant test tape.

Lest anyone think the incident was an anomaly, a little more than six months later NORAD computers erroneously announced that Soviet submarines had launched 220 missiles at the United States. This time the cause was a defective chip that cost 49 cents – again resulting in scrambling interceptors and putting the silos on alert.

But don’t these examples prove that accidental nuclear war is unlikely? That conclusion is a dangerous illusion, argues Perry, because the price of being mistaken is so high – and because the world is a more dangerous place than it was in 1980.

A Worsening Climate

It’s been 71 years since atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and humanity’s memory of those events has dimmed. But even were the entire world to read John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946), it would have little idea of what we face today.

The bombs that obliterated those cities were tiny by today’s standards, and comparing “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” – the incongruous names of the weapons that leveled both cities – to modern weapons stretches any analogy beyond the breaking point. If the Hiroshima bomb represented approximately 27 freight cars filled with TNT, a one-megaton warhead would require a train 300 miles long.

Each Russian RS-20V Voevoda intercontinental ballistic missile packs ten megatons.

What’s made today’s world more dangerous, however, aren’t just advances in the destructive power of nuclear weapons, but a series of actions by the last three US administrations.

First was the decision by President Bill Clinton to abrogate a 1990 agreement with the Soviet Union not to push Nato further east after the reunification of Germany or to recruit former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact.

Nato has also reneged on a 1997 pledge not to install “permanent” and “significant” military forces in former Warsaw Pact countries. This month Nato decided to deploy four battalions on or near the Russian border, arguing that since the units will be rotated, they’re not “permanent” or large enough to be “significant”. It’s a linguistic slight of hand that doesn’t amuse Moscow.

Second was the 1999 US-Nato intervention in the Yugoslav civil war and the forcible dismemberment of Serbia. It’s somewhat ironic that Russia has been accused of using force to “redraw borders in Europe” by annexing Crimea, which is exactly what Nato did to create Kosovo. The US subsequently built Camp Bond Steel, Washington’s largest base in the Balkans.

Third was President George W Bush’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the decision by the Obama administration to deploy anti-missile systems in Romania and Poland, as well as Japan and South Korea.

Last is the decision by the current White House to spend upwards of $1 trillion upgrading its nuclear weapons arsenal, which includes building bombs with smaller yields, a move that many critics argue blurs the line between conventional and nuclear weapons.

Strategic Uncertainty

The Yugoslav War and Nato’s move east convinced Moscow that the US-led alliance was surrounding Russia with potential adversaries, and the deployment of anti-missile systems, or ABMs – supposedly aimed at Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons – was seen as a threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

One immediate effect of ABMs was to chill the possibility of further cuts in the number of nuclear weapons. When Obama proposed another round of warhead reductions, the Russians turned it down cold, citing the anti-missile systems as the reason. “How can we take seriously this idea about cuts in strategic nuclear potential while the United States is developing its capabilities to intercept Russian missiles?” asked Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

When the US endorsed the 2014 coup against the pro-Russian government in Ukraine, it ignited the current crisis that has led to several dangerous incidents between Russian and Nato forces – at last count, according to the European Leadership Network, more than sixty. Several large war games were also held on Moscow’s borders. Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev went so far as to accuse Nato of making “preparations for switching from a cold war to a hot war”.

In response, the Russians have also held war games involving up to 80,000 troops.

It is unlikely that Nato intends to attack Russia, but the power differential between the US and Russia is so great – a “colossal asymmetry”, Dmitri Trenin, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center, told the Financial Times – that the Russians have abandoned their “no first use” of nuclear weapons pledge.

It’s the lack of clear lines that makes the current situation so fraught with danger. While the Russians have said they would consider using small tactical nukes if “the very existence of the state” was threatened by an attack, Nato is being deliberately opaque about its possible tripwires. According to Nato Review, nuclear “exercises should involve not only nuclear weapons states … but other non-nuclear allies”, and “to put the burden of the doubt on potential adversaries, exercises should not point at any specific nuclear thresholds”.

In short, keep the Russians guessing. The immediate problem with such a strategy is: What if Moscow guesses wrong?

That won’t be hard to do. The US is developing a long-range cruise missile – as are the Russians – that can be armed with conventional or nuclear warheads. But how will an adversary know which is which? And given the old rule in nuclear warfare – use ’em or lose ’em – uncertainty is the last thing one wants to engender in a nuclear-armed foe.

Indeed, the idea of no “specific nuclear thresholds” is one of the most extraordinarily dangerous and destabilizing concepts to come along since the invention of nuclear weapons.

Cold Wars of Choice

There is currently no evidence that Russia contemplates an attack on the Baltic states or countries like Poland. Given the enormous power of the United States, which offers a security guarantee to Nato members, such an undertaking would court national suicide.

Nor do Russia’s recent border conflicts suggest otherwise. Moscow’s “aggression” against Georgia and Ukraine was provoked. Georgia attacked Russia, not vice versa, and the Ukraine coup torpedoed a peace deal negotiated by the European Union, the United States, and Russia. Imagine Washington’s view of a Moscow-supported coup in Mexico, followed by an influx of Russian weapons and trainers.

In a memorandum to the recent Nato meetings in Warsaw, the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argued as much. “There is not one scintilla of evidence of any Russian plan to annex Crimea before the coup in Kiev and coup leaders began talking about joining Nato”, the members insisted. “If senior Nato leaders continue to be unable or unwilling to distinguish between cause and effect, increasing tension is inevitable with potentially disastrous results”.

The organization of former intelligence analysts also sharply condemned the Nato war games that followed. “We shake our heads in disbelief when we see Western leaders seemingly oblivious to what it means to the Russians to witness exercises on a scale not seen since Hitler’s army launched ‘Unternehmen Barbarossa’ 75 years ago, leaving 25 million Soviet citizens dead”.

While the Nato meetings in Warsaw agreed to continue economic sanctions aimed at Russia for another six months and to station four battalions of troops in Poland and the Baltic states – along with separate US forces in Bulgaria and Poland – there was an undercurrent of dissent. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for deescalating the tensions with Russia and for considering Russian President Vladimir Putin a partner rather than an enemy.

Greece was not alone. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Nato maneuvers on the Russian border “warmongering” and “saber rattling”. French President Francois Hollande said Putin should be considered a “partner”, not a “threat”, and France tried to reduce the number of troops being deployed in the Baltic and Poland. Italy has been increasingly critical of the sanctions as well.

Rather than recognizing the growing discomfort of a number of Nato allies and that beefing up forces on Russia’s borders might be destabilizing, US Secretary of State John Kerry recently inked defense agreements with Georgia and Ukraine.

After disappearing from the radar for several decades, nukes are back, and the decision to modernize the US arsenal will almost certainly kick off a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. Russia is already replacing its current ICBM force with the more powerful and long range “Sarmat” ICBM, and China is loading its own missiles with multiple warheads.

Add to this volatile mixture military maneuvers and a deliberately opaque policy in regards to the use of nuclear weapons, and it’s no wonder that Perry thinks that the chances of some catastrophe is a growing possibility.

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