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The Blessing of Cash

And Why Central Bankers Hate It So Much

by Joseph Salerno via LewRockwell.com {1}

Zero Hedge (August 28 2016)

Starting today, the Royal Bank of Scotland (“RBS”) will become the first bank in the UK to impose a negative interest rate {2} on depositors. The negative rate will apply only to corporate customers, including mutual fund managers and pension funds, holding deposits of certain foreign currencies including euros. This means that RBS – in which the UK government still maintains a majority ownership stake since its 2008 bailout – will actually charge these customers to “borrow” their deposits. A few weeks ago, RBS notified more than one million small-business customers that they could also be charged for deposits if the Bank of England (“BOE”) lowered the target interest rate, which now stands at .25%, into negative territory. Experts are warning that the latest move by RBS would “set alarm bells ringing” among small businesses and ordinary customers. The stage is set for a glorious and long overdue old-fashioned bank run if the BOE ventures to push rates into negative territory.

Meanwhile in the eurozone {3}, since the ECB rate cut the interest rate in March to minus 0.4%, banks have paid a total of about 2.64 billion euros to keep their funds on deposit at the eurozone’s nineteen central banks. With European central bankers threatening further rate cuts, private financial institutions are exploring the feasibility of circumventing the charges by converting central bank electronic deposit credits into cash and storing it in nonbank facilities. The German insurance company Munich Re is reportedly already storing tens of millions of euros at “a manageable cost”, and Commerzbank, Germany’s second-biggest lender, is considering a similar option.

Of course, any significant movement to convert bank reserves into cash would undermine the goal of central bank rate cutting because the cost of holding bank reserves in cold hard cash would not respond to a change in interest rates, short-circuiting central bank efforts to stimulate further bank lending. More significant, if the movement to convert deposits into cash spreads to the nonbank public, it would bring down the fractional-reserve banking system in short order. And herein lies the real reason why prominent establishment economists are now leading the charge in the War on Cash. By abolishing cash, they seek to lock everyone’s money holdings into the fractional-reserve banking system and make the system completely run-proof for all time. This would preserve and strengthen the so-called “transmission mechanism” of monetary policy, whose central element is fractional-reserve bank lending, which creates new deposits out of thin air.

Not coincidentally, Harvard and former IMF economist Kenneth Rogoff has just published a book a few days ago bearing the lurid title The Curse of Cash {4}. The book garners effusive praise in back-cover endorsements from leading professional economists such as Ben Bernanke, Alan Blinder, and Michael Woodford. Rogoff reportedly calls for the abolition of all cash {5}, not merely large-denomination notes. While admitting that cash has some advantages, Rogoff makes the sensational claim that the bulk of the $1.4 trillion of US currency in circulation is used to facilitate tax evasion and to finance illegal activities like human trafficking and terrorism. Oh yes – Rogoff also argues that a cashless economy would make monetary policy more efficient by preventing savers from hoarding cash whenever central bankers – advised by sage macroeconomists like Rogoff – decide that the “natural” or optimal rate of interest for the economy has become deeply negative.

Cash is an unambiguously a blessing to productive workers, savers, and entrepreneurs who wish to protect their hard earned money from the crazed theories and swindling schemes promoted by statists like Rogoff and the central bankers he advises.

Links:

{1} https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/08/joseph-salerno/cash-blessing/

{2} http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3749817/RBS-bank-set-negative-rates-s-charging-large-firms-hold-cash-families-next.html#ixzz4I4PsM3jf

{3} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-17/banks-ponder-vault-cash-response-negative-rates-lending-reality-nutshell

{4} https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EMADYJ2/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_lc?tag=lewrockwell&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=B01EMADYJ2&adid=187DP7NN8PBC0RD8XFXQ&&ref-refURL=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lewrockwell.com%2F%3Fpost_type%3Darticle%26p%3D601165%26preview%3Dtrue%26n_preview_id%3D601165%26preview_nonce%3D8d47b650d2

{5} http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2016/08/economist-explains-11?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-28/blessing-cash-and-why-central-bankers-hate-it-so-much

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Harvard Professor Demands Ban …

… on $20, $50, $100 Bills

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (August 27 2016)

Six months since Larry Summers first suggested “it’s time to kill the $100 bill”, {1} and three months after The ECB actually killed the 500 euro note {2}, another Harvard scholar is reinvigorating the war on cash. Amid claims that paper money fuels corruption, terrorism, tax evasion, and illegal immigration, Ken Rogoff (ironically of “It’s Different This Time” infamy) says the US should get rid of the $100 bill {3} (and $50s and $20s) proposing, in his words, “a ‘less-cash’ society, not a cashless one, at least for the foreseeable future”.

According to the esteemed ivory tower academic, paper currency lies at the heart of some of today’s most intractable public-finance and monetary problems. As Rogoff explains in The Wall Street Journal {3}, getting rid of most of it – that is, moving to a society where cash is used less frequently and mainly for small transactions – could be a big help.

Rogoff’s begins by stating factoids as facts …

 

 

There is little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the US $100 bill, facilitates crime: racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism. There are substitutes for cash – cryptocurrencies, uncut diamonds, gold coins, prepaid cards – but for many kinds of criminal transactions, cash is still king. It delivers absolute anonymity, portability, liquidity and near-universal acceptance. It is no accident that whenever there is a big-time drug bust, the authorities typically find wads of cash.

Cash is also deeply implicated in tax evasion, which costs the federal government some $500 billion a year in revenue. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a lot of the action is concentrated in small cash-intensive businesses, where it is difficult to verify sales and the self-reporting of income. By contrast, businesses that take payments mostly by check, bank card or electronic transfer know that it is much easier for tax authorities to catch them dissembling. Though the data are much thinner for state and local governments, they too surely lose big-time from tax evasion, perhaps as much as $200 billion a year.

Cash also lies at the core of the illegal immigration problem in the US. If American employers couldn’t so easily pay illegal workers off the books in cash, the lure of jobs would abate, and the flow of illegal immigrants would shrink drastically. Needless to say, phasing out most cash would be a far more humane and sensible way of discouraging illegal immigration than constructing a giant wall.

 

 

So to clarify – cash (and Donald Trump) are at the center of all of America’s and the world’s ills and therefore – as a PhD who knows best – we must destroy it (for your own good) …

 

 

Obviously, scaling back cash is not going to change human nature, and there are other ways to dodge taxes and run illegal businesses. But there can be no doubt that flooding the underground economy with paper currency encourages illicit behavior.

To be clear, I am proposing a “less-cash” society, not a cashless one, at least for the foreseeable future. The first stage of the transition would involve very gradually phasing out large denomination bills that constitute the bulk of the currency supply. Of the more than $4,200 in cash that is circulating outside financial institutions for every man, woman and child in the US, almost eighty percent of it is in $100 bills. In turn, $50 and $20 bills would also be phased out, though $10s, $5s and $1s would be kept indefinitely. Today these smaller bills constitute just three percent of the value of the currency supply.

The point of getting rid of big bills is to make it harder to carry and store large amounts. A million dollars in $100 bills weighs approximately 22 pounds and can fit comfortably into a large shopping bag. With $10 bills, it isn’t so easy. Think of lugging around 220 pounds in a giant chest. Hoarders and tax evaders would find small notes proportionately costlier to count, verify, handle and store. The use of cash could be further discouraged by putting restrictions on the maximum size of cash payments allowed in retail sales.

 

 

But we need to think of the poorest people (oh wait so what you mean is, we really only care about ensuring those with any ‘real’ money are unable to easily transport it away from the soon-to-be-pernicious banking system?):

 

 

If cash is so bad, why retain small bills of $10 and under? For one thing, cash still accounts for more than half of retail purchases under $10, though the share fades off sharply as payment size rises, with debit cards, credit cards, electronic transfers and checks all far more important than cash for (legal, tax-compliant) payments over $100.

Retaining small notes alleviates a host of problems that might arise if cash were eliminated entirely. For example, cash is still handy if a hurricane or natural disaster knocks out the power grid. Most disaster-preparation manuals call for people to keep some cash on hand, warning that ATMs might be paralyzed.

But times are changing. Nowadays, cell towers and large retail stores typically have backup generators, allowing them to process bank cards during a power outage. And there are always checks. In due time, smartphone technology is likely to overtake all other media, and one can always keep a spare charging cell for emergencies.

 

 

And finally – Rogoff explains why sacrificing your personal privacy for the greater good is what really matters, because otherwise are you really a patriot??

 

 

Perhaps the most challenging and fundamental objection to getting rid of cash has to do with privacy – with our ability to spend anonymously.

But where does one draw the line between this individual right and the government’s need to tax and regulate and to enforce the law? Most of us wouldn’t want to clamp down on someone’s right to make the occasional $200 purchase in complete privacy. But what about a $50,000 car or a $1 million apartment? We should be able to reduce the problems I’ve described here while also ensuring that ordinary people can still use small bills for convenience in everyday transactions.

 

 

So, summing up – it appears Rogoff has identified the true evil behind today’s dismal economy – cash – and suggests a “just the tip” approach to solving this with a “less-cash” society … which we are sure will never go any further than that … If you like your $10 bill, you can keep it …

Go ahead and cut, then: after all who really needs the Benjamins, right? Think of the criminal cost savings … Well, as we noted previously, {2} here’s the thing:

As the Treasury chart above shows, $100 bills account for for $1.08 trillion of the $1.38 trillion total in circulation. So should the Federal Reserve (“Fed”) react to the ECB’s “scrapping” of the 500 euro bill, which accounts for thirty percent of the value of currency in circulation [in Europe], then the Fed would respond in kind, by eliminating 78% of all paper currency in circulation by value [in the US].

Not a bad way to launch a global ban on paper currency ahead of a global negative interest rate policy (“NIRP”) regime, and all, of course, in the name of fighting “tax evasion, financial crime, terrorism and corruption”.

Of course, there is one ‘asset’ in which to store wealth that is easier to transport than shoeboxes of dollar-bills …

But then again, they can always confiscate that too … (but as we noted previously, even that might be different this time) … {4}

 

 

Today, only a tiny fraction of the US population owns gold. Heck, I’d bet most Americans have never even seen a gold coin, much less appreciate its value.

This wasn’t the case in 1933, when the US was still on a variation of the gold standard. That’s why the government probably won’t repeat the 1933 rip-off. It’s simply not worth the effort.

If the government wants to confiscate wealth, it’s far more likely to go for the easy option … steadily debasing the currency by printing money. It’s a stealthy way to confiscate from savers.

That doesn’t mean gold owners are in the clear.

I think the government will try a new scam: taxing windfall profits on gold. This would make it much easier for the government to accomplish something similar to its 1933 heist.

There’s precedence for it, too. In 1980, Congress passed the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act, which taxed up to seventy percent% of “windfall profits” of domestic oil producers.

What the heck is a windfall profit anyway?

As far as I can tell, it’s whatever politicians decide it is. It’s completely arbitrary. There are no objective measures to define it.

In short, a windfall profit is simply a profit politicians don’t like. The whole concept is a scam – a word trick to camouflage and sanitize legalized theft.

 
If the price of gold explodes, don’t be surprised if Congress passes a Fair Share Gold Windfall Profit Tax Act levying a tax of eighty percent, ninety percent, or more on gold profits.

Links:

{1} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-16/larry-summers-launches-war-us-paper-money-its-time-kill-100-bill

{2} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-04/war-paper-currency-officially-begins-ecb-ends-productionissuance-eu500-bill

{3} http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-sinister-side-of-cash-1472137692

{4} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-11/what-next-gold-confiscation-will-look-and-how-protect-yourself

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-27/harvard-professor-launches-war-paper-money

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Holy Grail of Energy Policy in Sight …

… as Battery Technology Smashes the Old Order

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The Telegraph (August 10 2016)

The world’s next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away. Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build Twentieth Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point.

The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy policy.

You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming ‘drastic improvements’ that can slash storage costs by eighty to ninety percent and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order.

‘Storage is a huge deal’, says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely ‘decarbonised’ by the middle of the century.

The technology is poised to overcome the curse of ‘intermittency’ that has long bedevilled wind and solar. Surges of excess power will be stored for use later at times when the sun sets, and consumption peaks in the early evening.

This transforms the calculus of energy policy. The question for the British government as it designs a strategy fit for the 21st Century – and wrestles with an exorbitant commitment to Hinkley Point – is no longer whether this form of back-up power will ever be commercially viable, but whether the inflection point arrives in the early-2020s or in the late 2020s.

One front-runner – a Washington favourite – is an organic flow battery at Harvard that uses quinones from cheap and abundant sources such as rhubarb or oil waste. It is much cheaper and less toxic than current flow batteries based on the rare metal vanadium. Its reactions are 1,000 times faster.

Professor Michael Aziz, leader of the Harvard project, said there are still problems to sort out with the ‘calendar life’ of storage chemicals but the basic design is essentially proven.

‘We have a fighting chance of bringing down the capital cost to $100 a kilowatt hour, and that will change the world. It could complement wind and solar on a very large scale’, he told the Daily Telegraph.

The latest refinement is to replace toxic bromine with harmless ferrocyanide – used in food additives. The battery cannot catch fire. It is safe and clean. ‘This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement’, he said.

The design is delightfully simple. It uses a tank of water. You could have one at home in Los Angeles, Lagos, Buenos Aires, Delhi, or Guangzhou, storing solar power in the day to drive your air-conditioning at night. It could be scaled up for a 500 megawatt wind farm.

Italy’s Green Energy Storage has the European licence. It is building a prototype with the Kessler Foundation at Trento University, backed by EU funds. ‘We have a chemistry that is ten times cheaper than anything on the market’, said Salvatore Pinto, the chairman.

‘We are speaking to three utilities in Europe and we will install our first battery as a field test next year’, he said.

It is a race. Tim Grejpak, an energy expert at Lux Research, said Lockheed Martin and Pacific Northwest labs are both working on their own organic flow batteries, while others are developing variants with designed molecules.

I do not wish to single out this particular technology. I cite it as an example of how fast the picture is evolving as the world’s scientific superpower mobilizes in earnest, and investors start to chase the immense prize. Consultants Mckinsey estimate that the energy storage market will grow a hundredfold to $90 billion a year by 2025.

Once storage costs approach $100 per kilowatt hour, there ceases to be much point in building costly ‘baseload’ power plants such as Hinkley Point. Nuclear reactors cannot be switched on and off as need demands – unlike gas plants. They are useless as a back-up for the decentralized grid of the future, when wind, solar, hydro, and other renewables will dominate the power supply.

I will be writing about the economics of offshore wind in coming days but bear in mind that renewables generated eighteen percent of UK power last year, and this is expected to double by the late 2020s as wind and solar capacity reach fifty gigawatts (“GW”). Once the power can be stored for overnight use, there will be extended periods in the summer when no base-load is needed whatsoever.

Perhaps the Hinkley project still made sense in 2013 before the collapse in global energy prices and before the latest leap forward in renewable technology. It is madness today.

The latest report by the National Audit Office (“NAO”) shows that the estimated subsidy for these two reactors has already jumped from six billion GBP to near thirty billion GBP. Hinkley Point locks Britain into a strike price of 92.50 GBP per megawatt hour – adjusted for inflation, already 97 GBP per megawatt hour – and that is guaranteed for 35 years.

That is double the current market price of electricity. The NAO’s figures show that solar will be nearer sixty GBP per megawatt hour by 2025. Dong Energy has already agreed to an offshore wind contract in Holland at less than 75 GBP per megawatt hour.

Michael Liebreich from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says the Hinkley Point saga will be taught for generations as a case study in how not to run a procurement process. ‘The obvious question is why this train-wreck of a project was not killed long ago’, he said.

Theresa May has inherited a poisonous dossier, left with the invidious choice of either offending China or persisting with a venture that no longer makes any economic sense. She may have to offend China – as tactfully as possible, let us hope –  for the scale of the folly has become crushingly obvious.

Every big decision on energy strategy by the British government or any other government must henceforth be based on the working premise that cheap energy storage will soon be a reality.

This country can achieve total self-sufficiency in power at viable cost from our own sun, wind, and waters within a generation. Once we shift to electric vehicles as well, we will no longer need to import much oil either. Rejoice.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/10/holy-grail-of-energy-policy-in-sight-as-battery-technology-smash/

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The United States

A Dead Nation Walking

by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org (August 26 2016)

Here {1} is an informative article by Dmitry Orlov.

I use the writings of Orlov and The Saker as checks on my own conclusions.

In his article Orlov concludes that the United States is a dead nation, still walking, but no longer a uni-power. I agree with Orlov that US weapon systems are more focused on profits than on effectiveness and that Russia has superior weapons and a superior cause based on protection rather than dominance. However, in his assessment of the possibility of nuclear war, I think that Orlov under-appreciates the commitment of Washington’s Neoconservatives to US world hegemony and the recklessness of the Neoconservatives and Hillary Clinton. Washington is incensed that Russia (and China) dare to stand up to Washington, and this anger crowds out judgment.

Orlov, also, I think, under-estimates the weakness in the Russian government provided by the “Atlanticist Integrationists”. These are members of the Russian elite who believe that Russia’s future depends on being integrated with the West. To achieve this integration, they are willing to sacrifice some undetermined amount of Russian sovereignty.

It is my conclusion that Washington is aware of the constraint that the desire for Western acceptance puts on the Russian government and that this is why Washington, in a direct thrust at Russia, was comfortable orchestrating the coup that overthrew the elected Ukrainian government. I believe that this constraint also explains the mistakes the Russian government made by refusing the requests of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics to be reincorporated as parts of Russia, where the territories formerly resided, and by the premature withdrawal from Syria that allowed Washington to resupply the jihadists and to insert US forces into the conflict, thus complicating the situation for Russia and Syria.

Orlov sees Russian advantage in the ongoing conflict between Kiev and the breakaway republics as the conflict could be leading to the collapse of the US puppet government in Kiev. However, the disadvantage is that the ongoing conflict is blamed on Russia and feeds Western anti-Russian propaganda. It also makes Russia look weak and unsure of itself as if the Western criticism of Russia’s reincorporation of Crimea has struck home and Russia is afraid to repeat it by accepting the pleas of the break-away republics.

Moreover, if the Russian government had accepted the requests of Donetsk and Luhansk to return to Russia from which they were artificailly separated, not only would the conflict have been ended, but also the Ukrainian people would have realized the disaster caused by Washington’s coup against their government, and Europe would have realized from decisive Russian action that it was not in Europe’s interest to provoke Russia in behalf of Washington. The correct Russian response was prevented by the Atlanticist Integrationist desire to appease Washington.

In contrast to Orlov, The Saker underestimates Russian military strength, but he does understand the constraints placed on Russian decisiveness by the Atlanticist Integrationists, who seem to count in their ranks the economic establishment including the central bank and perhaps the prime minister himself. Putin does not seem to be overly concerned with what appears to me to be a fifth column of Washington’s agents as Putin himself has placed heavy bets on achieving accommodation with the West. However, Putin has cracked down on the US-financed NGOs that have tried to destabilize Russia.

Western reporting and think tank and university reports on Russia are propaganda and are useless to understanding the situation. For example, in the current issue of The National Interest Thomas Graham, who had the Russian desk on the National Security Council during the George W Bush regime, attributes the “destabilization of eastern Ukraine” to “Russia’s annexation of Crimea”. He avoids mentioning the US-orchestrated overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government and that Crimea voted overwhelmingly (97 percent) to rejoin Russia when faced with the Russophobic government Washington established in Kiev. {2}

According to Graham, the foul deed of Russia’s acceptance of a democratic outcome upset all of Washington’s very friendly, supportive, and hopeful attitudes toward Russia. With all of Washington’s “assumptions that had guided America’s Russia policy” irreversibly dashed, it is no longer possible to maintain that Russia “is a suitable partner for addressing global issues”. Graham goes on to define Russia as a problem because Russia favors a multi-polar world to a uni-polar world run by Washington.

It is possible to read Graham’s repeat of the propaganda line as Graham genuflecting before the Neoconservatives before going on quietly in a low-key manner to attack their hegemonic attitude toward Russia. In his concluding paragraph Graham says that Washington must find a new approach to Russia, an approach of balance and limits that rejects “resort to force, which would be devastating given the destructive power of modern weaponry”.

All in all, it is an artful argument that begins by blaming Russia’s response to Washington’s provocations for a dangerous situation and concludes with the argument that Washington must adjust to Russia’s defense of her own national interests.

It is reassuring to see some realism creeping back into Washington attitudes toward Russia. However, realism is still a minority view, and it is highly unlikely that it would be the view of a Hillary regime.

In my opinion, the chance of nuclear war from Neoconservative intention, miscalculation or false launch warning remains high. The provocations of US/Nato military forces and missile bases on Russia’s borders are reckless as they build tensions between nuclear powers. It is in times of tension that false warnings are believed and miscalculations occur. In the interest of life on earth, Washington should be de-escalating tensions with Russia, not building them. So far there is no sign that the Neoconservatives are willing to give up their hegemonic agenda for the sake of life on earth.

Links:

{1} http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2016/08/a-thousand-balls-of-flame.html#more

{2} http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-sources-russian-conduct-17462

Copyright (c) 2016 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

The US: A Dead Nation Walking — Paul Craig Roberts

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Retrotopia: Dinner, Drinks, and Hard Questions

A Parable

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (August 17 2016)

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

This is the twenty-second installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator has dinner with Melanie Berger, tells her about his change of mind, and has to confront the hard choices ahead of him.
 

* * * * *

 

We’d settled on a Greek restaurant close by, a place I’d been for lunch already.  I passed that onto the driver as soon as we got into the cab, and slumped back against the leather seat as the driver climbed up onto the seat up front, snapped the reins, and got the horses moving. Neither Melanie nor I said anything. The lights of Toledo rolled by, and I wondered how many people behind the windows we passed were worrying about the war down south, the way I was.

It was maybe five minutes, if that, when the cab rolled to a stop, and the cabby swung down from his seat and popped open the door. I climbed down, paid him, reached out a hand for Melanie; she took it gratefully, got down onto the sidewalk. “Thank you”, she said, when the cabbie was driving off. “For a few minutes of silence, especially”.

“We don’t have to talk over dinner”, I said as we headed toward the door.

“Don’t worry about it. You won’t be screaming at me in a Texas accent for an hour straight”.

I gave her a questioning look, but by then we were inside and the greeter was headed our way.  Once we were comfortably settled in a booth over to one side, and the waitress had handed us menus and taken our drinks order to the bar, I said, “Seriously?”

“Seriously. The Texan ambassador wanted to see President Meeker right now, and no, she didn’t care that he was in a cabinet meeting and that she was going to be the first to see him afterwards. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever wished that diplomatic courtesies included the right to slap someone hard enough to send teeth flying.”

I choked, then pasted on a respectable expression while the waitress came back with our martinis and took our order. “I take it Texas doesn’t put professionals in its embassies”.

“Only the important ones, and we’re not one of those. Velma Streiber’s a Houston society matron who has good friends in the Bulford administration and wanted a fancy title”. She shook her head.

“I hope you didn’t have to deal with the Confederate ambassador too”, I said.

“I did, but that was easy. John Bayard MacElroy is your basic Confederate gentleman.  He might shoot you dead in cold blood and feed your corpse to his hound dogs, but he’ll be the very soul of politeness while he does it.”

I choked again. Then, still laughing, I shook my head and picked up my martini. She gave me a startled look. “That doesn’t look much like what you were drinking Friday night”.

“It isn’t”, I admitted. “I decided to try a Lakeland style martini Saturday, and liked it”.

That got me a long, considering look, and then a nod. “But that was my day – that and dealing with just about every other embassy in Toledo by phone or in person, scheduling meetings with Meeker, setting up briefings like the one you went to, attending a couple of briefings myself. Oh, and helping out two delegations – I won’t say which ones – that lost their satellite links with home and have no idea how to get by without hardware in orbit.”

That interested me. “How do your embassies phone home?”

“Shortwave radio, of course – the way everybody did before satellites took over. I had to explain that to both delegations.” With a sly smile: “When the Atlantic Embassy loses its satellite links, have them give me a call; I can recommend a good radio firm that won’t even put bugs in the hardware”.

I gave her a dubious look, and she laughed. “I hope the briefing you got was worthwhile, by the way”.

“Even more so than I’d expected.  Turns out you’re not the only people interested in freight transit through the Erie Canal.”

“Now surprise me”. She sipped her drink. “Missouri, East Canada, and who?”

“Chicago”.

“Oh, of course. That’s good to know; I’ll talk to Hank Barker with the Missouri delegation and see if we can coordinate shipping with them. We do a lot of trade with Missouri these days; the wool your suit is made of almost certainly came from their flocks, and possibly from their fabric mills.”

“Barker mentioned that”, I said. “Wool and leather”.

Two bowls of avgolemono soup came, and neither of us said anything until the waitress was gone. “I’m going to risk mentioning a potentially uncomfortable subject”, Melanie said. “The Missouri Republic is the one neighbor we’ve got that’s shown any interest in in learning from our experience. They haven’t gone nearly as far as we have – you still see bioplastic clothing there, and they’ve still got a metanet, though it’s pretty ramshackle these days – but the World Bank doesn’t like them much any more.” She shook her head, laughed. “I’ve been told that people from the World Bank threatened them with trade sanctions two years ago, after they refused a loan, and President Applegate told them, ‘Didn’t hurt Lakeland much, did it?’ That shut them up.”

I laughed, because I’d met Hannah Applegate at a reception in Philadelphia, and it took no effort at all to imagine her saying those words in her lazy Western drawl. Then the implications sank in. “They turned down a World Bank loan?”

“Of course. You know as well as I do that the only reason the World Bank makes those is to force countries to stay plugged into the global economy, so they can get the hard currency they need to make  payments on the loan. The Missouri government knows that, too, and they’re sick of it. Since we’re Missouri’s number one trading partner these days, we’ve both got the necessary arrangements to handle trade and investment in each other’s currencies, and a fair amount of private investment from our side heads over there these days, they decided it was time to take the risk.”

“Good timing on their part”, I said, thinking of the war.

“And on ours”. In response to my questioning look: “They produce things we need and buy things we produce. The last thing we want is to see them bled dry.”

“The way my country will be”, I said. She glanced at me, said nothing, and concentrated for a while on her bowl of soup.

The waitress showed up conveniently a moment later, served us our entrees, made a little friendly conversation – Melanie was a regular, I gathered – and then headed off to another table. “As I said”, Melanie said then, “it’s a potentially uncomfortable subject”.

“The fact that your country is set up to weather this latest mess in fairly good shape, and mine might just end up as a failed state”.

Her face tensed, and after a moment she nodded. “If that happens, and you can make it to our border, have the border guards contact Meeker’s office. Shouldn’t be too hard to expedite your entry. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but …” She let the sentence trickle off.

“Thank you. I hope it doesn’t either.” Then: “To the extent that you can tell me, how bad do your analysts expect it to get?”

She considered that. “I can tell you a few things. It’s nothing you won’t hear from your own intelligence people once you get back home – the NIS, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “What do you call your spook shop here in Lakeland?”

“We’ve got three of them: the Office of Political Intelligence in the State Department, the Office of Economic Intelligence in Trade, and the Office of Military Intelligence in Defense. Keeping it broken up like that helps prevent groupthink.”

I motioned with my fork, granting the point, and she went on. “What OPI says is that Texas and the Confederacy were both in deep trouble even before this whole thing blew up in their faces. They both depend heavily on oil revenue to balance their budgets, they’ve both had declining production for years now, and you know as well as I do how badly they’ve been clobbered by volatility in the oil markets. That’s ultimately what’s behind this war – neither of them can afford to compromise because they both need every drop of oil they can possibly get – but this is going to take a lot of wells out of production until the fighting’s over.”

“Or permanently”, I said. In response to her questioning look: “I was told off the record that so much of both sides’ offshore fields are stripper wells that a lot of the destroyed platforms won’t produce enough oil in the future to be worth the cost of rebuilding”.

She nodded. “That’s OEI’s bailiwick and I haven’t talked to them yet, so thanks for the heads up. Even without that, though, both countries are going to be hit hard even if the war ends in a few days – and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end in a few days.”

I nodded. “Military intelligence?”

“Got it”.

I didn’t ask for details; she’d told me as much as she was cleared to pass on, and there are lines you don’t cross in our business. Pretty clearly she’d attended a classified military briefing and gotten the latest information about the war, and I could think of at least a dozen signs that would warn the Lakeland government that neither Texas nor the Confederacy was going to back down any time soon. In a couple of days I’d be back in Philadelphia, and I could ask people I knew in Ellen Montrose’s transition team for a summary.

“And if it drags on?” I asked.

She gave me an unhappy look. “Best case scenario is both countries end up economic basket cases, with per capita GDPs lower than the midrange for sub-Saharan Africa, but they both manage to hold together and begin to recover in about a decade. Worst case scenario is that one or both go failed-state on us. Either way we’re looking at a big refugee problem, and a long-term economic headache if the Mississippi stays closed. We can deal with it, no question – it’s just going to take some work. It’s the people down south, in both countries, I feel sorry for.”

We both concentrated on our meals for a minute or two.

“And the thing is”, she burst out then, “this whole business is so unnecessary. If both countries weren’t stuck on a treadmill trying to – ” She stopped cold, catching herself.

“Trying to progress”, I finished the sentence.

Another unhappy look. “I really don’t think we should go there”, she said.

“I think we should”, I replied “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the things you said Friday evening, and you were right”.

She was so surprised she dropped her fork. After a moment: “I’m sorry. I’m not sure I believe I just heard you say that.”

“You were right”, I repeated. “I spent all Saturday trying to find holes in your logic, and I couldn’t find any”. I shrugged. “I have no idea where to go with that yet, but there it is”. Which was not quite true, but there were things I wasn’t going to say in a restaurant that close to Embassy Row.

She considered me for a long moment, pretty obviously shaken good and hard, and I said, “Come on, I can’t be the only person from outside who’s told you that”.

“It happens”, she said then. “Once in a blue moon, maybe. No, that’s not fair – working class people get it in a heartbeat, more often than not. They look at the way factory workers and store clerks live here, compared to how they live outside, they ask a few questions about why we do what we do, and they have no trouble at all figuring out the rest for themselves.”

I thought about the family of immigrants I’d seen on the train from Pittsburgh, and the conversation I’d had with the father of the family. “But people who are well off, well educated, part of the system”.

“The minority that still gets some benefit out of progress”, she said.

That stung, but I knew she was right. “Yes”.

“Once in a blue moon”.

Neither of us said anything for a while. Our plates got empty and our drinks got refilled; a couple of dishes of baklava came out for dessert, and when we started talking again it was about uncontroversial things, the Toledo Opera’s future plans, funny stories about trade negotiations, that sort of thing. I guessed that she was still trying to process what I’d said, which was reasonable; so was I.

Finally the meal ended. She was looking really tired by that point – no surprises there – so we settled pretty much right away that nobody was going to end up in anybody else’s bed that night.  I gave her a kiss, helped her into her coat, and got her onto a taxi headed for her place. My hotel wasn’t too many blocks away, so I waited until the taxi had turned the corner and set off on foot.

The sky was still clear and a rising wind swept down the streets, hissing in the bare branches of streetside trees. Overhead the stars glittered, and now and then something bright shot across some portion of the sky and burnt out, one more fragment of business as usual falling out of the place we’d stuck it and thought it would stay forever.

In less than forty-eight hours I’d be back in the Atlantic Republic:  on my way home to Philadelphia, where three decades of effective one-party rule by the Dem-Reps had just gone out the window in a landslide and taken the status quo with it.  The new administration would have to scramble to find its feet in a world gone topsy-turvy, where there were too many hard questions and nothing like enough straightforward answers. For that matter. I was going to be facing some hard questions of my own, and I was far from sure I had any straightforward answers, either.

Another chunk of dead satellite traced a streak of light across the sky, dissolved in a flurry of sparks. I kept on walking.

 

* * * * *

 

In other fiction-related news, two magazines with links to this blog have something to report. Into the Ruins, the recently started deindustrial SF quarterly edited by Joel Caris, has just released its second issue {1}. I’m delighted to say that it’s a worthy successor to the first issue, with a lively mix of short stories and a letters to the editor column that’s really starting to pick up. Fans may also want to know that this issue includes the first installment of a regular column by yours truly, “Deindustrial Futures Past”, reviewing older works of science fiction set in the aftermath of industrial civilization.

Mythic, the new science fiction and fantasy quarterly by the publisher of the After Oil anthologies, is also moving toward its first issue. I’m eager to see this take off, and am contributing a short story, “The Phantom of the Dust”, set in the same fictive world as my novel The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth. I’ve been told by publisher Shaun Kilgore that he’s gotten a good initial response to his call for fiction submissions but would like to see more, and he’s also very much interested in book reviews, essays, and other nonfiction pieces related to science fiction and fantasy. More details? You’ll find ’em at {2}. This is a paying gig, folks; let your writer friends know.

 

* * * * *

 
John Michael Greer is Past Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {3}, current head of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn {4}, 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} https://intotheruins.com/issues/issue-2-summer-2016/

{2} http://www.mythicmag.com/p/submissions.html

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

{4} http://www.druidical-gd.org/

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2016/08/retrotopia-dinner-drinks-and-hard.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Trump versus Hillary

A Summation

by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org (August 25 2016)

Note: I just heard a National Public Radio (“NPR”) report that young people were deserting the Republican Party, had turned leftwing and were flocking to Hillary. So now in America the leftwing candidate is a warmonger and agent of Wall Street! Amazing.

The US presidential election this November will tell whether a majority of the US population is irredeemably stupid. If voters elect Hillary, we will know that Americans are stupid beyond redemption.

We don’t know much about Trump, and anti-Trump propaganda rules in the place of facts.

But we know many facts about Hillary. We know about her violation of classification laws and the refusal of the Democratic administration to do anything about it. The Democrats prefer to control the White House than to enforce the law, another nail in the coffin in which the rule of law in the US lies.

We know from their words and deeds and material success that the Clintons are agents for Wall Street, the Big Banks, the military/security complex, Israel, agribusiness, and the extractive industries. Their large personal fortune, approximately $120 million, and the $1,600 million in their foundation, much of which came from abroad in exchange for political favors, attests to the unchallengable fact that the Clintons are agents for the oligarchy that rules America, indeed, that rules the American Empire from Australia and Japan, through North America and Western and Eastern Europe to the Russian border.

We know that Hillary, like Bill, is a liar.

We know that Hillary is a warmonger.

We know that Hillary made the most irresponsible statement ever uttered by a presidential candidate when she declared the President of Russia to be the “new Hitler”, thereby raising tensions between the nuclear powers to a higher level than existed during the Cold War.

We know that Hillary is allied with the neoconservatives and that her belief in the neocons’ ideology of US world hegemony is likely to result in war with Russia and China.

All we know about Trump is that the oligarchs, who sent America’s jobs overseas, who flooded the country with difficult-to-assimilate immigrants, who destroyed public education, who bailed out Wall Street and the “banks too big to fail”, who sacrificed American homeowners and retirees living on a fixed income, who intend to privatize both Social Security and Medicare, who have given the public killer cops, relentless violations of privacy, the largest prison poplulation in the world, and destroyed the US Constitution in order to increase executive power over the American people, are violently opposed to Trump. This opposition should tell us that Trump is the person we want in the Oval Office.

Some claim that it is all a charade and that Trump is playing a role in order to elect Hillary. American politics are so corrupt that anything is possible. However the ruling elites and their puppets seem to be genuinely concerned about Trump’s challenge to their control, and they have united against Trump. They have used their money to buy up “progressive” websites paid to bring the print and TV anti-Trump propaganda onto the Internet, thus joining the Internet presstitutes with the print, TV, and NPR whores who are working overtime to demonize Trump and to elect Hillary.

The entire power structure of our country is behind Hillary. Both Democratic and Republican political establishments and both ideologies, neoliberals and neoconservatives, are united behind Hillary.

How much more evidence do Americans need in order to know that a vote for Hillary is a vote for their own emasculation?

Apparently, Americans remain captives of their insouciance. According to news reports, a majority of voters still haven’t a clue about the consequences of voting for Hillary. Polls report that Hillary is well in the lead. Are these real polls or just another presstitute lie to discourage Trump supporters? Why vote when they have already lost?

The propaganda assault against Trump, vicious as it was, did not succeed during the Republican primary. Despite the media condemnation of Trump, he swept the other Republican candidates aside effortlessly.

The current media demonization of Trump might fail as well. Indeed, it is so transparent that it could elect him.

All that is required is for enough Americans to awake from their insouciance to recognize that it is the enemies of their own lives, their own living standards, and their own liberty who are violently opposed to Trump.

If Americans cannot reach this realization, they have no future, and neither does the planet Earth.

The ruling oligarchy hates Trump because he disavows war with Russia, questions the purpose of Nato, opposes the offshoring of Americans’ jobs, and opposes the uncontrolled immigration that is transforming the United States into a multi-cultural entity devoid of unity. The oligarchs are replacing the United States with a Tower of Babel. Oligarchic power grows exponentially among the disunity of diversity.

In other words, Trump is for America and for Americans.

This is why the oligarchs and their whores hate Trump.

The imbecillic Americans who vote for Hillary are voting for war and their own immiseration.

Possibly, a vote for Trump is the same. However, in the case of Trump we do not know that. In the case of Hillary we most certainly do know it.

Of course, it could matter not how Americans vote. Those who program the electronic voting machines will determine the vote, and as the establishments of both political parties totally oppose Trump, the programmed machines can elect Hillary. We know this from our electoral history. The US has already experienced elections in which exit polls show a winning candidate different from the candidate selected by the electronic machines that have no paper trail and no way of affirming the vote.

If Hillary gets into the Oval Office, nuclear war is likely before her first term is over. A vote for Hillary is a vote for nuclear war.

If you look at the forthcoming election realistically, you have no alternative but to conclude that the entirety of the presstitute media and American Establishment prefers the risk of nuclear war to the risk of losing control of the government to the voters.

That Americans permitted the rise of unaccountable power tells us all we need to know about the dereliction of duty of which United States citizens are guilty. The American people failed democracy, which requires accountable government. The American government has proven that it is not accountable to the US Constitution, to US statutory law, to international law, or to voters.

If the result of Americans’ dereliction of duty is nuclear war, the American people will be responsible for the death of planet Earth. One would hope that with responsibility this great on their shoulders, the American people will reject the unequivocal war candidate and take their chances on holding Trump accountable to his words.

Copyright (c) 2016 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/08/25/trump-vs-hillary-a-summation-paul-craig-roberts/

Categories: Uncategorized

Hit the ATM

The Ankara-Tehran-Moscow Coalition

by Pepe Escobar

RT.com | Op-Edge (August 25 2016)

So Turkish President, aka Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is about to make a high-profile visit to Tehran – the date has not yet been set – to essentially kick start the ATM (Ankara-Tehran-Moscow) coalition in Syria.

Anyone as much as hinting at such a massive geopolitical tectonic shift a few weeks ago would be branded a madman. So how did the impossible happen?

A major strategic game-changer – Russia using an airfield in Iran to send bombers against jihadis in Syria – had already taken place, with its aftermath spectacularly misreported by the usual, clueless US corporate media suspects.

Then, there’s what Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, said last Saturday in Istanbul: “The most important priority for us is to stop the bloodshed [in Syria] as soon as possible”. The rest are irrelevant “details”.

Yildirim added Ankara now agrees with Moscow that Bashar al-Assad “could” – and that’s the operative word – stay in power during a political transition (although that’s still highly debatable). Ankara’s drive to normalize relations with Moscow had an ‘important share’ in this ‘policy shift’.

The ‘policy shift’ is a direct consequence of the failed military coup in Turkey. Russian cyber-surveillance aces – in action 24/7 after the downing of the Su-24 last November – reportedly informed Turkish intelligence a few hours before the fact. Nato, as the record shows, was mum.

Even minimalist optics suggests ‘Sultan’ Erdogan was extremely upset that Washington was not exactly displeased with the coup. He knows how vast swathes of the Beltway despise him – blaming him for not being serious in the fight against ISIS and for bombing the YPG Kurds – Pentagon allies – in Syria. The record does show Erdogan has mostly ignored ISIS – allowing non-stop free border crossing for ISIS goons as well as letting Turkish business interests (if not his own family) profit from ISIS’ stolen Syrian oil.

Compared to Washington’s attitude Moscow, on the other hand, warning Erdogan about serious, concrete facts on the ground in the nick of time. And for Erdogan, that was highly personal; the putschists reportedly sent a commando to kill him when he was still in Marmaris.

Fast forward to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif’s surprise visit two weeks ago to Ankara. Zarif and his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu did discuss serious options by which the budding ATM coalition could come up with a viable exit strategy in Syria. One week later Cavusoglu went to Tehran and talked again to Zarif for five hours.

It’s an uphill battle – but doable. Tehran knows very well Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”) officers as well as Hezbollah, Iraqi and Afghan fighters were killed in the Syrian war theater, and that shall not be in vain. Ankara for its part knows it cannot afford to remain forever trapped in an ideological dead end.

Rojava, Where and for Whom?

And then there’s the rub – the intractable Kurdish question. Iran, unlike Turkey, does not face active Kurdish separatism. A minimum understanding between Ankara and Tehran – central to the current flurry of meetings, face-to-face and ‘secret’, via mediators, necessarily points toward a united, centralized Syria.

That implies no Rojava – a possible independent Kurdish mini-state alongside the Turkish border, part of a not so hidden Washington/Tel Aviv balkanization agenda. Actually what is now in effect official Pentagon policy contains a mob element of Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter’s revenge on Sultan Erdogan; payback because Erdogan did not do enough to smash ISIS.

And that brings us to the current Turkish offensive – for all practical purposes invasion – of Jarabulus. That’s the last fort – as in the last town that allows ISIS back and forth from southern Turkey to Raqqa in terms of smuggling goons and weapons.

Ankara would never allow the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (“SDF”) take Jarabulus. After all, the SDF – fully supported by the Pentagon – is led by the Kurdish nationalist YPG, which Ankara sees as a mere extension of PKK separatists.

Imagine Ankara’s terror at the YPG seizing Jarabulus. They would have crossed the ultimate Turkish red line; closing the gap between two Kurdish cantons across the border and for all practical purposes giving birth to the Rojava Kurdish mini-state.

Yet even if for Ankara an independent Rojava remains the supreme red line, there are declinations. A Rojava might come as quite handy if it became a dumping ground for Turkish PKK fighters. Arguably the PKK would not complain; after all they would have “their” state.

No one seems to be considering what Damascus thinks about all this.

And no one, for the moment, has a clue about the precise geography of a putative Rojava. If it includes, for instance, the recently liberated city of Manbij, that’s a major problem; Manbij is Arab, not Kurd. Kurds once again seem to be thrown into disarray – forced to choose whether they are allied with Washington or with Moscow.

Moscow, for its part, is crystal clear on ISIS. It is dead set on smashing for good, by all means necessary, any militants who consider Russia their enemy.

Erdogan certainly calculated that a rapprochement with Russia had to include being serious against ISIS. Extra incentive was added by the fact the bombing this past Sunday in Gaziantep was most certainly an ISIS job.

So Erdogan’s Syria master plan now boils down to – what else – another wilderness of mirrors. By crossing to Jarabulus, Ankara wants to establish a sort of remnants of the Free Syria Army (FSA)-controlled enclave. The Americans can’t blame him because this will be against ISIS – even though it’s mostly against Rojava. And the Russians won’t make a fuss because Moscow is in favor of Syria’s unity.

Got ATM, Will Travel

Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, previously of “zero problems with our neighbors” then converted into “nothing but problems with our neighbors” is now history. Yildirim is a pragmatist. So the opening to Russia had to be inevitable.

And that leads us back to the – alleged – end of Team Obama’s obsession, “Assad must go”. He may stay, for a while. Yildirim has confirmed this is now Turkish official policy. Although that does not mean Ankara – and Washington for that matter – have given up on regime change. They will keep up the pressure – but tactics will change.

As it stands, the major fact on the ground is that ‘Sultan’ Erdogan seems to have had enough of the Americans (Nato of course included) and has pivoted to Russia.

Thus the sending of certified Keystone Cop Joe Biden to Ankara to plead “not guilty” on the military coup (forget it; most Turks don’t believe Washington) and to implore Erdogan not to pursue his massive purge (pure wishful thinking).

Considering Erdogan’s notoriously erratic record, his embrace of ATM may be just a gigantic illusion, or may open yet another unforeseen can of worms. But there are signs this may be for real.

Cavusoglu has already intimated that Ankara is aiming for a military/technological upgrade that is impossible under Nato’s watch. In his own words; “Unfortunately, we see countries in Nato are a bit hesitant when it comes to exchange of technology and joint investments”.

Moscow has every reason to be quite cautious regarding myriad aspects of Erdogan’s pivoting. After all the Turkish military has been part of Nato for decades. As it stands, there’s no evidence Moscow and Ankara are looking at the same post-war Syria. But if we’re talking about the future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (“SCO”), then it starts to get really interesting.

Turkey is already a “dialog partner” of the SCO, while Iran may become a full member as early as next year. Moscow is certainly envisioning Ankara as a valuable ally in the wider Sunni world, way beyond a role in repelling Salafi-jihadis in Syria. With Ankara and Tehran also talking serious business, this could eventually spill out into a serious debunking of the alleged apocalyptic Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian divide, which is the only Divide-and-Rule strategy spun and deployed non-stop by the US, Israel and the House of Saud.

It’s this enticing SCO-enhancing possibility that’s freaking Washington out big time. Russia pivoting East, Turkey pivoting East, Iran already there, and China now also actually involved in a stake in post-war Syria, that’s a geopolitical reconfiguration in Southwest Asia that once again spells out the inevitable; Eurasia integration.

_____

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of Globalistan (2007), Red Zone Blues (2007), Obama does Globalistan (2009), Empire of Chaos (2014), and 2030 (2015), all published by Nimble Books.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Read more:

* https://www.rt.com/op-edge/355661-russia-trust-turkey-erdogan/

* https://www.rt.com/op-edge/356489-turkey-russia-cooperation-us/

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/357205-turkey-erdogan-russia-iran-isis/

Categories: Uncategorized