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The Thucydides Trap

Are the US and China Headed for War?

In twelve of sixteen past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.

by Graham Allison

The Atlantic (September 24 2015)

When Barack Obama meets this week with Xi Jinping during the Chinese president’s first state visit to America, one item probably won’t be on their agenda: the possibility that the United States and China could find themselves at war in the next decade. In policy circles, this appears as unlikely as it would be unwise.

And yet 100 years on, World War One offers a sobering reminder of man’s capacity for folly. When we say that war is “inconceivable”, is this a statement about what is possible in the world – or only about what our limited minds can conceive? In 1914, few could imagine slaughter on a scale that demanded a new category: world war. When war ended four years later, Europe lay in ruins: the kaiser gone, the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved, the Russian tsar overthrown by the Bolsheviks, France bled for a generation, and England shorn of its youth and treasure. A millennium in which Europe had been the political center of the world came to a crashing halt.

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power – as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In twelve of sixteen cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

Based on the current trajectory, war between the United States and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than recognized at the moment. Indeed, judging by the historical record, war is more likely than not. Moreover, current underestimations and misapprehensions of the hazards inherent in the US-China relationship contribute greatly to those hazards. A risk associated with Thucydides’s Trap is that business as usual – not just an unexpected, extraordinary event – can trigger large-scale conflict. When a rising power is threatening to displace a ruling power, standard crises that would otherwise be contained, like the assassination of an archduke in 1914, can initiate a cascade of reactions that, in turn, produce outcomes none of the parties would otherwise have chosen.

War, however, is not inevitable. Four of the sixteen cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday,

 

 

There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

More than 2,400 years ago, the Athenian historian Thucydides offered a powerful insight: “It was the rise of Athens, and the fear that this inspired in Sparta, that made war inevitable”. Others identified an array of contributing causes of the Peloponnesian War. But Thucydides went to the heart of the matter, focusing on the inexorable, structural stress caused by a rapid shift in the balance of power between two rivals. Note that Thucydides identified two key drivers of this dynamic: the rising power’s growing entitlement, sense of its importance, and demand for greater say and sway, on the one hand, and the fear, insecurity, and determination to defend the status quo this engenders in the established power, on the other.

In the case about which he wrote in the fifth century BC, Athens had emerged over a half century as a steeple of civilization, yielding advances in philosophy, history, drama, architecture, democracy, and naval prowess. This shocked Sparta, which for a century had been the leading land power on the Peloponnese peninsula. As Thucydides saw it, Athens’s position was understandable. As its clout grew, so too did its self-confidence, its consciousness of past injustices, its sensitivity to instances of disrespect, and its insistence that previous arrangements be revised to reflect new realities of power. It was also natural, Thucydides explained, that Sparta interpreted the Athenian posture as unreasonable, ungrateful, and threatening to the system it had established – and within which Athens had flourished.

 

 

War between the US and China is more likely than recognized at the moment. Indeed, judging by the historical record, war is more likely than not.

 

 

Thucydides chronicled objective changes in relative power, but he also focused on perceptions of change among the leaders of Athens and Sparta – and how this led each to strengthen alliances with other states in the hopes of counterbalancing the other. But entanglement runs both ways. (It was for this reason that George Washington famously cautioned America to beware of “entangling alliances”.) When conflict broke out between the second-tier city-states of Corinth and Corcyra (now Corfu), Sparta felt it necessary to come to Corinth’s defense, which left Athens little choice but to back its ally. The Peloponnesian War followed. When it ended thirty years later, Sparta was the nominal victor. But both states lay in ruin, leaving Greece vulnerable to the Persians.

 

 

* * * * *

 

Eight years before the outbreak of world war in Europe, Britain’s King Edward VII asked his prime minister why the British government was becoming so unfriendly to his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany, rather than keeping its eye on America, which he saw as the greater challenge. The prime minister instructed the Foreign Office’s chief Germany watcher, Eyre Crowe, to write a memo answering the king’s question. Crowe delivered his memorandum on New Year’s Day, 1907. The document is a gem in the annals of diplomacy.

The logic of Crowe’s analysis echoed Thucydides’s insight. And his central question, as paraphrased by Henry Kissinger in On China (2011), was the following: Did increasing hostility between Britain and Germany stem more from German capabilities or German conduct? Crowe put it a bit differently: Did Germany’s pursuit of “political hegemony and maritime ascendancy” pose an existential threat to “the independence of her neighbours and ultimately the existence of England?”

The British Grand Fleet on its way to meet the Imperial German Navy’s fleet for the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (AP)

Crowe’s answer was unambiguous: Capability was key. As Germany’s economy surpassed Britain’s, Germany would not only develop the strongest army on the continent. It would soon also “build as powerful a navy as she can afford”. In other words, Kissinger writes, “once Germany achieved naval supremacy … this in itself – regardless of German intentions – would be an objective threat to Britain, and incompatible with the existence of the British Empire”.

Three years after reading that memo, Edward VII died. Attendees at his funeral included two “chief mourners” – Edward’s successor, George V, and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm – along with Theodore Roosevelt representing the United States. At one point, Roosevelt (an avid student of naval power and leading champion of the buildup of the US Navy) asked Wilhelm whether he would consider a moratorium in the German-British naval arms race. The kaiser replied that Germany was unalterably committed to having a powerful navy. But as he went on to explain, war between Germany and Britain was simply unthinkable, because “I was brought up in England, very largely; I feel myself partly an Englishman. Next to Germany I care more for England than for any other country.” And then with emphasis: “I ADORE ENGLAND!”

However unimaginable conflict seems, however catastrophic the potential consequences for all actors, however deep the cultural empathy among leaders, even blood relatives, and however economically interdependent states may be – none of these factors is sufficient to prevent war, in 1914 or today.

In fact, in twelve of sixteen cases over the last 500 years in which there was a rapid shift in the relative power of a rising nation that threatened to displace a ruling state, the result was war. As the table below suggests, the struggle for mastery in Europe and Asia over the past half millennium offers a succession of variations on a common storyline.

Thucydides Case Studies

Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

(For summaries of these sixteen cases and the methodology for selecting them, and for a forum to register additions, subtractions, revisions, and disagreements with the cases, please visit the Harvard Belfer Center’s Thucydides Trap Case File. For this first phase of the project, we at the Belfer Center identified “ruling” and “rising” powers by following the judgments of leading historical accounts, resisting the temptation to offer original or idiosyncratic interpretations of events. These histories use “rise” and “rule” according to their conventional definitions, generally emphasizing rapid shifts in relative GDP and military strength. Most of the cases in this initial round of analysis come from post-Westphalian Europe.)

When a rising, revolutionary France challenged Britain’s dominance of the oceans and the balance of power on the European continent, Britain destroyed Napoleon Bonaparte’s fleet in 1805 and later sent troops to the continent to defeat his armies in Spain and at Waterloo. As Otto von Bismarck sought to unify a quarrelsome assortment of rising German states, war with their common adversary, France, proved an effective instrument to mobilize popular support for his mission. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, a rapidly modernizing Japanese economy and military establishment challenged Chinese and Russian dominance of East Asia, resulting in wars with both from which Japan emerged as the leading power in the region.

 

 

The preeminent geostrategic challenge of this era is not violent Islamic extremists or a resurgent Russia. It is the impact of China’s ascendance.

 

 

Each case is, of course, unique. Ongoing debate about the causes of the First World War reminds us that each is subject to competing interpretations. The great international historian, Harvard’s Ernest May, taught that when attempting to reason from history, we should be as sensitive to the differences as to the similarities among cases we compare. (Indeed, in his Historical Reasoning 101 class, May would take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle of the page, label one column “Similar” and the other “Different”, and fill in the sheet with at least a half dozen of each.) Nonetheless, acknowledging many differences, Thucydides directs us to a powerful commonality.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

The preeminent geostrategic challenge of this era is not violent Islamic extremists or a resurgent Russia. It is the impact that China’s ascendance will have on the US-led international order, which has provided unprecedented great-power peace and prosperity for the past seventy years. As Singapore’s late leader, Lee Kuan Yew, observed,

 

 

the size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world.

 

 

Everyone knows about the rise of China. Few of us realize its magnitude. Never before in history has a nation risen so far, so fast, on so many dimensions of power. To paraphrase former Czech President Vaclav Havel, all this has happened so rapidly that we have not yet had time to be astonished.

My lecture on this topic at Harvard begins with a quiz that asks students to compare China and the United States in 1980 with their rankings today. The reader is invited to fill in the blanks.

Quiz: Fill in the Blanks

Harvard Belfer Center

The answers for the first column: In 1980, China had ten percent of America’s GDP as measured by purchasing power parity; seven percent of its GDP at current US-dollar exchange rates; and six percent of its exports. The foreign currency held by China, meanwhile, was just one-sixth the size of America’s reserves. The answers for the second column: By 2014, those figures were 101 percent of GDP; sixty percent at US-dollar exchange rates; and 106 percent of exports. China’s reserves today are 28 times larger than America’s.

In a single generation, a nation that did not appear on any of the international league tables has vaulted into the top ranks. In 1980, China’s economy was smaller than that of the Netherlands. Last year, the increment of growth in China’s GDP was roughly equal to the entire Dutch economy.

The second question in my quiz asks students: Could China become Number One? In what year could China overtake the United States to become, say, the largest economy in the world, or primary engine of global growth, or biggest market for luxury goods?

Could China Become Number One?

Manufacturer:
Exporter:
Trading nation:
Saver:
Holder of US debt:
Foreign-direct-investment destination:
Energy consumer:
Oil importer:
Carbon emitter:
Steel producer:
Auto market:
Smartphone market:
E-commerce market:
Luxury-goods market:
Internet user:
Fastest supercomputer:
Holder of foreign reserves:
Source of initial public offerings:
Primary engine of global growth:
Economy:

Most are stunned to learn that on each of these twenty indicators, China has already surpassed the US.

Will China be able to sustain economic-growth rates several times those of the United States for another decade and beyond? If and as it does, are its current leaders serious about displacing the US as the predominant power in Asia? Will China follow the path of Japan and Germany, and take its place as a responsible stakeholder in the international order that America has built over the past seven decades? The answer to these questions is obviously that no one knows.

But if anyone’s forecasts are worth heeding, it’s those of Lee Kuan Yew, the world’s premier China watcher and a mentor to Chinese leaders since Deng Xiaoping. Before his death in March, the founder of Singapore put the odds of China continuing to grow at several times US rates for the next decade and beyond as “four chances in five”. On whether China’s leaders are serious about displacing the United States as the top power in Asia in the foreseeable future, Lee answered directly: “Of course. Why not … how could they not aspire to be number one in Asia and in time the world?” And about accepting its place in an international order designed and led by America, he said absolutely not: “China wants to be China and accepted as such – not as an honorary member of the West”.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Americans have a tendency to lecture others about why they should be “more like us”. In urging China to follow the lead of the United States, should we Americans be careful what we wish for?

As the United States emerged as the dominant power in the Western hemisphere in the 1890s, how did it behave? Future President Theodore Roosevelt personified a nation supremely confident that the 100 years ahead would be an American century. Over a decade that began in 1895 with the US secretary of state declaring the United States “sovereign on this continent”, America liberated Cuba; threatened Britain and Germany with war to force them to accept American positions on disputes in Venezuela and Canada; backed an insurrection that split Colombia to create a new state of Panama (which immediately gave the US concessions to build the Panama Canal); and attempted to overthrow the government of Mexico, which was supported by the United Kingdom and financed by London bankers. In the half century that followed, US military forces intervened in “our hemisphere” on more than thirty separate occasions to settle economic or territorial disputes in terms favorable to Americans, or oust leaders they judged unacceptable.

Theodore Roosevelt with US troops at the Panama Canal Zone in 1906 (Wikimedia)

For example, in 1902, when British and German ships attempted to impose a naval blockade to force Venezuela to pay its debts to them, Roosevelt warned both countries that he would “be obliged to interfere by force if necessary” if they did not withdraw their ships. The British and Germans were persuaded to retreat and to resolve their dispute in terms satisfactory to the US at The Hague. The following year, when Colombia refused to lease the Panama Canal Zone to the United States, America sponsored Panamanian secessionists, recognized the new Panamanian government within hours of its declaration of independence, and sent the Marines to defend the new country. Roosevelt defended the US intervention on the grounds that it was “justified in morals and therefore justified in law”. Shortly thereafter, Panama granted the United States rights to the Canal Zone “in perpetuity”.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

When Deng Xiaoping initiated China’s fast march to the market in 1978, he announced a policy known as “hide and bide”. What China needed most abroad was stability and access to markets. The Chinese would thus “bide our time and hide our capabilities”, which Chinese military officers sometimes paraphrased as getting strong before getting even.

With the arrival of China’s new paramount leader, Xi Jinping, the era of “hide and bide” is over. Nearly three years into his ten-year term, Xi has stunned colleagues at home and China watchers abroad with the speed at which he has moved and the audacity of his ambitions. Domestically, he has bypassed rule by a seven-man standing committee and instead consolidated power in his own hands; ended flirtations with democratization by reasserting the Communist Party’s monopoly on political power; and attempted to transform China’s engine of growth from an export-focused economy to one driven by domestic consumption. Overseas, he has pursued a more active Chinese foreign policy that is increasingly assertive in advancing the country’s interests.

 

 

Never before in history has a nation risen so far, so fast. In 1980, China’s economy was smaller than the Netherlands’. Last year, the increment of growth in China’s GDP was equal to the Dutch economy.

 

 

While the Western press is seized by the storyline of “China’s economic slowdown”, few pause to note that China’s lower growth rate remains more than three times that of the United States. Many observers outside China have missed the great divergence between China’s economic performance and that of its competitors over the seven years since the financial crisis of 2008 and Great Recession. That shock caused virtually all other major economies to falter and decline. China never missed a year of growth, sustaining an average growth rate exceeding eight percent. Indeed, since the financial crisis, nearly forty percent of all growth in the global economy has occurred in just one country: China. The chart below illustrates China’s growth compared to growth among its peers in the BRICS group of emerging economies, advanced economies, and the world. From a common index of 100 in 2007, the divergence is dramatic.
GDP, 2007 ~ 2015

Harvard Belfer Center / IMF World Economic Outlook

Today, China has displaced the United States as the world’s largest economy measured in terms of the amount of goods and services a citizen can buy in his own country (purchasing power parity).

What Xi Jinping calls the “China Dream” expresses the deepest aspirations of hundreds of millions of Chinese, who wish to be not only rich but also powerful. At the core of China’s civilizational creed is the belief – or conceit – that China is the center of the universe. In the oft-repeated narrative, a century of Chinese weakness led to exploitation and national humiliation by Western colonialists and Japan. In Beijing’s view, China is now being restored to its rightful place, where its power commands recognition of and respect for China’s core interests.

A woodblock painting depicts the First Sino-Japanese War. (Toyohara Chikanobu / Wikimedia)

Last November, in a seminal meeting of the entire Chinese political and foreign-policy establishment, including the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army, Xi provided a comprehensive overview of his vision of China’s role in the world. The display of self-confidence bordered on hubris. Xi began by offering an essentially Hegelian conception of the major historical trends toward multipolarity (that is, not US unipolarity) and the transformation of the international system (that is, not the current US-led system). In his words, a rejuvenated Chinese nation will build a “new type of international relations” through a “protracted” struggle over the nature of the international order. In the end, he assured his audience that “the growing trend toward a multipolar world will not change”.

Given objective trends, realists see an irresistible force approaching an immovable object. They ask which is less likely: China demanding a lesser role in the East and South China Seas than the United States did in the Caribbean or Atlantic in the early twentieth century, or the US sharing with China the predominance in the Western Pacific that America has enjoyed since World War Two?

And yet in four of the sixteen cases that the Belfer Center team analyzed, similar rivalries did not end in war. If leaders in the United States and China let structural factors drive these two great nations to war, they will not be able to hide behind a cloak of inevitability. Those who don’t learn from past successes and failures to find a better way forward will have no one to blame but themselves.

Actors dressed as Red Army soldiers mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing. (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)

At this point, the established script for discussion of policy challenges calls for a pivot to a new strategy (or at least slogan), with a short to-do list that promises peaceful and prosperous relations with China. Shoehorning this challenge into that template would demonstrate only one thing: a failure to understand the central point I’m trying to make. What strategists need most at the moment is not a new strategy, but a long pause for reflection. If the tectonic shift caused by China’s rise poses a challenge of genuinely Thucydidean proportions, declarations about “rebalancing”, or revitalizing “engage and hedge”, or presidential hopefuls’ calls for more “muscular” or “robust” variants of the same, amount to little more than aspirin treating cancer. Future historians will compare such assertions to the reveries of British, German, and Russian leaders as they sleepwalked into 1914.

The rise of a 5,000-year-old civilization with 1.3 billion people is not a problem to be fixed. It is a condition – a chronic condition that will have to be managed over a generation. Success will require not just a new slogan, more frequent summits of presidents, and additional meetings of departmental working groups. Managing this relationship without war will demand sustained attention, week by week, at the highest level in both countries. It will entail a depth of mutual understanding not seen since the Henry Kissinger-Zhou Enlai conversations in the 1970s. Most significantly, it will mean more radical changes in attitudes and actions, by leaders and publics alike, than anyone has yet imagined.

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Graham Allison is the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a co-director of the Center’s Applied History Project.
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Middle Class Whites Are Dying Faster

In Six Painful Charts

by Julia Belluz

Zero Hedge (March 26 2017)

In 2015, a blockbuster study {1} came to a surprising conclusion: Middle-aged white Americans are dying younger for the first time in decades, despite positive life expectancy trends in other wealthy countries and other segments of the US population.

The research, by Princeton University’s Anne Case and Angus Deaton, highlighted the links between economic struggles, suicides, and alcohol and drug overdoses.

Since then, Case and Deaton have been working to more fully explain their findings.

They’ve now come to a compelling conclusion: It’s complicated. There’s no single reason for this disturbing increase in the mortality rate, but a toxic cocktail of factors.

In a new sixty-page paper, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st Century”, out in draft form in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity {2} Thursday, the researchers weave a narrative of “cumulative disadvantage” over a lifetime for white people ages 45 through 54, particularly those with low levels of education.

Along with worsening job prospects over the past several decades, this group has seen their chances of a stable marriage and family decline, along with their overall health. To manage their despair about the gap between their hopes and what’s come of their lives, they’ve often turned to drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

Meanwhile, gains in fighting heart disease have stalled, and rates of obesity and diabetes have ploddingly climbed.

So the rise in mortality for white mid-life people in America since the late 1990s is actually the final stage of a decades-long process. “It’s about the collapse of white middle class”, said Case. Here are the five big takeaways from the researchers’ new opus.

1. Suicides, alcohol, and drug overdose deaths have gone up across the entire country. (Read: It’s not just a rural problem.)

Brookings {2}

“Deaths of despair” – or suicide, alcoholism, and drug overdoses, particularly from opioid painkillers {3} – are a growing problem for midlife white people.

As you can see on the left-hand map, the epidemic started in the Southwest. Now it’s “country-wide”, the study authors write, and the increase can be “seen at every level of residential urbanization in the US”. So it’s not just a rural problem or an urban problem – it’s both.

The crisis is particularly acute among middle-aged whites. “The deaths of despair come from a long-standing process of cumulative disadvantage for those with less than a college degree”, Case and Deaton write. “The story is rooted in the labor market, but involves many aspects of life, including health in childhood, marriage, child rearing, and religion”.

Brookings {2}

In an interview, Deaton explained, “The cohort that entered the labor market in the 1970s on down, their jobs earnings and prospects are worse. That affected their marriage prospects. Marriages got screwed up. They had children out of wedlock. Their pain levels [are] going up.” All that contributes to the deaths of despair.

The study authors don’t see the opioid supply as the fundamental factor here, but “prescription of opioids for chronic pain added fuel to the flames, making the epidemic much worse than it otherwise would have been”, they wrote.

The impact of rising deaths of despair on overall mortality was masked until the late 1990s by the decline of heart disease deaths. But recently that has changed too.

2. Deaths from chronic diseases such as diabetes have been rising

County-level mortality from diabetes, urogenital, blood, and endocrine diseases between 1980 and 2014. You can see these trending up all over the country. JAMA {4}

Progress against mortality from heart disease has slowed and stopped, and deaths from cancer, which had been on a steady decline, are also stagnating in this group.

Meanwhile, other chronic diseases have continued to rise in the whole population, particularly among middle-aged white people. Diabetes’ prevalence {5} has exploded in the US over the past twenty years. Nearly thirty million Americans {6} live with the disease today – more than three times the number in the early 1990s. And this may be a major, underappreciated {7} driver of the mortality trend.

3. The least-educated Americans are suffering the most

Brookings {2}

The rise in mortality among middle-aged whites is largely being driven by those with a high school degree or less. The researchers find that the gap in mortality between more and less educated is increasing, while mortality is also rising for those without a college degree and falling for those with a college degree.

“It looks like there are two Americas”, Case said. “One for people who went to college and one that didn’t”.

The middle-aged whites with less than a bachelor’s degree saw “progress stop in mortality from heart disease and cancer, and saw increases in chronic lower respiratory disease and deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide”, the researchers write.

Why education is such an important health indicator is difficult to untangle, Case added. “But when you think about what happens when industries pull out of towns, the tax base implodes, schools [are] not well funded, and the death spiral continues”.

In the past, people with low levels of education could get a job in a factory and work their way up the chain of command. “You could graduate high school, work at Bethlehem Steel, get more money every year as you get more experienced”, Deaton said, “and turn yourself into one of the famed blue-collar aristocrats of the 1970s”. Now, he added, “There’s a feeling that life has gone, and remainders of that life are getting less and less for each generation”.

To be clear, the study authors don’t buy the idea that one’s income relative to what one expected is influencing mortality. Rather, “It’s the life you expected to have relative to your father or grandfather – it’s just not there anymore”, Deaton said.

4. Other nonwhite racial groups aren’t experiencing the same mortality uptick – so it’s not just about income

Brookings {2}

As you can see here, mortality for middle-aged black people converged with mortality for middle-aged white people with low levels of education in the late 2000s (though the white population overall is still doing better than African Americans). Meanwhile, mortality rates among Hispanics continued to fall.

These other racial groups aren’t necessarily doing any better economically than their white counterparts, which is part of the reason Case and Deaton don’t accept a simple income explanation for the death uptick.

“It is possible that it is not the last twenty years that matters, but rather that the long-run stagnation in wages and in incomes has bred a sense of hopelessness”, they write. “But … even if we go back to the late 1960s, the ethnic and racial patterns of median family incomes are similar for whites, blacks, and Hispanics, and so can provide no basis for their sharply different mortality outcomes after 1998”.

Instead, the researchers think the fact that the overall life prospects for white middle-aged people without a college degree have declined over time – they are doing worse than their parents on both a personal and professional level, and probably worse than they expected – is nudging mortality downward. This regression is different from the story of progress in the African American community, for example. Here’s Case and Deaton again:

 

 

The historian Carol Anderson argued in an interview in Politico (2016) that for whites “if you’ve always been privileged, equality begins to look like oppression”, and contrasts the pessimism among whites with the “sense of hopefulness, that sense of what America could be, that has been driving black folks for centuries”. That hopefulness is consistent with the much lower suicide rates among blacks, but beyond that, while suggestive, it is hard to confront such accounts with the data.

 

 

5. This story is unique to the US

Brookings {2}

The US, particularly middle-aged white Americans, is an outlier in the developed world when it comes to this mid-life mortality uptick.

“Mortality rates in comparable rich countries have continued their pre-millennial fall at the rates that used to characterize the US”, Case and Deaton write. “In contrast to the US, mortality rates in Europe are falling for those with low levels of educational attainment, and are doing so more rapidly than mortality rates for those with higher levels of education”.

If American wants to turn the trend around, then it has to become a little more like other countries with more generous safety nets and more accessible health care, the researchers said. Introducing a single-payer health system, for example, or value-added or goods and services taxes that support a stronger safety net would be top of their policy wish list. (America right now is, of course, moving in the opposite direction under Trump {8}, and shredding the safety net.)

They also admit, though, that it’s taken decades to reverse the mortality progress in America, and it won’t be turned around quickly or easily. But there is one “no-brainer” change that could help, Case added. “The easy thing would be close the tap on prescription opioids for chronic pain”.

Unlike health care and increasing taxes, opioids are actually a public health issue with bipartisan support {9}. Deaton, for his part, was hopeful. Paraphrasing Milton Friedman, he said, “All policy seems impossible until it suddenly becomes inevitable”.

Links:

{1} http://www.vox.com/2015/11/7/9684928/angus-deaton-white-mortality

{2} https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/03/20/working-class-white-americans-are-now-dying-in-middle-age-at-faster-rates-than-minority-groups/

{3} http://www.vox.com/2016/9/13/12901708/opioid-painkiller-heroin-epidemic-overdose

{4} http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2592499

{5} https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/slides/long_term_trends.pdf

{6} https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html

{7} http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/25/14383580/diabetes-americans-dying-earlier-mortality

{8} http://www.vox.com/2017/3/20/14988750/ahca-medicaid-obamacare-work-requirements-block-grant-ryan-trump

{9} http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/6/14229276/public-health-contentious-polarizing-opioids-aca-obesity

http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/23/14988084/white-middle-class-dying-faster-explained-case-deaton

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-26/why-middle-class-whites-are-dying-faster-6-painful-charts

Categories: Uncategorized

Are America and China Destined for War?

by Harry Kazianis

Strategic Culture Foundation (March 26 2017)

Zero Hedge (March 27 2017)

In his recent book The Improbable War (2014), professor Christopher Coker explains that it is “of vital importance that the possibility of a conflict between China and the United States continues to be discussed”. Coker’s rationale for this is simple: “If the United States and China continue to convince themselves that war is too ‘improbable’ to take seriously, it is not they but the rest of the world that may ultimately pay the price”.

It would seem the good professor’s wish is about to be granted. We are about to be treated to what surely will be a media blitz over what can only be described as the most comprehensive book to ever tackle the question of not only whether a US-China war is possible, but what steps Washington and Beijing can take to avoid such a calamity.

Written by one of the world’s most prominent political scientists and strategic thinkers of the day, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center, Graham Allison, anyone who has been following China in recent years likely guessed such an effort was in the works. The book is hooked on Allison’s popular “Thucydides Trap” concept. The trap, as Allison described in a prominent piece for The Atlantic in 2015, is “the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power – as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago.” Allison goes on to warn that in twelve of sixteen cases he has studied throughout history, when such a situation takes place, war has been the result.

US and China: A Relationship in Dangerous Flux

So what happens in case study number seventeen? Knowing the odds history has given us, is war between China and America unstoppable?

To answer such questions, we first need to understand the complexity that is the US-China relationship. In fact, there are two US-China relationships.

The first, is the economic relationship. At least until the election of Donald Trump, many scholars and Asia hands would argue that both sides prospered from their deep economic ties. US-China bilateral trade in goods and services has skyrocketed since the two nation’s opened their doors to each other in 1971 and is now more than US$600 billion per year. Trade between both Washington and Beijing has made both countries wealthier with millions of jobs created on both sides of the Pacific.

The second part is the strategic relationship – something that was bound to become strained after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the real threat that brought America and China together. Without a common foe, tensions on both sides have begun to grow. Washington and Beijing now face off in various parts of the Asia-Pacific with no letup in sight.

Such an odd, dual-sided relationship, filled with equal promise and peril, made sense for decades. When times got tough – look no further than the 1995~1996 Taiwan Crisis, the 1999 Chinese Embassy bombing, the 2001 EP-3 Crisis and many other smaller incidents – the dangers of severing the economic relationship always seemed to smooth out any talk of a rupture. But with Trump and advisers such as Death by China (2011) author Peter Navarro calling into question the economic benefits of trade with Beijing, the one thing that always seemed to anchor relations in times of trouble seems to be at an end.

Why Destined for War (2017) is a Must Read:

To be fair, there are many great articles, long-form pieces and books that detail the dangers of a US-China military clash and how to avoid it. So why read this one?

I offer three reasons: Comprehensiveness, readability and telling hard truths most Asia experts here in Washington won’t want to hear.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have published Allison’s works on many occasions as Executive Editor of The National Interest, but Allison’s efforts in Destined for War will surely be praised, and for good reasons.

Any Asia hand will quickly be floored by the level of detail and research the manuscript includes. With a grounding in history, Allison takes his readers on a journey through many similar cases in the past where a rising nation challenged a status quo power, detailing where things went wrong, and, in some instances, how war was avoided. This is all done in a style that makes the book a real page turner, written in a prose that is easy to understand, never getting bogged down in often pointless jargon, tables, graphs or pie-charts. Allison’s ideas flow easily, no matter how frightening they are.

But some will likely have a problem with some of what the work offers. For example, he compares Xi Jinping and Donald Trump as two men who have similar goals: to make their nations great again. At the same time, Allison boldly, and quite correctly, couches China’s quest for primacy in Asia as something like what the United States did when it rose to power almost a century ago. While clearly stating that China has not acted as aggressively as America did in the past, especially back around the turn of century during the time of President Theodore Roosevelt, Allison skillfully hints at what could occur if China were to take such a step – and embark on a real path to war.

Reasons for Hope:

While I don’t want to offer any spoilers, Allison offers four key ways to mitigate the possibility of conflict. One of my favorites, clarifying vital interests, is worth spoiling. What are America’s vital interests in the Asia-Pacific region? What are we willing to fight for? What are we willing to die for? And, perhaps, most importantly, what are we not willing to fight for? To this day, I would challenge any past Obama administration official to be able to explain that with clarity – they likely can’t, beyond mentioning the word pivot or rebalance – terms that are rightly relegated to the past. The Trump administration will need to take up this challenge fast, considering Xi and Trump have a big summit set for early next month.

While many will sing the praises of Allison’s work, there is a much simpler reason why the good professor’s effort should be commended: it stands to reason a flood of op-eds, blogs, editorials and podcasts will flood the media as this book nears its release. We are finally about to have a real public debate about the very distinct possibility of a war between the US and China – and that itself might be the real accomplishment.

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/26/are-america-and-china-destined-for-war.html

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-26/are-america-and-china-destined-war

Categories: Uncategorized

On the Deep State and Surveillance

by Jimmy Falls

Who.What.Why (March 16 2017)

Carl Bernstein knows a thing or two about a high-ranking government official turning on his president. He and fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward famously broke the Watergate burglary story, which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

During their investigation, the reporters were, according to an account provided years later by Woodward, given critical information by Mark Felt, the FBI’s deputy director, whom they referred to as “Deep Throat” {*}.

Now, once again, a president is the target of leaks that are likely coming from high-ranking government officials.

During a recent CNN-hosted Q&A session at SXSW, WhoWhatWhy asked Bernstein his thoughts on the apparent conflict between President Donald Trump and what many are calling the “Deep State”. He expressed a skepticism about the term, saying that many unfounded conspiracy theories were being associated with it. He acknowledged however, that there are elements of the Deep State narrative that could be true.

Many different definitions of the Deep State are floating around. One common narrative is that intelligence bureaucrats, loyal to the Obama administration and liberal ideology generally, have been undermining the Trump presidency through damaging leaks to the press, especially concerning his business relationships with Russia.

According to a counter-narrative, forces within the FBI acted to support Trump in the way they handled the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email server during the election.

When asked by CNN what to make of the Trump-Russia connection that has dominated news headlines, Bernstein gave a surprisingly conservative answer, saying, “I don’t know”. He stressed the need for careful investigative journalism to separate fact from fiction.

Deep conflicts within government can have beneficial consequences for the public, though this is not always recognized immediately. Bernstein and Woodward’s investigations not only brought down Nixon; they were also a catalyst for a whole series of government investigations into US intelligence activities, including the Rockefeller Commission, the Pike and Church committees, and House Select Committee on Assassinations (“HSCA”). Many reforms, such as the establishment of the FISA court and the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, came about as a result of these hearings.

Though discussion of the Deep State is in vogue now, WhoWhatWhy has been ahead of the curve on this issue. As predicted, the mainstream discussion is being directed to mid-level bureaucrats, rather than to the power elite, the One Percent whose domains include Wall Street and the military-industrial-complex, and whose abiding (if sometimes diffuse) influence was the subject of WhoWhatWhy‘s inquiries.

“Indiscriminate” and “Arbitrary”

WhoWhatWhy also asked Bernstein to compare the surveillance/intelligence complex in his day to that of today, post-Snowden. He said that long before Edward Snowden came on the scene, he was quite aware of the NSA’s technical capabilities, including the ability to “vacuum” up vast amounts of electronic data. He referred to the book The Puzzle Palace (1982) by James Bamford, an expose on the NSA. Yet he indicated that even in light of Snowden’s revelations, there has been no clear evidence of abuse of this vast surveillance privilege by the intelligence agencies.

There has been no evidence that the executive branch has abused surveillance powers to spy on opposing political parties or candidates, as Nixon tried to do by bugging the offices of the Democratic headquarters. (Although now Trump, without providing any evidence, has openly accused the Obama adminstration of just such actions.)

However, indiscriminate data collection from US citizens can itself be construed as an abuse of the Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures”. Federal district judge Richard J Leon described the NSA’s technological capabilities as “Orwellian”. In his ruling he writes:

I cannot imagine a more “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary” invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.

There is yet another sense in which real, concrete abuses of power have been brought to light by leakers. WhoWhatWhy recently interviewed former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who first leaked that the CIA was kidnapping and torturing terrorism suspects in secret bases worldwide. He was tried under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration and spent two years in a federal prison. Apparently, neither the Obama nor the Trump administration want such revelations to reach the public.

In a political environment where the power of government is regularly marshaled to bury news of unreasonable surveillance and other Deep State abuses, Carl Bernstein’s advice to pursue the truth tenaciously seems more timely than ever.

_____

{*} Editor’s Note: Readers of WhoWhatWhy and its editor Russ Baker’s book Family of Secrets (2008) are familiar with serious questions about Woodward’s veracity, about the conventional Watergate narrative we’ve all heard – and about the claimed role of Felt. Nonetheless, Bernstein gained justified praise for work he did for Rolling Stone, after leaving The Washington Post, on the extent to which the CIA had compromised the American media.
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http://whowhatwhy.org/2017/03/16/carl-bernstein-deep-state-surveillance/

Categories: Uncategorized

Trump = Obama = Bush = Clinton

On Four Core Issues

by George Washington

Washington’s Blog (March 26 2017)

Zero Hedge (March 26 2017)

On a superficial level {1}, Trump and Bush couldn’t be more different from Clinton and Obama. Indeed, pollsters say that many people voted for Trump because {2} they wanted change {3} … Just like they voted for Obama because he promised “hope and change” from Bush-era policies.

But beneath the surface, Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton are all very similar on four core issues.

Moar War

Bush intentionally lied {4} us into the Iraq war … a war which had no relation with US security or defense.

Clinton and Obama intentionally lied {5} us into various “humanitarian wars” … which had nothing to do with our security or defense.

And the same idiots who lied us into the Iraq war are now trying to lie us into a cold (or maybe even hot) war with Russia {6}.

And what about Trump?

He campaigned on peace and non-interventionism …

But he’s already ramped up {7} the war in Syria.

And the war in Yemen {8} … where the US and Saudi Arabia are committing war crimes {9}.

And he’s already increased drone strikes by 432% {10}.

And Trump’s top advisor is predicting war with China and Russia {11}. He said {12}:

We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt.

So it doesn’t look like peace is going to break out any time soon.

And sadly, top experts say the geopolitical policies pursued by Trump – which are very similar to those pursued by Obama, Bush and Clinton – will lead to more terrorism {13}.

Lap Dogs for Wall Street … Making the Rich Richer

Obama, Bush and Clinton all pushed economic policies which made the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

Bush and Obama bailed out the big banks, threw fistfuls of money at the banksters, and otherwise rewarded Wall Street and penalized Main Street {14}.

Clinton repealed {15} the Depression-era law which separated regular deposit banking from speculation (Glass-Steagall), allowed {16} the giant banks to grow into mega-banks, and acted as a cheerleader {17} for unregulated derivatives. And Clinton – like Bush and Obama – decided that white collar financial fraud didn’t exist {18}, or at least shouldn’t be prosecuted {19}.

What’s the effect of these policies?

Rick Baum notes {20}, using official US governments statistics, that inequality steadily increased under all three presidents:


Real wages plummeted {22} through the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

What about Trump?

He’s appointed the same {23} old {24} bankster cronies. Nothing will change. (And unfortunately, it’s not too early {25} to criticize a new president.)

Spying on Americans

The NSA’s mass surveillance on Americans started by 1999 or earlier {26} … under the Clinton administration.

Three months before 9/11, the head of the NSA admitted that the NSA was collecting so much information from spying that it was drowning in too much data {27}.

Mass surveillance expanded under Bush … and then even more under Obama {28}.

It’s gotten to the point that the government is spying on virtually all of our electronic communications and transactions {29}.

And Trump?

Given that he’s called for whistleblowers like Snowden and Assange to be executed for treason, and quickly implemented gag orders {30} as soon as he took office, he is almost certain to continue the expansion of mass surveillance on the American people.

In other words, a president who severely punishes anyone trying to reveal the extent of spying on Americans probably has no intention of reigning it in.

Supporting Dictators Who Support Terrorism

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor {31} of radical Islamic terrorists. The Saudis have backed ISIS {31} and many other brutal terrorist groups. And the most pro-ISIS tweets allegedly come from Saudi Arabia {32}.

According to sworn declarations from a 9/11 Commissioner and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11, the Saudi government backed the 9/11 hijackers {33} (see section VII for details). And declassified documents only amplify those connections {34}. And the new Saudi king has ties {35} to Al Qaeda, Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism.

Saudi Arabia is the hotbed of the most radical Muslim terrorists in the world: the Salafis {36} (both ISIS and Al Qaeda are Salafis {37}).

And the Saudis – with US support – back {38} the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.

And yet the US has been supporting the Saudis militarily, with NSA intelligence {39} and in every other way possible through the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

Trump?

He’s selling them massive amounts of arms {40}, keeping them off of the list {41} of restricted countries for immigration, and supporting Saudi war crimes {9} in Yemen.

It appears that the voters have been played … again.

Postscript: If you think that the presidents are more different than we’re giving them credit for, then you must conclude that they have been overridden by other forces. In that case, you may wish to consider consider whether the Deep State and big banks {42} have more power than democratically-elected officials.

 

Links:

{1} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/07/the-founding-fathers-tried-to-warn-us-about-the-threat-from-a-two-party-system.html

{2} https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-09/trump-is-the-change-voters-wanted

{3} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/11/youll-understand-trump-brexit-understand-failure-globalization.html

{4} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/07/everyone-knew-iraq-didnt-wmds-2.html

{5} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/03/original-sin-first-humanitarian-war.html

{6} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/01/idiots-pushed-iraq-war-now-stirring-hysteria-russia-part-2.html

{7} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/03/66165.html

{8} https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/glenn_greenwald_trump_seems_to_be

{9} http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-backing-saudi-arabia-coalition-yemen-could-mean-guilt-war-crimes/

{10} http://blogs.cfr.org/zenko/2017/03/02/the-not-so-peaceful-transition-of-power/

{11} http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/01/sitrep-trump-advisor-bannon-predicts-wars-with-china-middle-east-pentagon-officials-say-gloves-off-in-yemen-pentagon-didnt-cook-the-books-mattis-and-the-weight-of-expectation-fighting-i/

{12} https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/02/steve-bannon-donald-trump-war-south-china-sea-no-doubt

{13} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/03/now-can-admit-war-terror-failed.html

{14} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/04/gaping-hole-pikettys-inequality-book.html

{15} https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisis?src=usn_gp

{16} http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/business/economy/19fed.html

{17} http://www.wilmott.com/blogs/satyajitdas/index.cfm/2006/5/24/Fear-and-Loathing–WMD-or-What-are-Derivatives

{18} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/04/fraud-finally-makes-news.html

{19} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/11/obama-prosecuting-fewer-financial-crimes-than-under-either-bush-presidency.html

{20} http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/26/during-obamas-presidency-wealth-inequality-has-increased-and-poverty-levels-are-higher/

{21} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Inequality-Clinton-Bush-Obama-1.jpg

{22} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/08/median-wages-have-plummeted-since-1969.html

{23} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/11/trump-scorecard.html#mnuchin

{24} https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/business/dealbook/james-donovan-goldman-sachs-treasury-trump-administration.html?_r=0

{25} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2008/11/we-should-not-hold-off-on-criticizing-obama-until-hes-sworn-in.html

{26} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/nsas-mass-surveillance-started-by-1999-or-earlier-but-nsa-hid-it-from-congress.html

{27} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/nsa-admits-it-collects-too-much-info-to-stop-terror-attacks.html

{28} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/05/top-constitutional-experts-obama-is-worse-than-nixon.html

{29} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/10/security-expert-the-details-matter-less-and-less-we-have-to-assume-that-the-nsa-has-everyone-who-uses-electronic-communications-under-constant-surveillance.html

{30} https://www.whistleblower.org/blog/110226-trump-launches-illegal-blitzkrieg-whistleblower-protection-act

{31} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/08/saudi-arabia-source-islamic-terrorism.html

{32} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-11-16/are-we-bombing-wrong-country

{33} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/03/911-commissioner-and-co-chair-of-congressional-inquiry-into-911-say-in-sworn-declarations-that-saudi-government-linked-to-911-attacks.html

{34} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/03/66156.html

{35} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/new-saudi-king-tied-911-bin-laden.html

{36} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/08/closest-u-s-allies-middle-east-hotbeds-islamic-fundamentalism.html

{37} http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-the-new-jihadists-in-iraq-and-syria-see-al-qaeda-as-too-passive-1405096590

{38} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/09/sleeping-with-the-devil-how-u-s-and-saudi-backing-of-al-qaeda-led-to-911.html

{39} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/07/saudi.html

{40} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/01/trump-administration-supply-saudis-kuwait-1-85-billion-arms.html

{41} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/01/65289.html

{42} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/04/oligarchy.html

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/03/trump-obama-bush.html

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-26/trump-obama-bush-clinton-4-core-issues

Categories: Uncategorized

These Democrats Seem to Really Want a War with Russia

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (March 26 2017)

A little over four years ago Obama infamously mocked Governor Mitt Romney for his assertion that Russia was America’s number one geopolitical foe …

 

 

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda’s a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America you said “Russia”. The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for twenty years.

 

 

 

 

… and while it was a very “cute” line, four short years later Democrats are now the ones progressing the relentless narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin is behind pretty much every international dispute or cyberhacking plot known to man.

But while most dismissed the left’s rhetoric as just a bunch of sore losers letting off steam in the wake of a stunning defeat in November, rather than subsiding, the left’s rhetoric seems to be escalating with several lawmakers, with no proof whatsoever mind you, looking to officially label Russia’s alleged meddling as a “act of war”. Per The Hill {1}:

 

 

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (Democrat, New Jersey) most recently accused Russia of engaging in warfare.

“I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles”, Coleman said during a hearing this week at the House Homeland Security Committee.

She lambasted Trump for his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking a panel of experts and former officials what message Trump’s “borderline dismissive attitude” toward Moscow’s cyberattack sends to the Kremlin and other nations.

 

But Coleman isn’t the only Democrat looking to pick a fight, as a couple of California representatives have also piled on:

 

 

“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it”, said Representative Jackie Speier (Democrat, California).

“This past election, our country was attacked. We were attacked by Russia”, said Representative. Eric Swalwell (Democrat, California). “I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rearview window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us”.

 

 

Meanwhile, the heightened rhetoric of the left comes despite the stark warnings from experts on the consequences of their provocative accusations.

 

 

“I find that sort of talk dangerous”, said Schmitt, who led the team of legal experts that formulated the Tallinn Manual 2.0, a comprehensive analysis of how international law applies to cyberspace.

The Army’s top officer, Mark Milley, also cautioned individuals about using the term “war” to refer to the cyberattacks, saying at a conference on Tuesday, “If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing”

Schmitt assesses that the hacking campaign was not an act of war but rather a violation of two prohibitions: one on violating another state’s sovereignty and another on intervention into another state’s affairs.

“Without a scintilla of a doubt, it is not an act of war”, Schmitt said.

 

 

Of course, as we pointed out earlier this month, if hacking and/or seeking to influence the outcome of elections is truly an “act of war” as these Democrats suggest, then we would kindly remind them that their former leader “declared war” on the majority of the civilized world during his eight years in office. In fact, courtesy of WikiLeaks, here is just a small list of some of the individuals who were wire tapped by the Obama Administration over the years.

The US National Security Agency bugged a private climate change strategy meeting {2}; between (1) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and (2) German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin;

Obama bugged (3) Chief of Staff of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) for long term interception targetting his Swiss phone {3};

Obama singled out the (4) Director of the Rules Division of the World Trade Organisation (“WTO”), Johann Human, and targetted his Swiss phone for long term interception {3};

Obama stole sensitive (5) Italian diplomatic cables {4} detailing how Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to help patch up his relationship with US President Barack Obama, who was refusing to talk to Netanyahu;

Obama intercepted (6) top EU and (7) Japanese trade ministers {5} discussing their secret strategy and red lines to stop the US “extort{ing}” them at the WTO Doha arounds (the talks subsequently collapsed);

Obama explicitly targeted (8) five other top EU economic officials for long term interception, including their French, Austrian and Belgium phone numbers {6};

Obama explicitly targetted the phones of (9) Italy’s ambassador to Nato and (10) other top Italian officials {7} for long term interception; and

Obama intercepted details (11) of a critical private meeting between then (11) French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi, where the latter was told the Italian banking system was ready to “pop like a cork”.

Links:

{1} http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/325606-democrats-step-up-calls-that-russian-hack-was-act-of-war

{2} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-un/intercepts/#intercept2

{3} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-un/

{4} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-italy/intercepts/#intercept1

{5} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-eu/intercepts/

{6} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-eu/

{7} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-italy/

{8} https://wikileaks.org/nsa-italy/intercepts/#intercept2

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-26/these-democrats-seem-really-want-war-russia

Categories: Uncategorized

Russophobia – Symptom of US Implosion

by Finian Cunningham

Zero Hedge (March 24 2017)

There was a time when Russophobia served as an effective form of population control – used by the American ruling class in particular to command the general US population into patriotic loyalty. Not any longer. Now, Russophobia is a sign of weakness, of desperate implosion among the US ruling class from their own rotten, internal decay.

This propaganda technique worked adequately well during the Cold War decades when the former Soviet Union could be easily demonized as “godless communism” and an “evil empire”. Such stereotypes, no matter how false, could be sustained largely because of the monopoly control of Western media by governments and official regulators.

The Soviet Union passed away more than a quarter of a century ago, but Russophobia among the US political class is more virulent than ever.

This week it was evident from Congressional hearings {1} in Washington into alleged Russian interference in US politics that large sections of American government and establishment media are fixated by Russophobia and a belief that Russia is a malign foreign adversary.

However, the power of the Russophobia propaganda technique over the wider population seems to have greatly diminished from its Cold War heyday. This is partly due to more diverse global communications which challenge the previous Western monopoly for controlling narrative and perception. Contemporary Russophobia – demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin or Russian military forces – does not have the same potency for scaring the Western public. Indeed, due to greater diversity in global news media sources, it is fair to say that “official” Western depictions of Russia as an enemy, for example allegedly about to invade Europe or allegedly interfering in electoral politics, are met with a healthy skepticism – if not ridicule by many Western citizens.

What is increasingly apparent here is a gaping chasm between the political class and the wider public on the matter of Russophobia. This is true for Western countries generally, but especially in the US. The political class – the lawmakers in Washington and the mainstream news media – are frenzied by claims that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections and that Russia has some kind of sinister leverage on the presidency of Donald Trump.

But this frenzy of Russophobia is not reflected among the wider public of ordinary American citizens. Rabid accusations that Russia hacked the computers of Trump’s Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to spread damaging information about her; that this alleged sabotage of American democracy was an “act of war”; that President Trump is guilty of “treason” by “colluding” with a “Russian influence campaign” – all of these sensational claims seem to be only a preoccupation of the privileged political class. Most ordinary Americans, concerned about making a living in a crumbling society, either don’t buy the claims or view them as idle chatter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week dismissed the Congressional hearings into alleged Russian interference in US politics. He aptly said that US lawmakers and the corporate media have become “entangled” in their own fabrications. “They are trying to find evidence for conclusions that they have already made”, said Peskov.

Other suitable imagery is that the US political class are tilting at windmills, chasing their own tails, or running from their own shadows. There seems to be a collective delusional mindset.

Unable to accept the reality that the governing structure of the US has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, that the people rebelled by electing an outsider in the form of business mogul-turned-politician Donald Trump, that the collapse of American traditional politics is due to the atrophy of its bankrupt capitalist economy over several decades – the ruling class have fabricated their own excuse for demise by blaming it all on Russia.

The American ruling class cannot accept, or come to terms, with the fact of systemic failure in their own political system. The election of Trump is a symptom of this failure and the widespread disillusionment among voters towards the two-party train wreck of Republicans and Democrats. That is why the specter of Russian interference in the US political system had to be conjured up, by necessity, as a way of “explaining” the abject failure and the ensuing popular revolt.

Russophobia was rehabilitated from the Cold War closet by the American political establishment to distract from the glaring internal collapse of American politics.

The corrosive, self-destruction seems to know no bounds. James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told {2} Congress this week that the White House is being probed for illicit contacts with Russia. This dramatic notice served by Comey was greeted with general approval by political opponents of the Trump administration, as well as by news media outlets.

The New York Times said the FBI was in effect holding a “criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House”.

Other news outlets are openly airing {3} discussions on the probability of President Trump being impeached from office.

The toxic political atmosphere of Russophobia in Washington is unprecedented. The Trump administration is being crippled at every turn from conducting normal political business under a toxic cloud of suspicion that it is guilty of treason from colluding with Russia.

President Trump has run afoul with Republicans in Congress over his planned healthcare reforms because many Republicans are taking issue instead over the vaunted Russian probe.

When Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reported {4} to be skipping a Nato summit next month but was planning to visit Moscow later in the same month, the itinerary was interpreted as a sign of untoward Russian influence.

What makes the spectacle of political infighting so unprecedented is that there is such little evidence to back up allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. It is preponderantly based on innuendo and anonymous leaks to the media, which are then recycled as “evidence”.

Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this week that he has seen no actual evidence among classified documents indicating any collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Russian government.

Even former senior intelligence officials, James Clapper and Michael Morell who are no friends of Trump, have lately admitted in media interviews that there is no such evidence.

Yet, FBI chief James Comey told Congress that his agency was pursuing a potentially criminal investigation into the Trump administration, while at the same time not confirming or denying the existence of any evidence.

And, as already noted, this declaration of open-ended snooping by Comey on the White House was met with avid approval by political opponents of Trump, both on Capitol Hill and in the corporate media.

Let’s just assume for a moment that the whole Trump-Russia collusion story is indeed fake. That it is groundless, a figment of imagination. There are solid reasons to believe that is the case. But let’s just assume here that it is fake for the sake of argument.

That then means that the Washington seat of government and the US presidency are tearing themselves apart in a futile civil war.

The real war here is a power struggle within the US in the context of ruling parties no longer having legitimacy to govern.

This is an American implosion. An historic Made-in-America meltdown. And Russophobia is but a symptom of the internal decay at the heart of US politics.

Links:

{1} http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/20/politics/comey-hearing-russia-wiretapping/index.html

{2} https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/03/20/fbi-director-james-comey-confirms-probe-possible-trump-campaign-collusion-with-russia-influence-election/OBoIqmTsf9eI7lFECwQjSJ/story.html

{3} https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/22/donald-trump-president-impeached-liberals-history-process?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=218505&subid=5356906&CMP=GT_US_collection

{4} http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-tillerson-idUSKBN16S04I

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/24/russophobia-symptom-us-implosion.html

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-24/russophobia-symptom-us-implosion

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