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Trump, Netanyahu, and Mohammad Bin Salman

Destroyers of the Neoliberal World Order

by Federico Pieraccini

Strategic Culture Foundation (December 13 2017)

The neoliberal world order has been in crisis for some years now, with no signs of recovery. Trump’s victory is an expression of a breach of trust between the American people and the national elites.

The perfect storm. This is what the situation in the Middle East looks like. More and more events in the region seem to be leading towards an epochal change in the delicate balance of power.

The balance of power in the Middle East was quickly altered following the victory over terrorism in Syria by Damascus and her allies. Moscow’s new role guarantees Iran virtually unlimited space to maneuver in the region. The new Iranian military bases {1} in Syria match the agreement between Russia and Egypt {2} for the creation of common areas of cooperation against terrorism.

In this complicated context, Donald Trump emerges as a destroyer of US interests in the region. Observing the cooperation between the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (“SDF”) and the Americans in Syria, we can see the genesis of all the problems between Ankara and Washington. Turkey used to employ political Islam (Muslim Brotherhood) as a way of destabilizing the Middle East and North Africa, once one of the central strategies of Obama and the State Department as well. Turkey now gravitates towards the multipolar milieu of Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran. The role conferred by these three nations allows Erdogan to maneuver skilfully between allied nations as well as fomenters of Islamic extremism like Qatar.

Turkey is just an example of the delicate balance upon which the region rests. Moscow has become the sole mediator for all parties and does not appear to have bad relations with any of them. The Saudis are going to buy the S-400 {3} system from the Russians; Netanyahu is forced to try to influence Moscow in order to retain some kind of leverage over Iran, but to little avail. Mohammad bin Salman (“MBS”) has gone further, thanks to Trump and the green light of his son-in-law, arresting dozens of Saudi authorities and financiers (very close to Clinton and Obama), undertaking a genocide against Yemenis, arming Wahhabist Islamist terrorists in every corner of the region, and cutting off all relations with Qatar in a quasi-war that is turning out to be manifestly ineffective.

In this uncontrolled chaos, and among the factions loyal to the United States, Netanyahu is seeing Israeli missiles, launched from uncontested Lebanese airspace, being shot down {4} in Syria. MBS cannot even force his pupil Hariri to resign {5}, and even Saleh in Yemen was killed after betraying {6} and abandoning the Houthis. Abu Dhabi {7} and Riyadh {8} are finding themselves coming under fire from Houthi forces, facing the consequences of their senseless military choices closer to home. In Israel, the Netanyahu government is drowning under a sea of corruption scandals, demonstrators on the streets demanding his resignation {9}. Are colored revolutions returning to bite the master’s hand? In order for Saudi Arabia to avoid a similar scenario, made worse by a dearth in welfare as a result of the drop in oil prices as well as the coffers being emptied by wars, MBS has decided to arrest and rob all of his opponents. Trump does not seem to care about the consequences of these actions, taking care to coordinate events at the highest levels with Xi Jinping in Asia and Putin in the Middle East.

Trump has made a wise choice by renouncing the impossible goal of achieving global hegemony, aiming instead to sort out domestic problems. He is committed to the cause of his electors, and to this end seeks to extract as much money as possible from his allies in order to restart the US economy, aiming for re-election in 2020.

In this sense, the lack of interest from the Trump administration in certain areas of the globe is emblematic. While the chemistry between Trump and Modi appears to be good, the tensions between India and China, heightened by border disputes, seems to have nevertheless dissolved {10}. Following on from the failure of the neocons to divide Russia and China, even the border tensions between India and China seem to be now dissipating. In addition, in Ukraine, even the decision to send lethal weapons to Kiev has been downplayed {11}, and the country now faces a counter-coup led by Saakashvili {12} (yes, him again). Ukraine is a country in a mess, experiencing first-hand the consequences of an evil Atlanticist posture with its vicious anti-Russia policies.

The rest of the world, with mounting bewilderment, watches on while all manner of decisions are made with no rhyme or reason, such as the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The only ones to lose in this scenario are naturally the closest allies of the United States: Israel and all the Arab countries united behind the Saudi (money) state that are now obliged to stand up for the Palestinian cause. Whether out of incompetence or a strategic inability to take a position, it matters little why these decisions are being made. Donald Trump, MBS, and Netanyahu are exactly what the region and the world needed. Why? Because these three figures, thanks to their actions, have reunited the axis of resistance in the Middle East, fortified the Russian presence in the region, and opened the door to Asian money for reconstruction, focused on integrating the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. These three stooges have opened the door to total defeat thanks to their reckless decisions.

New technologies, like the blockchain, as well as the revaluation of the importance of gold, accompany an inexorable competition to diversify from the US dollar. American military power is in crisis, but the US dollar remains the main reserve currency of the world. In addition to solidifying alliances with opponents by turning them into friends, Moscow and Beijing are aiming to create a new economic environment based on real value (currencies supported by gold) to undermine the financial speculative bubble brought on by the dollar, central banks, and all those financial systems that have created a totally fictitious economy completely disconnected from reality.

Trump is focused on the United States and appears uninterested in global affairs, which is a boon for global stability in the long term. In the meantime, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are trying, with new economic and military solutions, to govern a region that is the epicenter of global chaos. Cooperation in disputed areas could reach a new level with Egyptian and Chinese soldiers {13} working as peacekeepers. This seems to be another Russian masterpiece to accelerate the pacification of the region and widen the spectrum of nations involved militarily in the new multipolar world order.

The crisis of the neoliberal-neocon system is evident, although its media, ever useful for propaganda, tries to portray a false and artificial reality. The sense of despair intensifies when mainstream media tries to sell to the world audience the fairy tale of evil Russians trying to influence American elections. Nevertheless, other defamatory claims made, with no evidence offered, involve the Russian national Olympic team and allegations of doping. Their small victories, such as censorship against RT, show the true evil face of the old neoliberal world order.

MBS, Netanyahu, and Trump represent all that is wrong in the West and the Middle East. The more they try to survive, the more they harm the interests of the neoliberal elites, only serving to reveal their true genocidal face (as in Yemen or Palestine) or even publicly admitting that their every political move is intended to favour the United States (Trump’s doctrine of “America First” lays it out quite openly and clearly).

The neoliberal order is based on a deception knowingly perpetrated by the mainstream media. They cloud the news to give a specific, partisan view of events. For those firmly opposed to such a warlike and dehumanizing drift, advantage must be taken of the opportunity presented by the unlikely trio of MBS, Trump, and Netanyahu. By sweeping away the neoliberal hypocrisy, it is easier to show the brutality of the West’s ruling elite. This unlikely trio even achieved the more than the unexpected effect of uniting almost all forces opposed to this warmongering world order, consolidating alliances and friendships in various geographical areas.

From North Africa to the Middle East, passing through South America and Asia, Washington is no longer the unique voice dictating all the decisions. Unlike in the past, Washington no longer chooses for others but instead prefers not to participate in order to avoid making plain its military and economic weakness. Even the withdrawal from the world stage is a strategy, especially if it is promoted as being done of one’s own volition, rather than being forced by circumstances.

Links:

{1} http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-41945189

{2} https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/world/middleeast/russia-egypt-air-bases.html

{3} https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-saudi-missiles/kremlin-says-s-400-missile-talks-with-saudi-arabia-on-track-idUSKBN1CE0ZY

{4} http://www.businessinsider.com/syria-says-it-shot-down-3-missiles-fired-from-israel-2017-12?IR=T

{5} https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/world/middleeast/lebanon-saad-hariri-resignation.html

{6} https://www.globalresearch.ca/former-yemeni-president-killed-the-price-of-betrayal/5621605

{7} https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-emirates/yemens-houthi-group-says-fires-missile-toward-abu-dhabi-nuclear-reactor-idUSKBN1DX09E

{8} http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/yemen-houthi-fire-missile-saudi-arabia-riyadh-171104180946302.html

{9} http://www.newsweek.com/thousands-israelis-protest-tel-aviv-after-corruption-allegations-levelled-743569

{10} http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/handling-of-doklam-shows-importance-of-ties-with-india-china/story-f6MEHmYqAX6Qip16pg60JK.html

{11} https://112.international/ukraine-top-news/ukraine-receives-american-weapons-under-several-contracts-23318.html

{12} https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-protests-saakashvili/thousands-of-saakashvili-supporters-stage-protest-against-ukraine-president-idUSKBN1E40NV

{13} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-29/china-deploy-elite-troops-syria-fight-alongside-assads-army

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/12/13/trump-netanyahu-mohammad-bin-salman-destroyers-neoliberal-world-order.html

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Categories: Uncategorized

Petty, Backstabbing by Washington …

… Sinks Russia’s Olympic Dreams

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (December 11 2017)

 

It doesn’t require cynicism to detect a miscarriage of justice: Just an analytical perspective on a case that is surely the most glaring example of the intrusion of politics into sport. Russia, to use a phrase of today, has been thrown under the bus.

– Ellis Cashmore {1}

 

Thanks to the relentless arm-twisting of the Washington power brokers, the Russian Olympic team will not be allowed to compete in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is the first time a nation has ever been barred from sending a team to the games. According to Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com:
 

Officially, this is being done to punish Russia for doping among athletes. In reality, the move was heavily lobbied for by the US and a series of allies, a push that was primarily about US-Russia tensions in recent years.

The doping scandal, after all, was nothing particularly new, and accusations of doping among athletes from Eastern Europe have gone back for generations without any such bans being seriously contemplated. {2}

 

As Ditz admits, doping is nothing new in the world of sports where athletes are always trying to get an edge on the competition. But let’s not forget, the United States has its share of skeletons in the closet too, as journalist Neil Clark points out in a recent article at RT. Check it out:
 

Wade Exum, the US Olympic Committee’s former Director of Drug Control, handed over more than 30,000 pages of documents to Sports Illustrated magazine and The Orange County Register, which he said showed that over 100 American athletes had failed drug tests between 1988-2000, but had still been allowed to compete.

Carl Lewis, the US Olympian later admitted he had tested positive for banned substances before the 1988 Games in Seoul where he won Gold but claimed that ‘hundreds’ of fellow Americans had also escaped bans.

“There were hundreds of people getting off”, Lewis said. “Everyone was treated the same”.

But guess what? There was no McLaren style report and no blanket ban on US athletes.

(In contrast) Russian athletes have been banned (and stripped of their medals) without proof of their guilt being published by the IOC’s Oswald Commission”.{3}

 

That’s what you call “American style” justice where the accused is convicted before he’s even been charged with a crime. And it’s even worse than that since the prosecution has not yet produced a shred of evidence to prove its case. The IOC has operated in complete secrecy and now expects the world to ‘trust their judgment’ on a matter that positively wreaks of sordid backroom politics. Here’s more from The New York Times:

 

The Olympic committee provided little detail about the cases on Thursday. “The reasoning for these decisions will be communicated in due course”, the organization said in a news release. “Due to the nature and complexity of the cases, this thorough, comprehensive and time-consuming process has taken several months and had to involve external forensic experts, who had to develop a legally-defendable methodology”.{4}

 

Proof? We don’t need no stinking proof. We have the Washington Mafioso on our side. That’s all the proof we need. Isn’t that the reasoning behind this farce? Isn’t that the twisted logic that laid the groundwork for Gitmo and other US black sites around the world where terror suspects were shunted away to windowless six by four cells where they were either tortured or force-fed through plastic tubes stuck up their noses until they vomited blood? Now that same rationale has been applied to the world of sports. Nice.

And let’s not pretend we don’t know what this is all about. Russia and China are building the vital infrastructure (energy and transport) that will create a “Greater Europe” spanning from Lisbon to Vladivostok, the biggest free trade zone in history that will eviscerate the economic power of the US sending the increasingly-wobbly Empire into a irreversible downward spiral. Russia has also blunted Washington’s attempt to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad and plunge the country into Libya-type anarchy, which was a critical part of its geopolitical plan to redraw the map of the Middle East.

At every turn, Putin appears to be blocking Washington’s strategy to control the resource-rich landmass from North Africa across the Middle East to the Pacific Rim. The US must prevail in this Great Game to remain the dominant world power into the next century. This is why US heavyweights have been frantically searching for new ways to humiliate, punish, or crush those “evil Ruskies”. The attack on the Russian Olympic Team – however petty and vicious it might be – is yet another way for the “exceptional nation'” to implement its full spectrum dominance doctrine to isolate an emerging rival and transform them into an international pariah. Here’s more from The New York Times:
 

The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound. Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals. That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports juggernaut that has long used the Olympics as a show of global force but was exposed for systematic doping in previously unfathomable ways.

The International Olympic Committee, after completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated what had been known for more than a year, handed Russia penalties for doping so severe they were without precedent in Olympics history. {5}

 


Do the American people like the idea that their government is using its extraordinary power to quash the lifetime dreams of young athletes who have nothing to do with the policies of their government? It’s appalling. It’s like beating up someone who can’t defend themselves to gain some fleeting political advantage. Why not challenge them on the “field of play” where everyone has an equal chance?

Russian President Vladimir Putin was disappointed by the IOC’s decision which he correctly criticized as “absolutely staged and politically motivated” …

Ain’t that the truth. As Ellis Cashmore said, the IOC’s decision to ban Russia from the Olympics “is arguably the most overt expression of political intervention in sport in history”.

Also, according to “blacklisted” Sputnik News: “(Putin) also questioned the “testimony of former Moscow anti-doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, whose allegations led to investigations which culminated in the IOC’s decision … The final decision was “mainly based on the testimony of a person whose moral and ethical attitudes and psychological state raise many questions”, Putin said, without referring to Rodchenkov by name. “Most of the accusations are based on claims which have not been proven and are largely unfounded”, he added. {6}

The testimony of Grigory Rodchenkov is at the center of the current controversy. It’s worth noting that – aside from betraying the Russian athletes who are merely the collateral damage in this geopolitical cage-match – Rodchenkov also “spent years helping Russia’s athletes gain an edge by using banned substances”.

So the IOC has decided to use the testimony of a man who is not only a proven cheater and a liar but who has also sold out his country.

It would be interesting to hear why the IOC thinks the dissembling Mr Rodchenko’s claims can be trusted?

It’s also worth noting that, there is no proof of a “state-backed doping program”. This is just more hyperbole from the spin doctors at The New York Times. As Ellis opines:
 

Apart from Rodchenko’s statements, the other evidence appears inferential and largely uncorroborated. In another social climate in a different era, McLaren’s report would have met with skepticism or, at very least, a demand for proof. Not today. {1}

 

That’s for sure. It seems like any ridiculous anti-Russia slander one can conjure up will eventually be splashed across the headlines of one of America’s top newspapers. And it’s clear from reading The New York Times comments section that the vast majority of liberal, college-educated readers have been thoroughly brainwashed by the elite media’s campaign to prove that Russia is evil and Putin is a KGB thug. Even so, there are a small number of independent-minded readers who’ve been able to cut through the state propaganda and figure out what’s really going on. I’ve included a few of their comments below:

Thor Walhovd: “The US may be able to influence the IOC in an attempt to politicize the Olympics in support of the fact-free ‘Russia did it’ campaign being launched by the neocon endless war lobby on both sides of the aisle, but it will ultimately damage the Olympics.

Joseph Volgin: This is a stupid and petty revenge for Russia’s policy, independent of the West. This causes only an aversion to Western ‘democracy’ “.

Thomas Keenan: ” What a disgraceful and obviously politically motivated judgment! However, you can’t keep Russia down! They have many of the best athletes in the world. This judgment is just another bludgeon to try to bring Russia to its knees (along with the bogus Russiangate investigation and Putin demonization).”

Equilibrium: “There is no doubt that this is a politically motivated decision. One witness (Rodchenkov who has problems with the law in Russia against which he gives information) is enough to recognize the whole country as guilty? This is ridiculous.”

Maureen: “I think it’s more about Russia’s refusal to go along with the New World Disorder in so many ways. Continuing to persecute Russia while so many other BAD countries continue funding terror, et cetera, is grossly unfair and absolutely strange.

Max: “So Russians were banned not because there was solid proof found in blood and urine tests, but by vials appearing scratched and by accounts of husband a wife that were busted by Russians themselves for (wife) using PEDs and (husband) being a corrupt liar.

Graf von Sponek: “So, we have a doping case with no doping found. The decision was based on (1) testimony of a single paid informant, and (2) analysis of scratches on the sample vials that supposedly indicated that the samples were “tampered with”. Yet the final report on this analysis results has not been made public yet. Any judge in the USA will through a case out of court, if the prosecutors came in with ‘Your Honor, we have some circumstantial evidence, but we can’t disclose it yet’ …”

CJ: “It is clear that Russia is being bullied this year from many angles by the American political establishment and their Nato allies and the corporate media. The winners: the military industrial complex, who profits from a perpetual bogeyman, and the American Olympic team who stands a better chance of winning now. The losers, everyone else.”

Alex: “Here in Russia they understand that this is only a political game. Have you seen the evidence, or do you only know about what they say to you?”

John Snow: “The entire point of the Olympics is so that nations put aside war and politics and compete in a show of human sportsmanship. That’s literally the tradition, nations would pause wars and conflict to play in the Olympics. So essentially by banning Russia, you are doing the Olympics wrong.”

Liz Carlson: “We should not ban an entire country for what some athletes have done in the past. Athletes who have been training hard their entire lives deserve the chance to earn a medal for their country, regardless of its behavior.”

Alexandra Hamilton: “This is heartbreaking for all the athletes who have devoted their entire lives to their sport. I hope many of them will be allowed to compete as individuals. It is a severe punishment but I don’t know that anything less would be an effective deterrent when powerful government (and corporate?) forces are determined to dope.”

Again, these are not a fair sample of the comments at The New York Time’s website, they are merely the ones that coincide with my own view that Russia and its athletes are being unfairly punished by a bully power that runs roughshod over anything or anyone that stands in the way of its glorious strategic plan to rule the world.

Links:

{1} https://www.fairobserver.com/world-news/international-olympic-committee-russia-doping-2018-olympics-ban-latest-news-81623/

{2} http://news.antiwar.com/2017/12/05/russia-barred-from-winter-olympics/

{3} https://www.rt.com/op-edge/412124-russia-olympics-ban-cold-war/

{4} https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/sports/russia-olympics-doping.html

{5} https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/sports/olympics/ioc-russia-winter-olympics.html

{6} https://sputniknews.com/sport/201712061059761847-putin-russia-olympic-ban/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/11/petty-backstabbing-washington-sinks-russias-olympic-dreams/

Categories: Uncategorized

The Anti-Empire Report #153

by William Blum

https://williamblum.org (December 05 2017)

Cold War Number One: Seventy years of daily national stupidity

Cold War Number Two: Still in its youth, but just as stupid
 

He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.

– President Trump regarding Vladimir Putin after their meeting in Vietnam.

 

Putin later added that he knew “absolutely nothing” about Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials. “They can do what they want, looking for some sensation. But there are no sensations.” {1}

Numerous US intelligence agencies have said otherwise. Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, responded to Trump’s remarks by declaring: “The president was given clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election”.

As we’ll see below, there isn’t too much of the “clear and indisputable” stuff. And this, of course, is the same James Clapper who made an admittedly false statement to Congress in March 2013, when he responded, “No, sir” and “not wittingly” to a question about whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans. Lies don’t usually come in any size larger than that.

Virtually every member of Congress who has publicly stated a position on the issue has criticized Russia for interfering in the 2016 American presidential election. And it would be very difficult to find a member of the mainstream media which has questioned this thesis.

What is the poor consumer of news to make of these gross contradictions? Here are some things to keep in mind:

How do we know that the tweets and advertisements “sent by Russians” – those presented as attempts to sway the vote – were actually sent by Russians? The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (“VIPS”), composed of National Security Agency and CIA veterans, recently declared that the CIA knows how to disguise the origin of emails and tweets. The Washington Post has as well reported that Twitter “makes it easy for users to hide their true identities” {2}. Even if these communications were actually sent from Russia, how do we know that they came from the Russian government, and not from any of the other 144.3 million residents of Russia?

Even if they were sent by the Russian government, we have to ask: Why would they do that? Do the Russians think the United States is a Third World, under-developed, backward Banana Republic easily influenced and moved by a bunch of simple condemnations of the plight of blacks in America and the Clinton “dynasty”? Or cliched statements about other controversial issues, such as gun rights and immigration? If so, many Democratic and Republican officials would love to know the secret of the Russians’ method. Consider also that Facebook has stated that ninety percent of the alleged-Russian-bought content that ran on its network did not even mention Trump or Clinton {3}.

On top of all this is the complete absence of even the charge, much less with any supporting evidence, of Russian interference in the actual voting or counting of votes.

After his remark suggesting he believed Putin’s assertion that there had been no Russian meddling in the election, Trump – of course, as usual – attempted to backtrack and distant himself from his words after drawing criticism at home; while James Clapper declared: “The fact the president of the United States would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable” {4}.

Given Clapper’s large-size lie referred to above, can Trump be faulted for being skeptical of the intelligence community’s Holy Writ? Purposeful lies of the intelligence community during the first Cold War were legendary, many hailed as brilliant tactics when later revealed. The CIA, for example, had phony articles and editorials planted in foreign newspapers (real Fake News), made sex films of target subjects caught in flagrante delicto who had been lured to Agency safe houses by female agents, had Communist embassy personnel expelled because of phony CIA documents, and much more.

The Post recently published an article entitled “How did Russian trolls get into your Facebook feed? Silicon Valley made it easy.” In the midst of this “expose”, the Post stated: “There’s no way to tell if you personally saw a Russian post or tweet” {5}. So … Do the Cold Warriors have a case to make or do they not? Or do they just want us to remember that the Russkis are bad? So it goes.

An organization in Czechoslovakia with the self-appointed name of European Values has produced a lengthy report entitled “The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT‘s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact” {6}. It includes a long list of people who have appeared on the Russian-owned TV station RT (formerly Russia Today), which can be seen in the US, the UK, and other countries. Those who’ve been guests on RT are the “idiots” useful to Moscow. (The list is not complete. I’ve been on RT about five times, but I’m not listed. Where is my Idiot Badge?)

RT‘s YouTube channel has more than two million followers and claims to be the “most-watched news network” on the video site. Its Facebook page has more than four million likes and followers. Can this explain why the powers-that-be forget about a thing called freedom-of-speech and treat the station like an enemy? The US government recently forced RT America to register as a foreign agent and has cut off the station’s Congressional press credentials.

The Cold War strategist, George Kennan, wrote prophetically:

 

 

Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy. {7}

Writer John Wight has described the new Cold War as being “in response to Russia’s recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union and the failed attempt to turn the country into a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington via the imposition of free market economic shock treatment thereafter”.

So let’s see what other brilliance the New Cold War brings us … Ah yes, another headline in the Post (November 18 2017): “British alarm rising over possible Russian meddling in Brexit”. Of course, why else would the British people have voted to leave the European Union? But wait a moment, again, one of the British researchers behind the report “said that the accounts they analyzed – which claimed Russian as their language when they were set up but tweeted in English – posted a mixture of pro-‘leave’ and pro-‘remain’ messages regarding Brexit. Commentators have said that the goal may simply have been to sow discord and division in society.”

Was there ever a time when the Post would have been embarrassed to be so openly, amateurishly biased about Russia? Perhaps during the few years between the two Cold Wars.

In case you don’t remember how stupid Cold War Number One was …

1948: The Pittsburgh Press published the names, addresses, and places of employment of about 1,000 citizens who had signed presidential-nominating petitions for former Vice President Henry Wallace, running under the Progressive Party. This, and a number of other lists of “communists”, published in the mainstream media, resulted in people losing their jobs, being expelled from unions, having their children abused, being denied state welfare benefits, and suffering various other punishments.

Around 1950: The House Committee on Un-American Activities published a pamphlet, “100 Things You Should Know About Communism in the USA”. This included information about what a communist takeover of the United States would mean:

Q: What would happen to my insurance?

A: It would go to the Communists.

Q: Would communism give me something better than I have now?

A: Not unless you are in a penitentiary serving a life sentence at hard labor.

1950s: Mrs Ada White, a member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission, believed that Robin Hood was a Communist and urged that books that told the Robin Hood story be banned from Indiana schools.

As evidence that anti-communist mania was not limited to the lunatic fringe or conservative newspaper publishers, here is Clark Kerr, president of the University of California at Berkeley in a 1959 speech: “Perhaps two or even twenty million people have been killed in China by the new [communist] regime”. One person wrote to Kerr: “I am wondering how you would judge a person who estimates the age of a passerby on the street as being ‘perhaps two or even twenty years old’. Or what would you think of a physician who tells you to take ‘perhaps two or even twenty teaspoonsful of a remedy’?”

Throughout the cold war, traffic in phony Lenin quotes was brisk, each one passed around from one publication or speaker to another for years. Here’s US News and World Report in 1958 demonstrating communist duplicity by quoting Lenin: “Promises are like pie crusts, made to be broken”. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles used it in a speech shortly afterward, one of many to do so during the cold war. Lenin actually did use a very similar line, but he explicitly stated that he was quoting an English proverb (it comes from Jonathan Swift) and his purpose was to show the unreliability of the bourgeoisie, not of communists.

“First we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia, then we will encircle the United States, which will be the last bastion of capitalism. We will not have to attack. It will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.” This Lenin “quotation” had the usual wide circulation, even winding up in the Congressional Record in 1962. This was not simply a careless attribution; this was an out-and-out fabrication; an extensive search, including by the Library of Congress and the United States Information Agency failed to find its origin.

A favorite theme of the anti-communists was that a principal force behind drug trafficking was a communist plot to demoralize the United States. Here’s a small sample:

Don Keller, District Attorney for San Diego County, California in 1953: “We know that more heroin is being produced south of the border than ever before and we are beginning to hear stories of financial backing by big shot Communists operating out of Mexico City”.

Henry Giordano, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1964, interviewed in the American Legion Magazine: Interviewer: “I’ve been told that the communists are trying to flood our country with narcotics to weaken our moral and physical stamina. Is that true?”

Giordano: “As far as the drugs are concerned, it’s true. There’s a terrific flow of drugs coming out of Yunnan Province of China … There’s no question that in that particular area this is the aim of the Red Chinese. It should be apparent that if you could addict a population you would degrade a nation’s moral fiber.”

Fulton Lewis, Jr, prominent conservative radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist, 1965: “Narcotics of Cuban origin – marijuana, cocaine, opium, and heroin – are now peddled in big cities and tiny hamlets throughout this country. Several Cubans arrested by the Los Angeles police have boasted they are communists.”

We were also told that along with drugs another tool of the commies to undermine America’s spirit was fluoridation of the water.

Mickey Spillane was one of the most successful writers of the 1950s, selling millions of his anti-communist thriller mysteries. Here is his hero, Mike Hammer, in One Lonely Night (1951) boasting of his delight in the grisly murders he commits, all in the name of destroying a communist plot to steal atomic secrets. After a night of carnage, the triumphant Hammer gloats,
 

I shot them in cold blood and enjoyed every minute of it. I pumped slugs into the nastiest bunch of bastards you ever saw … They were Commies … Pretty soon what’s left of Russia and the slime that breeds there won’t be worth mentioning and I’m glad because I had a part in the killing. God, but it was fun!

 

1952: A campaign against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because it was tainted with “atheism and communism”, and was “subversive” because it preached internationalism. Any attempt to introduce an international point of view in the schools was seen as undermining patriotism and loyalty to the United States. A bill in the US Senate, clearly aimed at UNESCO, called for a ban on the funding of “any international agency that directly or indirectly promoted one-world government or world citizenship”. There was also opposition to UNESCO’s association with the UN Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it was trying to replace the American Bill of Rights with a less liberty-giving covenant of human rights.

1955: A US Army six-page pamphlet, “How to Spot a Communist”, informed us that a communist could be spotted by his predisposition to discuss civil rights, racial and religious discrimination, the immigration laws, anti-subversive legislation, curbs on unions, and peace. Good Americans were advised to keep their ears stretched for such giveaway terms as “chauvinism”, “book-burning”, “colonialism”, “demagogy”, “witch hunt”, “reactionary”, “progressive”, and “exploitation”. Another “distinguishing mark” of “Communist language” was a “preference for long sentences”. After some ridicule, the Army rescinded the pamphlet.

1958: The noted sportscaster Bill Stern (one of the heroes of my innocent youth) observed on the radio that the lack of interest in “big time” football at New York University, City College of New York, Chicago, and Harvard “is due to the widespread acceptance of Communism at the universities”.

1960: US General Thomas Power speaking about nuclear war or a first strike by the US: “The whole idea is to kill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman”.

1966: The Boys Club of America is, of course, wholesome and patriotic. Imagine their horror when they were confused with the Dubois Clubs. (W E B Du Bois had been a very prominent civil rights activist.) When the Justice Department required the DuBois Clubs to register as a Communist front group, good loyal Americans knew what to do. They called up the Boys Club to announce that they would no longer contribute any money, or to threaten violence against them; and sure enough, an explosion damaged the national headquarters of the youth group in San Francisco. Then former Vice President Richard Nixon, who was national board chairman of the Boys Club, declared: “This is an almost classic example of Communist deception and duplicity. The ‘DuBois Clubs’ are not unaware of the confusion they are causing among our supporters and among many other good citizens.”

1966: Rhythm, Riots, and Revolution: An Analysis of the Communist Use of Music, The Communist Master Music Plan by David A Noebel, published by Christian Crusade Publications, (expanded version of 1965 pamphlet: “Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles”). Some chapters: Communist Use of Mind Warfare … Nature of Red Record Companies … Destructive Nature of Beatle Music … Communist Subversion of Folk Music … Folk Music and the Negro Revolution … Folk Music and the College Revolution

1968: William Calley, US Army Lieutenant, charged with overseeing the massacre of more than 100 Vietnamese civilians in My Lai in 1968, said some years later:

 

In all my years in the Army, I was never taught that communists were human beings. We were there to kill ideology carried by – I don’t know – pawns, blobs, pieces of flesh. I was there to destroy communism. We never conceived of old people, men, women, children, babies.

 

1977: Scientists theorized that the earth’s protective ozone layer was being damaged by synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons. The manufacturers and users of CFCs were not happy. They made life difficult for the lead scientist. The president of one aerosol manufacturing firm suggested that criticism of CFCs was “orchestrated by the Ministry of Disinformation of the KGB”.

1978: Life inside a California youth camp of the ultra anti-communist John Birch Society: Five hours each day of lectures on communism, Americanism and “The Conspiracy”; campers learned that the Soviet government had created a famine and spread a virus to kill a large number of citizens and make the rest of them more manageable; the famine led starving adults to eat their children; communist guerrillas in Southeast Asia jammed chopsticks into children’s ears, piercing their eardrums; American movies are all under the control of the Communists; the theme is always that capitalism is no better than communism; you can’t find a dictionary now that isn’t under communist influence; the communists are also taking over the Bibles.

The Reagan administration declared that the Russians were spraying toxic chemicals over Laos, Cambodia, and Afghanistan – the so-called “yellow rain” – and had caused more than ten thousand deaths by 1982 alone (including, in Afghanistan, 3,042 deaths attributed to 47 separate incidents between the summer of 1979 and the summer of 1981, so precise was the information). Secretary of State Alexander Haig was a prime dispenser of such stories, and President Reagan himself denounced the Soviet Union thusly more than fifteen times in documents and speeches. The “yellow rain”, it turned out, was pollen-laden feces dropped by huge swarms of honeybees flying far overhead.

1982: In commenting about sexual harassment in the Army, General John Crosby stated that the Army doesn’t care about soldiers’ social lives – “The basic purpose of the United States Army is to kill Russians”, he said.

1983: The US invasion of Grenada, the home of the Cuban ambassador is damaged and looted by American soldiers; on one wall is written “AA”, symbol of the 82nd Airborne Division; beside it the message: “Eat shit, commie faggot” … “I want to fuck communism out of this little island”, says a marine, “and fuck it right back to Moscow”.

1984: During a sound check just before his weekly broadcast, President Reagan spoke these words into the microphone: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia, forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” His words were picked up by at least two radio networks.

1985: October 29 BBC interview with Ronald Reagan: asked about the differences he saw between the US and Russia, the president replied: “I’m no linguist, but I’ve been told that in the Russian language there isn’t even a word for freedom”. (The word is “svoboda”.)

1986: Soviet artists and cultural officials criticized Rambo-like American films as an expression of “anti-Russian phobia even more pathological than in the days of McCarthyism”. Russian film-maker Stanislav Rostofsky claimed that on one visit to an American school “a young girl trembled with fury when she heard I was from the Soviet Union, and said she hated Russians”.

1986: Roy Cohn, who achieved considerable fame and notoriety in the 1950s as an assistant to the communist-witch-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, died, reportedly of AIDS. Cohn, though homosexual, had denied that he was and had denounced such rumors as communist smears.

1986: After American journalist Nicholas Daniloff was arrested in Moscow for “spying” and held in custody for two weeks, New York Mayor Edward Koch sent a group of ten visiting Soviet students storming out of City Hall in fury. “The Soviet government is the pits”, said Koch, visibly shocking the students, ranging in age from ten to eighteen years. One fourteen-year-old student was so outraged he declared: “I don’t want to stay in this house. I want to go to the bus and go far away from this place. The mayor is very rude. We never had a worse welcome anywhere.” As matters turned out, it appeared that Daniloff had not been completely pure when it came to his news gathering.

1989: After the infamous Chinese crackdown on dissenters in Tiananmen Square in June, the US news media was replete with reports that the governments of Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Cuba had expressed their support of the Chinese leadership. Said The Wall Street Journal: “Nicaragua, with Cuba and Vietnam, constituted the only countries in the world to approve the Chinese Communists’ slaughter of the students in Tiananmen Square”. But it was all someone’s fabrication; no such support had been expressed by any of the three governments. At that time, as now, there were few, if any, organizations other than the CIA which could manipulate major Western media in such a manner. {8}

NOTE: It should be remembered that the worst consequences of anti-communism were not those discussed above. The worst consequences, the ultra-criminal consequences, were the abominable death, destruction, and violation of human rights that we know under various names: Vietnam, Chile, Korea, Guatemala, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brazil, Greece, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and many others.

Al Franken

Poor Al, who made us laugh for years on Saturday Night Live, is now disgraced as a woman molester – not one of the worst of the current pathetic crop, but he still looks bad. However, everything is relative, and it must be pointed out that the Senator is guilty of a worse moral transgression.

The erstwhile comedian would like you to believe that he was against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to that sad country at least four times to entertain American troops. Does that make sense? Why does the Defense Department bring entertainers to military bases? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? For example, all the charming war crimes and human-rights violations in Iraq that have been documented in great detail for many years. Didn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?

Country singer Darryl Worley, who leans “a lot to the right”, as he puts it, said he was far from pleased that Franken was coming along on the tour to Iraq. “You know, I just don’t understand – why would somebody be on this tour if they’re not supportive of the war? If he decides to play politics, I’m not gonna put up with it.” {9}

A year after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right” {10}. What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (“USO”) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll ever want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done” {11}. Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad?

Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.” {12}

While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition”, then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy”. {13}

Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.

Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is actually the mind of an American liberal in all its depressing mushiness.

To be put on the tombstone of Western civilization:

On November 15 2017, at Christie’s auction house in New York City, a painting was sold for $450,312,500.

Notes:

{1} Washington Post, November 12 2017

{2} Washington Post, October 10 2017

{3} Washington Post, November 15 2017

{4} Reuters, November 12 2017

{5} Washington Post, November 02 2017

{6} http://www.europeanvalues.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Overview-of-RTs-Editorial-Strategy-and-Evidence-of-Impact-1.pdf

{7} Wikipedia entry for George Kennan

{8} Sources for almost all of this section can be found in William Blum, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire (2005), chapter 12; or the author can be queried at bblum6@aol.com

{9} Washington Post, February 16 2004

{10} Ibid.

{11} Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26 2009

{12} Huffington Post, June 2005

{13} Washington Post, February 16 2004

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to williamblum.org is provided.

https://williamblum.org/aer/read/153

Categories: Uncategorized

Russiagate Becomes Israelgate

Who was corrupting the American political system?

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review (December 05 2017)

Reading the mainstream media headlines relating to the flipping of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to provide evidence relating to the allegations about Russian interference in America’s last presidential election requires the suspension of one’s cognitive processes. Ignoring completely what had actually occurred, the “Russian story” with its subset of “getting Trump” was on display all through the weekend, both in the print and on the live media.

Flynn’s guilty plea is laconic, merely admitting that he had lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) about what was said during two telephone conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, but there is a considerable backstory that emerged after the plea became public.

The two phone calls in question include absolutely nothing about possible collusion with Russia to change the outcome of the US election, which allegedly was the raison d’etre behind the creation of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office in the first place. Both took place more than a month after the election and both were initiated by the Americans involved. I am increasingly convinced that Mueller ain’t got nuthin’ but this process will grind out interminably and the press will be hot on the trail until there is nowhere else to go.

Based on the information revealed regarding the two conversations, and, unlike the highly nuance-sensitive editors working for the mainstream media, this is the headline that I would have written for a featured article based on what I consider to be important: “Israel Colluded with Incoming Trump Team to Subvert US Foreign Policy”, with a possible subheading “FBI Entraps National Security Adviser”.

The first phone call to Kislyak, on December 22nd, was made by Flynn at the direction of Jared Kushner, who in turn had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama Administrating was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a UN resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a US veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included a call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23rd.

The second phone call, made by Flynn on December 29th from a beach in the Dominican Republic, where he was on vacation, may have been ordered by Trump himself. It was a response to an Obama move to expel Russian diplomats and close two Embassy buildings over allegations of Moscow’s interfering in the 2016 election. Flynn asked the Russians not to reciprocate, making the point that there would be a new administration in place in three weeks and the relationship between the two countries might change for the better. Kislyak apparently convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin not to go tit-for-tat.

In taking the phone calls from a soon-to-be senior American official who would within weeks be part of a new administration in Washington, the Russians did nothing wrong. It would not be inappropriate to have some conversations with an incoming government team. Apart from holding off on retaliatory sanctions, Kislyak also did nothing that might be regarded as particularly responsive to Team Trump overtures. If it was an attempt to interfere in American politics, it certainly was low-keyed, and one might well describe it positively as a willingness to give the new Trump Administration a chance to improve relations.

The first phone call about Israel was not as benign as the second one about sanctions. Son-in-law Jared Kushner is Trump’s point man on the Middle East. He and his family have extensive ties both to Israel and to Netanyahu personally, to include Netanyahu’s staying at the Kushner family home in New York. The Kushner Family Foundation has funded some of Israel’s illegal settlements and also a number of conservative political groups in that country. Jared has served as a director of that foundation and it is reported that he failed to disclose the relationship when he filled out his background investigation sheet for a security clearance. All of which suggests that if you are looking for possible foreign government collusion with the incoming Trumpsters, look no further.

And it should be observed that the Israelis were not exactly shy about their disapproval of Obama and their willingness to express their views to the incoming Trump. Netanyahu said that he would do so and Trump even responded with a tweet of his own expressing disagreement with the Obama decision to abstain on the vote, but the White House knew that the comment would be coming and there was no indication from the president-elect that he was actively trying to derail or undo it.

Kushner, however, goes far beyond merely disagreeing over an aspect of foreign policy as he was trying to clandestinely reverse a decision made by his own legally constituted government. His closeness to Netanyahu makes him, in intelligence terms, a quite likely Israeli government agent of influence, even if he doesn’t quite see himself that way. He is currently working on a new peace plan for the Middle East which starts out with permanently demilitarizing the Palestinians. It will no doubt continue in the tradition of former plans which aggrandized Jewish power while stiffing the Arabs. And not to worry about the team that will be allegedly representing American interests. It is already being reported that they consist of “good, observant Jews” and will not be a problem, even though Israeli-American mega-fundraiser Haim Saban apparently described them on Sunday as “With all due respect, it’s a bunch of Orthodox Jews who have no idea about anything”.

What exactly did Kushner seek from Flynn? He asked the soon-to-be National Security Adviser to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power American government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms this does not quite equate to the Constitution’s definition of treason since Israel is not technically an enemy, but it most certainly would be covered by the Logan Act of 1799, which bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States and also could be construed as a “conspiracy against the United States” that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort. As Kushner is Jewish and certainly could be accused of dual loyalty in extremis, this part of the story obviously makes many in the US Establishment and media uncomfortable, so it is being ignored and expunged from the record as quickly as possible. And don’t expect Special Counsel Mueller to do anything about the Israel connection. As an experienced operator in the Washington swamp, he knows full well that the Congressmen currently calling for blood in an investigation involving Russia will turn 180 degrees against him if he tries to go after Netanyahu.

And just to demonstrate exactly how the story is shaped to protect Israel, here is a piece from the generally reliable The Hill written by Morgan Chalfant on five takeaways from Flynn’s guilty plea. Israel is not even identified and, if one reads the two mentions of the UN vote connected to the first call, it appears to be deliberately omitted. The first citation reads “He also lied when he said he did not ask Kislyak to delay or defeat a vote on a pending UN Security Council resolution …” and the second is “Prosecutors also say that a senior member of the transition team on December 22 directed Flynn to contact officials from Russia and other governments about their stance on the UN resolution ‘and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution’ “. Does omitting Israel and emphasizing the Russian aspect of the story throughout the rest of the piece change what it says and how it is perceived? You betcha.

For me, there was also a second takeaway from the Flynn story apart from the collusion with Israel. It involves the use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to set-up Flynn shortly after he had been installed as National Security Adviser. Insofar as I can determine, the FBI entrapment of Flynn has only been examined in a serious way in the media by Robert Parry at Consortium News.

Michael Flynn was actually interviewed by the FBI regarding his two phone conversations on January 24th shortly after he assumed office as National Security Adviser. During his interview, he was not made aware that the Bureau already had recordings and transcripts of his phone conversations, so, in a manner of speaking, he was being set-up to fail. Mis-remembering, forgetting, or attempting to avoid implication of others in the administration would inevitably all be plausibly construed as lying since the FBI knew exactly what was said.

To be sure, many would agree that the sleazy Flynn deserves everything he gets, but the logic used to set-up the possible Flynn entrapment by the FBI, that is, that there was unauthorized contact with a foreign official, is in itself curious as Flynn was a private citizen at the time and such contact is not in itself illegal. And it also opens the door to the Bureau’s investigating other individuals who have committed no crime but who find that they cannot recall details of phone calls they were parties to that were being recorded by the government six months or a year before. That can easily be construed as “lying” or “perjury” with consequences that include possible prison time.

So there are two observations one might make about the Flynn saga as it currently stands. First, Israel, not Russia, was colluding with the Trump Administration prior to inauguration day to do something highly unethical and quite probably illegal, which should surprise no one. And second, record all your phone conversations with foreign government officials. The NSA and FBI will have a copy in any event, but you might want to retain your own records to make sure their transcript is accurate.

_____

Philip M Giraldi is a former CIA Operations officer who is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based US foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address us PO Box 2157, Purcellville, Virginia 20132, and email address is inform@cnionline.org.

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/russiagate-becomes-israelgate/

Categories: Uncategorized

Still Waiting

A Harvey Weinstein Moment for America’s Wars?

by Andrew J Bacevich

TomDispatch (December 10 2017)

What makes a Harvey Weinstein moment? The now-disgraced Hollywood mogul is hardly the first powerful man to stand accused of having abused women. The Harveys who preceded Harvey himself are legion, their prominence matching or exceeding his own and the misdeeds with which they were charged at least as reprehensible.

In the relatively recent past, a roster of prominent offenders would include Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and, of course, Donald Trump. Throw in various jocks, maestros, senior military officers, members of the professoriate and you end up with quite a list. Yet in virtually all such cases, the alleged transgressions were treated as instances of individual misconduct, egregious perhaps but possessing at best transitory political resonance.

All that, though, was pre-Harvey. As far as male sexual hijinks are concerned, we might compare Weinstein’s epic fall from grace to the stock market crash of 1929: one week it’s the anything-goes Roaring Twenties, the next we’re smack dab in a Great Depression.

How profound is the change? Up here in Massachusetts where I live, we’ve spent the past year marking John F Kennedy’s 100th birthday. If Kennedy were still around to join in the festivities, it would be as a Class A sex offender. Rarely in American history has the cultural landscape shifted so quickly or so radically.

In our post-Harvey world, men charged with sexual misconduct are guilty until proven innocent, all crimes are capital offenses, and there exists no statute of limitations. Once a largely empty corporate slogan, “zero tolerance” has become a battle cry.

All of this serves as a reminder that, on some matters at least, the American people retain an admirable capacity for outrage. We can distinguish between the tolerable and the intolerable. And we can demand accountability of powerful individuals and institutions.

Everything They Need to Win (Again!)

What’s puzzling is why that capacity for outrage and demand for accountability doesn’t extend to our now well-established penchant for waging war across much of the planet.

In no way would I wish to minimize the pain, suffering, and humiliation of the women preyed upon by the various reprobates now getting their belated comeuppance. But to judge from published accounts, the women (and in some cases, men) abused by Weinstein, Louis C K, Mark Halperin, Leon Wieseltier, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, my West Point classmate Judge Roy Moore, and their compadres at least managed to survive their encounters. None of the perpetrators are charged with having committed murder. No one died.

Compare their culpability to that of the high-ranking officials who have presided over or promoted this country’s various military misadventures of the present century. Those wars have, of course, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and will ultimately cost American taxpayers many trillions of dollars. Nor have those costly military efforts eliminated “terrorism”, as President George W Bush promised back when today’s GIs were still in diapers.

Bush told us that, through war, the United States would spread freedom and democracy. Instead, our wars have sown disorder and instability, creating failing or failed states across the Greater Middle East and Africa. In their wake have sprung up ever more, not fewer, jihadist groups, while acts of terror are soaring globally. These are indisputable facts.

It discomfits me to reiterate this mournful litany of truths. I feel a bit like the doctor telling the lifelong smoker with stage-four lung cancer that an addiction to cigarettes is adversely affecting his health. His mute response: I know and I don’t care. Nothing the doc says is going to budge the smoker from his habit. You go through the motions but wonder why.

In a similar fashion, war has become a habit to which the United States is addicted. Except for the terminally distracted, most of us know that. We also know – we cannot not know – that, in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, US forces have been unable to accomplish their assigned mission, despite more than sixteen years of fighting in the former and more than a decade in the latter.

It’s not exactly a good news story, to put it mildly. So forgive me for saying it (yet again), but most of us simply don’t care, which means that we continue to allow a free hand to those who preside over those wars while treating with respect the views of pundits and media personalities who persist in promoting them. What’s past doesn’t count; we prefer to sustain the pretense that tomorrow is pregnant with possibilities. Victory lies just around the corner.

By way of example, consider a recent article in US News and World Report. The headline: “Victory or Failure in Afghanistan: 2018 Will Be the Deciding Year”. The title suggests a balance absent from the text that follows, which reads like a Pentagon press release. Here in its entirety is the nut graf (my own emphasis added):
 

Armed with a new strategy and renewed support from old allies, the Trump administration now believes it has everything it needs to win the war in Afghanistan. Top military advisers all the way up to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis say they can accomplish what two previous administrations and multiple troop surges could not: the defeat of the Taliban by Western-backed local forces, a negotiated peace and the establishment of a popularly supported government in Kabul capable of keeping the country from once again becoming a haven to any terrorist group.

 

Now if you buy this, you’ll believe that Harvey Weinstein has learned his lesson and can be trusted to interview young actresses while wearing his bathrobe.

For starters, there is no “new strategy”. Trump’s generals, apparently with a nod from their putative boss, are merely modifying the old “strategy”, which was itself an outgrowth of previous strategies tried, found wanting, and eventually discarded before being rebranded and eventually recycled.

Short of using nuclear weapons, US forces fighting in Afghanistan over the past decade and a half have experimented with just about every approach imaginable: invasion, regime change, occupation, nation-building, pacification, decapitation, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency, not to mention various surges, differing in scope and duration. We have had a big troop presence and a smaller one, more bombing and less, restrictive rules of engagement and permissive ones. In the military equivalent of throwing in the kitchen sink, a US Special Operations Command four-engine prop plane recently deposited the largest non-nuclear weapon in the American arsenal on a cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. Although that MOAB made a big boom, no offer of enemy surrender materialized.

In truth, US commanders have quietly shelved any expectations of achieving an actual victory – traditionally defined as “imposing your will on the enemy” – in favor of a more modest conception of success. In year XVII of America’s Afghanistan War, the hope is that training, equipping, advising, and motivating Afghans to assume responsibility for defending their country may someday allow American forces and their coalition partners to depart. By 2015, that project, building up the Afghan security forces, had already absorbed at least $65 billion in US taxpayer dollars. And under the circumstances, consider that a mere down payment.

According to General John Nicholson, our seventeenth commander in Kabul since 2001, the efforts devised and implemented by his many predecessors have resulted in a “stalemate” – a generous interpretation given that the Taliban presently controls more territory than it has held since the US invasion. Officers no less capable than Nicholson himself, David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal among them, didn’t get it done. Nicholson’s argument: trust me.

In essence, the “new strategy” devised by Trump’s generals, Secretary of Defense Mattis and Nicholson among them, amounts to this: persist a tad longer with a tad more. A modest uptick in the number of US and allied troops on the ground will provide more trainers, advisers, and motivators to work with and accompany their Afghan counterparts in the field. The Mattis/Nicholson plan also envisions an increasing number of air strikes, signaled by the recent use of B-52s to attack illicit Taliban “drug labs”, a scenario that Stanley Kubrick himself would have been hard-pressed to imagine.

Notwithstanding the novelty of using strategic bombers to destroy mud huts, there’s not a lot new here. Dating back to 2001, coalition forces have already dropped tens of thousands of bombs in Afghanistan. Almost as soon as the Taliban were ousted from Kabul, coalition efforts to create effective Afghan security forces commenced. So, too, did attempts to reduce the production of the opium that has funded the Taliban insurgency, alas with essentially no effect whatsoever. What Trump’s generals want a gullible public (and astonishingly gullible and inattentive members of Congress) to believe is that this time they’ve somehow devised a formula for getting it right.

Turning the Corner

With his trademark capacity to intuit success, President Trump already sees clear evidence of progress. “We’re not fighting anymore to just walk around”, he remarked in his Thanksgiving message to the troops. “We’re fighting to win. And you people [have] turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody has seen.” The president, we may note, has yet to visit Afghanistan.

I’m guessing that the commander-in-chief is oblivious to the fact that, in US military circles, the term winning has acquired notable elasticity. Trump may think that it implies vanquishing the enemy – white flags and surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri. General Nicholson knows better. “Winning”, the field commander says, “means delivering a negotiated settlement that reduces the level of violence and protecting the homeland”. (Take that definition at face value and we can belatedly move Vietnam into the win column!)

Should we be surprised that Trump’s generals, unconsciously imitating General William Westmoreland a half-century ago, claim once again to detect light at the end of the tunnel? Not at all. Mattis and Nicholson (along with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H R McMaster) are following the Harvey Weinstein playbook: keep doing it until they make you stop. Indeed, with what can only be described as chutzpah, Nicholson himself recently announced that we have “turned the corner” in Afghanistan. In doing so, of course, he is counting on Americans not to recall the various war managers, military and civilian alike, who have made identical claims going back years now, among them Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in 2012.

From on high, assurances of progress; in the field, results that, year after year, come nowhere near what’s promised; on the home front, an astonishingly credulous public. The war in Afghanistan has long since settled into a melancholy and seemingly permanent rhythm.

The fact is that the individuals entrusted by President Trump to direct US policy believe with iron certainty that difficult political problems will yield to armed might properly employed. That proposition is one to which generals like Mattis and Nicholson have devoted a considerable part of their lives, not just in Afghanistan but across much of the Islamic world. They are no more likely to question the validity of that proposition than the Pope is to entertain second thoughts about the divinity of Jesus Christ.

In Afghanistan, their entire worldview – not to mention the status and clout of the officer corps they represent – is at stake. No matter how long the war there lasts, no matter how many “generations” it takes, no matter how much blood is shed to no purpose, and no matter how much money is wasted, they will never admit to failure – nor will any of the militarists-in-mufti cheering them on from the sidelines in Washington, Donald Trump not the least among them.

Meanwhile, the great majority of the American people, their attention directed elsewhere – it’s the season for holiday shopping, after all – remain studiously indifferent to the charade being played out before their eyes.

It took a succession of high-profile scandals before Americans truly woke up to the plague of sexual harassment and assault. How long will it take before the public concludes that they have had enough of wars that don’t work? Here’s hoping it’s before our president, in a moment of ill temper, unleashes “fire and fury” on the world.

_____

Andrew J Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is the author, most recently, of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History (2017).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (2017) as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two (2017), John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands (2016), Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead (2016), and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (2014).

Copyright 2017 Andrew J. Bacevich

(c) 2017 TomDispatch. All rights reserved.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176361/

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How the US Dictatorship Works

by Eric Zuesse

Strategic Culture Foundation (December 03 2017)

A recent article in The Washington Post described how the current US tax-“reform” bill is being shaped; and it describes, basically (at least as far as tax-law changes are concerned), the operation of a US dictatorship by the super-rich.

First of all, however: there is no longer any real question as regards whether the US in recent decades has been a dictatorship or, instead, a democracy. According to the only scientific analysis of the relevant data {1}, that has been done in order to determine whether the US is a dictatorship or a democracy, the US is definitely a dictatorship that’s perpetrated by the extremely richest, against the public-at-large; in other words: the US Government functions as an aristocracy, otherwise referred-to as an oligarchy, or a plutocracy, or a kleptocracy; but, in any case, and by whatever name, it’s ruled by a tiny number of the extremely wealthiest and their agents, on behalf of those few super-rich, against the concerns and interests and needs of the public (everyone else). So: instead of being rule by the public (the “demos” is the Greek term for it), it’s rule on behalf of a tiny dictatorial class, of extreme wealth – by whatever name we might happen to label this ruling class.

That study {1}, by professors Gilens and Page, explained that it examined “1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change”, and it compared those public-policy preferences, by the public, versus the public-policy preferences regarding those same issues, by the super-wealthiest; and, it found that only the public-policy preferences by the super-wealthiest and their paid agents, made any discernible difference, at all, in the likelihood that a given public policy ultimately became enacted into law, in the United States. Whereas the public-policy preferences of the wealthiest do, at far higher than mere random chances, become enacted into laws, the public-policy preferences of the public are (except in political rhetoric and promises – frauds perpetrated to deceive the public) ignored, in the United States.

Here is an excellent six-minute video {2} describing the methodology and findings in that landmark study, and here is a commentary by former US President Jimmy Carter, in which he says that he knows it’s true. He said this not on the basis of examining thousands of cases and doing the statistical analysis of the data, like Gilens and Page had done, but just on the basis of his observations of how the US federal government has been functioning in recent decades. And, of course, the scientific study is vastly more reliable than is any individual’s mere opinion on the matter.

Furthermore, there exists evidence that even in some local or state governments in the United States, considerable corruption exists, and therefore an extreme slant prevails in favor of the rich. During June 2016, I headlined this, “Here Is How Corrupt America Is”, and opined:

The best reporting on the depth of America’s dictatorship is probably that being done by Atlanta Georgia’s NBC-affiliated, Gannett-owned, TV Channel “11 Alive”, WXIA television, its “The Investigators” series of local investigative news reports, which show, up close and at a cellularly detailed level, the way things actually work in today’s America. Although it’s only local, it displays what meets the legal standards of the US federal government in actually any state in the union; so, it exposes the character of the US government, such that what’s shown to be true here, meets America’s standard for “democracy”, or else the federal government isn’t enforcing federal laws against it (which is the same thing as its meeting the federal government’s standards).

The links to three of these local TV news reports will be provided, along with a summary of each of the videos; and then the broader context will be provided, which ties the local picture in with the national, and then the resulting international, picture. So: this will be like a zoom-lens view, starting with three selected close-ups, and then broadening the view to wide-angle, showing the context in terms of which what’s happening in that fine detail (those close-up views) makes sense. {3}

What was exemplified in this reporting by that excellent investigative team could be called “corporate organized-gangsterism”, and this gangsterism was being led by an operation, “ALEC”, that was founded by politicians whose careers are funded by the Koch brothers and some other US billionaires. {4}

Furthermore, as was mentioned briefly at the opening here, a recent issue of The Washington Post’s “PowerPost” section was titled “The Finance 202: Tax overhaul’s big test comes now”, and it described in detail what was shaping the Trump Administration’s tax-overhaul bill. This article reported that the lobbyists were shaping it 100%. It’s a superb nitty-gritty, down among the weeds, description, of the monetary deals, the horse-trading, that were being made, not only for corporations, but for the wealthiest non-business lobbies, including “nonprofit” ones, but almost all of these lobbies, too, depend overwhelmingly upon billionaires for their funding. What’s being carved-up and served, is being carved-up from governments, and being served to the super-rich. (After all: conservatives say “Government bad, business good”, and Republicans are the conservative Party; so, it’s taking from government, and giving to business.)

So: is it any wonder why Gilens and Page found what they did? They found that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence”. (By “mass-based groups” they mean what the left often calls “movements” or “grass-roots” organizations. After all, what happened from “Occupy Wall Street”? Nothing. It was a big waste of time and effort. Authentic movements get marginalized because the billionaires’ “news” media despise them. Fake ones, such as the Kochs’ “The Tea Party ‘movement’ “, get weaponized, because the billionaires’ “news” media treat them extensively, and often grant them respect. Top-down’s the way, in any dictatorship. That includes in America.)

Here is another excellent video – this one ten minutes long – summarizing the Gilens and Page study {5}.

The only major difference between Republican politicians and Democratic ones, then, is that, whereas Republican ones don’t even need to pretend that they oppose limitless greed (since limitless greed that’s carried out by frauds instead of by outright physical violence – which latter type of coercion is the type that’s employed more by lower-class crooks, anyway, and those are the type of crooks who fill our prisons, not the type who fill our boardrooms – is, essentially, supported by Republicans’ ideology, as “being entrepreneurial” and “competitive spirit”), Democratic politicians do need to make that pretense (since their voters are liberals, and liberals don’t share the conservatives’ “Greed is good” libertarian faith). But the outcomes, even when Democrats are in power, are vastly more helpful to the billionaires, than to the public.

Does this mean that Democratic (or liberal) politicians are necessarily more hypocritical than Republican ones are? No. Whereas Democrats pretend to be opposed to the system’s favoring the super-rich, Republicans pretend to be opposed to “sins” and other religious-based shibboleths. Both Parties can win and retain power only by deceiving (defrauding) the public, and serving the billionaires, though in different ways – some conservative, and some liberal. Virtually everything else than that service to billionaires (and to centi-millionaires) is just frauds by politicians, because, at least after around 1970, only the richest one percent or (usually far) less are actually being served by the US federal government. It’s not the billionaires that are defrauded by politicians; it is clearly the public that is being defrauded by them.

The public is served only to the extent that the public’s interests are the same as the billionaires’ interests. And the Gilens and Page study found that the public’s policy-preferences are simply ignored – not ignored in the political rhetoric, but ignored in the political outcomes.

The US Government, thus, is of a few people (the policymakers), by the billionaires, and for the billionaires. And that’s just an established fact.

Links:

{1} https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

{2} https://represent.us/action/theproblem-3/

{3} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/06/how-corrupt-america-is.html

{4} https://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/07/10887/cmd-special-report-alecs-funding-and-spending

{5} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvJ1ZuJDNbQ

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/12/03/how-us-dictatorship-works.html

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The $10 Trillion Investment Plan …

… to Integrate the Eurasian Supercontinent

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”), by lending out money using an alternative currency to the dollar, opens up huge spaces for investment and the strategic transformation of the region

by Federico Pieraccini

Strategic Culture Foundation (December 08 2017)

The overland integration of the BRI, led by China and Russia, aims to create different transit routes for goods as well as different areas of economic development along the new Chinese Silk Road. A great opportunity is thereby opened up for Chinese banks and for private investors interested in creating infrastructure or developing potential industrial poles in the countries involved in this grand Chinese initiative.

Hong Qi, president of China Minsheng Bank, recently said during an economic forum held in Beijing regarding investments in the BRI that there is potentially about $10 trillion worth of investments in infrastructure in the countries that make up the BRI, such as in railways, urban development, logistics, and cross-border e-commerce.

At this point, more than $10 billion has already been committed in investments, thanks to companies already present in over thirty countries and regions along the BRI, with the ongoing intention of financing these loans through China’s public and private sectors. According to data from the China Banking Regulatory Commission, a total of nine Chinese banks are involved in the financing of projects, with 62 branches having been opened in 26 countries. A further $10 billion could come from European countries as a result of investments stemming from the China-CEEC forum.

Despite a delay in investment, and especially in the development of such projects, analysts believe that the BRI is the ideal ground for making regional cooperation agreements based on trust and win-win prospects for future integration of the region. Thus, not only are public and private banks involved in investments but the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (“AIIB”) and the Silk Road Fund are also part of the financial package that should lay the foundation for the accelerated development of the Chinese BRI. Confirming a new approach to the development of the BRI, Chinese investors during the first ten months of 2017 proposed projects totaling $11 billion in the 53 countries involved.

The effort is mainly focused on the development of railway networks, hospitals, and power plants. Such basic infrastructure will lay the groundwork for further development in countries involved in the BRI that otherwise have little capacity to invest in such projects themselves. According to Zhang Zansheng, an accredited researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, the first marker is set for 2020, the year that “further tangible progress” should be made in the development of the BRI, mainly referring to railway links between different Asian regions and the Mediterranean. Reflecting how things are already changing, dozens of trains leave monthly from European countries to reach China, the latest being one from Italy, leaving from the province of Pavia, a few kilometers from Milan.

Robin Xing, Chief China Economist for Morgan Stanley, echoed many analysts in predicting that 2018 and 2019 will be the two key years where tangible implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative will start to become apparent. These projects and investments will increase global trade with the countries involved in the BRI, which could see a ten percent increase in their exports to China over the next ten years, the practical results of the investments in ports, railways, and industrial centers.

The People’s Republic of China continues to treat investments and risks with a pragmatic and realistic attitude. Accordingly, the main investors in the BRI comprise state-controlled industries and banks, which allows for sufficient control by the central authority in the event of major problems. With investments amounting to at least $60 billion per year, involving more than 1,676 projects, and representing about 0.5% of Chinese nominal GDP, for the moment Beijing wants to have full control over the whole project, a strategic interest that is perfectly understandable.

The BRI is generating many innovations, including a possible new sea route through the Arctic. Although the project is yet to be fully developed, China is beginning to invest in cooperation projects with Russia to exploit this new route. The Russian Federation is the only country to have nuclear-powered icebreakers. Beijing intends to follow its Russian partner in this project in order to pave the way for its freight containers. Cost savings in terms of transport from China to Europe would be in the region of thirty to forty percent. The Northeast Passage can only be crossed during about four months of the year, due to thick ice and unfavorable weather conditions that otherwise exist. Experts forecast that this route will be increasingly free of ice in coming years, and therefore will become more passable. Given the enormous shipping times to be saved, China and Russia have already started cooperating in order to be ready to develop and exploit this new and strategic route.

Considering the great importance of shipping routes, the ability to reach the Mediterranean is of fundamental importance. As things stand now, China is hampered by several strategic vulnerabilities, such as the Strait of Malacca or the passage through the Suez Canal, two choke points that are susceptible to a naval blockade by the US in the unlikely event of war between these major powers. This is not to mention the Panama Canal, which guarantees transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and Gibraltar, which controls access to the Mediterranean Sea. Certainly, with an Arctic route, passage would be much faster, as well as be free from the possibility of blockade.

At the moment, the land route to Europe represents a viable solution, but one that also brings with it continuous challenges and several possibilities. One involves transporting goods from the north through the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. The second involves going through the south, with a passage through Turkey to arrive either at the Greek port of Piraeus or in Venice. Some sort of competition is bound to occur in the future within the European Union, with countries jostling to become the main transit hub between Europe and China. The link between China and the European Union represents a critical issue for the BRI, with a traffic of goods in the order of tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. At the moment, all the parties involved are aware of a much wider problem for the BRI. Freight trains from Europe to China are often empty, without major exports to the People’s Republic of China, a problem that makes overland transport routes unprofitable. In this regard, the European Union must accelerate its economic recovery by aiming to exploit new trade routes that offer benefits for all countries involved. As usual, obstacles lie ahead, especially in the geopolitical arena, with the BRI representing a strategic challenge to American hegemony in Asia and Europe.

With this in mind, there is a need to move away from the dollar when it comes to loans and investments made to finance BRI infrastructure projects. This does not prevent the development of new projects for the time being. But China and other countries involved should pay more attention to this vulnerability that hangs over the whole project. Beijing should, therefore, accelerate use of an alternative currency in this grand project.

The economic power of the United States depends on the continued need for the rest of the world to have dollars available. This Chinese project aims to integrate countries such that Washington is denied hegemony over Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. For such reasons, it is fundamental that Beijing arms itself with every weapon available in its arsenal to defend itself from the sabotage that Washington will inevitably visit on the project. Avoiding a currency that the United States controls would be a good starting point.

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Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal http://www.strategic-culture.org.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/12/08/10-trillion-investment-plan-integrate-eurasian-supercontinent.html

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