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Turkey Downs Russian Fighter …

… to Draw Nato and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (November 24 2015)

On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that was carrying out military operations against jihadi groups in Northern Syria. The downing of the Su-24 fighter jet is part of a broader plan by the administration of Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to topple the secular government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to establish “safe zones” on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan needs the safe zones to provide a sanctuary for the militant extremists who are the footsoldiers in his war against Syria. The downing of the Russian fighter is a desperate attempt by Erdogan to incite a reaction from Russia that will draw either Nato or the United States deeper into a conflict which has dragged on for four and a half years and killed 250,000 people.

Unlike the Obama administration, that has been willing to arm and train jihadi groups to conduct its proxy-war against Assad in Syria, Erdogan is a true believer, a committed Islamist who has done everything in his power to roll back democracy in Turkey, to establish one-man rule, to destroy the independent judiciary, to silence the free press, and to establish a conservative and intolerant Islamic state. Erdogan is what many would call a “Koolaid drinker”, a man who believes that his support for disparate and vicious terrorist groups that have decimated Syria, laid its civilian infrastructure to waste, and displaced more than half the population is “God’s work”. Make no mistake, the Turkish government is the modern-day Caliphate. The fact that its government officials dress in nicely-tailored suits rather than black pajamas, is merely a way to divert attention from their extreme fanaticism and their covert support for liver-eating fundamentalist savages.

In the seven weeks since Russia began military operations in Syria, nearly all of the gains of the US-Turkey-Saudi-Qatar jihadi coalition have been wiped out. The decisive battle took place more than a week ago at Kuweris airbase east of Aleppo. This was the tipping point for the war although the imminent fall of Aleppo is bound to attract more notoriety. It’s clear now that the Russian-led coalition is winning the war, has foiled US attempt to remove Assad, and that the bulk of the foreign mercenaries will either be killed or captured. The Obama administration realizes that the current phase of the war is hopeless and has started to implement a fallback plan to control territory in East Syria that is critical for future pipeline corridors. In contrast, the Turkish government is completely unwilling to accept the fact that its plan has failed which is why it has embarked on this risky strategy to draw either Nato or Washington deeper into the fray. Check this out from a Tuesday battlefield report from South Front:

The Syrian forces backed up by the Russian warplanes, pushed back the militant groups from nearly 200 kilometers of land in the coastal province of Lattakia, military sources said Monday. On Sunday, the Syrian army and popular forces purged the terrorists and advanced to areas near the Turkish borders. The ground reports argue that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) took control of Zahia heights, two kilometers from the joint borders with Turkey. {1}

Can you see what’s going on? The Russian-led coalition is closing in on the Syria-Turkish border which will put an end to Erdogan’s dream of toppling Assad or continuing to fuel the war with terrorists that are provided a safe haven on Syrian soil. This is why the Su-24 fighter was shot down on Tuesday. It is a desperate attempt to salvage the failed strategy of toppling a secular government and replacing it with friendly Islamic extremists who hew to Erdogan’s twisted worldview.

By the way, readers should take a minute and review the video of the “moderate” headchoppers that the US supports in Syria paying special attention to their moderate treatment of prisoners. The Russian pilot was captured by these “freedom fighters”, shot twice in the chest and then his clothes were ripped off so he could be moderately photographed. These are the fine fellows that Uncle Sam would like to see in Damascus heading the government because, as we all know, “Assad has lost legitimacy”. See {2}.

For the last three days, I have been following a fast-evolving plan by the Turkish Terrorist Government (TTG) to create a false flag operation that would draw either the US or Nato deeper into the war in Syria reversing Obama’s recent commitment NOT to deploy ground troops to the warzone. On Saturday, Turkish newspapers reported that 1,500 Syrian Turkmen had fled to the Turkish border for safety. The reasons that were given were that the Russian warplanes were bombing areas where ISIS was not located. True, ISIS is not located in these Turkmen villages by the border; rather the barbarians that you see in the video are located there. These men belong to the jihadi groups that that have been funded, armed and trained by Turkey and the US and who are fighting to topple Assad. Reasonable people who would like to see an end to terrorism, should feel supportive of Putin’s efforts to annihilate these monsters. Instead, the Turkish government has been trying to make the case that Russia is bombing innocent civilians. Now check out this story (from Monday) in Turkey’s leading newspaper Hurriyet:

Turkey has called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighboring Syria, according to Prime Ministry sources, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying his government will “not hesitate” to take the required measures on Syrian soil to protect the Turkmen people…

Turkey is in discussions with the United States and Russia over the bombing of the villages and has sent a letter to Britain, the current holder of the UN Security Council’s presidency, asking for the subject to be taken up, sources from Davutoglu’s office told Reuters on November 23 …

Speaking to reporters late on November 22, Davutoglu recalled that he was engaged in constant contact with both Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Chief Hakan Fidan over the weekend concerning alleged Russian air raids on Turkmen villages near the Syrian-Turkish border. Sources, meanwhile, told Reuters that Davutoglu had consulted on the intelligence dimension of the issue with Akar and Fidan.

“Our security forces have been instructed to retaliate against any development that would threaten Turkey’s border security”, the prime minister said. “If there is an attack that would lead to an intense influx of refugees to Turkey, required measures would be taken both inside Syria and Turkey”, he added.

“Looking at background of these attacks, in a region where very clearly there is no element of Deash (ISIS), where there is no terrorist element, first Russian airplanes come and then with support from foreign fighters.

“We will also take the required measures diplomatically for the protection of our brothers and sisters in the place where they are located and for the protection of their human rights in the face of any threat”, he also stated. {3}

So is the Turkish Prime Minister correct in saying the Russians are bombing the Turkmen civilians forcing them to flee from their homes? Not according to Turkmen leader Ali Türkmani. Here’s what he said:

There is a perception operation that is being waged over the Turkmens. The regime will of course attempt to maintain its territorial integrity. As such, threats from al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are being targeted [by Russian air strikes]. It’s not correct to say the Turkmens are being targeted.

So civilians are not being targeted, but the Turkish government is supplying weapons and ammo to the terrorists as this article in the Turkish daily Zaman proves:

Several trucks bound for Syria were stopped at the beginning of last year by Turkish gendarmerie forces upon instructions by a prosecutor. It turned out they contained weapons.

The AK Party government claimed for months that the trucks only included humanitarian aid, but a report published by the Cumhuriyet daily in May last year revealed that the trucks contained weapons.

According to the daily’s report, a truck, which is thought to be one of many, contained 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells.

The government was accused of sending the weapons to radical Islamist groups in Syria, but Davutoglu swore in June that the trucks were bound for Turkmens. In contrast, Turkmens had earlier denied receiving any weapons from Turkey. {4}

So what is the game-plan here? What is Turkey really up to?

Well, first of all, they are trying to set up a safe zone on sovereign Syrian territory so they can continue to spread terror across Syria. Check out this clip from the Daily Sabah and you’ll see how these Turkmen radicals who are allies of Ankara are seizing villages to create the safe zone:

Syrian opposition groups supported by Turkish and US warplanes took control of two Turkmen towns in Northern Syria early Saturday, Anadolu Agency reported … The operation was supported by six Turkish F-16s, four US F-15s and an AC-130 joined the offensive along with three drones.

Security sources added that this success in the fight against DAESH that can be defined as the first step for the creation of a DAESH-free zone in Northern Syria …

Speaking about Turkey’s stance on the recent developments in Northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a live broadcast on Wednesday that declaring no-fly and safe zones is crucial to resolve the Syrian Crisis … Erdogan further stated that Turkey will continue to carry out anti-terror operations until concrete results are achieved and peace is restored. {5}

Whether you call it an ISIS-free zone or not is irrelevant. The fact is, the Turkish government (with US air support) is trying to annex Syrian territory for its own nefarious purposes. That much is clear.

The downing of the Russian Su-24 fighter fits perfectly with the way in which the Turkish government has been ratcheting up tensions on the border, using its jihadi allies to seize Syrian territory, and trying to incite a violent reaction that will force greater Nato or US involvement. I seriously doubt that Putin is gullible enough to take the bait and overreact to this obvious and pathetic provocation in Ankara. He will exact his pound of flesh at some other time, a time of his own choosing.







Categories: Uncategorized

Why the Powers that Be …

… are Pushing a Cashless Society

We Can’t Rein in the Banks If We Can’t Pull Our Money Out of Them

by Washingtons Blog (May 04 2015)

Martin Armstrong summarizes the headway being made to ban cash, and argues {1} that the goal of those pushing a cashless society is to prevent bank runs … and increase their control:

The central banks are … planning drastic restrictions on cash itself. They see moving to electronic money will first eliminate the underground economy, but secondly, they believe it will even prevent a banking crisis. This idea of eliminating cash was first floated as the normal trial balloon to see how the people take it. It was first launched by Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup. Their claims have been widely hailed and their papers are now the foundation for the new age of Economic Totalitarianism that confronts us. Rogoff and Buiter have laid the ground work for the end of much of our freedom and will one day will be considered the new Marx with hindsight. They sit in their lofty offices but do not have real world practical experience beyond theory. Considerations of their arguments have shown how governments can seize all economic power and destroy cash in the process eliminating all rights. Physical paper money provides the check against negative interest rates for if they become too great, people will simply withdraw their funds and hoard cash. Furthermore, paper currency allows for bank runs. Eliminate paper currency and what you end up with is the elimination of the ability to demand to withdraw funds from a bank.

In many nations, specific measures have already been taken demonstrating that the Rogoff-Buiter world of Economic Totalitarianism is indeed upon us. This is the death of Capitalism. Of course the socialists hate Capitalism and see other people’s money should be theirs. What they cannot see is that Capitalism is freedom from government totalitarianism. The freedom to pursue the field you desire without filling the state needs that supersede your own.

There have been test runs of this Rogoff-Buiter Economic Totalitarianism to see if the idea works. I reported on June 21 2014 {2} that Britain was doing a test run. A shopping street in Manchester banned cash as part of an experiment to see if Brits would accept a cashless society. London buses ended accepting cash payments from July 2014. Meanwhile, Currency Exchange dealers began offering debt cards instead of cash that they market as being safer to travel with. The Chorlton, South Manchester experiment was touted to test customers and business reaction to the idea for physical currency will disappear inside twenty years.

France passed another Draconian new law that from the summer of 2015 it will now impose cash requirements dramatically trying to eliminate cash by force. French citizens and tourists will then only be allowed a limited amount of physical money. They have financial police searching people on trains just passing through France to see if they are transporting cash, which they will now seize. Meanwhile, the new French Elite are moving in this very same direction. Piketty wants to just take everyone’s money who has more than he does. Nobody stands on the side of freedom or on restraining the corruption within government. The problem always turns against the people for we are the cause of the fiscal mismanagement of government that never has enough for themselves.

In Greece a drastic reduction in cash is also being discussed in light of the economic crisis. Now any bill over seventy euros should be payable only by check or credit card – it will be illegal to pay in cash. The German Baader Bank {3} founded in Munich expects formally to abolish the cash to enforce negative interest rates on accounts that is really taxation on whatever money you still have left after taxes.

Complete abolition of cash threatens our very freedom and rights of citizens in so many areas.

Paper currency is indeed the check against negative interest rates. We need only look to Switzerland to prove that theory. Any attempt to impose say a five percent negative interest rates (tax) would lead to an unimaginably massive flight into cash. This was already demonstrated recently by the example of Swiss pension funds, which withdrew their money from the bank in a big way and now store it in vaults in cash in order to escape the financial repression. People will act in their own self-interest and negative interest rates are likely to reduce the sales of government bonds and set off a bank run as long as paper money exists.

Obviously, government and bankers are not stupid. The only way to prevent such a global bank run would be the total prohibition of paper money. This is unlikely, both in Switzerland and in the United States because the economies are dominated there by a certain “liberalism” to some extent but also because their currencies also circulate outside their domestic economies. The discussion of the cash ban in the context of a global conference with the participation of the major central banks of the US and the ECB, demonstrates by itself that the problem is not a regional problem.

Nevertheless, there is a growing assumption that the negative interest rate world (tax on cash) is likely to increase dramatically in Europe in particular since it is socialism that is collapsing. Government in Brussels is unlikely to yield power and their line of thinking cannot lead to any solution. The negative interest rate concept is making its way into the United States at JP Morgan where they will charge a fee on excess cash on deposit starting May 1st 2015. Asset holdings of cash with a tax or a fee in the amount of the negative interest rate seems to be underway even in Switzerland.

The movement toward electronic money is moving at high speed and this says a lot about the state of the financial system. The track record of the major financial institutions is nearly perfect – they are always caught on the wrong side when a crisis breaks, which requires their bailouts.
The fact that we have already seen test runs with theory-balloons flying, the major financial institutions are in no shape to withstand another economic decline.

For depositors, this means they really need to grasp what is going on here for unless they are vigilant, there is a serious risk of losing everything. We must understand that these measures will be implemented overnight in the middle of a banking crisis after the third quarter of 2015. The balloons have taken off and the discussions are underway. The trend in taxation and reduction of cash seems to be unstoppable. Government is not prepared to reform for that would require a new way of thinking and a loss of power. That is not a consideration. They only see one direction and that is to take us into the new promised-land of economic totalitarianism.

If cash is banned, people can’t pull cash out of their bank accounts, for political reasons {4}, because they’ve lost confidence in the bank, or because “bail-ins” are enacted {5}.

The Financial Times argued {6} last year that central banks would be the real winners from a cashless society:

Central bankers, after all, have had an explicit interest in introducing e-money from the moment the global financial crisis began …

The introduction of a cashless society empowers central banks greatly. A cashless society, after all, not only makes things like negative interest rates possible, it transfers absolute control of the money supply to the central bank, mostly by turning it into a universal banker that competes directly with private banks for public deposits. All digital deposits become base money.

The Government Can Manipulate Digital Accounts More Easily than Cash

Moreover, an official White House panel on spying has implied that the government is manipulating the amount in people’s financial accounts. {7}

If all money becomes digital, it would be much easier for the government to manipulate our accounts.

Indeed, numerous high-level NSA whistleblowers say that NSA spying is about crushing dissent {8} and blackmailing opponents {9} … not {10} stopping {11] terrorism{12}.

This may sound over-the-top … but remember, the government sometimes labels {13} its critics as “terrorists” {14}. If the government claims the power to indefinitely detain – or even assassinate {15} – American citizens at the whim of the executive, don’t you think that government people would be willing to shut down, or withdraw a stiff “penalty” from a dissenter’s bank account?

If society becomes cashless, dissenters can’t hide cash. All of their financial holdings would be vulnerable to an attack by the government.

This would be the ultimate form of control. Because – without access to money – people couldn’t resist, couldn’t hide and couldn’t escape.

And see:

















Categories: Uncategorized

Who Exactly is Trying to Kill off Cash?

Your Children “Will Not Know What Cash Is”.

by Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street

Wolf Street (November 24 2015)

In the Irish city of Cork, business leaders recently launched a three-month pilot project to encourage consumers to abandon the archaic use of cash by offering the chance to enter into a prize draw if they use electronic means of payment {1}. It is a cheap, almost insulting inducement, but nonetheless probably an effective one. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to transform Cork into the first Irish city to go completely cashless.

The Race to Kill Off Cash

A few years ago such an aspiration –  to do away with physical cash, a form of payment that has served mankind, for better or worse, richer or poorer, for millennia –  might have seemed a little odd. Not anymore. Today cities all over the globe and even entire nations appear to be in a mad rush to kill off cash.

One obvious place that springs to mind is Scandinavia, where Denmark and Sweden are engaged in a neck and neck race to become Europe’s first cashless nation. But the trend extends far beyond Scandinavia. In London, where physical money has been practically abolished from the public transport system, the borough of Brent has proudly declared itself the first district council to go completely cashless {2} –  with a little bit of help from MasterCard.

In May this year the city of Bergamo launched an ambitious pilot scheme to become Italy’s first cashless city {3}. The initiative, which awards people who use electronic payments with discounts on retail products, is sponsored by (once again) MasterCard, together with CartaSi, Visa, UbiBanca, Banca Popolare di Bergamo and Banco Popolare.

Meanwhile, in the UK region of South Gloucestershire, the local Conservative Party is spitting venom about the lack of “a genuinely comprehensive, multi-model, London-style [that is, completely cashless] ‘Oyster’ payment system” for new planned Metrobus routes.

“If the Metrobus is really going to present the traveling public with something different, then the Authority must insist that electronic alternatives to the issuing of paper tickets by drivers is made a contractual condition of any procurement or tender”, thunders Cllr Lucas. “A ‘Brunel’ card would avoid all of the easily foreseeable problems such as unnecessary delays, engineered congestion, confusion, and fragmented service coverage which arise from sticking with traditional forms of payment”.

These are all small, anecdotal examples of a very large, potentially world-changing trend. As I reported in {4}, the world’s biggest cashless laboratory is sub-Saharan Africa, where Western NGOs and GOs (Government Organizations) are working hand-in-hand with banks, telecom companies, and local authorities to replace cash with mobile money alternatives.

The Usual Suspects

While it is true that recent technological advances and changes in generational priorities mean that cash’s days are probably numbered anyway, there is a whole world of difference between a natural death and euthanasia. It is increasingly clear that a loose, albeit extremely powerful alliance of governments, central banks, big banks, credit card companies, and large corporations wants to pull the plug on cash, for their own distinct motives.

Central banks want to make Negative Interest Rate Policy (“NIRP”) an eternal reality and the only way of doing that is to stop depositors from cashing out. For credit card companies, cash is the ultimate rival. As such, it’s no surprise that the likes of Visa and MasterCard are among those pushing the hardest for a cashless economy. As for banks, the obvious attraction is the virtual elimination of the threat of bank runs. As Ellen Brown warns, the ultimate premise of Dodd-Frank was that there would be “no more taxpayer bailouts”:


Instead, insolvent systemically-risky banks were supposed to “bail in” (confiscate) the money of their creditors, including their depositors (the largest class of creditor of any bank). That could explain the push to go cashless. By quietly eliminating the possibility of cash withdrawals, the central bank can make sure the deposits are there to be grabbed when disaster strikes {5}.


In most of the cashless schemes government is playing a key or even leading role. Besides being able to tax people and businesses with much greater efficiency, its two primary motives are power and control. What better way of controlling the people than by controlling their access to the money they need to survive? It would amount to what Martin Armstrong calls “totalitarian control over the economy” {6}.

Naturally, none of these projects are being sold to the general public in such a dystopian light. Instead they are being framed as people-friendly initiatives aimed at making life easier, more convenient, safer and more efficient, while of course stopping drug pushers, terrorists (real or presumed), and all other bogeymen (excluding of course those in government or the financial sector) in their tracks. It’s as if all the world needs to become a better, healthier, nicer, less crime-infested place is the complete abolition of paper and metal forms of money.

Here’s a perfect case in point courtesy of MasterCard:


Even though much of the world’s population has access to many different options for making payments without it, cash still persists. As a way of making payment, cash takes time to get at, is riskier to carry, and by some estimates, cash costs society as much as 1.5% of GDP. Electronic payments on the other hand have been proven to boost economic growth, while advancing financial inclusion. It is for these reasons that countries around the world are working to make their payment systems less dependent on cash.


What conveniently gets lost in all the hype are the potential downsides of a cashless economy, which are legion. They include the complete loss of personal anonymity and control over your own finances; the very serious risk of identity fraud, especially when biometric measurements are introduced; the ease with which government authorities will be able to confiscate (and probably never return) our hard-earned money; the likelihood of new or increased fees as financial intermediaries proliferate; and perhaps most grievous of all, the danger that your government or financial institutions can cut you off altogether from the money you own and need to survive, just as happened with Wikileaks when it published the biggest leaks in journalistic history, in October 2010.

Just over a week ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook predicted the death of cash, while out promoting Apple Pay, when he told students at Trinity College, Dublin, that their children “will not know what cash is” {7}.

He may well be right. Those who want to kill cash already have vital technological and generational trends firmly on their side. They also have the added bonus of public ignorance, apathy and disinterest. As I warned a couple of weeks ago {4}, the governments and banks’ strongest ally in their War on Cash is the general public itself. As long as people continue to abandon the use of cash, for the sake of a few minor gains in convenience, the War on Cash is already won.









Categories: Uncategorized

Presstitutes at Their Work

by Paul Craig Roberts

Institute for Political Economy (October 24 2015)

The Western media has only two tools. One is the outrageous lie. This overused tool no longer works, except on dumbshit Americans.

The pinpoint accuracy of the Russian cruise missiles and air attacks has the Pentagon shaking in its boots. But according to the Western presstitutes the Russian missiles fell out of the sky over Iran and never made it to their ISIS targets.

According to the presstitute reports, the Russia air attacks have only killed civilians and blew up a hospital.

The presstitutes fool only themselves and dumbshit Americans.

The other tool used by presstitutes is to discuss a problem with no reference to its causes. Yesterday I heard a long discussion on NPR, a corporate and Israeli owned propaganda organ, about the migrant problem in Europe. Yes, migrants, not refugees.

These migrants have appeared out of nowhere. They have decided to seek a better life in Europe, where capitalism, which provides jobs, freedom, democracy, and women’s rights guarantee a fulfilling life. Only the West provides a fulfilling life, because it doesn’t yet bomb itself.

The hordes overrunning Europe just suddenly decided to go there. It has nothing to do with Washington’s fourteen years of destruction of seven countries, enabled by the dumbshit Europeans themselves, who provided cover for the war crimes under such monikers as the “coalition of the willing”, a “Nato operation”, “bringing freedom and democracy”.

From the Western presstitute media you would never know that the millions fleeing into Europe are fleeing American and European bombs that have indiscriminately slaughtered and dislocated millions of Muslim peoples.

Not even the tiny remnant of conservative magazines, the ones that the neocon nazis have not taken over or exterminated, can find the courage to connect the refugees with US policy in the Middle East.

For example, Srdja Trifkovic writing in the October issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, sees the refugees as “the third Muslim invasion of Europe”. For Trifkovic, the refugees are invaders who will bring about the collapse of the remnant of Western Christian Civilization.

Trifkovic never mentions that the Europeans brought the millions of Muslim refugees upon themselves, because their corrupt political bosses are Washington’s well-paid vassals and enabled Washington’s wars for hegemony that displaced millions of Muslims. For Trifkovic and every other conservative, only Muslims can do wrong. As Trifkovic understands it, the wrong that the West does is not defending itself against Muslims.

Trifkovic believes that Europe will soon live under Sharia law. He wonders if America will “have the wherewithal to carry the torch”.

A majority of Americans live in a fake world created by propaganda. They are disconnected from reality. I have in front of me a local North Georgia newspaper dated October that reports that “a Patriot Day Memorial Service was held at the Dawson County Fire Headquarters on September 11 to remember the terrorist attacks that shook America fourteen years ago”. Various local dignitaries called on the attendees to remember “all of those who have died not only on that day, but since that day in the fight to keep America free”.

The dignitaries did not say how murdering and dislocating millions of Muslims in seven counries keeps us free. No doubt, the question has never occurred to them. America runs on rote platitudes.

The presidents of Russia and China watch with amazement the immoral stupidity that has become America’s defining characteristic. At some point the Russians and Chinese will realize that no matter how patient they are, the West is lost and cannot be redeemed.

When the West collapses from its own evil, peace will return to the world.

Categories: Uncategorized

Why the Paris Terror Attacks …

… Didn’t ‘Change Everything’

by Pepe Escobar / Op-Edge (November 23 2015)

The established mainstream narrative tells us “Paris changed everything”. Well, not really.

Let’s start with the diplomatic front. Instead of the self-defined International Syria Support Group –  composed of nineteen political actors –  meeting regularly in Vienna to implement a peace process in Syria, the priority now is war; a remixed war on terror not against al-Qaeda, but ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

The UN Security Council already issued a de facto declaration of war on Daesh. It calls for UN members to “take all necessary measures” to defeat Daesh. Language was appropriately vague to ensure approval. Yet, post-Libya, everyone knows how the devil –  especially in vague UNSC resolutions – is in the detail {1}.

Vienna set an arbitrary target date of January 1 2016 for the start of negotiations between Damascus and the “respectable” Syrian opposition about a political transition –  with elections and a new constitution coming within eighteen months.

The five permanent members of the UNSC also agreed to support a ceasefire in Syrian territory not controlled by Daesh. As if Daesh, for starters, would respect any ceasefire.

Then it gets even more surrealist. Jordan –  run by ‘Playstation’ King Abdullah –  was charged to draw up the top ten terrorist list in Syria.

At least the Obama administration finally relented and conceded that Jabhat al-Nusra, aka al-Qaeda in Syria, which the Beltway regards as “moderate rebels”, is a terrorist entity as much as Daesh.

The latest Vienna communiqué is quite vague; Article 6 stipulates that “Daesh, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council, and further, as agreed by the participants, must be defeated”.

So what we have is only a top two terrorist list in Syria. And that’s it. Nothing about Ahrar al-Sham, which is actively supported by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and given a pass by the US and Britain. Or the patchwork known as Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) –  financed and weaponized by Saudi Arabia. Plenty of dodgy outfits linked to Ahrar al-Sham –  a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood –  have struck “pacts of non-aggression” with Daesh.

As for Jabhat al-Nusra, it has been manipulating the so-called “moderate rebels” of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) at virtually every major battle in Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Idlib. In the perennially porous “rebel” alliance front, Jaish al-Fatah de facto congregates Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham and provides them free access to Free Syrian Army’s [FSA’s] made in USA weapons –  especially anti-tank TOW missiles. Needless to add, the FSA has been weaponized by the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Last month, Saudi Arabia sent 500 TOW missiles directly to Jabhat al-Nusra. This means, according to Vienna, that Riyadh is weaponizing terrorists.

Any doubts about Ahrar al-Sham should be dispelled by the Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurdish Democratic United Party has been adamant that Ahrar al-Sham and Daesh are interchangeable, as all those outfits on the ground merge in and out. In the tremendously complex Aleppo theatre, for instance, Daesh and al-Nusra are totally interchangeable.

To believe that poor Jordan –  an undisguised Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] colony – is able to track all these movements and has any authority to establish a terror who’s who is to take a page from the surrealist manifesto. Why Jordan? Simple: because the Saudis and the Qataris convinced the Americans about it.

So now we have Wahhabism, the ideological matrix of all strands of jihadism, dictating to the West who is and who is not a “terrorist”. One can’t make this stuff up.

Pick Your Coalition

President Obama continues to insist “Assad must go”.  Not only this is beyond pathetic by now, but it also torpedoes any idea of a viable, ongoing Vienna “peace process”. So it’s back to facts on the ground, and the new –  once again surrealist – variable: a Russia-France military coalition inserting itself in the tale of two coalitions. What we have is the Nato-GCC on their side, what I call the ‘Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists’ (CDO); and the “4+1” coalition –  Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah – on a completely different side.

The zillion-dollar-question is whether we will eventually have a multinational Russian-led alliance against Daesh. Most certainly not. Because Obama will tell Francois Hollande in no uncertain terms this Tuesday that that’s out of the question. So the likely scenario is the perpetuation of the strange tale of two coalitions. Washington will keep claiming the lead while Moscow will keep accomplishing the hard work.

And to think that unlike Britain, France seems to have understood, finally, what Russia has been doing; a –  legal –  intervention on the request of Damascus, to save an existing, still functional state and to smash for good any strand of Salafi-jihadism, as Russian intelligence knows all these outfits profess essentially the same ideology. And they are a threat not only to Russia –  the famous “Aleppo is 900 kilometers away from Grozny” syndrome –  but to Europe as well, as the Paris attacks demonstrated.

Welcome to the Peshawar of the Middle East

President Putin has demonstrated graphically {2} at the G20 in Antalya how Daesh is financed by sources, including G-20 nations. It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out who these “G20 nations” are.

In Syria, air strikes alone simply won’t do. Nor will NSA-style snooping. It takes a relatively sophisticated ground intelligence operation. The key node is the Turkish-Syria border, especially the stretch between Gaziantep in Turkey and Jarabulus in Syria, currently controlled by Daesh.

This is the privileged spot where ISIS/ISIL/Daesh goons cross back-and-forth at will. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged “ringleader” of the Paris attacks, now dead – used this crossing point at least four times this year. There’s even a name to go after: Abu Muhammad Al-Shimali, Daesh’s “border chief” in charge of EU –  and Caucasus – jihadi smuggling. It’s simply absurd that no one –  from Vienna to the UNSC –  has put pressure on Ankara about this.

Kadri Gursel, writing for Turkish daily Milliyet in September 2013, already conceptualized it to perfection; the Turkish border from Hatay to Gaziantep is practically the Peshawar of the Middle East. He was referring to historic al-Qaeda’s ability, since the 1980s, to cross back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan with Peshawar as their base.

Gursel essentially nailed it; while Turkey is ‘Pakistanizing’, Syria is under ‘Lebanonization’ (ethnic and sectarian polarization); ‘Somalization’ (collapse of the state); and ‘Afghanization’ (jihadi power).

‘Afghanization’ is self-evident in the whole area spanning Idlib to Aleppo. It is circumscribed by the Kurdish Rojava region in northeast Syria. But then it keeps stretching along the Euphrates valley, via Deir ez-Zor, all the way to Iraq’s western desert.

Jihadis would never be able to ‘Afghanize’ this region near the Turkish border if they did not have at least logistical support from dodgy Turkish sources. For instance, Jabhat al-Nusra’s rear base when they were fighting Syrian Kurds was Ceylanpinar, a Turkish town.

Syria won’t be pacified if this jihad belt is not re-conquered. There are only two candidates to accomplish the task: Syrian Kurds and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insists, “Turkey has no links” with Jabhat al-Nusra, which has swollen to 8,000 fighters, 25 percent of them foreigners drawn from Jihad Inc. Still, Ankara regards them as only “radical” –  not “terrorist”, even though they are, for all practical purposes, al-Qaeda in Syria. So, for all practical purposes, according to Vienna and the UN, by doing nothing Turkey is indirectly supporting terrorism.

The same, even worse, applies to Saudi Arabia. The priority for a fearful, paranoid Riyadh is the war on Yemen. Not Daesh. The Pentagon, directly or indirectly, obliges. Take the recent sale of 19,000 bombs to Riyadh for a cool $1.29 billion. There’s no business like war business.

The Royal Saudi Air Force has been doing absolutely nothing against Daesh for months. GCC minions United Arab Emirates (UAE) stopped bombing Daesh last March. Terrorist list compiler Jordan stopped bombing Daesh last August. Very few people know about this because there was no formal or public announcement.

And of course there was no pressure to do so by “His Masters’ Voice”. The UAE and Jordan are instead pampered and eulogized in the West because they attempt to promote a sort of social network version of a kinder and gentler Islam.

Talk to the DIA

In the information war front, Paris has not changed anything. For Qatari regime media (Al Jazeera) and Saudi regime media (Al Arabiya), not to mention lesser Gulf petrodollar-dominated outlets, when Shia, Alawites, Christians or even Sunnis who live in “regime dominated areas of Syria” become “collateral damage”, that’s entirely normal.

Everything one needs to know –  in only one document – about the proxy war in Syria still applies to the recently declassified secret US intelligence August 2012 report {3}, which essentially lauds the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaeda-controlled Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2012 identified al-Qaeda in Iraq (before it metastasized into Daesh), as well as a bunch of Salafists, as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria”.

And the DIA bluntly admitted that “Western countries, the Persian Gulf states and Turkey” were directly involved. As for the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”, the DIA actually explained the obvious; “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”.

So here, once again, is a brief recap. Shock and awe 2003; the birth of al-Qaeda in Iraq; Camp Bucca; the Daesh metastasis; Nato-“liberated” Libya as a jihadi paradise. Without the US, Franco-British, Saudi, Qatari, Turkish financing and weaponizing of a mini-galaxy of Salafi-jihadi outfits who turned Syria into the new Afghanistan, all used as proxies/patsies to go against Damascus, Hezbollah and mostly Iran, we would not have had jihad in the streets of Paris.

Did Paris change anything?





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

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

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Japan is Using South China Sea Tensions …

… to Peddle Military Hardware in Asia

by Steve Mollman

Quartz (November 22 2015)

Last year Japan lifted a decades-long ban on military exports, part of a loosening of restrictions on its military power that were put in place after its World War Two defeat. Now, as Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, and Hitachi market their military offerings, one area of geopolitical tension is serving as a particularly effective selling point: the South China Sea.

This weekend Japan’s foreign and defense ministers reiterated concerns about China’s strengthening position in the South China Sea as they pressed the case, according to Bloomberg, for their Australian counterparts to buy a new generation of submarines made by Japanese defense contractors.

Defense minister Gen Nakatani sought to cast the bid in the context of freedom of the seas. “Both of our nations are maritime nations and we have a key interest in freedom of navigation”, he said on Sunday (November 22), according to Bloomberg.

And last week Japan broadly agreed to transfer defense equipment and technology to the Philippines, which has been the most vocal opponent of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, even taking up a case with an international tribunal in the Netherlands.

Beijing claims nearly all of the sea as its own territory, citing a “nine-dash line” that China drew up at the end of World War Two. That claim is considered outrageous by various Asian nations that have conflicting claims, and by the US, which has long viewed the sea – a vital trade route – as international waters.

To bolster its claim, China has been busy building artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, complete with a runway, helipad, and lighthouse.

To counter Beijing’s assertiveness, the US has been conducting “right of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea. Since late October it’s sent a warship and B52 bombers near China’s artificial islands.

Japan has not joined in such operations. “With regard to activity by the Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea, I will consider it while focusing on what effect the situation has on Japan’s security”, Japanese prime minister told Shinzo Abe told US president Barack Obama last week, according to Bloomberg. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga was quick to note Abe’s comments did not indicate an actual change in policy, and that Japan is not currently planning to take part in US operations.

But Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the UK have all expressed interest in Japan’s military hardware, and there is already a deal pending with India.

Resentment over Japan’s aggression during World War Two still runs deep in China. As Zhu Chenghu, a professor of strategic studies at China’s National Defense University, told CNBC in June:


The United States used to have military bases in Southeast Asia, like in the Philippines and even in Vietnam, and they have military cooperation with Singapore, so American military presence in the South China Sea is acceptable to China … As for the Japanese military presence, it is very difficult for the Chinese people and the Chinese government to accept it.


Even if Japan doesn’t get involved in a direct military fashion in the South China Sea, it can still play a role in supplying the contestants.

Links: The original version of this article, at the URL below, contains links to further information not included here.

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Retrotopia: A Visit to the Capitol

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (November 11 2015)

This is the ninth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator finally has his interview with the President of the Lakeland Republic, asks some hard questions, and prepares for a trip into unexpected territory.




Finch flagged down a cab as soon as we got out onto the sidewalk, and within a minute or two we were rolling through downtown at however many miles an hour a horse makes at a steady trot. Before too many more minutes had gone by, we were out from among the big downtown buildings, and the unfinished dome of the Capitol appeared on the skyline. Finch was in high spirits, talking about the compromise Meeker had brokered with the Restos, but I was too keyed up to pay much attention. A day and a half in the Lakeland Republic had answered a few of my questions and raised a good many more that I hadn’t expected to ask at all, and the meeting ahead would probably determine whether I’d be able to get the answers that mattered.

The cab finally rolled to a halt, and the cabbie climbed down from his perch up front and opened the door for us. I’d been so deep in my own thoughts for the last few blocks that I hadn’t noticed where we’d ended up, and I was startled to see the main entrance to the Capitol in front of me. I turned to Finch. “Here, rather than the President’s mansion?”

The intern gave me a blank look. “You mean like the old White House? We don’t have one of those. President Meeker has a house in town, just like any other politician.” I must have looked startled, because he went on earnestly:  “We dumped the whole imperial-executive thing after Partition. I’m surprised so many of the other republics kept it, after everything that happened.”

I nodded noncommittally as we walked up to the main entrance, climbed the stair, and went in. There were a couple of uniformed guards inside the outer doors, the first I’d seen anywhere in the Lakeland Republic, but they simply nodded a greeting to the two of us as we walked by.

We pushed open the inner doors and went into the rotunda. There was a temporary ceiling about forty feet overhead, and someone had taken the trouble to paint on it a trompe l’oeil view of the way the dome would look from beneath. In the middle of the floor was a block of marble maybe three feet on a side; I could barely see it because a dozen or so people were standing around it.  One of them, a stout and freckled blonde woman in a pale blue gingham dress, was saying something in a loud clear voice as we came through the doors:

“… do solemnly swear that, should I be elected to any official position, I will faithfully execute the laws of the Lakeland Republic regardless of my personal beliefs, and should I be unable to do so in good conscience, I will immediately resign my office, so help me my Lord and Savior Jesus”. Three sudden blue-white flashes told of photos being taken, a little patter of applause echoed off the temporary ceiling, and then some of the people present got to work signing papers on the marble cube.

Finch led me around the group to a door on the far side of the rotunda. “What was that about?” I asked him with a motion of my head toward the group around the cube.

“A candidate”, he explained as we went through the doors. “Probably running for some township or county office.  A lot of them like to do the ceremony here at the Capitol and get the pictures in their local papers. You can’t run for any elected position here unless you take that oath first – well, with or without the Jesus bit, or whatever else you prefer in place of it. There was a lot of trouble before the Second Civil War with people in government insisting that their personal beliefs trumped the duties of their office – ”

“I’ve read about it”.

“So that went into our constitution. Break the oath and you do jail time for perjury.”

I took that in as we went down a corridor. On the far end was what looked like an ordinary front office with a young man perched behind a desk. “Hi, Gabe”, Finch said.

“Hi, Mike.  This is Mr Carr?”

“Yes. Mr Carr, this is Gabriel Menendez, the President’s assistant secretary.”

We shook hands, and Menendez picked up a phone on his desk and asked, “Cheryl, is the boss free? Mr Carr’s here.” A pause, then:  “Yes. I’ll send him right in”. He put down the phone and waved us to the door at the far end of the room. “He’ll see you now”.

We shed coats and hats at the coatrack on one side of the office, and went through the door. On the other side was another corridor, and beyond that was a circular room with doors opening off it in various directions. Off to the left an ornate spiral stair swept up and down to whatever was on the floors above and below.  To the right was another desk; the woman sitting at it nodded greetings to us and gestured to the central door. I followed Finch as he walked to the door, opened it, and said, “Mr President? Mr Carr.”

Isaiah Meeker, President of the Lakeland Republic, was standing at the far side of the room, looking out the window over the Toledo streetscape below.  He turned and came toward us as soon as Finch spoke. He looked older than the pictures I’d seen, the close-trimmed hair and iconic short beard almost white against the dark brown of his face. “Mr Carr”, he said as we shook hands. “Pleased to meet you. I hope you haven’t been completely at loose ends this last day or so.” He gestured toward the side of the room. “Please have a seat”.

It wasn’t until I turned the direction he’d indicated that I realized there were more than the three of us in the room. A circle of chairs surrounded a low table there.  Melissa Berger and Fred Vanich, whom I’d met in the Toledo train station, were already  seated there, and so were two other people I didn’t know. “Stuart Macallan from the State Department”, Meeker said, making introductions. “Jaya Patel, from Commerce. Of course you’ve already met Melissa and Fred.”

Hands got shaken and I took a seat. Macallan was the assistant secretary of state for North American affairs, I knew, and Patel had an equivalent position on the trade end of things. “I apologize for the delay”, Meeker went on. “I imagine you know how it goes, though”.

“Of course”.

“And you seem to have put the time to good use – at least for our garment industry”.

That got a general chuckle, which I joined. “When in Rome”, I said. “I take it that’s not one of the things visitors usually do, though; Mr Finch here looked right past me this morning”.

Finch reddened. “It really does vary”, Patel said. “Some of the diplomats and business executives we’ve worked with have taken to buying all their clothes here – we’ve even fielded inquiries about exporting garments for sale abroad. Still, most of our visitors seem to prefer their bioplastic.” Her fractional shrug showed, politely but eloquently, what she thought of that.

“To each their own”, said the President. “But you’ve had the chance to see a little of Toledo, and find out a few of the ways we do things here. I’d be interested to know your first reactions.”

I considered that, decided that a certain degree of frankness wasn’t out of place. “In some ways, impressed”, I said, “and in some ways disquieted. You certainly seem to have come through the embargo years in better shape than I expected – though I’m curious about how things will go now that the borders are open.”

“That’s been a matter of some concern here as well”, Meeker allowed. “That said, so far things seem to be going smoothly”.

Macallan paused just long enough to make sure his boss wasn’t going to say more, and then cleared his throat and spoke. “One of the things we hope might come out of your visit is a better relationship with the Atlantic Republic. I’m sure you know how fraught things were with Barfield and his people. If Ms Montrose is willing to see things ratchet down to a more normal level, we’re ready to meet her halfway – potentially more than halfway.”

“That was quite an upset she pulled off in the election”, Meeker observed. “I hope you’ll pass on my personal congratulations”.

“I’ll gladly do that”, I said to the President, and then to Macallan:  “It’s certainly possible. I don’t happen to know her thoughts on that, but a lot of people on our side of the border are interested in seeing things change, and she’s got a stronger mandate than any president we’ve had since Partition. Still – ” I shrugged. “We’ll have to see what happens after the inauguration”.

“Of course”, Macallan said.

“One thing we’d be particularly interested in seeing”, said Patel, “is a widening of the opportunities for trade. Obviously that’s going to be delicate – it’s a core policy of ours that the Republic has to be able to meet its essential needs from within its own borders, and I know that stance isn’t exactly popular in global-trade circles. We’re not interested in global trade, but there are things your country produces that we’d like to be able to buy, and things we produce that you might like to buy in exchange.”

“Again”, I said, “we’ll have to see what happens – but I don’t know of any reason why that wouldn’t be a possibility”.

She nodded, and a brief silence passed. Vanich’s featureless voice broke it. “Mr Carr”, he said, “you mentioned that you found some of the ways we do things here disquieting. I think we’d all be interested in hearing more about that, if you’re willing.”

Startled, I glanced across the table at him, but his face was as impenetrable as it had been the first time I’d seen him. I looked at the President, who seemed amused, and then nodded. “If you like”, I said. “At first it was mostly the – ” I floundered for a term. ” – deliberately retro, I suppose, quality of so much of what I’ve seen: the clothing, the technology, the architecture, all of it. I have to assume that that’s an intentional choice, connected to whatever’s inspired your Resto parties in politics.”

Meeker nodded. “Very much so”.

“But that’s not actually the thing I find most disquieting. What has me scratching my head is that your republic seems to have gone out of its way to ignore every single scrap of advice you must have gotten from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the other global financial institutions – in fact, from the entire economics profession – and despite that, you’ve apparently thrived.”

Meeker’s face broke into a broad smile. “Excellent”, he said. “Excellent. I’ll offer just one correction: we haven’t succeeded as well as we have despite ignoring the economic advice of the World Bank and so forth. We’ve done so precisely because we’ve ignored their advice.”

I gave him a long wary look, but his smile didn’t waver.

“Mr Carr”, Melanie Berger said then, “Since the end of the embargo we’ve been approached four times by the World Bank and the IMF. I’ve been involved in the discussions that followed. Each time, their economists have made long speeches about how the way we do things is hopelessly inefficient, and how we’ve got to follow their advice and become more efficient. Each time, I’ve asked them to answer a simple question: ‘more efficient for what output in terms of what input?’ Not one of them has ever been able, or willing, to give me a straight answer.”

“I had a lecture on that subject yesterday from a bank officer”, I told her.

Her eyebrows went up, and then she smiled. “Not surprising. It’s something most people here know about, if they know anything at all about money.”

I nodded, taking that in. “So what you’re suggesting”, I said, as much to Meeker as to her, “is that the rest of the world doesn’t have a clue about economics”.

“Not quite”, said the President. “It’s just that our history has forced us to look at things in a somewhat different light, and prioritize different things”.

It was a graceful answer, and I nodded. “The question that comes to mind at this point”, he went on, “is whether there’s anything else you’d like to see, now that you know a little more about our republic”.

“As it happens, yes”, I said. “There is”.

He motioned me to go on.

“When I drew up the list we sent to your people right after the election, I didn’t know about the tier system, and I’ve got some serious questions about what things are like at the bottom rung of that ladder. I’ve read a little bit about the system, but I’m frankly skeptical that anybody in this day and age would voluntarily choose to live in the conditions of 1830.”

“That’s actually a common misconception”, Jaya Patel said, with the same you-don’t-get-it smile I’d seen more than once since my arrival. “The only thing the tier system determines is what infrastructure and services gets paid for out of tax revenues”.

“I saw a fair number of horsedrawn wagons on the train ride here”, I pointed out. “That’s not a matter of infrastructure”.

“Actually, it is”, she said. “Without a road system built to stand up to auto traffic, cars and trucks aren’t as efficient as wagons – ” Her smile suddenly broadened. ” – in terms of the total cost of haulage. That doesn’t keep people in tier one counties from having whatever personal technologies they want to have, and are willing and able to pay for.”

“Got it”, I said. “I’d still like to see how it works out in practice”.

“That’s easy enough”, the President said. “Anything else?”

“Yes”, I said, “though I know this may be further than you’re willing to go. I’d like to see something of your military.”

The room got very quiet. “I’d be interested”, Meeker said, “in knowing why”.

I nodded. “It seems to me that whatever you’ve achieved by this retro policy of yours comes at the cost of some frightful vulnerabilities. Ms Berger told me a little about the war with the Confederacy and Brazil, and of course I knew a certain amount about that in advance. Obviously you won that round – but we both know that the Confederacy wasn’t in the best of shape in ’49, and I really wonder about your ability to stand up to a modern high-tech military.”

“Like the Atlantic Republic’s?” Meeker asked, with a raised eyebrow.

I responded with a derisive snort. “With all due respect, I’m sure you know better than that. I’m thinking about what would happen if we ended up with a war zone or a failed state on our western borders.”

“Fair enough”, he said after a moment, “and I think we can satisfy you about that”.

“I’d like to suggest something”, Berger said to the President. “Defiance County is first tier.”

He glanced at her. “You’re thinking Hicksville?”


“We’ll have to find someone”.

“Tom Pappas comes to mind”, she said.

The President’s face took on a slightly glazed expression, and then he laughed. “Yes, I think Tom will do. Thank you, Melanie.” He turned to me. “Have you made any plans for tomorrow?”

“Not yet”.

“Good. The day after tomorror, there’s a – military exercise, I think you would call it – in a first tier county a couple of hours from here by train. If you’re willing, I can have my staff make the arrangements for you to go there tomorrow, have a look around, stay the night, see how our military does things the next day, and then come back. Is that workable?”

“I’d welcome that”, I told him, wondering what I’d just gotten myself into.

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America,, and the author of more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects, including peak oil and the future of industrial society. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.

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