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The Crumbling American Superpower

by F William Engdahl

New Eastern Outlook (March 14 2017)

The catastrophic events around the California Oroville Dam in recent weeks underscores a far more urgent problem. The American Society of Civil Engineers has just released their quadrennial assessment of United States essential infrastructure – roads, clean water supplies, levees, ports, dams, bridges, electric grid. The report gives the nation a near-failing D+ grade. America is coming to resemble the economic infrastructure in the Soviet Union domestically at the collapse of communism during the late 1980s. The recently-announced Donald Trump proposal to invest $1 trillion over ten years to address the problem, mainly building high-speed trains (to date the USA has not one) doesn’t even come close to the scope of the problem.

A Wall Street-driven agenda of globalization of US manufacturing and out-sourcing of production has left America a hollowed-out, crumbling Superpower. Since the 1980s the United States has significantly under-invested in both new infrastructure and in renewing old. As US multinational corporations moved their factories overseas to cheap labor production in Mexico, then in Asia, especially China, and elsewhere, they found tax loopholes that allowed them to walk away from supporting the country that as recently as the 1960s was the world industrial economic leading nation. Today US corporations hold $2.4 trillion in overseas profits that they keep abroad to avoid US taxes.

The result of all this neglect is that over the past three decades since the end of the 1980s, federal funding of major infrastructure projects such as dams has dropped by half, from one percent to 0.5 percent of GDP.

Infrastructure Report Card

On March 9, the American Society of Civil Engineers (“ASCE”) released its 2017 “Infrastructure Report Card”. They review the state of national infrastructure every four years. Since their 2013 report, despite four years of an alleged Obama economic recovery, the state of affairs is unchanged at a near-failing D+ with F being fail.

The US President just met with leading industry representatives to discuss his proposal for spending $1 trillion in a combination of public-private funds over ten years, most apparently on roads and high-speed rail. The ASCE estimates that almost five times that, or $4.59 trillion, is urgently needed over the next eight years only to bring the situation to a level of “adequate” or B grade by 2025. The economic cost to the national economy of the crumbling infrastructure is calculated annually in the hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted economic inefficiency.

Yet even that modest Trump proposal to spend $1 trillion in infrastructure is likely to be “dead on arrival” according to Wall Street analyst Randall Forsyth in a report in Barrons. One effect of more than eight years of abnormally low Federal Reserve interest rates have left the various state pension funds seriously underfunded, requiring them to draw more from state general budget funds. States will not have the money to join with the Trump national plan even were that to be passed by Congress, which itself is not at all clear. Forsyth notes, “In the United States, state and local governments count infrastructure projects as current spending – as opposed to investments, capitalized over the life of the projects, as with private corporations – budget constraints hampered their ability to fund projects”.

In addition, Trump has promised another Federal tax cut at the same time. In short, The Donald’s economic team don’t even have their infrastructure ducks in the pond, let alone in a row with reality.

Third World-Style Blackouts

Some of the report highlights are instructive and alarming. The nation’s basic electric grid is in dire straits. Most USA electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a fifty-year life expectancy. Lines built in 1967 are today at their life end, yet still being used.

The increasing demand for electricity also means that the 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the power grids of the nation are at full capacity. Given the lack of investment in the power grid, aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, third world-style blackouts or power failures are in store for the nation unless urgently-needed investment is made.

Highway Arteries in Dire Condition

The nation’s highways are in dire condition. Sixty years ago the US Congress passed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 during the Eisenhower Administration, the National Defense Highway Act as it was also called. The Act authorized the then-huge sum of $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles (66,000 kilometers) of the Interstate Highway System over a ten-year period. It was the largest public works infrastructure project in American history until then, comparable to spending $218 billion today. The US freight economy was deliberately being moved from rails as it had been before World War Two, to large tractor-trailer truck transport and the Interstate Highway Act created a huge economic gain in time and efficiency for that transformation. The flexibility of truck freight over rail was significant and the financing was paid ninety percent by the Federal Government through a Highway Trust Fund paid for by federal fuel taxes to be used exclusively for highway construction and maintenance. The states paid ten percent.

Since about 2007~2008 and the financial and economic crisis, the Federal Highway Trust Fund has been seriously underfunded, requiring emergency injections from the General Budget to maintain solvency. Because of the repeated refusal of the US Congress to raise national gasoline or fuel taxes to insure adequate repair of the Interstate Highway System, present condition of the nation’s roads is abysmal to put it politely. The current Federal fuel tax for the Highway Trust Fund has been set at $0.184 per US gallon, a level where it has remained since 1993. In Germany the Federal fuel tax is $6.14 per US gallon.

In addition, states that finance the maintenance of their roads with a state fuel tax have severely underfunded taxes there as well. As of July 2016, twenty one states out of fifty had gone ten years or more without an increase in their state per-gallon gasoline tax rate.

The result of this severe and chronic underfunding of Federal and state highway funds, according to the ASCE infrastructure report, is that more than forty percent of America’s urban Interstate highways are congested and traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition.

Bridges to Oblivion

The United States is a vast expanse of land from New York to California in the so-called Lower 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Along Interstate I-80 you drive almost 3000 miles by car or 4800 kilometers. Many bridges make that national transportation possible.

The infrastructure report of the ASCE notes that of the 614,387 bridges, almost four in ten are fifty years or older. Not just ageing, but 56,007 – 9.1% – of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016. They calculate that daily on average there were 188 million trips across one or another structurally deficient bridges. They estimate a cost of $123 billion needed to rehabilitate those structural deficiencies.

Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink …

In the early 1960s the clean water status of United States water supplies was world class. As an example, the water management practices of Dallas, Texas where I grew up, were under the direction of Henry J Graeser, father of a close high school friend. Graeser went on to become president of the American Water Works Association. His consulting on clean water management engineering was in demand around the world. That’s merely one personal anecdote of the high quality of American water management just five or so decades ago. That’s no longer the case.

The report of the American Society of Civil Engineers states that in 2017 drinking water across the United States is delivered through some 1.8 million miles of pipes. Many of those water pipes were laid between World War One and World War Two. Since they were laid, total US population has increased by two to three times from 100 million citizens in 1914, 140 million in 1945 to more than 310 million today.

The infrastructure to provide water to the significantly larger US population today includes dams and reservoirs, well fields, pumping stations, aqueducts for transport of large quantities of water over long distances, water treatment plants, reservoirs in the distribution system.

The water pipelines were designed with a lifespan of between 75 and 100 years. As one result of the deteriorating drinking water pipeline grid, the US undergoes an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year. Over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water annually is wasted as a result. That equals about half of total national water consumption for an entire month. According to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years.

The report of the engineers’ society on infrastructure goes on to report similar alarming results for the US airports, as with the nation’s dams such as the still-endangered California Oroville Dam. The USA today has an estimated 2,170 deficient high-hazard-potential dams as a result of the lack of investment. Similar grim results are reported for America’s Inland Waterways, Levees, Ports, Rail, Schools, and Wastewater treatment plants.

During the Vietnam War era of the late 1960s President Lyndon Johnson spoke of “guns and butter”. It did not work then.

Given the vastly higher level of National debt, and the far worse state of basic economic infrastructure today compared with the 1960s, the guns and butter fantasies of the Trump Agenda have even less chance to work to restore the national economy.

Today, the sincerity of the Trump claim he wants to “make America great again”, rises or falls on the determination to prioritize the serious rebuilding of the economic infrastructure of the nation. That would actually return national economic value in form of increased jobs and increased economic efficiency and profitability. The wars with China, with Iran, with Syria and seemingly also with Russia that Trump’s team of warriors is intent on pursuing, are worse than a stupid waste of scarce national resources. Building up nations is far more appropriate and gratifying than destroying them.

_____

F William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/14/the-crumbling-american-superpower/

Categories: Uncategorized

The Collapse of Trust in the West

by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org (March 20 2017)

Just as President Putin has stated that governments and media in the West have destroyed Russia’s trust in the West, the governments and media in the West have destroyed the trust of their citizens, who have been transformed into serfs to whom government no longer is accountable.

I have stressed in many columns that the absence of trust between nuclear powers is a great threat to all life on earth. Yet the Western governments and media continue to work 24/7 to worsen relations between the US and Russia and the US and China. Those of us who warn of the possible consequences are put on lists of “Russian dupes” and purveyors of “fake news”. These lists show the desperation behind the orchestrated “Russian threat”. A one thousand billion dollar annual military/security budget is at stake along with American financial and political hegemony.

In brief, greed for money and power are driving the world to destruction.

Greed and power have also driven Americans, indeed all of the Western world, into a more complete police state than George Orwell describes in his book, 1984 (1949).

Judge Andrew P Napolitano describes the extraordinary spy capability of the US government and the ease with which it can be used against even the President of the United States. Napolitano’s article appeared on LewRockwell.com, InformationClearingHouse.info, and antiwar.com. The antiwar.com link has a link to the response from the UK’s GCHQ, which has full access to NSA’s digital collection of all electronic communications of Americans, to Napolitano’s suggestion that Obama could have used the British to avoid leaving US fingerprints on his spying activities against Trump: http://original.antiwar.com/andrew-p-napolitano/2017/03/18/did-obama-spy-on-trump/

The British Government Communications Headquarters dismissed Napolitano’s suggestion as “nonsense, utterly ridiculous and should be ignored”. In other words, the GCHQ did not deny that it has access to every electronic communication made by Americans, including the President of the US. Instead, GCHQ tried to impugn Napolitano’s credibility. Keep in mind that it was British intelligence that permitted Prime Minister Tony Blair to lie to the British Parliament in behalf of the George W Bush regime’s orchestrated case for invading Iraq.

When you read Napolitano’s account of the completeness with which Americans have lost all privacy, you will understand that the US Constitution is erased, like the Confederate States of America and its battle flag. Our privacy is not only erased by government but also by private corporations. Those Americans so insouciant as to respond to the fact that they are spied upon by saying, “I’m doing nothing wrong, so I have nothing to fear”, should read the statement below from the American Civil Liberties Union:

Last year we won strong internet privacy rules. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) introduced protections that require companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to get your permission before they sell your private information to the highest bidder.

Now some politicians are caving to industry pressure. The Senate introduced a resolution to overturn this important FCC rule – and if passed by Congress, the FCC would be blocked from issuing similar rules in the future.

Add your name to tell the Senate you don’t want companies selling your data without your permission.

For years, internet service providers have been trying to find ways to collect, use, and sell the sensitive data they collect from you – every website you visit, the times you log into and out of your online accounts, and even your location. These companies collect data that can paint an intimate picture of your religious practices, sexual activities, health problems, and more.

Who are the buyers? Advertisers, big-data brokers, and even government and law enforcement agencies.

Protecting privacy is also about stopping discrimination. Retailers can offer different online prices based on customers’ locations, sometimes giving worse deals to residents of low-income neighborhoods where there are fewer stores to compete with online prices.

Tell the Senate to keep common sense online privacy protections in place.

We’ve been on the front lines of the long fight to restrict what profiteers can do with the sensitive data they sweep up from your online activity.

Help put the pressure on politicians to keep crucial FCC rules in place.

 

 

The ease with which the US government has been able to destroy the US Constitution in the 21st century illustrates the weakness of democracy. Unconcerned and unaware people are incapable of protecting their civil liberties. Habeas corpus, due process, and privacy have been erased. The only remaining protection is the Second Amendment, which cannot stand alone.

The peoples of the West have allowed themselves to be deceived by lies, misled by orchestrated “threats”, and distracted into irrelevant matters. Consequently, they have lost their liberty.

And they might lose their lives.

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

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/03/20/collapse-trust-west-paul-craig-roberts/

Categories: Uncategorized

Relax, Global Citizen

The CIA Is Benign & Benevolent

by Pepe Escobar via Asia Times

Zero Hedge (March 15 2017)

The massive WikiLeaks Vault 7 {1} release is an extremely important public service. It’s hard to find anyone not concerned by a secret CIA hacking program targeting virtually the whole planet – using malware capable of bypassing encryption protection on any device from iOS to Android, and from Windows to Samsung TVs.

In a series of tweets {2}, Edward Snowden confirmed the CIA program and said code names in the documents are real; that they could only be known by a “cleared insider”; the FBI and CIA knew all about the digital loopholes, but kept them open to spy; and that the leaks provided the “first public evidence” that the US government secretly paid to keep US software unsafe.

If that’s not serious enough, WikiLeaks alleges that “the CIA has lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal”; several hundred million lines of code – more than what is used to run Facebook.

Someone among the former US government hackers and contractors ended up leaking portions of the CIA archive (Snowden II?). WikiLeaks also stressed how the CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” – maximum unaccountability included.

Even though millions already knew – without the technical details – that they were being spied upon by their iPhone or their 4K Samsung, the Vault 7 revelations are far more relevant – and practical – to the average citizen than the 24/7 hysteria fingering President Trump as a Putin puppet. Intel sources are volunteering the – still unexplored – Vault 7 treasure trove is more crucial than what Snowden himself revealed.

And still, vast corporate media sectors embedded with the neocon/neoliberal galaxy are spinning that Vault 7 benefits Trump by changing the subject from alleged Russian hacking interference in the US elections and possible Obama administration-ordered hacks of Team Trump’s communications.

So, if anyone hasn’t got the message, the song remains the same.

WikiLeaks + Snowden + Russia + Trump = the bad guys.
CIA deploying its own NSA around the world = the good guys.

After all, CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu duly issued a non-denial denial.

Loony mainstream factions are even advancing that “the Russians” leaked the CIA info to WikiLeaks, thus fueling more suspicion that Russia will interfere in upcoming French and German elections.

May I have an Orwellian iPhone, please?

As we’re mired deep in an Orwellian total screen environment, already conceptualized by Baudrillard {3} in the go-go 1980s, nothing so trivial as the technical proof we’re all being spied upon could alter the (im)balance. The US is already ravaged by a vicious sociopolitical war – and no “threat” to established narratives allows for nuance.

The implication is that, as it stands, there won’t be a US-Russia reset anytime soon – despite hosting invitations from Iceland, Finland or Slovenia; the neocon/neoliberal galaxy nestled in powerful deep state factions will do their best to deny it.

It hardly matters that Trump absolutely does not want war: his entire domestic US economy remix could not possibly allow it. The Pentagon now is essentially an extended special ops unit: it cannot possibly fight a land war (Iran? North Korea? Ukraine?)

Russia, on the other hand, would be ready for war if needs be. The S-500 missile defense system is being deployed: some analysts (not the Ministry of Defense) are sure it’s already protecting the whole Russian landmass. China, by 2021, will have more than 1,000 very mobile warheads, or hidden in those submarines lounging in Hainan. By that time, both Iran and Pakistan will be deep into a strategic defense network with Russia-China, via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, shielded with their own S-400 and S-500 systems.

Putin is not playing chess. He’s playing Go – and if we look at the board, reality is indeed painful.

Moscow is all but deciding the practical future of Syria, in Astana. Russia virtually wrote the Minsk II agreements, routinely broken by Kiev. Crimea as part of Russia is a fait accompli. Novorossiya for all practical purposes is already a totally autonomous region, with the economy working in rubles. Erdogan owes his imminent regime change in reverse – a presidential sultanate? – to Putin, as Russia warned him about the military coup hours in advance, according to several Russian media sources. Moscow protected Iran’s energy industry during the hardcore OPEC negotiations. Putin all but designed the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Beijing has managed to convince Moscow that One Belt, One Road and the Eurasia Economic Union should be connected, merged and tackled as a win-win Eurasia integration process. If Russia eventually loses economic preeminence across the Central Asian “stans”, it maintains its paramount military/security status.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov {4} never ceases to stress that “our relations with China are at their best level ever in our two countries’ history”.

Add to it a geo-economic gambit; hints of key factions of European business elites getting ready to hitch themselves to China’s growing – slowly but surely – monetary/financial clout, linked to Beijing’s imperative of preventing a collapse of global supply chains. Xi Jinping’s “inclusive globalization”, announced in Davos, sounds more and more like a reality in the making.

In contrast to reality, where China-Russia expand their strategies without exceptionalist illusions, 24/7 neocon/neoliberal hysteria offers a constant barrage {5} of childish, pathetic eruptions. As the self-delusion school of foreign policy refuses to admit Moscow will not sell out China and Iran for a deal with Washington, the last refuge of the scoundrels is cognitive dissonance; fear of Russia incited to cold war 2.0 heights.

So, relax, global citizen; the CIA is benign and benevolent, even when they’re watching you. You have nothing to fear but fear itself – and its name is Russia.

Links:

{1} https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/

{2} https://twitter.com/Snowden

{3} https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201703071051346892-total-screen-how-baudrillard-anticipated-trump/

{4} https://www.memri.org/reports/russian-fm-lavrovs-news-conference-russian-diplomatic-achievements-2016-clash-between

{5} http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/anti-democratic-propaganda-beijing-moscow-214858

http://www.atimes.com/article/wikileaks-trove-fails-shift-dial-trump-putin-narrative//

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-15/relax-global-citizen-cia-benign-benevolent

Categories: Uncategorized

Trump’s Infrastructure Boondoggle

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (March 15 2017)

We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals … And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

– President Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is not an infrastructure plan and it won’t put $1 trillion of fiscal stimulus into the economy. It’s basically a scheme for handing over public assets to private corporations that will extract maximum profits via user fees and tolls. Because the plan is essentially a boondoggle, it will not lift the economy out of the doldrums, increase activity or boost growth. Quite the contrary. When the details of how the program is going to be implemented are announced, public confidence in the Trump administration is going to wither and stock prices are going to plunge. This scenario cannot be avoided because the penny-pinching conservatives in the House and Senate have already said that they won’t support any plan that is not “revenue neutral” which means that any real $1 trillion spending package is a dead letter. Thus, it’s only a matter of time before the Trump’s plan is exposed as a fraud and the sh** hits the fan.

Here are more of the details from an article at Slate:

Under Trump’s plan … the federal government would offer tax credits to private investors interested in funding large infrastructure projects, who would put down some of their own money up front, then borrow the rest on the private bond markets. They would eventually earn their profits on the back end from usage fees, such as highway and bridge tolls (if they built a highway or bridge) or higher water rates (if they fixed up some water mains). So instead of paying for their new roads at tax time, Americans would pay for them during their daily commute. And of course, all these private developers would earn a nice return at the end of the day. {1}

Normally, fiscal stimulus is financed by increasing the budget deficits, but Maestro Trump has something else up his sleeve. He wants the big construction companies and private equity firms to stump up the seed money and start the work with the understanding that they’ll be able to impose user fees and tolls on roads and bridges when the work is completed. For every dollar that corporations spend on rebuilding US infrastructure, they’ll get a dollar back via tax credits, which means that they’ll end up controlling valuable, revenue-generating assets for nothing. The whole thing is a flagrant ripoff that stinks to high heaven. The corporations rake in hefty profits on sweetheart deals, while the American people get bupkis. Welcome to Trumpworld. Here’s more background from Trump’s campaign website:

American Energy and Infrastructure Act Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.

– Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter

In practical terms, “revenue neutral” means that every dollar of new spending has to be matched by cuts to other government programs. So, if there are hidden costs to Trump’s plan, then they’ll have to be paid for by slashing funds for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps et cetera. But, keep in mind, these other programs are much more effective sources of stimulus since the money goes directly to the people who spend it immediately and help grow the economy. Trump’s infrastructure plan doesn’t work like that. A lot of the money will go towards management fees and operational costs leaving fewer dollars to trickle down to low-paid construction workers whose personal consumption drives the economy. Less money for workers means less spending, less activity and weaker growth. Here’s more on the topic from The Washington Post:

Trump’s plan is not really an infrastructure plan. It’s a tax-cut plan for utility-industry and construction-sector investors, and a massive corporate welfare plan for contractors. The Trump plan doesn’t directly fund new roads, bridges, water systems or airports … Instead, Trump’s plan provides tax breaks to private-sector investors who back profitable construction projects … There’s no requirement that the tax breaks be used for … expanded construction efforts; they could all go just to fatten the pockets of investors in previously planned projects …

Second, as a result of the above, Trump’s plan isn’t really a jobs plan, either. Because the plan subsidizes investors, not projects; because it funds tax breaks, not bridges; because there’s no requirement that the projects be otherwise unfunded, there is simply no guarantee that the plan will produce any net new hiring …

Buried inside the plan will be provisions to weaken prevailing wage protections on construction projects, undermining unions and ultimately eroding workers’ earnings. Environmental rules are almost certain to be gutted in the name of accelerating projects. {2}

Let’s summarize: “Trump’s plan” is “massive corporate welfare plan for contractors” and the “tax breaks” … “could all go just to fatten the pockets of investors in previously planned projects”.

Check.

“Trump’s plan isn’t really a jobs plan, either” … (and) “there is simply no guarantee that the plan will produce any net new hiring”.

Check.

Trump’s plan will probably “weaken prevailing wage protections … undermining unions and ultimately eroding workers’ earnings”.

Check.

What part of this plan looks like it will have a positive impact on the economy?

None. If Trump was serious about raising GDP to four percent (another one of his promises), he’d increase Social Security payments, beef up the food stamps program, or hire more government workers. Any one of these would trigger an immediate uptick in activity spurring more growth and a stronger economy. And while America’s ramshackle bridges and roads may be in dire need of a facelift, infrastructure is actually a poor way to inject fiscal stimulus which can be more easily distributed by simply hiring government agents to stand on street corners and hand out 100 dollar bills to passersby. That might not fill the pothole-strewn streets in downtown Duluth, but it would sure as hell would light a fire under GDP.

So what’s the gameplan here? What’s Trump really up to? If his infrastructure plan isn’t going to work, then what’s the real objective?

The objective is to allow wealthy corporations to buy public assets at firesale prices so they can turn them into profit-generating enterprises. That’s it in a nutshell. That’s why the emphasis is on “unconventional financing programs”, “public-private partnerships”, and “Build America Bonds” instead of plain-old fiscal stimulus, jobs programs and deficit spending. Trump is signaling to his pirate friends in Corporate America that he’ll use his power as executive to find new outlets for profitable investment so they have some place to stick their mountain of money.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with rebuilding America’s dilapidated infrastructure or even revving up GDP. That’s just public relations bunkum. What’s really going on is a massive looting operation organized and executed under the watchful eye of Donald Trump, Robber Baron-in-Chief.

And Infrastructure is just the tip of the iceberg. Once these kleptomaniacs hit their stride, they’re going to cut through Washington like locusts through a corn field. Bet on it.

Links:

{1] Donald Trump’s Plan to Privatize America’s Roads and Bridge

{2} https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-big-infrastructure-plan-its-a-trap/2016/11/18/5b1d109c-adae-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/15/trumps-infrastructure-boondoggle/

Categories: Uncategorized

Americans Refuge in “Matrix Of Rackets” is Failing

by Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com

Clusterfuck Nation – Blog (March 20 2017)

Zero Hedge (March 20 2017)

You might not know it, given all the ambient noise of the moment, but beyond the torments of news and propaganda there is still something called the nation. It’s more than just a political compact. Until not long ago it was also a culture, an agreed-upon set of values, practices, and customs that amounted to an identity: I’m an American. If you canvassed the crowd in Yankee Stadium one summer afternoon in 1947, I imagine each person would answer that way rather than saying I’m a wounded war veteran, I’m a WASP, I’m an oppressed housewife, I’m a negro, I’m Italian, I’m a Jew, I’m a union member, I’m a communist, I’m queer, I’m a rape victim …

These days, the hardships of history are shattering the nation and our response politically has been to take refuge in a matrix of rackets. Most of these rackets are economic, because it’s the essence of racketeering to extract the greatest benefit possible from the object of your racket at the least cost to the racketeer. In plain English, it’s an organized way of getting something for nothing. The identity politics of our time is another form of racketeering – extracting current maximum benefits on claims of mistreatment, often bygone, specious, or only imagined.

And so one of the truly existential questions of the moment is whether we’ll continue to be a nation, even geographically, and a lot of sentient observers aren’t too sure. Apparently we’re not too sure we even want to be. This is why the campaign slogan of Hillary Clinton, “Stronger Together”, rang so false when the Democratic Party worked so diligently in 2016 to construct separate identity fortifications and then declared culture war on the dwindling majority outside the ramparts. And you’re surprised that Donald Trump won the election?

Trump won by making promises that he’ll never be able to keep under the current circumstances. The main promise was to restore the standard of living enjoyed in bygone decades by former industrial workers and clerks. His promise was based on a misunderstanding of history: the notion that the industrial organization of daily life was a permanent part of the human condition. You could detect by the early 21st century that this was not so anymore. That was exactly why we tried to replace it with an economy of rackets. When there’s nothing left, a lot of people are going to try to get something for nothing, because there’s nothing else to do.

Hence, the financialization of the economy. In the 1950s, finance made up about five percent of the economy. It’s mission then was pretty simple and straightforward: to manage the accumulated wealth of the nation (capital) and then allocate it to those who proposed to generate greater wealth via new productive activities, mostly industrial, ad infinitum. It turned out that ad infinitum doesn’t work in a world of finite resources – but the ride had been so intoxicating that we couldn’t bring ourselves to believe it, and still can’t.

With industry expiring, or moving elsewhere (also temporarily), we inflated finance to nearly forty percent of the economy. The new financialization was, in effect, setting a matrix of rackets in motion. What had worked as capital management before was allowed to mutate into various forms of swindling and fraud – such as the bundling of dishonestly acquired mortgages into giant bonds and then selling them to pension funds desperate for “yield”, or the orgy of merger and acquisition in health care that turned hospitals into cash registers, or the revenue streams on derivative “plays” that amounted to bets with no possibility of ever being paid off, or the three-card-monte games of interest rate arbitrage played by central banks and their “primary dealer” concubines.

Some of what I’ve listed above may be incomprehensible to the blog reader, and that is because these rackets were crafted to be opaque and recondite. The rackets continue without regulation or prosecution because there is an unstated appreciation in government, and in the corporate board rooms, that it’s all we’ve got left. What remains of the accustomed standard of living in America is supported by wishing and fakery and all that is now coming to a climax as we steam full speed ahead into Murphy’s law: if something can go wrong, it will.

When all of America comes to realize that President Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, it will make last November’s national nervous breakdown look like a momentary case of the vapors. What can go wrong awaits in markets, banks, currencies, and the immense dark pools of counterparty obligations that amount to black holes where notions of value are sucked out of the universe. There is so much that can go wrong. And then it will. And then maybe that will prompt us back to consider being a nation again.

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/full-speed-ahead-murphys-law/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-20/americans-refuge-matrix-rackets-failing

Categories: Uncategorized

What You Can’t Be Told

Turkey and the Deep State

by Gordon Duff

New Eastern Outlook (March 18 2017)

The idea that Russia has rigged an American presidential election and that Donald Trump is a Russian spy is an interesting story but it is just that, a wild story. Problem is, that story has an author, who paid millions to blame Russia and throw America and the world into turmoil and chaos.

We will now tell that story.

Putting highly classified and actionable intelligence “out there” is high risk for a variety of reasons. To the casual reader, non-internet reality challenges the fabricated narratives so many have tied their emotional lives to, stories scripted for them to enfeeble and deter.

Without wasting time, I will tell a tale of Turkey and, in the process, pretend I am clever and disguise highly classified intelligence in hopes that understanding of what “deep state politics” really is, almost the direct opposite of what most are told, will “make a difference”. We proceed.

A few years ago we were all talking about Turkey and Erdogan as being the “New Ottoman Empire.” We were right then but stopped, we burned out the idea, ran to something else, and forgot what we had learned through hard lessons of observing Erdogan’s betrayals.

Turkey is back to the its old Ottoman self, and Ottoman Turkey had one enemy above all, that was Imperial Russia. Now the new Czar is Putin, the Imperial Russian flag is back, the Russian people are back and “in the game” and the old rivalries are alive and well.

The story all really begins, or at least this part of it, with the conquest of Ukraine by ultra-nationalists, part of the now obvious populist revolt in both America and Europe. When we look at Gert Wilders in Netherlands, or the junta in Poland or Nigel Farage’s Britain, we are seeing intelligence agencies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, orchestrating the collapse of Nato and the EU, and the creation of a disinterested America.

This is buying power on the cheap, cheap politicians, cheap populist ideas, all on the make, on the take, long personal histories of looking out for “number one”, corruption, selfishness and lying.

Yes, we have described Donald Trump as well.

First we need to understand the real power of lobbying in Washington. Turkey went into Washington in a big way in 1915, yes a century ago, when the slaughter of the Armenian people threatened to bring an America ready to fight Germany into a war with Ottoman Turkey as well.

Turkey bought newspapers, politicians and anyone with a price tag on them in Washington DC, and has kept that up until even now. Activist and author Sibel Edmonds knows this well as a former FBI translator. She stumbled on the massive Turkish spy rings in Washington and was silenced by the Bush administration for years.

Similarly, Vermont’s Gwyneth Todd, former National Security Council member and White House advisor on Turkey tells a similar tale. Turkey is powerful in Washington and when many talk about “the lobby”, it isn’t Israel but Turkey or maybe Saudi Arabia.

This is where we enter new “high risk” territory. We now have reason to believe that the overthrow of Ukraine, combined with the populist or “neo-Nazi” movements across Europe were funded by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

What we have learned is this: those attempts to blame George Soros or Hillary Clinton for the Kiev military coup were financed by Turkish and Saudi intelligence, working through their network of agents, some within government, some within security agencies and the “owned” fake news media. Working with Turkey on this project was Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp aided by Breitbart and a bevy of Washington think tanks, all paid by the Turkish spy agencies as well.

During the second week of March 2016, TV personality Sean Hannity made an “emergency appeal” to President Trump on the Fox network. He demanded that Trump fire all US attorney’s left over from the Obama presidency even those such as Preet Bharara, who Trump had asked to stay on.

We now learn that Bharara was investigating Fox News and was ready to issue an indictment against Sean Hannity for working for the Turkish government as a foreign agent.

It goes further, dangerously further. This is what we learned. We have been told by high level informants within the Washington intelligence community that, under President Obama, Turkey “bought their way into” America’s intelligence system.

Only two weeks ago, we learned that former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, fired for “talking to Russia and lying about it”, had actually been working for Turkey. Flynn and his son, just registered as Turkish agents, admitting they worked for Turkey all along, and were paid $530,000.

We now learn more. Flynn and his son were responsible, working with Sean Hannity of Fox News, for a vast plan of deception and propaganda on behalf of Turkey to blame the Russian government for rigging the American presidential election.

We now know that much of the corruption accusations against Hillary Clinton were created as part of a subterfuge for two reasons:

1. To blame Hillary Clinton and George Soros for Turkey’s destabilization of Ukraine and their role in staging the coup, aided by Saudi Arabia and ultra-nationalist forces in Poland that hate Russia. They were going to take Crimea, cut Russia out of the Black Sea and cripple Russia’s defense industries, dependent on Ukrainian components.

2. To put Donald Trump in office with his long partnership with anti-Russian oligarchs and his participation in Turkish run sexual blackmail schemes run by Jeffrey Epstein, which yielded a wealth of power and influence over governments, media and financial institutions.

 

 

Background

 

 

Turkey saw its opening after 9/11. The Bush administration, partnering with oil barons like Tillerson at Exxon, now Secretary of State under Trump, if you can believe it, sought to not just control Middle East oil but steal billions in oil and, combined with their newfound heroin franchise in Afghanistan and $3 trillion stolen from the US Department of Defense, to finance a “new world order”.

While the Bush amateurs stumbled around, getting advice from Israel’s Netanyahu, who played them like a cheap fiddle, Turkey moved in. Turkey made billions on their cut from stolen Kirkuk oil from Iraq and billions more on Afghan opium as well. Turkey had always been the heroin processing center of the world. Afghanistan took that over for a while, though Turkey had grown fat in the interim processing CIA opium from Afghanistan. Now Turkey is back in the saddle, while heroin processors in Afghanistan are being dismembered, a failed CIA franchise, now back home in Turkey.

This money and power brought Turkey to the forefront, their membership in Nato gave them position, their denial of membership in the EU made them resentful and made them want revenge.

Turkey had long been allied with Israel, enjoying Israel’s military technology and a common interest that dated back to as early as 1376, when Jews fled Hungary long prior to the Turks taking Constantinople.

Ottoman Turkey was always run by Jews and was important to the survival of the Jewish people. That friendship continues covertly as does the Israeli partnership with Saudi Arabia, but no longer tied to survival for the Jewish people but rather to promote chaos, support terrorism and, above all, destroy Russia.

Where Bolshevik Russia was a home to Jews, despite Western propaganda to the contrary, the new Russia is a strongly Christian state and though Jews are not persecuted, the Christian religion is the official religion of Russia and is promoted by the state and its leaders. Above all, President Putin is a devout Christian.

Thus, we have Turkey now active in Kosovo, training their newly “Nato authorized” standing army, Turkey is in Macedonia, practically running that nation as well and using it to destabilize Greece and Turkey is in Ukraine, working with ultra-nationalists, planning war on Crimea and Donbass.

Turkey is also busy in the French and Dutch elections, funding ultra-nationalists or “populists” there while preparing to unleash a new mass exodus of refugees.

All the while carefully orchestrated terror attacks go on and we can only guess who is behind those attacks at shopping malls, school shootings, suicide bombings, the telltale story of Saudi Wahhbists beliefs and their participation in Turkey’s move into Europe.

Back in the US, we take the clock to 2013. General Michael Flynn took over the Defense Intelligence Agency (“DIA”) in 2012 under President Obama. By 2014, Director of National Intelligence James R Clapper Jr asked for Flynn’s resignation. At the time few knew why.

We believe Flynn was discovered to be working for Turkey even then. It wasn’t just the DIA, the Turks had bought their way into the CIA as well and just perhaps everyplace else as well. This is Washington where the only honest workers are the prostitutes.

The huge covert program to arm Ukraine turned into something else. Partners in Ukraine grew rich transshipping new American weapons systems to ISIS and al Nusra in Syria, offloading from Romania or at Poti, in Georgia, and trucking across Turkey into Syria.

The reverse trade brought oil into Turkey, truckloads of antiquities for the auction houses of Europe and thousands of trafficked women and children. Turkey looted Syria; factories, banks, everything they could move or unbolt, everything they could dig up or harvest, all was stolen and all is still being stolen.

Helping them then, helping ISIS, helping al Nusra, aided by Saudi cash and the Turkish state was the CIA, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, aided by rogue officers in the Pentagon.

When Iraq tells of US helicopters supplying ISIS or of ISIS leaders being evacuated, is it the CIA or General Flynn’s organizations doing it? Was Flynn on the Turkish payroll in 2012 and if they bought Flynn, who else did they get as well?

When Flynn visited Moscow in 2015 and attended the Russia Today gala, where Flynn told his hosts how he would stand by Russia, how he supported them in Syria, how many knew that he was on the payroll of Turkish intelligence?

How many understand history is repeating itself?

_____

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War who has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/18/what-you-can-t-be-told-turkey-and-the-deep-state/

Categories: Uncategorized

Asian Collision Course

Too late for Trump to try to contain China

Donald Trump challenged the One China policy, but soon backed off. He wants concessions from China on trade and security, and he might even attempt to impede China’s global ascent.

by Philip S Golub

Le Monde diplomatique (March 2017)


Fishermen near the Scarborough Shoal, in waters assigned to the Philippines, with a Chinese coastguard ship on the horizon
Asahi Shimbun · Getty

Since the end of the US presidential campaign, Donald Trump and his team of advisers have made statements showing they seek to alter world politics in significant ways. None are quite as important, for world peace and global stability, as the adversarial pronouncements about the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) that are now upsetting bilateral relations and generating turbulence in East Asia. While not yet formalised in a coherent policy framework, official and semi-official discourses point to sharpening rivalry, and possibly to an unfolding, and risky, containment effort.

At the economic level, the new administration is considering designating China a “currency manipulator” for the first time since 1994, and is proposing punitive tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese-sourced imports. At the strategic level, prominent figures in or close to the new administration have been sending unusually unambiguous messages that the US will use force if necessary to curb China’s growing power and reach in East Asia and the Pacific. In confirmation hearings on 11 January, secretary of state designate Rex Tillerson warned that the US would interdict Chinese naval forces in the South China Seas: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to these islands also is not going to be allowed”. It would be a “danger to the global economy” if China were to “dictate access to the waterway” {1}. A few days later, Newt Gingrich, former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives (1995~1999) and confidant of Donald Trump, told the German weekly Der Spiegel, “Well, frankly, on the South China Sea, I suspect we will try to communicate with the Chinese that they are not going to become the leading naval power in our lifetime” {2}.

Concerns about the “China Threat”

On 11 December, Trump had threatened to overturn the basic framework of Sino-American relations since the late 1970s by publicly questioning the One China policy: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade” {3}. He has since reversed on this crucially sensitive issue, which the PRC sees as a core question of sovereignty, telling Chinese president Xi Jinping on 9 February that he would “honour our One China policy”.

Even so, this cluster of statements cannot be taken lightly: they reflect widely shared views in nationalist power circles about the “China threat”. At best, they can be interpreted as opening moves in a coercive diplomatic effort to extract concessions from China on trade and security; at worst, as the first articulation of an emerging strategic programme to inhibit China’s ascent. In either case, implementation would mark a significant and destabilising policy shift.

Since the late 1970s, when the US recognised the PRC, US behaviour towards China has been fairly consistent. Despite frictions over monetary and trade policy, and one symbolic, potentially serious, test of strength during the 1995~1996 “Taiwan Strait crisis”, the primary thrust of US policy has been to incorporate China into the systems of the US-led international order, and the institutional and market disciplines of the world capitalist economy. Successive US administrations thought that they could do this from a position of strength, creating the frameworks for China’s economic and political paths.

Conversely, the PRC demonstrated restraint, seen in cautious voting behaviour at the UN Security Council (from 1971 to 2006 the PRC used its veto power only twice) and in the subordination of strategic issues to the paramount aim of state capitalist transformation and global economic integration. More aggressive Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea in recent years suggests this might not last: rising nationalism, which has gone hand in hand with growing wealth and power, could prevail in China, as in the US. Nonetheless, current Chinese discourse – notably Xi Jinping’s Davos speech to the World Economic Forum on 17 January, which stressed the importance of global economic interdependence – points to continuity, at least for the moment.

The main change has come from the US. The nationalist ideologues and economic neo-mercantilists now in charge in Washington read world politics as a zero-sum game in which states seek relative gains in a competitive struggle for power, prestige and profit. They consider the PRC a major economic threat and a formidable strategic challenge. They aim to “aggressively and comprehensively address the China problem”, according to Peter Navarro, head of the new National Trade Council and author of inflammatory books {4}.

China Cannot Rise Peacefully

International relations theorist John Mearsheimer has offered the clearest argument in favour of containment. Starting from the assumption that interstate anarchy generates inescapable pressures for conflict, he argues that “China cannot rise peacefully” since it would “fundamentally alter the architecture of the international system”. “If China continues to grow economically”, he wrote in 2001, “it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the western hemisphere”. In response, the “United States … will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony”, leading to an “intense security competition … with considerable potential for war” {5}.

There is a thin, porous line between analysis and prescription in Mearsheimer’s work. He expressed astonishment not long ago about “Americans and people in allied states who profess wanting to see China grow economically”. At a small gathering in Washington DC in 2014, he said he hoped the Chinese economy would “falter or collapse”, thus removing “a potentially enormous threat to the US and its allies”. Were China to “reach a GDP per capita that is comparable to Taiwan or Hong Kong today, it would be a greater potential threat to the United States than anything America has previously dealt with” {6}.

Most recently, he has urged the Trump administration “to go to great lengths to prevent China from becoming a regional hegemon” by actively leading a containment effort:

 

 

Ideally, Washington would rely on countries in Asia to contain China, but that strategy will not work. Not only is China likely to be far more powerful than its neighbours, but also they are located far from each other, making it difficult for them to coordinate those efforts to form an effective balancing coalition. The United States will have to coordinate these efforts and throw its considerable weight behind them … The fact that no country threatens to dominate Europe or the Gulf is a blessing, as it not only allows Washington to concentrate its military forces in Asia, but also allows American policy makers to concentrate their strategic thinking on how to prevent China from becoming a peer competitor. That mission should be of paramount importance for the United States in the years ahead. {7}

 

 


In harm’s way: Chinese aircraft carrier fleet on training exercises in the South China Sea
VCG · Getty

Short of war, however, that mission seems unattainable. The regional and global conditions for containment are not in place. First, it would not be acceptable to most East Asian states. Many countries in the region do fear an overbearing China and have expressed serious concerns in recent years over the PRC’s suzerainty claims in the South China Sea. However, being fated to live forever in the PRC’s neighbourhood, they do not want to be enmeshed in a great power rivalry that would threaten regional stability. All regional states have enormous stakes in China’s “peaceful rise”. The PRC has become the gravitational centre of regional economic integration and currently accounts for nearly forty percent of Taiwanese trade, 21% of South Korean trade (more than Korean trade with the US and Japan combined), fourteen percent of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) trade, and even twenty percent of Japanese trade.

In private, ASEAN diplomats now express greater concern about US intentions than about China’s. Some have been working behind the scenes to get the PRC to sign a “code of conduct” over the South China Sea. They include states that have their own territorial claims, such as Vietnam, which retains close if sometimes tense relations with the Chinese party-state, and the Philippines.

If China does not severely overreach in Southeast Asia in the near future, a regional anti-PRC coalition will not come into being. A Chinese official noted in 2012 that some Asian countries “share the same bed [as the US] but have different dreams”. A pro-Chinese coalition is not very likely either. Few East Asian states that now share China’s bed also share Xi Jinping’s China dream: the PRC’s appeals to “Asianness”, based on cultural proximities and shared historical experiences of European empire, have limited purchase in the region – despite a common allergy to universalising western discourses. Most East Asian states are seeking balance – as weaker states in the uncomfortable proximity of great powers are wont to do – to preserve some autonomy in the face of both Asian-Pacific giants. The last thing they want is to be forced to choose sides.

Also, containment would run counter to the interests of a constellation of transnational economic actors, including parts of US capital; these are deeply invested in China, and dependent on its role as a platform of production and assembly in the global production and value chains that make the world economy work [8]. Until Trump, the geopolitical logic of state power had not come into contradiction with transnational economic interests, which now weigh heavily in overall strategic calculations.

The Hot Cold War

That has now changed, at least for the moment. Containment of the Soviet Union worked during the cold war (which was often hot in East Asia and other colonial and postcolonial peripheries), insofar as the US built tight alliances and interdependencies – belts of security and prosperity that surrounded the USSR and were characterised by the convergence of public and private actors around a relatively unified agenda.

After the second world war the US aimed to restore the world capitalist economy, to contain the USSR and inhibit revolution in colonial and postcolonial world regions, as well as in Europe where communist parties claimed mass support. These aims were shared overall by dominant European and East Asian anti-communist social forces, which developed deep and lasting economic and security links with the US.

In Europe, this led to institutionalised cooperation based on converging general interests (see https://mondediplo.com/2017/03/02brexit). Nato was underpinned by an expanding and increasingly interdependent transatlantic economy. In East Asia, bilateral security alliances went along with US support for strong (read authoritarian), successful capitalist developing states, which were initially given unrestricted US market access and became subordinate but willing partners in the global containment effort.

The major business actors had powerful vested interests in this global system, which kept the Soviet Union caged in a closed economic area (Comecon) and limited international economic relationships. New York and Washington became the gravitational centre for the constellation of private economic actors that, over time, became the transnational constituency of Pax Americana.

Where China is concerned, there is no such common purpose today among public or private actors, either in East Asia or in Europe, which is now anxiously looking at the authoritarian Far East to moderate the newly bellicose Far West. Transnational capital paradoxically and unexpectedly has become more aligned with China than with the current purposes of the US state. Unlike the Soviet Union, China has become an indispensable hub of the world capitalist economy.

Chinese State is not about to Collapse

The last reason why containment cannot work is that China is not in the same political or economic position as the Soviet Union in the late 1970s or 1980s, when industrial decline, overall economic stagnation and a failed overseas war combined to generate a systemic crisis. China has seventeen percent of world GDP today in purchasing power parity (“PPP”), and while economic and social strains could well generate setbacks, the state is not about to collapse. There are serious questions about the longer-range sustainability of the current sociopolitical order, and of its environmentally damaging, externally driven growth logic. But the state has proved resilient over long periods.

Ironically, by threatening trade sanctions and pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), the US administration may ultimately help the PRC gain greater autonomy. While higher tariffs would hurt its economy in the short run, they will spur the turn to endogenous growth that the Chinese leadership has been aiming for since the 2000s, reducing reliance on exports and helping to build more cohesive national and regional markets.

It is too late for the US to contain China, if indeed containment was ever possible. In 1965, when China was in a far weaker economic and strategic position, the scholar Hans Morgenthau argued that containment would fail, leaving US policymakers only two options, accommodation or general war:

 

 

Even if China were threatening her neighbours primarily by military means, it would be impossible to contain her by erecting a military wall at the periphery of her empire. For China is, even in her present underdeveloped state, the dominant power in Asia. The United States can no more contain Chinese influence in Asia … than China could contain American influence in the western hemisphere … If we are convinced that we cannot live with a China predominant in the heartland of Asia, then we must strike at the heart of Chinese power … To be defeated China has to be conquered … If we do not want to set ourselves goals which cannot be attained with the means we are willing to employ, we must learn to accommodate ourselves to the predominance of China on the Asian mainland. {9}

 

 

“Strategic Arrogance beyond America’s Strength”

International politics is reflexive. US sovereignists read China as a revisionist emerging power, purposefully aiming, beneath a deceptive discourse of interdependence, to alter the regional and global status quo. And many Chinese analysts view the US as an “aggressive, ambitious, self-righteous and highly militarised Rome” {10}. The Chinese leadership, which had already manifested concerns over the Obama administration’s announced pivot towards East Asia, has reacted cautiously to Trump administration pronouncements. But publications thought to reflect the power centres in Beijing have been quick to denounce Trump as showing “strategic arrogance that is beyond America’s strength”.

On 16 January the Global Times wrote that “China (had) to be quick in preparing for sharp provocations from the Trump administration” by improving its “ties with other countries so as to have more leverage in its game with the US”, and also by “preparing for the worst-case scenario” {11}. A few days earlier, China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailed through the first island chain in the East China Sea, accompanied for the first time by six H-6 long range bombers, signalling in the words of another Global Times piece, that the “PLA’s navy exercises in the West Pacific Ocean are entering into a normalisation state … The breakthrough, however, is considered as just the beginning stage of the PLA navy’s sea operation in the region as more fleets of battleships led by carriers will sail into waters near and far in the future” {12}.

The US and China seem set to test each other, with the growing risk of a clash between US or PRC naval and air forces in the South China or East China Seas, and the possibility of chain reactions leading to a major historical accident. There are other pathways. The PRC could choose a policy of strategic restraint and use the widespread aversion caused by Trump administration behaviour to make political gains in Asia and beyond. Or the US could back off from its confrontational course. Events and actor choices will inform us soon whether we are experiencing a historic reversal from limited but real transnational interdependence back to 19th century national power politics.

Notes:

(1) Michael Forsythe, “Rex Tillerson’s South China Sea Remarks Foreshadow Possible Foreign Policy Crisis”, The New York Times (January 12 2017).

(2) Interview of Newt Gingrich by Gordon Repinksi in Der Spiegel International (January 16 2017).

(3) Donald Trump interview on Fox News (December 11 2016).

(4) Peter Navarro, The Coming China Wars (2006); Death by China: Confronting the Dragon (2011); and Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World (2015).

(5) John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001).

(6) Quoted in Zachary Keck, “US-China rivalry more dangerous than Cold War”, The Diplomat (January 28 2014).

(7) John Mearsheimer,”‘Donald Trump should Embrace a Realist Foreign Policy”, The National Interest (November 27 2016).

(8) For an analysis of China’s insertion in global value chains see Philip Golub, East Asia’s Reemergence (2016), Chapter 5.

(9) Quoted in Philip Golub, op cit, page 146.

(10) Lanxin Xiang, quoted in Golub, op cit, page 142.

(11) “Will Trump Rewrite US’ Europe Policy?”, Global Times (January 16 2017).

(12) “China’s aircraft carrier poised to sail further”, Global Times (January 15 2017).

_____

Philip S Golub is professor of international relations at the American University of Paris (“AUP”) and the author of East Asia’s Reemergence (2016).

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https://mondediplo.com/2017/03/08us-china

 

Categories: Uncategorized