The End of the “Wars on the Cheap” …

… for the United States

by The Saker

http://www.unz.com (August 04 2017)


shutterstock_596417738

With the Neocon coup against Trump now completed (at least in its main objective, that is the neutralization of Trump, the subsidiary objective, impeaching Trump and removing him from office remains something for the future) the world has to deal, yet again, with a very dangerous situation: the AngloZionist Empire is on a rapid decline, but the Neocons are back in power and they will do anything and everything in their power to stop and reverse this trend. It is also painfully obvious from their rhetoric, as well as from their past actions, that the only “solution” the Neocons see is to trigger some kind of war. So the pressing question now becomes this: “where will the Empire strike next?”. Will it be the DPRK or Syria? Iran or Venezuela? In the Ukraine, maybe? Or do the Neocons seek war with Russia or China?

Now, of course, if we assume that the Neocons are completely crazy, then everything is possible, from a US invasion of Lesotho to a simultaneous thermonuclear attack on Russia and China. I am in no way dismissing the insanity (and depravity) of the Neocons, but I also see no point in analyzing that which is clearly irrational, if only because all modern theories of deterrence always imply a “rational actor” and not a crazy lunatic on a suicidal amok run. For our purposes, therefore, we will assume that there is a semblance of rational thinking left in Washington DC and that even if the Neocons decide to launch some clearly crazy operation, somebody in the top levels of power will find the courage prevent this, just like Admiral Fallon did it with his “not on my watch!” {1} which possibly prevented a US attack on Iran in 2007). So, assuming a modicum of rationality is still involved, where would the Empire strike next?

The Ideal Scenario

We all by now know exactly what the Empire likes to do: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and militarily intervene in “defense” of “democracy”, “freedom” and “self-determination” (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts). But that is only the “political recipe”. What I want to look into is what I call “the American way of war”, that is the way US commanders like to fight.

During the Cold War, most of the US force planning, procurement, doctrine, and training was focused on fighting a large conventional war against the Soviet Union and it was clearly understood that this conventional war could escalate into a nuclear war. Setting aside the nuclear aspect for a while (it is not relevant to our discussion), I would characterize the conventional dimension of such a war as “heavy”: centered on large formations (divisions, brigades), involving a lot of armor and artillery, this kind of warfare would involve immense logistical efforts on both sides and that, in turn, would involve deep-strikes on second echelon forces, supply dumps, strategic axes of communications (roads, railways, bridges, et cetera) and a defense in depth in key sectors. The battlefield would be huge, hundreds of kilometers away on both sides of the Forward Edge of Battle Area (“FEBA” or “front line”). On all levels, tactical, operational and strategic, defenses would be prepared in two, possibly three, echelons. To give you an idea of the distances involved, the Soviet 2nd strategic echelon in Europe was deployed as far back as the Ukraine! (this is why, by the way, the Ukraine inherited huge ammunition dumps from the Soviet Union, and why there never was a shortage of weapons on any side for the conduct of the Ukrainian civil war).

With the collapse of the Soviet Union’s Empire, this entire threat disappeared, if not overnight, then almost overnight. Of course, the Gulf War provided the US armed forces and Nato one last, but big, “goodbye party” (against an enemy which had absolutely no chance to prevail), but soon thereafter it became pretty clear to US strategists that the “heavy war” was over and that armored brigades might not be the most useful war-fighting tool in the US arsenal.

This is when US strategists, mostly from Special Operation Forces, developed what I like to call “war on the cheap”. It works something like this: first, get the CIA to fund, arm, and train some local insurgents (if needed, bring some from abroad); next embed US Special Forces with these local insurgents and provide them with forward air controllers (“FACs”), frontline soldiers specially trained to direct close support fixed and rotary wing aircraft to strike at enemy forces in direct contact with US and “friendlies”; finally, deploy enough aircraft in and around the combat zone (on aircraft carriers, in neighboring countries, or even on seized local airstrips) to support combat operations day and night. The key notion is simple: provide the friendly insurgents with an overwhelming advantage in firepower. You have all seen this on YouTube: US and “coalition” forces advance until they get into a firefight and, unless they rapidly prevail, they call in an airstrike which results into a huge BOOM followed by cheering Americans and friendlies and the total disappearance of the attackers. Repeat that enough times, and you get an easy, cheap, and rapid victory over a completely outgunned enemy. This basic approach can be enhanced by various “supplements” such as providing the insurgents with better gear (anti-tank weapons, night vision, communications, et cetera) and bringing in some US or allied forces, including mercenaries, to take care of the really tough targets.

While many in the US armed forces were deeply skeptical of this new approach, the dominance of the Special Forces types and the success, at least temporarily, of this “war on the cheap” in Afghanistan made it immensely popular with US politicians and propagandists. Best of all, this type of warfare resulted in very few casualties for the Americans and even provided them with a high degree of “plausible deniability” should something go wrong. Of course, the various three letter spooks loved it too.

What so many failed to realize in the early euphoria about US invincibility was that this “war on the cheap” made three very risky assumptions:

First and foremost, it relied on a deeply demoralized enemy who felt that, like in the series “Star Trek”, resistance to the Borg (aka the USA) was futile because even if the actual US forces deployed were limited in size and capabilities, the Americans would, no doubt, bring in more and more forces if needed, until the opposition was crushed.

Second, this type of warfare assumes that the US can get air superiority over the entire battlefield. Americans do not like to provide close air support when they can be shot down by enemy aircraft or missiles.

Third, this type of warfare requires the presence of local insurgents who can be used as “boots on the ground” to actually occupy and control territory. We will now see that all three of these assumptions are not necessarily true or, to put it even better, that the AngloZionists have run out of countries in which these assumptions still apply. Let’s take them one by one.

Hezbollah, Lebanon 2006

Okay, this war did not officially involve the USA, true, but it did involve Israel, which is more or less the same, at least for our purposes. While it is true that superior Hezbollah tactics and preparation of the battlefield did play an important role, and while it is undeniable that Russian anti-tank weapons gave Hezbollah the capability to attack and destroy even the most advanced Israeli tanks, the single most important development of this war was that for the first time in the Middle-East a rather small and comparatively weak Arab force showed no fear whatsoever when confronted with the putatively “invincible Tshahal”. The British reporter Robert Fisk was the first person to detect this immense change and its tremendous implications:

You heard Sharon before he suffered his massive stroke, he used this phrase in the Knesset, you know, “The Palestinians must feel pain”. This was during one of the intifadas. The idea that if you continue to beat and beat and beat the Arabs, they will submit, that eventually they’ll go on their knees and give you what you want. And this is totally, utterly self-delusional, because it doesn’t apply anymore. It used to apply thirty years ago, when I first arrived in the Middle East. If the Israelis crossed the Lebanese border, the Palestinians jumped in their cars and drove to Beirut and went to the cinema. Now when the Israelis cross the Lebanese border, the Hezbollah jump in their cars in Beirut and race to the south to join battle with them. But the key thing now is that Arabs are not afraid any more. Their leaders are afraid, the Mubaraks of this world, the president of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan. They’re afraid. They shake and tremble in their golden mosques, because they were supported by us. But the people are no longer afraid. (emphasis added) {2}

 

This is absolutely huge and what the “Divine Victory” of the Party of God first achieved in 2006 is now repeated in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, and elsewhere. The fear of the “sole superpower” is finally gone, replaced by a burning desire to settle an infinite list of scores with the AngloZionists and their occupation forces.

Hezbollah also proved another very important thing: the winning strategy when faced with a superior enemy is not to try to protect yourself against his attacks, but to deny him a lucrative target. Put simply: “a camo tent is better than a bunker” or, if you prefer “if they can spot you, they can kill you”. The more academic way to put it would be this: “don’t contest your enemy’s superiority – make it irrelevant”.

Looking back it is quite obvious that one of the most formidable weapons in the AngloZionist arsenal was not the nuclear bomb or the aircraft carrier, but a propaganda machine which for decades successfully convinced millions of people around the globe that the US was invincible: the US had the best weapons, the best-trained soldiers, the most advanced tactics, et cetera. Turns out this is total nonsense – the US military in the real world was nothing like its propaganda-world counterpart: when is the last time the US actually won a war against an adversary capable of meaningful resistance? The Pacific in World War Two?

 

 

SIDEBAR: I chose the example of Hezbollah in 2006 not to illustrate the collapse of the “scared into surrender” paradigm, but to illustrate the “don’t contest your enemy’s superiority – make it irrelevant”. The better, and earlier, example would be Kosovo in 1998~1999 when a huge operation involved the entire Nato air forces which lasted for 78 days (the Israeli aggression against Lebanon lasted only 33 days) resulted in exactly nothing: a few destroyed armored personnel carriers (“APCs”), a few old aircraft destroyed on the ground, and a Serbian Army Corps which was unscathed, but which Milosevic ordered to withdraw for personal, political reasons. The Serbs were the first ones to prove this “target denial” strategy as viable even against an adversary with advanced intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities.

 

 

Russians Task Force, Syria 2015

I have always insisted that the Russian operation in Syria was not a case of “the Russians are coming” or “the war is over”. The reality is that the Russians sent is a very small force and that this force did not so much defeat Daesh as it changed the fundamental character of the political context of the war: simply put – by going in the Russians not only made it much harder politically for the Americans to intervene, they also denied them the ability to use their favorite “war on the cheap” against the Syrians.

When the Russians first deployed their task force to Syria they did not bring with them anywhere near the kind of capabilities which would deny the Americans the use of the Syrian air space. Even after the shooting down of the Russian SU-24 by the Turks, the Russians only deployed enough air-defenses and air superiority fighters to protect themselves from a similar attack by the Turks. Even today, as I write these words, if the USAF or USN decided to take control of the Syrian airspace they could undoubtedly do it simply because in purely numerical terms the Russians still do not have enough air defenses or, even less so, combat aircraft, to deny the Syrian airspace to the Americans. Oh sure, such a US attack would come at a very real costs for the Americans, both militarily and politically, but anybody who really believes that the tiny Russian air contingent of 33 combat aircraft (of which only nineteen can actually contest the Syrian airspace: four SU-30, six SU-34, nine Su-27) and an unknown number of S-300/S-400/S-1 Pantsir batteries can actually defeat the combined air power of CENTCOM and Nato is delusional to the extreme or simply does not understand modern warfare.

The problem for the Americans is formed by a matrix of risks which, of course, includes Russian military capabilities, but also includes the political risks of establishing a no-fly zone over Syria. Not only would such a move be another major escalation in the already totally illegal US intervention in this war, but it would require a sustained effort to suppress the Syrian (and, potentially, Russian) air defenses and that is something the White House is not willing to do right now, especially when it remains completely unclear what such a risky operation would achieve. As a result, the American did strike here and there, just like the Israelis, but in reality, their efforts are pretty much useless.

Even worse is the fact that the Russians are now turning the tables on the Americans and providing the Syrian forces with FACs and close air support, especially in key areas. The Russians have also deployed artillery controllers and heavy artillery systems, including multiple-rocket launchers and heavy flamethrowers, which are all giving the firepower advantage to the government forces. Paradoxically, it is the Russians who are now fighting a “war on the cheap” while denying this options to the Americans and their allies.

Good terrorists, aka “FSA”, Syria 2017

The main weakness of the Free Syrian Army (“FSA”) is that it does not really exist, at least not on the ground. Oh sure, there are plenty of FSA Syrian exiles in Turkey and elsewhere, there are also plenty of Daesh/al-Qaeda types who try hard to look like an FSA to the likes of John McCain, and there are a few scattered armed groups here and there in Syria who would like to be “the FSA”. But in reality, this was always an abstraction, a purely political concept. This virtual FSA could provide many useful things to the Americans, a narrative for the propaganda machine, a pious pretext to send in the CIA, a small fig leaf to conceal the fact that Uncle Sam was in bed with al-Qaeda and Daesh, and a political ideal to try to unify the world against Assad and the Syrian government. But what the FSA could never provide, was “boots on the ground”. Everybody else had them: Daesh and al-Qaeda for sure, but also the Syrians, the Iranians and Hezbollah and, of course, the Turks and the Kurds. But since the Takfiris were officially the enemy of the USA, the US was limited in the scope and nature of the support given to these Wahabi crazies. The Syrians, the Iranians, and Hezbollah were demonized and so it was impossible to work with them. That left the Turks, who had terrible relations with the USA, especially after the US-backed coup against Erdogan, and the Kurds who were not too eager to fight and die deep inside Iraq and whose every move was observed with a great deal of hostility by Ankara. As the war progressed the terrible reality finally hit the Americans: they had no “boots on the ground” to embed their Special Ops with or to support.

The best illustration of this reality is the latest American debacle in the al-Tanf region near the Jordanian border. The Americans, backed by the Jordanians, quietly invaded this mostly empty part of the Syrian desert with the hope of cutting off the lines of communications between the Syrians and the Iraqis. Instead, what happened was that the Syrians cut the Americans off and reached the border first, thereby making the American presence simply useless {1}, {2}. It appears that the Americans have now given up, at least temporarily, on al-Tanf, and that US forces will be withdrawn and redeployed elsewhere in Syria.

So Who is Next – Venezuela?

A quick look back in history shows us that the Americans have always had problems with their local “allies” (that is, puppets). Some were pretty good (South Koreans), others much less so (Contras), but all in all each US use of local forces comes with an inherent risk: the locals often have their own, sometimes very different, agenda and they soon come to realize that if they depend on the Americans, the Americans also depend on them. Add to this the well-known fact that Americans are not exactly known for their, shall we say, “multi-cultural sensitivity and expertise” (just see how few of them even know the local language!) and you will see why US intelligence usually becomes aware of this problem by the time it is way too late to fix it (no amount of fancy technology can be substituted for solid, expert human intelligence). The reality is that Americans are typically clueless about the environment they operate in. The US debacle in Syria (or in Libya or the Ukraine, for that matter) is an excellent illustration of this.

Now that we have identified some of the doctrinal and operational weaknesses of the US “war on the cheap” approach, let’s apply them to a list of potential target countries:

Assumption Demoralized enemy Air superiority Boots on the ground
North Korea ? Yes No
Syria No No No
Iran No Yes No
Venezuela ? Yes Yes?
Russia No No No
The Ukraine No No Yes
China No No No

Notes: “demoralized enemy” and “air superiority” are my best guesstimate, I might be wrong; “boots on the ground” refers to a indigenous and combat capable force already inside the country (as opposed to a foreign intervention) capable of seizing and holding ground, and not just some small insurgent group or a political opposition.

If my estimates are correct, then the only candidate for a US intervention would be Venezuela. However, what is missing here is the time factor: a US intervention, to be successful, would require a realistic exit strategy (the US is already overextended and the very last thing the Empire needs would be getting bogged down in another useless and unwinnable war a la Afghanistan. Also, while I gave the Venezuelan opposition a tentative “yes” for its ability to play the “boots on the ground” role (especially if backed by Colombia), I am not at all sure that the pro-American forces in Venezuela have anywhere near the capabilities of the regular armed forces (which, I believe, would oppose a US invasion) or the various Leftist guerrilla groups who tolerated the Chavez-Maduro rule but who have kept their weapons “just in case”. Furthermore, there is the issue of terrain. While Caracas might be easy to seize in an optimistic scenario, the rest of the country would be difficult and dangerous to try to operate in. Finally, there is the issue of staying power: while Americans like quick victories, Latin American guerrillas have already proven many times over that they can fight for decades. For all these reasons, while I do think that the US is capable of intervening in Venezuela and messing it up beyond all recognition, I don’t see the US as capable of imposing a new regime in power and imposing their control over the country.

Conclusion – Afghanistan 2001~2017

Afghanistan is often called the “graveyard of Empires”. I am not so sure that Afghanistan will ever become the graveyard of the AngloZionist Empire, but I do think that Afghanistan will become the graveyard of the “war on the cheap” doctrine, which is paradoxical since Afghanistan was also the place where this doctrine was first applied with what initially appeared to be a tremendous success. We all remember the US Special Forces, often on horseback, directing B-52 air strikes against rapidly retreating Afghan government forces. Sixteen years later, the Afghan war has dramatically changed and US forces are constantly fighting a war in which ninety percent of the casualties come from IEDs, where all the efforts at some kind of political settlement have miserably failed and where both victory and withdrawal appear as completely impossible. The fact that now the US propaganda machines have accused Russia of “arming the Taliban” {5} is a powerful illustration of how desperate the AngloZionists are. Eventually, of course, the Americans will have to leave, totally defeated, but for the time being all they are willing to admit is that they are “not winning” {6}(no kidding!).

The US dilemma is simple: the Cold War is long over, and so is the Post Cold War, and a complete reform of the US armed forces is clear long overdue and yet also politically impossible. Right now the US armed forces are the bizarre result of the Cold War, the “war on the cheap” years and of failed military interventions. In theory, the US should begin by deciding on a new national security strategy, then develop a military strategy in support of this national security strategy, followed by the development of a military doctrine which itself would then produce a force modernization plan which would affect all aspects of military reform from training to force planning to deployment. It took the Russians over a decade to do this, including a lot of false starts and mistakes, and it will take the Americans at least as long, or even more. Right now even the decision to embark on such a far reaching reform seems to be years away. For the time being, garden variety propaganda (“we’re number one, second to none!!”) and deep denial seem to be the order of the day. Just as in Russia, it will probably take a truly catastrophic embarrassment (like the first Russian war in Chechnya) to force the US military establishment to look reality in the eye and to actually act on it. But until that happens, the ability of US forces to impose their domination on those countries which refuse to surrender to various threats and sanctions will continue to degrade.

So is Venezuela next? I hope not. In fact, I think not. But if it is, it will be one hell of a mess with much destroyed and precious little achieved. The AngloZionists have been punching above their real weight for decades now and the world is beginning to realize this. Prevailing against Iran or the DPRK is clearly beyond the actual US military capabilities. As for attacking Russia or China – that would be suicidal. Which leaves the Ukraine. I suppose the US might send some weapons to the junta in Kiev and organize some training camps in the western Ukraine. But that’s about it. None of that will make any real difference anyway (except aggravating the Russians even more, of course).

The era of “wars on the cheap” is over and the world is becoming a very different place than it used to be. The USA will have to adapt to this reality, at least if it wants to retain some level of credibility, but right now it does not appear that anybody in Washington DC – except Ron Paul – is willing to admit this. As a result, the era of major US military interventions might well be coming to an end, even if there will always be some Grenada or Panama size country to triumphantly beat up if needed. This new reality, of course, immediately raises the issue of what/how the US Dollar will be backed by in the future (until now, it was only really “backed” by US military power), but that is a very different topic.

Links:

{1} https://thinkprogress.org/centcom-commander-fallon-attack-on-iran-will-not-happen-on-my-watch-921d57aeb703

{2} https://www.democracynow.org/2006/8/1/robert_fisk_reports_from_lebanon_on

{3} http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47362.htm

{4} https://youtu.be/wYbO4xGPX8M

{5} http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/25/asia/taliban-weapons-afghanistan/index.html

{6} http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-idUSKBN1941Y1

http://www.unz.com/tsaker/the-end-of-the-wars-on-the-cheap-for-the-united-states/

Categories: Uncategorized

If America Was Trying to Start a World War

This is How it Would Happen

by Darius Shahtahmasebi (August 08 2017)

Zero Hedge (August 09 2017)

Last Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed new sanctions into law against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The legislation was supported so overwhelmingly {1} in Congress that President Trump’s ability to veto the legislation was rendered completely ineffective.

Even anti-interventionist {2} Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor {3} of the bill, once again proving that Republicans and Democrats always find common ground when it comes to beating the drums of war against sovereign nations who have taken very little unwarranted hostile action – if any – towards the United States.

But these are just sanctions, not acts of war, right? There’s nothing wrong with economically bullying other countries into submission over non-compliance with the current global order, right?

Not quite.

Sanctions are always a prelude to war.

Though few are aware, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was arguably in response {4} to America’s attempt to cripple Japan’s booming economy through embargos and asset freezes, ending Japan’s commercial relationship with the United States and provoking the desperation that led to their attack.

In August 1990, the US began a sanctions regime {5} against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In 1991, the United States invaded Iraq and completely decimated its armed forces {6}, also directly targeting its civilian infrastructure {7}. Following this devastation, the US extended and expanded these economic sanctions on Iraq as further punishment. The UN estimated these sanctions {8} led to the deaths of 1.7 million Iraqi civilians, including between 500,000 and 600,000 children.

When Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was questioned on these statistics {9}, she intimated that the price was “worth it”.

These sanctions only came to an end {10} after the US invaded again in 2003 (and the complete international sanctions regime was only lifted in December 2010 {5}).

Libya also faced American-imposed sanctions {11} beginning in the 1990s, as well, and we all know how that story ended {12}.

In May of 2004, the US imposed economic sanctions on Syria, supposedly {13} over Syria’s support for terrorism and its “failure to stop militants entering Iraq” – a country the US destabilized in the first place. In reality, these sanctions were a response to Syria and Iran’s growing relationship {14} as the two countries had reportedly agreed to a mutual defense treaty that same year {15}.

Syria has been the target of a regime change operation since as far back as 2006 {16}, and the US has been openly bombing its territory under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump; the US has already bombed the Syrian government multiple times {17} over the past year. If it had not been for the Russian intervention, the US most likely would have ousted the Syrian government {18} by force before Trump even took office.

Iran has been battling with sanctions {19} for some time now, with the anti-Iranian sanctions regime serving as a smokescreen for regime change {20} in the same manner that Libya, Syria, and Iraq were targeted previously.

In the case of Iran, the underlying motives are quite clear: the renewed set of sanctions is designed to undermine the 2015 nuclear agreement {21}, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). Even though the Trump administration is aware {22} that Iran is in full compliance with the JCPOA, Trump has made it an official policy of his own to deliberately erode the deal {23}.

Why would he do that?

As explained in the book {24} Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran (2009), authored by an ex CIA analyst who promoted the 2003 invasion of Iraq {25}:

For those who favor regime change or a military attack on Iran (either by the United States or Israel), there is a strong argument to be made for trying this option first. Inciting regime change in Iran would be greatly assisted by convincing the Iranian people that their government is so ideologically blinkered that it refuses to do what is best for the people and instead clings to a policy that could only bring ruin on the country. The ideal scenario in this case would be that the United States and the international community present a package of positive inducements so enticing that the Iranian citizenry would support the deal, only to have the regime reject it. In a similar vein, any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context – both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer – one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. [emphasis added]

 

This paradigm brilliantly explains why hawkish members {26} of Trump’s team are completely opposed to Trump unilaterally derailing the JCPOA: These officials don’t want the blame to rest on the US, as it will ignite new tensions {27} within the international community and directly affect the US dollar {28}.

That being said, if the US government continues to undermine Iran with sanctions that target the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”) {29} – a very powerful entity within Iran – the US may end up forcing Iran to walk away from the deal {30}, anyway. In that scenario, the US will have the outcome that they long have desired.

North Korea has been on the receiving end {31} of a US-led sanctions regime for years, as well, and the American military is now flying bombers {32} over its airspace, provoking the country to respond in kind.

The only question now becomes: who will Trump set America on a warpath {33} with first: Iran or North Korea?

Trump is reportedly setting {34} the stage for a confrontation with Iran as early as October, having found a new strategy to demonize Iran should the sanctions regime fail to bring about the war he desires before he is due to certify Iran’s compliance for the following ninety-day period. This strategy involves Trump tasking his team with setting up spot-inspections at Iranian facilities in the hopes of finding ways that Iran is not complying with the JCPOA.

In the meantime, America continues its unilateral policy of bullying non-compliant states, further isolating itself {35} from its traditional post-World War Two allies. For example, Germany does view {36} sanctions that target Russia unfavorably, as these sanctions hurt Germany’s own economic interests.

Not to mention that American-led sanctions push these defiant countries into the open arms of one another. Iran and Russia just signed {37} a $2.5 billion deal last Monday, going about business as usual and giving Donald Trump the political middle finger in the process.

If the US continues to use its global stranglehold over the financial markets as a tool to weaken other countries, these countries will also have no choice but to ditch the dollar {38} and to seek alternative currencies {39} through which to complete transactions. Not surprisingly, Russia has just responded on Monday by announcing {40} it will seek to end its reliance on the US dollar.

Make no mistake: the US is at the crossroads of its dying status as a global superpower. In order to stay afloat, it has only one real option – to continue down the warpath it has set itself on and confront those countries that seek to rise up in the post-American led international order.

The newly signed sanctions regime is just the beginning, and there will be a difficult road ahead. Cooler heads may ultimately prevail, given the way these sanctions are already being seen to backfire.

It will be almost impossible to sell these wars to the American public and the international community at this stage considering the evidence shows the US is acting rashly and out of order with the rest of the world. However, if the US can provoke Iran {32} or North Korea into doing something regrettable first, the US may finally reward itself with the justification to go to war which it so desperately needs.

And when that happens, all bets will be off the table {41}.

Links:

{1} https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3364/all-actions?r=1

{2} https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/congresswoman-tulsi-gabbard-returns-syria-renewed-calls-end-regime-change-war

{3} http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll413.xml

{4} http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1930

{5} http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12004115

{6} http://web.archive.org/web/20080317110507/http:/www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/gulf.war/facts/gulfwar/

{7} https://www.hrw.org/reports/1991/gulfwar/CHAP2.htm

{8} https://www.amazon.com/Behind-War-Terror-Strategy-Struggle/dp/0865715068

{9} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0WDCYcUJ4o

{10} https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/168/36082.html

{11} https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/195-libya/42383.html

{12} http://theantimedia.org/liberated-libya-trading-slaves/

{13} http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14703995

{14} https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/feb/17/usa.syria

{15} https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/syria-iran-and-mideast-conflict

{16} http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/33180-wikileaks-reveals-how-the-us-aggressively-pursued-regime-change-in-syria-igniting-a-bloodbath

{17} http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-air-strike-bombing-assad-forces-trump-attack-us-white-house-latest-news-updates-a7743641.html

{18} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4phB-_pXDM

{19} http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/25/AR2007102502606.html

{20} http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-marshall/iran-sanctions-a-smokescr_b_6788784.html

{21} http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/03/middleeast/iran-sanctions-nuclear-deal/index.html

{22} http://theantimedia.org/anti-nuclear-deal-trump-rewards-iran/

{23} http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/21/trump-assigns-white-house-team-to-target-iran-nuclear-deal-sidelining-state-department/

{24} https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/06_iran_strategy.pdf

{25} http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-yglesias2aug02,0,2911324.story

{26} https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/us/politics/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-recertify.html?_r=0

{27} http://nationalinterest.org/feature/trump-determined-blow-the-iran-deal-21694

{28} http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-kerry-idUSKCN0QG1V020150812

{29} https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-us-revolutionary-guards-idUSKBN1A21D2

{30} http://nationalinterest.org/feature/exclusive-irans-foreign-minister-warns-donald-trump-tehran-21565

{31} http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-15278612

{32} https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-idUSKBN1AF02K

{33} http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/31/north-korea-or-iran-where-will-president-trump-attack-first/

{34} http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/vijay-prashad-trump-setting-dangerous-confrontation-iran

{35} http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/26/europe/russia-us-sanctions/index.html

{36} http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-us-sanctions-on-russia-threaten-germanys-interests-2017-8

{37} https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2017/08/01/russia-and-iran-partner-up-as-the-us-turns-its-back/#2e68c23e5f63

{38} https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/14/brics-development-bank-imf-world-bank-dollar

{39} http://www.bbc.com/news/business-17988142

{40} http://theantimedia.org/russia-us-sanctions-dumping-dollar/

{41} http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/russia-warns-israel-u-s-striking-iran-would-be-literally-disastrous-1.463175

http://theantimedia.org/america-trying-world-war-happen/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-09/if-america-was-trying-start-world-war-how-it-would-happen

Categories: Uncategorized

There is No “Political Center” in Modern America

by Gaius Publius

https://downwithtyranny.blogspot.jp (August 07 2017)

An entirely false but constantly sold view of the American electorate (source {1}; click to enlarge)

In an April 2016 piece {2}, in the middle of the Democratic primary, I wrote this about modern independent voters and the upcoming general election:

If you look at the swell of new voters in both parties, the increase is for the “change” candidate, not the one promising to retain and refresh the status quo. The presidential candidate who wins this election will be the one who best appeals to the new “radical independent” …

Today’s independents aren’t “moderates” who want conventional, faux-centrist policies and less “gridlock”. Political partisans want less gridlock around issues of disagreement because it advances individual party agendas and careers in addition to those issues. But in the main and with a few important exceptions – women’s health and rights, racial justice, gun violence – both parties have agreed and cooperated on broad policy goals.

Leaders of both parties, for example, broadly believe in the current military style of policing. Both believe in a justice system that coerces defendants into plea bargains, guilty or innocent. Both believe in the “importance of Wall Street to the economy” and that big financial institutions should be defended, not broken up. Both parties have offered and enacted a long and strong diet of lower taxes, spending austerity, war, and more war. We’ve had these policies, delivered in a fully bipartisan way, for decades …

Today’s independents, in contrast, are done with that.

 

This led to a prediction that “to win, Clinton must win Sanders independents. If she fails, she is likely to lose. The problem for Clinton is, how to do that.”

And indeed, Clinton did lose.

There’s more to say, obviously, about why Clinton lost. But it’s certainly true that, if 2016 were not a “change year” election, Clinton would have won by a mile. For example, if Clinton were running for a second term in 2012 instead of Obama, she’d have had no problem beating the Republican. It’s only in a “change year” election – 2008, for example – that a status quo candidate has trouble against a “change” candidate; and indeed, Clinton was defeated by that year’s “change” candidate, Barack Obama.

In 2016, instead of sailing to victory Clinton was nosed out in a squeaker. Even if that win was stolen it could only have been stolen if it were close. To use a football analogy, the refs can’t throw the game to your opponent if you’re winning by four touchdowns. In a hostile stadium with hostile refs, best not be barely ahead with two minutes to go.

In the Center of Nowhere

Confirmation of part of this analysis – that Clinton’s attempt to win by wooing “centrist” voters sloshing undecidedly between the parties was an error – comes from a book, Democracy for Realists (2016), by political scientists Larry Bartels and Christopher Achen. As Eric Levitz writes in a recent New York Magazine article {3},

The notion that there is an easily identifiable, median political ideology in America derives from the “spatial model” [that is, linear] of the electorate, which first gained prominence in the middle of the twentieth century.

This “spacial model” of the electorate should be familiar to every American since it’s sold by every mainstream media outlet. This model posits a single line of policy choices – arrayed in just two dimensions from “left” to “right” – with voters arrayed somewhere along it as well. Thus there are “left” policy choices, “right” policy choices, and voters in a kind of bell-shaped curve arrayed along it as well. “Left” voters prefer “left” policies, “right” voters prefer “right” policies, with the vast majority of voters somewhere in the middle.

Bartels and Achen, as quoted by Levitz, describe the linear analogy this way (my emphasis):

The political “space” consists of a single ideological dimension on which feasible policies are arrayed from left to right. Each voter is represented by an ideal point along this dimension reflecting the policy she prefers to all others. Each party is represented by a platform reflecting the policy it will enact if elected. Voters are assumed to maximize their ideological satisfaction with the election outcome by voting for the parties closest to them on the ideological dimension, Parties are assumed to maximize their expected payoff from office-holding by choosing the platforms most likely to get them elected.

… This framework is sufficient to derive a striking and substantively important prediction: both parties will adopt identical platforms corresponding to the median of the distribution of voters’ ideal points.

 

In other words, if it is assumed that most voters are on the “left”, the party to the “right” will drift that way. If it is assumed most voters are on the “right”, the “left” party will similarly move. And if voters are in the “center”, both parties will tend to move there with them.

What Bartels and Achen discovered was something that should have been obvious from the start – that this is just not the case. What they discovered is that there is no political “center” in modern America.

As Levitz writes:

A 2014 study {4} from Berkeley political scientists David Broockman and Douglas Ahler surveyed voters on thirteen policy issues – offering them seven different positions to choose from on each, ranging from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. On only two of those issues – gay rights and the environment – was the centrist position the most common one. On marijuana, the most popular policy was full legalization; on immigration, the most widely favored proposal was “the immediate roundup and deportation of all undocumented immigrants and an outright moratorium on all immigration until the border is proven secure”; and on taxes, the most popular option was to increase the rate on income above $250,000 by more than five percent. Meanwhile, establishing a maximum annual income of $1 million (by taxing all income above that at 100 percent) was the third most common choice, boasting four times more support than the national Republican Party’s platform on taxation.

When pundits implore Democrats not to abandon the center, they do not typically mean that the party should embrace legal weed, much higher taxes on the rich, and mass deportation. More often, such pundits call on Team Blue to embrace a combination of moderate fiscal conservatism, a cosmopolitan attitude toward globalization, and moderate social liberalism – in short, to become the party of Michael Bloomberg (minus, perhaps, the enthusiasm for nanny-state public-health regulations). The former New York mayor is routinely referred to as a centrist in the mainstream press, despite the fact that his policy commitments – support for Social Security cuts, Wall Street deregulation, mass immigration, and marriage equality – when taken together, put him at the fringes of American public opinion.

 

 

Note that this analysis is multi-dimensional. Even a two-dimensional representation couldn’t do it justice.

Why Do Democrats Pursue Non-Existent “Centrist” Voters?

If there are no voters in the political “center”, a strategy based on winning them is likely to fail. So why pursue them? Perhaps because voters aren’t what the Democratic Party – or either American political party these days – is pursuing. Perhaps it’s because what both parties are actually pursuing – is money.

Levitz seems to agree. In his article he quotes David Broockman, the study’s co-author, as saying this {5} in an interview:

When we say moderate what we really mean is what corporations want … Within both parties, there is this tension between what the politicians who get more corporate money and tend to be part of the establishment – that’s what we tend to call moderate – versus what the Tea Party and more liberal members want.

 

From this we can easily draw three conclusions:

* The only “center” in modern American politics consists of policies the people who finance elections want to see enacted.

* The mainstream media and both political parties regularly label these policies “centrist”.

* The way to be called “moderate” by the mainstream press is to advocate for “centrist” policies.

And yet, one can easily predict a series of “change year” elections stretching far into the future in which “centrist” candidates will fail again and again since America’s economic problems show no signs of being fixed anytime soon.

This is not because the means of fixing those problems don’t exist, though, and aren’t readily at hand. Levitz closes by saying:

On most of these [economic] issues, effective policy responses aren’t unknown – they’re just considered politically untenable. We know how to reduce inequality and eradicate poverty {6}: you redistribute pre-tax income from the rich to the poor. When America expanded the welfare state, its poverty rate went down {7}; when it scaled back the safety net, the opposite occurred {8}. Nordic social democracies devote more resources to propping up the living standards of their most vulnerable citizens than most other countries, and their poverty rates are among the lowest in the world, as a result. {9}

We know how to reduce student debt: You have the government directly subsidize the cost of higher education {10}. And we know to reduce medical costs while achieving universal coverage – you let the state cap reimbursement rates and subsidize the medical costs of the sick and the poor until everyone can afford basic medical care (as they do in virtually every other developed nation on Earth {11}). And while we can’t be certain about exactly what it will take to avert ecological catastrophe, we know that the more rapidly we transition our energy infrastructure toward renewable fuels, the better our odds will be.

 

It just means that voters’ desire to see them fixed will go unfulfilled by any party running a status quo candidate.

Radical Independents Are Here to Stay

The day of the “radical independent” is here. Yet by not selling themselves as proponents of economic reform in addition to reform on the numerous “rights” or “identity” issues, the Democratic Party is abandoning the demographic it needs to start winning elections again.

Has anything changed recently with the introduction of the Democrat’s “Better Deal” campaign? Richard Eskow convincingly argues no {12}. It may be time to admit that the reason we have Republicans in power – in a majority of states as well as the federal government – owes less to Vladimir Putin than it does to mainstream Democrats themselves.

Americans have not much ability to “fix” Vladimir Putin. Do American have the ability to “fix” the Democratic Party, to cure it of its need to pursue money instead of voters? Perhaps, but not if the Party doesn’t want to be fixed.

Links:

{1} https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-essays-on-left-and-right-politics

{2} http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-look-ahead-neither-party-can-win.html

{3} http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/dems-can-abandon-the-center-because-the-center-doesnt-exist.html

{4} https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/opinion/nothing-in-moderation.html

{5} https://www.vox.com/2014/7/8/5878293/lets-stop-using-the-word-moderate

{6} https://www.vox.com/2014/11/14/7220291/basic-income-poverty-plan

{7} http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/how-the-war-on-poverty-succeeded-in-four-charts

{8} http://www.demos.org/blog/2/12/16/welfare-reform-was-quite-bad

{9} http://www.demos.org/blog/10/20/15/united-states-vs-denmark-17-charts

{10} http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/23/pf/college/free-college-europe/index.html

{11} https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/heres-a-map-of-the-countries-that-provide-universal-health-care-americas-still-not-on-it/259153/

{12} https://ourfuture.org/20170803/uber-democrats-workers-should-cooperate-not-compete

https://downwithtyranny.blogspot.jp/2017/08/there-is-no-political-center-in-modern.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Is Trump Winning?

by Robert Gore

Straight Line Logic blog (August 06 2017)

Zero Hedge (August 07 2017)

Mainstream analysis has been wrong for so long, why start believing it now?

Straight Line Logic (“SLL”) has run a series of articles {1}, {2}, {3}, {4}, {5}, and {6} advancing interrelated hypotheses. We’ve asserted that President Trump is far smarter and the powers that be are far stupider and weaker than current consensus estimates. Trump’s primary motivation is power. The nonstop vilification campaign against him has little to do with policy differences and instead reflects establishment fears that Trump will investigate, expose, and punish its criminality.

The upshot of these hypotheses: Trump is winning and has consolidated his power.

Reader reaction to this non-mainstream and admittedly speculative line of thinking has been mixed and often skeptical.

However, we’ll press on, because our hypotheses have yielded testable predictions, most of which have been borne out. From {6}:

To answer a question posed in {5}: If Trump has consolidated power both at home and abroad, don’t hold your breath waiting for a swamp draining. The most effective power is often power of which only a few know. Those he has by the short hairs would be most helpful to him – sub rosa – if they’re still in government. If such is the case, don’t be surprised if the Russia probe fades away, Trump’s nominal opposition consigns itself to rote denunciation, the Deep State sits still for his Middle Eastern policy changes, and he gets more of his agenda through than anyone expects.

 

Even The Washington Post has admitted the Russia probe is “crumbling” {7}. Trump and Sessions know Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller won’t find much because there’s nothing there, although there may be a sacrificial offering or two to propitiate the investigatory gods. Trump read Sessions the riot act via Twitter and a Wall Street Journal interview about not investigating Hillary Clinton, intelligence community leaks to the press, and Ukrainian efforts to sabotage his presidential campaign. He’s been roundly condemned for publicly criticizing Sessions, but here’s a speculative leap: perhaps publicly criticizing Sessions was not really what Trump was doing.

Perhaps Trump was giving his attorney general political cover to pursue investigations against high-profile Democrats who cannot help Trump, sub rosa or otherwise. Investigations of Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Fusion GPS {8}, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz {9} would demoralize the Democrats, preoccupy and harass key players, expose criminality, and electrify Trump’s base. Providing Sessions further cover, twenty Republican representatives have sent a letter to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein demanding the appointment of a second Special Counsel {10} to look into potentially illegal acts by Clinton, Lynch, and former FBI director James Comey.

After recusing himself from the Russiagate investigation, which he knows is pointless, and being “scolded” by Trump, Sessions is now a sympathetic, squeaky-clean figure; even Democrats have expressed support. He has far more latitude to pursue the investigations his boss wants him to pursue. Most of the ensuing criticism will be directed at Trump, which will bother Trump not at all (although there will undoubtedly be answering Twitter blasts).

Trump has quietly (when Trump does anything quietly, take note) made two sea changes in US policy in Syria. At the G20 summit, he negotiated a cease fire with Vladimir Putin {11} for southwest Syria. Last week he ended a CIA program that armed Syrian jihadists {12} fighting Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Both changes are anathema to the US Deep State, the mainstream media, and US allies Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Israel, and Turkey, yet other than “rote denunciation”, they have been surprisingly docile. The latter change could presage abandonment of a pillar of US foreign and military policy since President Carter supplied arms and other aid to the mujahideen in Afghanistan during their successful fight against the Soviet Union. The US may be out of the business of arming Islamic insurgents against regimes it seeks to change.

Deft – by this analysis – as Trump has been, his biggest challenge lies ahead.

The government is bankrupt, and demographics will push it ever-deeper in the hole.

The global economy is struggling under monstrous and unsupportable debt.

Fiat money something-for-nothing has a sell-by date, sooner or later the stock market and economy will head south.

Historically, there’s been a tight correlation between stocks, the economy, and presidential popularity.

 

Can Trump dodge this bullet? Here’s another speculative leap: he is already laying the groundwork. He’s claiming credit for the stock market’s rally since he was elected. That may not be as foolish as it seems {13}. When the market and economy falter, he will claim they went up on hopes for his program and will blame Congress and the Federal Reserve for dashing those hopes.

Most people blame the Republican-controlled Congress, not Trump, for the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump proposes, but Congress disposes and Trump has made sure everyone knows that Congress is responsible. In the same vein, he signed the veto-proof Russian sanctions bill while at the same time excoriating Congress for passing it. He has an easier job making his case than a President whose party controls Congress normally would. Trump is a Republican in name only and ran just as hard against the Republican establishment as he did against Hillary Clinton.

Look for him to lambast Congress when it botches tax reform and the debt ceiling. He could be hoping for such miscues. Debt ceiling contretemps may set off financial market conniptions. Trump will sigh and tweet: If only Congress had passed my health care and tax reforms and given me a clean debt ceiling increase, none of this would have happened. If the Federal Reserve continues to raise its federal funds target rate and shrinks its balance sheet, he’ll include Janet Yellen in his tweets.

These hypotheses yield testable predictions. Mueller’s investigation will come a cropper, but investigations of high-profile and no sub rosa value leakers and Democrats – up to and perhaps including Hillary Clinton – will lead to indictments and either plea bargained settlements or convictions. Trump will take credit for the stock market until it reverses. He will continue to harshly criticize Congressional failures and blame them when financial markets and the economy head south. This may come to a head if Congress fails to pass a clean debt ceiling increase by the end of September. Trump will also point his finger at the Federal Reserve. This is a high-risk strategy, given the longstanding psychological linkage between presidential popularity, the strength of the economy, and stock market indices. It’s probably the only strategy available to Trump. Time will tell if it works.

The war in Syria has crested; ISIS, though still capable of substantial mischief, has lost. The refugee flow has already reversed, an estimated half a million refugees have returned {14}, which, as noted in {6}, gives European leaders some breathing room. Assad will stay in power unless Russia, not the US, sees fit to remove him. The embers of conflict will smolder for years, but Trump will not be fanning them by arming anti-Assad groups or escalating US military involvement. He will continue to use shows of force and diplomatic maneuvers to try to resolve other hot spots – North Korea, Iran, the South China Sea, Ukraine, Afghanistan – and will shy away from exclusively military solutions. He is deeply displeased with the war in Afghanistan and is calling for a rethink that may ultimately lead to withdrawal.

All this is speculative, but it continues a line of analysis whose predictions have been for the most part confirmed. However, borrowing from the ubiquitous financial disclaimer: past performance is no guarantee of future accuracy.

Links:

{1} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/02/26/plot-holes-by-robert-gore/

{2} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/03/08/trump-and-vault-7/

{3} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/04/08/calling-a-bluff-by-robert-gore/

{4} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/05/17/lets-connect-the-dots-by-robert-gore/

{5} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/05/31/powerball-part-one-by-robert-gore/

{6} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/06/05/powerball-part-two-by-robert-gore/

{7} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/30/the-quest-to-prove-collusion-is-crumbling-by-ed-rogers/

{8} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/31/wsj-asks-who-paid-for-the-trump-dossier-by-kimberley-strassel/

{9} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/31/debbie-wasserman-schultz-and-the-pakistani-it-scammers-by-andrew-c-mccarthy/

{10} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/29/gauntlet-thrown-house-judiciary-demands-special-counsel-to-investigate-comey-lynch-and-clinton-by-tyler-durden/

{11} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/10/us-russian-ceasefire-deal-goes-into-effect-in-southwest-syria-by-tyler-durden/

{12} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/20/seismic-shift-in-syria-trump-ends-covert-obama-era-cia-program-which-sent-arms-to-jihadists-by-tyler-durden/

{13} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/08/03/why-trump-claiming-ownership-of-markets-may-not-be-as-crazy-at-it-seems-by-mark-st-cyr/

{14} https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/08/04/the-most-underreported-world-stories-so-far-this-year-by-chuck-baldwin/

https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/08/06/is-trump-winning-by-robert-gore/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-07/trump-winning

Categories: Uncategorized

Vladimir the Great …

… Sums Up Pope Francis the Fake!

by Antonius Aquinas

antoniusaquinas.com (August 08 2017)

Zero Hedge (August 08 2017)

Vladimir Putin has once again demonstrated why he is the most perceptive, farsighted, and for a politician, the most honest world leader to come around in quite a while. If it had not been for his patient and wise statesmanship, the world may have already been embroiled in an all encompassing global configuration with the possibility of thermonuclear destruction.

His latest comments on the purported head of the Catholic Church may have been his most perceptive as of yet and should be heeded not only by Western secular leaders but by the globe’s one billion or so Catholics, most of whom regard Jorge Bergoglio as pope.

The Russian President’s statement came on a visit to the Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt. Mr Putin succinctly sums up what Pope Francis is not:

If you look around at what he (the Pope) says it’s clear that he is not a man of God. At least not the Christian God, not the God of the Bible.

 

No truer words have as yet been said about this cretin by a world leader since his wretched pontifical reign began in 2013!

While Mr Putin and those with “eyes to see and ears to hear” recognize that “Pope Francis” is not a Christian, the current occupant of Saint Peter’s Chair is disqualified for that position on theological grounds. To be a legitimate pope, one must be “bishop of Rome”, and prior to becoming a bishop, one must be a priest. Jorge Bergoglio was not ordained (1969) in the traditional Apostolic ordination rite of the Church, nor was he consecrated (1992) as a true bishop in that rite. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, was, likewise, not consecrated in the traditional rite although he was ordained as a priest under the “old rite”.

Simply put: Jorge Bergoglio is just a layman masquerading as a pope as are all of the other priests and bishops which were given Holy Orders under the new rites which came into effect in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Anti-Council (1962~1965).

Not only is Pope Francis a Christian fraud as Vladimir Putin and other perceptive commentators have observed, but in secular matters, he is a neo-Marxist in economic thought, a One-World Government advocate, and an enthusiast of open borders and mass migration. In other words, an enemy of what is left of Western Civilization.

Mr Putin accurately describes his “secular sins”:

* Pope Francis is using his platform to push a dangerous far-left political ideology on vulnerable people around the world, people who trust him because of his position.

* He dreams of a world government and a global communist system of repression.

* As we have seen before in communist states, this system is not compatible with Christianity.

If these despicable qualities are not bad enough, there is a seedier side of Bergoglio that Mr Putin did not address. Pope Francis is now the third Paedophile Pope who has presided over the Church’s Great Sex and Embezzlement Scandal. Neither Francis nor his two derelict predecessors (Benedict XVI, JPII) have done anything to either punish or root out the child predators under their charge. On the contrary, Francis has encouraged perversion with his now infamous statement of “who am I to judge”.

The debauchery continues to take place with the latest coming right under the nose of the Argentine heretic. An apartment occupied by the secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, Francesco Coccopalmerio, was raided in July to break up a “gay” orgy. The police found drugs and men engaged in orgiastic sex.

Coccopalmerio, who Bergoglio had considered for promotion to bishop, was hauled away and jailed by authorities.

This came on the heels of Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s Chief Financial Officer, being charged with sex crimes against ten children. Pell has since left Rome in disgrace for his native Australia to answer the charges.

While Western Civilization is on the decline due to economic stupidity and open borders promoted by the likes of Pope Francis, there are a few bright spots, the brightest of which is Vladimir Putin. If the West is ever going to regain its sanity, it should take the sage counsel of the Russian president especially when he speaks of phonies like Pope Francis.

https://antoniusaquinas.com/2017/08/07/vladimir-the-great-sums-up-pope-francis-the-fake/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-07/vladimir-great-sums-pope-francis-fake

Categories: Uncategorized

Trumponomics and the Stock Market

Michael Hudson interviewed

by Sharmini Peries

CounterPunch (August 07 2017)

SHARMINI PERIES: The rise of stock prices in the US stock market could be an indication of economic growth and prosperity, but it could also be an indication of the concentration of wealth of the rich and powerful. Which is it? To answer that question, we need to look at other economic indicators. In the press conference that President Trump had just a few days ago announcing his new chief of staff, General John Kelly, Trump took the opportunity to give himself credit for the rising stock prices. Let’s listen.

DONALD TRUMP: We’ve done very well, lots of records created, John. You look at the stock market, the highest it’s ever been. Unemployment, lowest in seventeen years. Companies are doing tremendously well. Business spirit is the highest it’s ever been, according to polls. You look at the polls, the highest it’s ever been in the history of these polls. We’re doing very well. We have a tremendous base. We have a tremendous group of support. The country is optimistic.

SHARMINI PERIES: Michael is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is the author of The Bubble and Beyond (2012) and Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents (2012), Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy (2015). His latest book is J is for Junk Economics (2017).

So Michael, if the stock prices are not increasing because of what Trump calls “high business spirit”, explain the rise in the stock prices.

MICHAEL HUDSON: The answer’s quite simple. The key is, who is buying these stocks. It’s not individuals. It’s not even pension funds. It’s not the private sector. Almost all the stock purchases are being bought back by corporations in share buyback programs. In other words, companies are buying their own stocks in order to push up their price.

That’s how executives are paid. They’re not paid for increasing output or even for increasing profits. They’re paid according to how much they can push up the stock price.

There are two ways to do this easily. One is to use earnings simply for share buybacks – buy up your own stock and push its price up; or, you simply pay out the earnings in dividends.

What you don’t do if you want to increase the stock price is invest more in research. You don’t invest more in capital. You don’t hire more labor, and you don’t expand your market. In other words, you give up. You say, “The economy’s reached an end. It’s not going to grow from here. We’re taking the money and running. We’re just going to use the earnings that we have to help the stockholders.”

So the stock market is actually the reverse of how the economy is doing.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Michael. This might be a little elementary for big-time economists, but explain how the buying back of stock increases the money that they make.

MICHAEL HUDSON: The price of almost anything is a result of how many people are buying and how many people are selling. What’s happened is basically that individuals and the private sector are selling their stocks. Normally this would push down stock prices.

The reason for this selling is that most investors see that the reason why stock prices have gone up is that the Federal Reserve has flooded the economy with low-interest money. People are borrowing at one percent in order to buy stocks that are yielding five or six percent and they’re pocketing the difference.

But now, leading investors expect that this debt-fueled price rise is coming to an end. The Federal Reserve says it’s going to raise interest rates. Same thing with the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. They expect higher interest rates to push down stock prices because it won’t pay people to borrow to buy stocks anymore. Most investors today are looking for the stock markets to decline. They don’t want to hold them.

Who is going to want to buy stocks that are going to go down in price? The answer is, the corporations are going to buy it. Corporate managers aren’t penalized if they make a bad investment in their own stock. It’s true that if the stock price goes down, the company loses. This often happens – a huge loss on shares that are bought back. But the company’s managers clean up. They’re paid a bonus according to how much money they can spend to buy up their own stock to support the price.

If you say that you’re going to pay a high price for anything, that will raise the price. Corporations are pouring earnings into their own stocks, not into new direct investment.

SHARMINI PERIES: Why are companies paying out high dividends rather than reinvesting their profits in order to generate more long-term income?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Two reasons: They see that the economy isn’t really growing for 99% of the people. Here in New York, street after street, there are for-rent signs. Small businesses are going out of business. Bookstores are going out of business. Restaurants are going out of business. The boom that’s occurred from World War Two to 2008 is over. That’s why companies are not going to invest.

Most of all, companies are buying back their stocks simply to benefit the managers who run them – the chief financial officers and the CEO. CEOs are paid gigantic remuneration according to the stock price.

This financialization is actually hurting industrial capitalism. Companies have been turned into financial entities. You should no longer think of them really as industrial entities. Corporations make money financially, not by producing goods and services.

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. Michael, could you explain why suddenly we see big mergers going on? For a while, there seemed to be a hiatus in terms of these big mergers, but recently we’ve seen Amazon merging with Whole Foods, and some of the major media companies, if not already, are considering mergers. Why is this going on right now?

MICHAEL HUDSON: For two reasons: One is that there is still a lot of low-interest credit available for them. Companies can borrow from banks or from bondholders at low interest rates to buy other companies and create a monopoly. In the past, they couldn’t do this because they were afraid of anti-monopoly legislation. But today you have four or five companies controlling almost every major industry. Think of the airlines, cable TV, the phone companies, and information technology (“IT”). They’re all being monopolized, and there are no more anti-monopoly rules.

So what they’re trying to get isn’t really profits. The national income statistics call them profits, but they’re really monopoly rent. They’re rents way in excess of normal profits because they’re priced at whatever the market can bear. If you have cable TV by what used to be Time Warner, you’ve seen your cable charges go up. Your IT prices also are going up, and your airline prices are going up. That’s because monopolies are now the way to squeeze out money. You don’t have to invest more. You don’t have to make capital investment. You don’t even have to employ labor. All you have to do is use your monopoly privileges that you’ve bought with borrowed money.

SHARMINI PERIES: Finally, in terms of Trump’s economic plans, how do these trends in mergers and rising stock prices affect the people that voted for Trump, the white working class in particular?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Obviously it’s not helping them. They listened to what Trump said, not realizing that when you’re voting for a presidential candidate, you want to look at who his financial backers are. Who are the donors?

Trump’s donors were basically the monopolists: the Koch brothers, the oil and gas industry, and other far-right-wing corporate organizations that are all in favor of monopoly. The last thing they want to do is help the working class. Trump’s genius was to convince the working class that he was for them, while actually, his policies are against them.

Just like the Democratic candidate Hillary was able to convince her constituency, the blacks and racial minorities that she was for them instead of coming down hard against them as the Clintons have done ever since the 1990s with their taxes on welfare, their support of Wall Street, and their support of finance capital. Both parties have the same donor class and they’re trying to get elected by groups in America for whom they have no intention of carrying forth their promises to help their interests.

SHARMINI PERIES: Further, one must note that when Trump and Pence were running for office back in September 2016, they launched their big economic plan that was going to create twelve million new jobs. If you click on that plan now, it goes to an error message and an empty page.

MICHAEL HUDSON: The problem is that any economic plan has to be more than two days long. That’s Trump’s attention span. He is not a long-term planner. He’s just going to opportunistically ride whatever wave there is at a given moment. Nobody I know – whether my old Republican friends or other analysts – has a clue about what he’s going to do next. I don’t think he himself has a clue what he’s going to do next. He’s just going to ask, “What’s in it for me?” Whoever gives him the most, that’s going to be government policy. You can look how at his Russia policy has turned anti-Russian. You could look at his policy saying Nato is obsolete, while he is now pro-Nato. Same thing for his policy in the Near East. He’s gone against everything he’s said. That’s what a smart demagogue does.

But it should be borne in mind that Trump’s turnabout reflects his surrender to the Dark Side. He seems to feel forced to give up his natural hope to reach a peaceful accommodation with Russia, unable to take control of the National Security Council, CIA, and leakers from the Obama Administration undercutting him. He has not prosecuted Hillary and the DNC or Loretta Lynch and her cronies. By failing to do so, he has let them spread the myth that he is a Russian agent – defined as not supporting the military-industrial complex and new American wars. He seems to have given up warning the people of a coup, except in his damn Tweets – as if keeping his Internet audience achieves the same goal as giving a major address. Without spelling out how drastic the aggressive coup by the military-security state is, he’s unable to provide an alternative.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/08/07/trumponomics-and-the-stock-market/

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Oliver Stone Slams …

2017/08/10 1 comment

… “Exceptional” America’s “Vast Stupidity” in Sanctioning Russia

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (August 05 2017)

In a scathing Facebook post entitled “Mid Summer Anger”, movie director (and infamous Putin interviewer), Oliver Stone lashes out at Washington’s passage of the Russia sanctions bill, suggesting that US intelligence agencies aren’t doing their job and are misleading the public in the “false-flag war” against Moscow:

Congress passed its beloved Russia sanctions last week by a vote of 419-3! The Senate followed with a vote of 98-2!



I guess ‘American Exceptionalism’ includes the vast stupidity inherent in having two giant oceans to distance us from the rest of humanity.

With all the Apples and Microsofts and computer geniuses we have in our country, can we not even accept the possibility that perhaps our intelligence agencies are not doing their job, and maybe, just maybe, are deliberately misleading us to continue their false-flag war against Russia? Or for that matter, that Russia itself may not be that invested in screwing up our vaunted democracy with such sloppy malware as claimed? Especially in view of the strong statement put out by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of reform-minded veterans throwing a dose of acid on the infamous ‘Brennan-Clapper Report’ of January 06 2017 {1}. With this report alone, much less the overt lying and leaking that’s been going on, both James Clapper (‘We don’t do surveillance on our own citizens’) and John Brennan (‘Drones and torture? None of our business’) should be investigated as thoroughly as Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son,et al.

What’s happened to Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Lee, or any of the people who’ve displayed some independent thinking in the past? Have they actually read this report? Somebody out there in DC, please explain to me this omission of common sense. Are The Washington Post and The New York Times so powerful that no one bothers to read or think beyond them? It seems the TV stations in this country take their copy from them.

I accept the US decline. That’s a given – after all, compare our broken-down New York subway system with Moscow’s, as well as many other cities’ pristine and impeccable services. These sanctions, which I pray Europe can independently judge and discard, are as dumb as giving out medals to Generals who keep losing wars.

I still have this image burned in my brain of Petraeus with his eleven or twelve rows of ribbons, many looking like Boy Scout badges, surrounded by adoring Congressmen as he lied his way through his foreign policy testimony.

Never mind that any moment now a Dr Strangelove-type incident can occur – with less reaction time, say fifteen minutes, compared to the 1960s two to three hours. We are truly at the edge as Mr Putin pointed out in the documentary I made. Such Roman arrogance, such blindness, calls out for another Vietnam, another Iraq. We’re screaming for some Karmic Boot up the ass. Destroying our pride would be a favor that the gods could do us.

I can go on – but I’m angry as you can tell. So what’s the point of going to the windows and screaming, even if I were on television? Read the report below from Sanity Inc {2} and pray another August (1914) passes without the war Congress, Media, and the Military-Industrial Complex are literally dying for.

I now fully realize how World War One started. People in power never really thought it would happen, and when it did, thought it’d be over in weeks.

You should know the rest of that history. It doesn’t end well.

 

This, of course, is not the first time Stone has pointed out the fallacies behind US foreign policy and it appears his prophetic McCarthyism on steroids perspective from December has apparently come true …

I remember well in the 1950s when the Russians were supposed to be in our schools, Congress, State Department – and according to many Eisenhower/Nixon supporters – about to take over our country without serious opposition (and they call me paranoid!).

 

It was this same media who insisted on our need to go to Vietnam to defend our freedoms against the communists 6,000 miles away. And after the Red Scare finally went away for good in 1991, let us remind ourselves that it never ended. It became Hussein of Iraq with his weapons of mass destruction, and talk of the “mushroom cloud”. It became a Demon, as real as any Salem Witch Trial. It was Gaddafi of Libya, and then it was Assad of Syria. In other words, as in an Orwellian prophecy, it never ended, and I can guarantee you it never will – unless we the people who can still think for ourselves in this existential matter, can say “Enough” to this demon act. “Enough”, “go away” – laugh in their faces.

Links:

{1} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-25/intel-vets-challenge-russia-hack-evidence

{2} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-29/oliver-stone-slams-establishments-russians-are-coming-narrative

https://www.facebook.com/TheOliverStone/posts/1619882828036010

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-05/oliver-stone-slams-exceptional-americas-vast-stupidity-sanctioning-russia

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