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[l] at 7/9/20 10:43am

The New York Times Sunday Magazine on July 5th headlined its cover-story “America’s Enduring Caste System” and presented Isabel Wilkerson’s masterful, even profound, 12,000-word history of America’s racial caste system. She also presented it in the broader historical context. She said: “Throughout human history, three caste systems have stood out. The lingering, millenniums-long caste system of India. The tragically accelerated, chilling and officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany. And the shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid in the United States.”

In 1977, Delaware’s two U.S. Senators together helped to lead what has since been the extension of America’s race-based caste system into the post-1954, post Brown-v.-Board-of-Education, era. Here is how that “shape-shifting” was done:

On Friday, July 22nd of 1977, a bill was being considered in the U.S. Senate regarding how the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 civil-rights (anti-racist) ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, would finally become embodied and carried out in specific U.S. legislation. This bill was being proposed by all three of Delaware’s members of Congress, and was the most vociferously advocated by the then-young-and-rising Senator Joe Biden. The bill was actually written by Senator Biden’s own staff, though he was only the state’s junior Senator, not its senior one, and the name of the state’s senior Senator was therefore mentioned the first among the bill’s two introducing co-sponsors.

It was one of Biden’s earliest prominent initiatives in the U.S. Senate. He was introducing it with the other Delaware U.S. Senator, who was the Republican William Roth. This bill, the “Roth” bill, S.1651, would have allowed unconstitutional segregation of public schools to continue in any cases where the courts attribute it to the workings of the free market instead of to a law that had been passed by the particular state. In other words: to the extent that racial segregation in the U.S. is ‘natural’, it must be allowed to continue, at least as regards taxpayer-funded K-12 education is concerned. Biden advocated this. The goal of Biden and the other white racists in the U.S. Congress at that time was to take the racial-equality issue away from the courts, and into the laws, so as to, essentially, nullify Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark ruling in favor of racial equality of rights. Biden was a leader in that movement — against racial equality, for continuation of White-supremacy.

At the opening of Biden’s presentation, he asserted:

“The average citizen, and finally his representatives in Congress, have come to the conclusion that the courts have gone too far in education cases. A consensus is emerging in the Nation in my opinion and in the Congress, I hope, that the courts have stretched the 14th amendment beyond its intended limits in requiring busing of schoolchildren to achieve racial balance.” He made clear that the problem here was “interpreting the ‘equal protection’ clause of the 14th amendment, especially in the field of education.” Equal protection of the laws regarding all races was the issue at stake.

The 1954 Supreme Court had left to the nation’s legislators the determination of how their ruling, which was against continuation of White-supremacy, would be carried out.

Delaware (as Biden’s staff wrote this bill) tried to introduce into American law the idea of unconstitutionally allowing unequal opportunity to persist so long as it is only ‘natural’, because Delaware was the only state in the entire nation that had a large percentage black population but that had not been in the southern confederacy — not been a slave state, in which anti-Black discrimination wasn’t merely cultural but also legally enforced. In other words: the Roth-Biden bill was specifically designed so as to allow Delaware to continue being racially segregated even while U.S. courts would be enforcing desegregation orders against the states of Old Dixie, the former slave-states. (This would also be a way to free Delaware from any court decisions that might be forthcoming against Old Dixie states that had de jure and not only de facto segregation. It could make Delaware the libertarian haven for bigots, just as it already had become the libertarian haven for corporations and for investors. Delaware’s controlling family, the DuPonts, had been leaders in the libertarian movement going all the way back to their origin in France as having been the first libertarian publisher for the earliest pro-laissez-faire economists, the physiocrats, starting in the 1760s, supporting the French King against the increasing movement to end the monarchy and establish rule by the public, democracy — which they despised. Physiocrats also opposed increasing tariffs and all other ‘artificial’ measures, which interfered with the ‘natural order.’ Delaware’s three members of Congress, as was customary, were libertarians — supporters of unlimited freedom for the wealthiest citizens.)

Joe Biden and William Roth co-invented the system of racism that now exists in America, but they were hardly unique, at the time. They were leaders, but not unique, in any way.

There were also many other white-racist bills in Congress at that time (the 95th Congress, in 1977&78). One of the earliest of these bills was by Republican Rep. Jack Kemp from N.Y., on 24 March 1977, “A bill to transfer from Federal to State courts jurisdiction to enter decrees requiring the transportation of students or teachers to carry out a plan of racial desegregation.” Then came S.1651, which was introduced on 9 June 1977 and was titled “A bill to insure equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the fifth or 14th amendments to the Constitution of the United States.” Then came the House version of S.1651, which was H.R.8644 and also H.R. 8645, both of which used almost exactly the same title as the Senate version and were introduced on 29 July 1977, by Delaware’s lone member of the U.S. House, the Republican Thomas B. Evans, who was trying to appeal to the white majority of his state, as were both of the state’s U.S. Senators, Biden and Roth. Then, on 4 August 1977 came from South Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms S.2017, “The Freedom of Choice in Education Act.” On the same day, the Maryland Republican Marjorie Holt introduced in the House H.R.932, “The Neighborhood School Act.” There also were dozens of other bills and Joint Resolutions that were proposed, having titles such as “A bill to amend title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit federally ordered assignment of teachers or students on racial and other similar grounds,” and “Joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to freedom from forced assignment to schools or jobs because of race, creed, or color” and “Joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to prohibit compelling attendance in schools other than the one nearest the residence” and “Student Transportation Moratorium Act” and “A bill to extinguish Federal court jurisdiction over school attendance.” None were titled honestly, such as “A Bill to Preserve White Supremacy.” But Delaware was unsurpassed in pushing for that general objective — continued White-supremacy (so long as it remains ‘natural’).

This was a widespread objective because investors found it to be profitable. It was a very libertarian thing to do. (Libertarianism is one-dollar-one-vote, not one-person-one-vote. Those congress-members supported that — not democracy.)

For example, Donald Trump’s father was a major NYC real-estate investor, and he had been caught marching with the KKK because as a real estate tycoon in NYC he was able to charge higher prices for his properties if they were in neighborhoods that still had no Blacks — he was profiting from the pervasive bigotry of at least middle and upper income Whites (such as himself and his friends), who would generally pay a premium in order not to have Blacks living in their neighborhoods. Donald Trump revered his father and inherited his business and continued his practices and viewpoints. So, after the overtly bigoted Party switched gradually away from being the Democrats before 1930, to being the Republicans after 1970, Donald Trump himself increasingly became a Republican, so that he wouldn’t need to hide his racism as much as politicians such as Joe Biden did and still do. Trump as a Republican could be more direct and public, freer, in his White bigotry. In other words: Joe Biden is Donald Trump in blackface — he is Democratic Party billionaires’ candidate (not Republican billionaires’ candidate) to win the votes of black voters, keep Blacks down. Here is evidence of this:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112104078842&view=1up&seq=256

At page 256 of the pdf, which is page 252 of the printed document, in the Senate testimony regarding S.1651, Biden speaks against busing as being the proposed solution to the problem of segregated schools:

Sen. Biden: “You say I am throwing the brick. I am not as good at analogies and homilies as all of you [proponents of nationally mandated busing of students in order to advance equal opportunities for Blacks and Whites] are, but I think pushing busing in a way in which it goes beyond the constitutional mandates is like throwing a bus through the civil rights window. I think it has repercussions that are extensive in terms of the ultimate objective of seeing that we get integrated neighborhoods, of seeing that we eventually eliminate job discrimination, of seeing that we change housing patterns, of seeing alteration of the tax structure.”

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112104078842&view=1up&seq=258

Mr. Jack Greenberg, Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: “Clearly, the purpose of the [Roth-Biden co-sponsored S. 1651] bill must be something else. I believe it is to enact an unconstitutional set of technical obstacles whose sole purpose is to interfere with and delay the courts in their work in school segregation cases, and school desegregation cases alone.”

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112104078842&view=1up&seq=260

Greenberg continues: “I conclude that S. 1651 has as its intended purpose and effect to dishearten those who have had to go to court as a last resort to vindicate their right to equal justice under law denied them in the public schools of their communities.”

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112104078842&view=1up&seq=262

Arthur S. Flemming, Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (testifying against S. 1651), cites in order to attack:

“Section 1 of S. 1651 provides:

‘Section 1 … No court of the United States shall order … the transportation of any student … unless the court determines that a discriminatory purpose in education was a principal motivating factor in the constitutional violation for which such transportation is proposed as a remedy.’”

Although Roth was the senior Senator and therefore was the lead of the two who were named as its initial two sponsors, Biden actually wrote the bill himself (actually, his staff did), and he also led the advocacy for it, not only in the Senate but in the Senate Judiciary Committee, to which he successfully led it to be approved; and he opened there by saying:

“The Committee on the Judiciary, to which the bill (S.1651) to insure equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the fifth or fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States, having been considered the same [which is meaningless: he actually meant “having considered the same,” not “having been considered the same,” but, since he’s too stupid to understand a lengthy sentence that had been drafted for him, he goofed, and added “been”; he was always actually “sleepy Joe,” much as Trump has actually always been a “clown,” though both have been brothers under the skin], reports favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend the bill do pass.”

However, the minority on that Committee published a dissent, which stated:

“S.1651 is entitled a bill ‘[t]o insure equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the fifth or fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States.’ Curiously, no violation of the Equal Protection Clause is made actionable by this bill. No court is provided with jurisdiction over such violations. No new remedy is created. There is literally no discriminatory act, no matter how blatant, which could be inflicted on any man, woman or child by a Federal, State, or local official which this bill prevents, deters, punishes, or redresses. The purpose of S.1651, therefore, surely cannot be to insure equal protection of the laws.”

That was signed as the lengthy “Minority Views of Messrs. Abourezk, Bayh, Culver, and Kennedy,” by those four Senators (led by Ted Kennedy), who were alleging there that Joe Biden was a fake, a fraud.

As I have previously documented extensively, Joe Biden is profoundly corrupt, and — which might be even worse — he won his Presidential nomination by the Democratic Party by means of cheating, lying about his past, and, especially, by his repeatedly lying to Black voters and citing as having been his colleagues in the sit-ins and other peaceful actions by civil rights leaders (there actually were none that he participated in), only civil rights leaders who had recently died and who thus were not available to respond by saying things such as “This man is lying about himself — I never worked with him.” Biden did this while campaigning for Black votes against Bernie Sanders, who actually had been shown in a photograph that was published in the early 1960s in the Chicago Tribune, being arrested for participating in an anti-segregation demonstration against the profoundly racist, anti-Black, Mayor of Chicago, the Democrat, Richard J. Daley. Why Sanders silently allowed Biden to get away with this has never been explained. Anyway, America’s black voters enormously preferred, and gave a crushing victory to, the bigot, Biden, and thus effectively ended the till-then-successful campaign of the anti-bigot, Sanders. A flood of billionaires’ cash into the Biden campaign right before the South Carolina primary on 29 February 2020 convinced almost all Blacks that Biden represented their interests. But Sanders was hardly alone in his silence: there were also others who knew that Biden is a psychopath and kept quiet about it.

So, Biden, who was one of the leading White-supremacists in the U.S. Senate, ended up successfully pretending to have been instead a campaigner for civil rights and won his nomination by combining the donations from 66 American billionaires (a larger number of them than donated to any of the other Democratic candidates — and Sanders was the only candidate to have received no money from any billionaire) with the votes by the overwhelming majority of black voters, who constituted the majority of Democratic voters in the states of Old Dixie, and thus handed Biden the Democratic nomination, on February 29th and Super Tuesday.

The chief difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden might be that Trump never even tried to paint his face black. (One example of this “paint” was at 17:29 in the video that showed Biden addressing Blacks on 22 May 2020, where he told them: “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”)

This is not to argue for Donald Trump. It is instead to add yet further to my description of the way American politics actually functions.

To conclude here: Kenneth L. Karst, one of America’s leading professors of Constitutional law, wrote the entry on “School Busing”, at encyclopedia dot com, in 1986, and stated there (which still remains true):

“Sadly, it is realistic to assume the continuation of urban residential segregation, which has diminished only slightly since 1940, despite nearly half a century of civil rights litigation and legislation. (Even the migration of increasing numbers of middle-class black families to the suburbs has not significantly diminished residential segregation.) Given that assumption, the nation must choose between accepting racially separate schools and using school busing to achieve integration. The first choice will seem to many citizens a betrayal of the promise of Brown. The second choice faces opposition strong enough to threaten not only the nation’s historic commitment to public education but also its commitment to obedience to law.”

The only change is that that “nearly half a century” in 1986 is now 34 years more (and still no change — despite what courts have ruled).

People such as Joe Biden and Donald Trump are the reason why the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education is still awaiting laws that would mandate it, and enforcement that would impose it. The resistance always wins, because it comes from America’s billionaires, who fund politicians’ careers. Pumping bigotry is profitable. This is natural. But, often, what is natural is bad, not good. Government imposing those natural things is bad, not good. And this is the type of Government that both Biden and Trump represent. It is the billionaires’ Government.

[Category: Americas, World, Democratic Party, Elections, Establishment, Joe Biden, United States]

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[l] at 7/9/20 8:59am

Prabir PURKAYASTHA

The U.S. has bought up almost all of the stock of remdesivir from Gilead, making it nearly impossible for this COVID-19 drug to be available anywhere else in the world. After making America sick again, Trump is trying to compensate for his administration’s failure by buying Gilead’s production for the next three months for the U.S., leaving nothing for the rest of the world.

This makes it all the more urgent for India and other countries that featured prominently in previous drug license fights against Big Pharma in the U.S. and around the world for more than a decade to break Gilead’s patent and issue compulsory licenses to manufacture the drug locally. The patent laws of most countries and the World Trade Organization’s 2001 Doha Declaration have clear provisions for compulsory licensing during a health emergency or an epidemic. COVID-19 obviously qualifies on both accounts.

On July 1, the U.S. reached a point of more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, about 23 percent of the 218,000 new cases worldwide that day, making it the global leader on how not to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. As of July 1, Brazil and India were in second and third place, respectively, for new cases.

Remdesivir is the only drug that in drug trials has shown some benefit in fighting the virus infection. Remdesivir works by reducing the replication of the virus in the human body, and this helps in shortening the hospital stay of the patient by about 25 percent. If the patient progresses to a more serious stage, needing oxygen support or ventilation, remdesivir is of little help. Here, anti-inflammatory drugs like dexamethasone become important. Dexamethasone has shown efficacy treating COVID-19 patients in clinical trials, and, unlike remdesivir, it works by reducing lung inflammation arising out of the infection, rather than by fighting the infection itself. Dexamethasone is off-patent and is widely available at low costs.

But if remdesivir cuts down the infectious period, not only is it beneficial to the patients who receive it, but it is also useful for society. By reducing the patient’s infectious period, it lowers the rate of virus transmission.

I have argued previously that after the battle for access to cheap AIDS drugs, the next big battle would be fought over COVID-19 medicines and vaccines. In the World Health Assembly, the U.S. was the only country that opposed the resolution that all medicines and vaccines should be put in a common patent pool, and accessible to all countries at reasonable costs.

We now know the reason for the U.S. opposition. It wants control over medicines and vaccines for the fight against the pandemic. One reason is to make U.S. citizens feel that Trump is looking after them by providing medicines, even if his administration has failed miserably in the fight against COVID-19. The second reason is that by controlling the medicine for the rest of the world, Trump can bargain with them and try to regain the global hegemon status that the U.S. has lost.

With this step, the U.S. has also made clear its intention regarding COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S. has backed a set of five companies with a $13 billion purse, as a part of its Operation Warp Speed to support vaccine development. One of these five is Moderna, a U.S. biotech company, and one of the frontrunners in the current vaccine trials. The other four backed by the U.S. are AstraZeneca (in consortium with Oxford University); Johnson & Johnson; Merck; and Pfizer with BioNTech. If any of these vaccines succeed and others do not, we can expect the U.S. will guard that vaccine as it is doing with COVID-19 medicine in the case of remdesivir. Fortunately for the world, there are a total of 17 vaccines in the World Health Organization’s list of ongoing clinical trials, and another 132 in the pipeline.

Apart from the U.S. buying up almost all of the remdesivir stock, the other issue in making remdesivir accessible to those who need it is the price at which Gilead is selling this drug. For U.S. patients, the cost is about $3,000 for a typical five-day course (which consists of six vials of the drug—two on the first day, and one per day after that). Gilead has granted a handful of licenses to drug manufacturers in other countries—including three Indian companies, Cipla, Hetero and Jubilant—to sell generic remdesivir. This means a full course of remdesivir to Indian patients will cost about $400 (at $66 per vial, for six vials).

What is the actual cost of a course of remdesivir? According to an article in the Journal of Virus Eradication by Hill et al in April, the active pharmaceutical ingredient for one day’s treatment should not cost more than $1. If we add to that the cost of making it into the typical five-day course of six injections, the total cost should not be more than $6. Calculations by two authors from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review in the U.S. use Hill’s data to estimate that the price of remdesivir for a full course of treatment (they use a longer course of 10 days) in the U.S. should be less than $10.

Why should a full course of remdesivir, costing less than $10 to produce, be priced at $3,000, or 300 times its cost of production, in the U.S.? Even at Gilead’s concessional price of $400 for India, it is still 40 times the cost of its production! Gilead’s argument is that because its medicine decreases the duration of hospitalization, it saves COVID-19 patients about $12,000 each in hospital bills—and by charging only one-fourth of that, even if it is 300 times the cost of production, Gilead is doing the customers a big favor.

As we know from the results of the clinical trials, remdesivir fights the virus, but if the patient becomes seriously ill, it does not have a statistically significant impact on mortality rates. If it did, Gilead’s price probably would have factored in lifetime earnings saved by remdesivir, and its price would probably have been even 10 times higher!

But even if remdesivir becomes significantly cheaper, it is uncertain that it can get to countries outside the U.S. thanks to the U.S.’s plan to buy almost all of Gilead’s stock of the drug. So what can the rest of the world do? It may need to prepare to fight a long battle, as India and other countries did during the AIDS epidemic against the U.S. and its drug cartel allies like Switzerland, France, the UK and Germany.

Big Pharma priced AIDS drugs around $10,000-15,000 for a year’s worth of treatment in the U.S. and Europe, and a ‘concessional’ price of $4,000 for poor countries. Indian companies were manufacturing the generic version of these drugs at a fraction of these prices, but countries who wanted to import AIDS drugs from India faced lawsuits and political pressure from the U.S.

This battle was fought for nearly a decade. In the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round in 2001, the Doha Declaration accepted that in the case of a health emergency or an epidemic, any country has the right to issue a compulsory license for producing lifesaving drugs. And the license to produce the drug could be issued even to a company outside the country’s borders. Indian generic drug manufacturer Cipla could then supply the AIDS drugs at $350 for a year’s course to a number of countries, which would otherwise have been completely bankrupted by patented drugs’ higher prices—or else they would see their AIDS patients die in large numbers without medicines.

The victory to secure cheap generic AIDS drugs sets a precedent for the current pandemic. COVID-19 has already killed an estimated half a million and infected more than 10 million. No one can dispute that is both a health emergency and a pandemic. The remedy of using a compulsory license already exists in most countries’ patent laws and in the Doha Declaration.

Why, then, are other countries not starting the manufacture of remdesivir? Are they hoping that Gilead and the U.S. will behave better than they did earlier during the AIDS epidemic? Or are they afraid of the threat of retaliatory sanctions from the U.S.?

Every year, the U.S. Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issues a Special 301 Report that it has used to threaten trade sanctions against countries that don’t comply with its patents. India figures prominently in this report year after year, for daring to issue a compulsory license in 2012 to Natco to sell the cancer drug nexavar for less than 3 percent of Bayer’s price of more than $65,000 a year. After India issued the compulsory license on Nexavar, Marijn Dekkers, the CEO of Bayer, said, “We did not develop this medicine for Indians… We developed it for Western patients who can afford it.”

In April, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi buckled under Trump’s threat and exported hydroxychloroquine to the U.S. even though it was under an export ban at that time. Will he—and the leaders of other countries—be willing to stand up to the U.S. on remdesivir? Or will they agree with Trump that remdesivir should be reserved for only U.S. patients, even if they have the capacity to produce it for their people?

counterpunch.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, Big Pharma, Medicine, Pandemic]

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[l] at 7/9/20 8:43am

That Ghislaine Maxwell is finally in custody is certainly satisfying for all of us who believed her completely complicit in the horrible crimes against young girls committed by her associate Jeffrey Epstein. The internet is already alive with speculation regarding how long she will last in prison given the alleged death by suicide that eliminated Epstein in a Manhattan maximum security prison back in August 2019. Before jumping to too many conclusions, however, there are a number of additional developments in her case that should be considered.

First of all, Maxwell’s arrest was not fortuitous. She clearly made some efforts to hide the bulk of her multi-million-dollar fortune, but she has been visible for those who knew where to look. She moved about freely, though keeping a low profile, and made “intentional efforts to avoid detection including moving locations at least twice, switching her primary phone number (which she registered under the name ‘G Max’) and email address, and ordering packages for delivery with a different person listed on the shipping label.”

The 18-page prosecutorial indictment stated that “The Government has identified more than 15 different bank accounts held by or associated with the defendant from 2016 to the present, and during that same period, the total balances of those accounts have ranged from a total of hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million.” Maxwell was charged with recruiting and “grooming” young women for Epstein to abuse, which could carry as much as a 35 year prison sentence.

As the 58-year old Maxwell, who has British citizenship as well as that of the United States, France and Israel, was considered to be a considerable flight risk she was not allowed bail after her arrest.

During the time while Maxwell was moving about freely, the FBI apparently did not even attempt to interview her. She spent a good deal of time with her lawyers and was reportedly seen having coffee in Los Angeles, shopping near her apartment in Paris, visiting Britain and also staying under protection in Israel. She was born in France and her father, the Israeli spy Robert, is presumed to have had citizenship in the Jewish state, which would have been transferrable to her. Both France and Israel are extremely difficult to deal with when it comes to extradition, so she presumably could have stayed in either country and would have avoided prosecution in the United States. One might also recall that Epstein had a genuine Austrian passport in a false name, a probable indicator of his intelligence agency ties. It is quite possible that Ghislaine also has some form of false identification.

When she was arrested, Ghislaine was living in a luxurious country house on 156 acres in a rural part of New Hampshire. She had bought the property in December for $1.07 million through a limited liability company that does not bear her name which was set up by one of her lawyers. Clearly the police knew exactly where she could be found. The house is a two-hour drive from the Canadian border, which might have been an intended refuge if she felt that the forces of law and order were moving in, but it begs the question as to why she would want to return to the U.S. at all. I rather suspect that she and her lawyers had actually been in touch with the authorities and some kind of plea bargain has been under consideration.

Why now? The timing would seem to relate to other developments. Only last week Federal judge Loretta Preska ruled that the documents relating to Epstein and Maxwell in the possession of litigant victim Virginia Giuffre had to be destroyed. Information about Epstein and Maxwell, extracted from a 2015 civil suit filed against Epstein by Giuffre, appear to have contained the names of individuals with whom Epstein had conducted business, both those he recorded in flagrante as well as his other clients and even his victims.

Preska ruled that Giuffre’s lawyers had obtained the documents improperly and ordered that all the materials in the files “shall be destroyed.” She also demanded proof that the material had been destroyed. The whereabouts of Epstein’s secret tapings is not definitely known, but the FBI did seize all of the papers and other data at the Manhattan mansion after he was arrested. Some believe, however, that Ghislaine has some of the tapes, presumably hidden or in the custody of her lawyers.

The loss of the Giuffre files will seriously damage the criminal case being made by the government against Maxwell as well as the lawsuit being pursued by the victims against the Epstein estate. Ghislaine has been charged with procuring young girls and “grooming” them for sex with Epstein and his prominent clients, all of which she has denied. The upcoming trial could easily end relatively quickly with a toothless admission of guilt by Maxwell and a plea-bargained minimum prison sentence. All documents relating to the case, including any recordings, would be sealed, which would inter alia protect other perceived government equities, namely the prominent individuals and the spy agencies that might have been involved either as victims or perpetrators.

There is every indication that the Justice Department aided and abetted by the media is seeking to bury certain aspects of the Epstein case. A recent documentary on Netflix “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Richcarefully avoids any discussion of the likely Israeli espionage aspect of Epstein’s activities. Ghislaine’s father, who introduced Jeffrey to his daughter, was a prominent Mossad spy who received a state funeral in Israel after his mysterious death in 1991 which was attended by the prime minister as well as by all the former and serving heads of that country’s intelligence services.

Additional confirmation of the Israeli connection comes from a recent book by former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, who claims that Epstein and partner in crime Ghislaine Maxwell were engaged in blackmailing prominent politicians on behalf of Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad. According to Ben-Menashe, the two had been working directly for the Israeli government since the 1980’s and their operation, which was funded by Mossad and also by prominent American Jews, was a classic “honey-trap” which used underage girls as bait to attract well-known politicians from around the world. The politicians would be photographed and video recorded when they were in bed with the girls. Prince Andrew and both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were visitors to the Epstein New York City mansion where the recordings were made, while Clinton was a regular traveler on the “Lolita Express” airplane that Epstein used to transport his “friends” to his estate in Florida and his private Caribbean Island, referred to by locals as the “Pedophile Island.”

Concerning Maxwell and Epstein, no one in the Justice Department appears to want to ask one simple question that would provide significant clarity if it were to be answered honestly. Conclusive evidence that Jeffrey Epstein was an Israeli or even American intelligence agent might well be derived from the former U.S. Attorney in Miami Alexander Acosta’s comments when being later cleared by the Trump transition team. He was asked “Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” … “Acosta testified that he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had ‘been told’ to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. ‘I was told Epstein belonged to intelligence and to leave it alone.’”

Why is no one in the various government investigative agencies or the mainstream media interested in what Acosta meant, even though it would be easy enough to ask him? Who told him to back off? And how did they explain it? The simple answer just might be that Epstein was in fact an Israeli spy preying on prominent figures and anything having to do with the Jewish state, no matter how malodorous, is a political hotwire and off limits to Democrats and Republicans alike. If all of that is true, we the public will not be seeing anything like a “show trial” of Ghislaine Maxwell that reveals all and names names. She will quietly disappear into the legal system and before too long she will be out and around again, taking her secrets with her.

[Category: Society, Criminal, Gender, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, Justice, United States]

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[l] at 7/8/20 12:00pm

Usually when there are protests, however minor, happening in a nation that has run afoul of the United States the “International Community” and “Human Rights Activists” rally to push for regime change. However, now that there are mass protests exploding over the United States these types of voices are completely silent. American police are free to destroy CHAZ and other camps however they see fit. This is the power of America, however this time around there sure are a lot of red flags and Communist sentiments in the mouths of the protestors. If we were still in the Cold War the Soviet Union would have been instantly blamed as spark that lit BLM. But interestingly in today’s world the only powerful Communist nation on Earth left standing is getting 0% of the blame. This is the power of China.

If we remove relevant issues related to feelings and sexuality the real big story over the last five to ten years has been the rise of the Chinese economy with all sorts of “predictions” grounded in the biases of those making them. The more Fox News/Republican you are the more Chinese “Communism” seems gilded at best and for those on the other side of the line they see China taking the 21st century as its own due to the failures of “late stage Capitalism”. We’ve all lived through years of speculation about where China is going, but finally according to Max Keiser (who is far from perfect himself in predicting the future, but has better results than most mainstream economists) it looks like this is the year the Red Chinese will finally overtake the Rugged Individualists and become the largest economy in the world. To be clear he argues that this “achievement” will be due to weathering the global economic downturn that is coming in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic. For the tinfoil hat crowd, yes it does seem awfully convenient that the country that started the plague may wind up benefiting the most from it.

Photo: China is rising but how far can it go?

So is China in the near future going to become like a post-WWII United States – damaged from battle but in vastly better condition than any of its competitors ready to reach out across the globe to secure its Superpower status? Let’s take a look at some arguments for and against this and Mr. Keiser’s prediction.

Arguments Against:

  • China has nowhere to expand to. There will be no “Red Marshall Plan” for the post Covid world and Chinese goods have already saturated international markets. This is what gave Beijing the chance to rise but does it really have anywhere new to go? Can China somehow explode further and become even more pervasive than it already is? Probably not. Perhaps this fact is why the Chinese economy (according to a variety of sources) is starting to slow down if not stagnate.
  • China has economic successes over the competition, not cultural ones. Countries with pathetic geopolitical influence like Japan produce more media consumed abroad than China. America has been able to export some sort of universal attractive picture of itself as a Soft Power aphrodisiac for decades. One has to be “cool” to be a king of the world and China thus far only knows how to speak to its own people internally.
  • It is unknown if the People’s Liberation Army is up to the impossible task of policing the planet. The United States spends $750 billion on it per year and seems to be barely hanging on. Could China really maintain some sort of global presence?
  • The Financial Times lays out a laundry list of social problems that the Chinese have not resolved. From a massive gender imbalance to a surprisingly shrinking workforce that is aging rapidly. China’s biggest asset its population, like its economy is also stagnating.
  • Add in some large debts and parts of the economy resting on the value “ghost towns” and we see there could be some rough waters ahead for the internal side of the Chinese economy.
  • China generally steals ideas and makes them on the cheap, or produces them well for foreign creators. It is hard to imagine a dominant world power that has no ideas of its own producing plastic widgets for its vassals as a key source of income. China’s role as the world’s factory excludes it from becoming the global executive.

Arguments For:

  • China still has the ideal conditions for a 21st century economy. Over a billion people mostly packed together around the coast, willing to work for cheap with the ability to export everything for pennies by boat. (And, even if that fails or is sabotaged by America they New Silk Road is a fantastic Plan B). China has these advantages, and although others like India want to pretend that they do, in actually they are not even close. In this way China is an “exceptional” nation as it has the collective mentality and organized manpower to win.
  • At the very least China plays an important role in every national economy on Earth. Even in countries a bit more trade dependent on America, they still have the Chinese coming at #2. The USA was about 50% of the world economy after WWII and today it has 23%. China is at 15% and rising, perhaps if it could hit 33% it would enter in to its own 1950s like utopia by 2050.
  • Things like a “lack of free press” or “rule of law” have been very overblown in their importance in a powerful economy and China is proof of this. Any of these emotional “boo-hoo they aren’t like us” arguments are garbage that needs to be burned and should be ignored.
  • There is nothing besides the United States stopping China from using mafia tactics to shut down competition. What are some manufacturing plants in Malaysia or South Korea going to do when the PLA threatens to break their legs? They will probably instantly back down and surrender. If Washington wants “controlled chaos” in the Middle-East – you’re done. If the Chinese want you to work less in a post American world then enjoy your permanent vacation time, or else.

As mentioned above people who write analysis pieces are very often blinded by their ideology, and when one is an advocate for a Multipolar World it is possible to see “Multipolarity” in everything, but it seems unlikely that our era will truly become “China’s Century”. Just because the world’s only Hyperpower is on the decline does not mean that a new one has to take its place. When Rome fell no other Mediterranean city automatically took its place as the lord of the West. China as nation will remain strong, it will not collapse, but it will not become a post-WWII United States. This simply does not seem to be in the cards.

[Category: Asia-Pacific, World, China, War]

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[l] at 7/8/20 11:00am

Caitlin JOHNSTONE

There are no moderate, mainstream centrists in the US-centralized empire. They do not exist.

It’s not that moderate, mainstream centrism is an inherently impossible position. In a healthy world, that’s exactly what the predominant worldview would be. But we do not live in a healthy world.

There are no moderate, mainstream centrists anywhere in the tight alliance of nations which function as a single empire on foreign policy, because that functional empire is built upon murder, terrorism, exploitation, oppression, ecocide and the stockpiling of armageddon weapons.

People who support the status quo of this empire are called “moderates”, but, just like the so-called “moderate rebels” of Syria, they are in fact violent extremists.

This is John Bolton. Actual John Bolton. They brought on actual, literal John Bolton as an expert analyst on intelligence claims about a US-targeted government, AND, ALSO, did NOT inform their audience that this person has built his entire career on lying about these things. https://t.co/r1dRjIv2CK

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) June 28, 2020

This is the reality of living in a world that is profoundly psychologically unhealthy. If you make a career out of facilitating wars which cause explosives to be dropped from the sky on top of innocent human beings causing their bodies to be ripped to shreds and buried in rubble, then you are treated as an exemplar of ideal leadership and rewarded with prestigious positions in politics, punditry, book publishing and think tankery. If you oppose those same wars, you are marginalized and smeared as at best an extremist whack job and at worst a literal traitor conducting psyops for a foreign government.

Because the plutocratic class owns the political class which advances depraved plutocratic agendas and the media class which normalizes and justifies those agendas, a mainstream consensus has been forcibly manufactured that maintaining the oppressive, exploitative, omnicidal, ecocidal status quo is a good and sane thing to do. Voices which point out that this is bat shit crazy are marginalized and ignored when possible and smeared and demonized when necessary.

The ability of our plutocratic rulers and their lackeys to do this is the only reason why defenders of the status quo get to call themselves “centrists” and “moderates”. It’s not because their position is middle-of-the-road in any way whatsoever, it’s because they stand in alignment with the consensus that has been deliberately artificially manufactured and shoved into the mainstream by sheer force of narrative control.

I Watched Joe Biden Give An Award To George W Bush So You Don’t Have To

“’This is a man who’d been to the darkest places as a crim- uh, a prisoner of war,’ Bush said of McCain. He almost said criminal. Okay, I’m glad I kept watching.”https://t.co/kUHFARUWzB

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) November 12, 2018

This consensus manufacturing is then carried home by a glitch in human cognition known as status quo bias, which causes us to tend toward holding to the familiar as a default preference and perceive the risk of losing what we have as far less favorable than the reward gaining something better. Psychology Today explains:

Research from Kahneman and Tversky suggests that losses are twice as psychologically harmful as gains are beneficial. In other words, individuals feel twice as much psychological pain from losing $100 as pleasure from gaining $100. One interpretation is that in order for an individual to change course from their current state of affairs is that the alternative must be perceived as twice as beneficial. This highlights the challenges we may face when considering a change to our usual way of doing things.

When military members are considering their choices as their contract comes to an end, many consider re-enlisting simply because they are unaware of the many opportunities that exist for them. Even when we understand our current path is no longer beneficial or no longer makes us happy, we must still overcome the natural urge to stay on the path unless the alternative is sufficiently attractive. In order for us to readily pursue an alternate path, we must believe that the alternative is clearly superior to the current state of affairs.

The status quo effect is pervasive in both inconsequential and major decisions. Oftentimes we are held back by what we believe to be the safe option, simply because it is the default. Bearing in mind our natural propensity for the status quo will enable us to recognize the allure of inertia and more effectively overcome it.

Status quo bias is further exacerbated in our current predicament by the fact that so many people are now so close to the brink of financial ruin and so terrified of what can happen to them if things change in a sudden and unpredictable way. The result of this is that now you’ve got the majority of people in the most dominant country on earth supporting the “slow incremental change” philosophy of so-called centrism, which in practice has always ended up meaning no change whatsoever. Meanwhile our ecosystem is dying and the US is escalating nuclear tensions with Russia and China and everyone’s getting more and more crazy and miserable under the oppressive and exploitative status quo.

Did you ever climb a tree when you were a kid and get stuck because you were afraid to climb down? It’s a common experience for a lot of us. You get lost in the joy of the climb and so pleased with yourself in how well you’re doing, then suddenly you notice that the branches are getting a lot thinner and the wind is starting to sway you back and forth, and suddenly you look down and get terrified.

Maybe you called out for your mother and she came out and told you to climb down, calling up “Well you can’t stay up there!” And you knew she was right, but in that moment the idea of looking down and letting go of the thin branches you were clinging to felt so much scarier than just staying put in your precarious and unsustainable position.

That’s exactly where we’re at right now with status quo bias in our current predicament. People know things need to change, but they’re in such a precarious position that the risk of change feels far too scary to take the leap and force a deviation from our trajectory toward disaster.

But that is our only choice if we are to survive as a species. We know we were able to climb down from whatever trees we got stuck in as kids, and we know that our mother was as right then as that small inner voice inside us is now: we can’t stay here. We’ve got to wake up from the status quo narrative management and find a way to get down from our precarious and unsustainable position to the stable ground of sanity.

medium.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Establishment, United States]

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[l] at 7/8/20 10:34am

Politicians, Priests, and psychiatrists often face the same problem: how to find the most rapid and permanent means of changing a man’s belief…The problem of the doctor and his nervously ill patient, and that of the religious leader who sets out to gain and hold new converts, has now become the problem of whole groups of nations, who wish not only to confirm certain political beliefs within their boundaries, but to proselytize the outside world.”

– William Sargant “Battle of the Mind”

It is rather ironic that in this “age of information”, we are more confused than ever…

It had been commonly thought in the past, and not without basis, that tyranny could only exist on the condition that the people were kept illiterate and ignorant of their oppression. To recognise that one was “oppressed” meant they must first have an idea of what was “freedom”, and if one were allowed the “privilege” to learn how to read, this discovery was inevitable.

If education of the masses could turn the majority of a population literate, it was thought that the higher ideas, the sort of “dangerous ideas” that Mustapha Mond for instance expresses in “The Brave New World”, would quickly organise the masses and revolution against their “controllers” would be inevitable. In other words, knowledge is freedom, and you cannot enslave those who learn how to “think”.

However, it hasn’t exactly played out that way has it?

The greater majority of us are free to read whatever we wish to, in terms of the once “forbidden books”, such as those listed by The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1). We can read any of the writings that were banned in “The Brave New World”, notably the works of Shakespeare which were named as absolutely dangerous forms of “knowledge”.

We are now very much free to “educate” ourselves on the very “ideas” that were recognised by tyrants of the past as the “antidote” to a life of slavery. And yet, today, the majority choose not to…

It is recognised, albeit superficially, that who controls the past, controls the present and thereby the future. George Orwell’s book “1984”, hammers this as the essential feature that allows the Big Brother apparatus to maintain absolute control over fear, perception and loyalty to the Party cause, and yet despite its popularity, there still remains a lack of interest in actually informing oneself about the past.

What does it matter anyway, if the past is controlled and rewritten to suit the present? As the Big Brother interrogator O’Brien states to Winston, “We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not? [And thus, are free to rewrite it as we choose…]”

Of course, we are not in the same situation as Winston…we are much better off. We can study and learn about the “past” if we so desire, unfortunately, it is a choice that many take for granted.

In fact, many are probably not fully aware that presently there is a battle waging for who will “control the past” in a manner that is closely resembling a form of “memory wipe”.

There is an especial focus to rewrite the history of WWII at this very moment. These revisionists are attempting to rewrite this history since there lies the root from which today’s fascism stems.

Whoever understands this period of history understands today’s fascism.

The “experts” say that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23rd 1939 is supposedly “proof” that Stalin supported Hitler’s fascist agenda, and thus the veneer of the Soviet Union being the greatest defender against fascism during WWII is a sham.

However, what is left out of this discussion every time, is that in the previous year, the UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed an appeasement deal with Hitler on September 30th 1938, known as the Munich Agreement (aka the Munich Betrayal), where Hitler demanded and promptly received the annexation of Czech border areas, known as the Sudetenland annexation. It had thus become official British policy to allow Hitler’s expansion of German territory relatively unchecked as part of the “appeasement”.

The “logic” behind it was that Britain would give what Hitler demanded in hopes of “appeasing” his imperial “appetites” and thus avoid further conflict. That is, by giving Hitler more power, it would somehow or other, convince him not to desire more…at least the plan apparently looked good on paper.

Then there is the whole embarrassing affair with the Bank of England and Bank of International Settlements, to which the BoE Governor Montague Norman allowed for the direct transfer of money to Hitler, however, not with England’s own money but rather 5.6 million pounds worth of gold owned by the National Bank of Czechoslovakia! Well, you certainly didn’t think that England would use her own money?

And let us not forget, the Union Banking Corporation, with founding member and director Prescott Bush also caught in the funding of Hitler before and during WWII, and on Oct 20th, 1942 its bank assets were seized under the “U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act” and “Executive Order 9095”.

Of course, you can imagine that being aware of such dealings made Stalin uneasy as it was becoming apparent that Hitler’s vision was shared by others of “high society” stalk. Why should we expect Stalin to have stood alone with no support and risk being immediately cut down, when his supposed “allies” were signing “appeasements” and handing over money to what was supposed to be the biggest threat to the free world?

Such “high society” men are used to pulling on strings, they muse themselves as chess masters, yet one never quite knows which side they are playing…

And thus, we find ourselves increasingly in the unsettling position of a Winston. In Orwell’s “1984”, there are three main super states in the world: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia that are in one combination or another constantly at war with each other and have been so for the last 25 years.

In the case of Winston, he has only known Oceania (the British commonwealths and U.S.), he knows essentially nothing of either Eurasia or Eastasia, except that sometimes Oceania is at war with Eurasia and sometimes it is at war with Eastasia. In fact, even this memory, that the enemy is not constant, is not something Winston is supposed to recollect or acknowledge. Just by doing this very thing, he is committing a “thoughtcrime”.

Winston’s experience begs the questions, if one were born into a fascist, totalitarian state would they know it? Of course, the state itself would not describe itself as such. How would you be able to compare your “freedom” with the “oppression” of the enemy, when all you were given was what the state chose to give to you?

How do you know that what has come to shape your convictions, your beliefs, your fears really belong to you, and were not placed there by another?

We are all very sensitive to this unsettling question because ironically, that has also been placed in us. It was what started this whole business of “mind control”, you see, it had to be done…for our “protection”.

The Battle for Your Mind

He whom the gods wish to destroy, they first of all drive mad.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “The Masque of Pandora”

William Sargant was a British psychiatrist and, one could say, effectively the Father of “mind control” in the West, with connections to British Intelligence and the Tavistock Institute, which would influence the CIA and American military via the program MK Ultra. Sargant was also an advisor for Ewen Cameron’s LSD “blank slate” work at McGill University, funded by the CIA.

Sargant accounts for his reason in studying and using forms of “mind control” on his patients, which were primarily British soldiers that were sent back from the battlefield during WWII with various forms of “psychosis”, as the only way to rehabilitate extreme forms of PTSD.

The other reason, was because the Soviets had apparently become “experts” in the field, and out of a need for national security, the British would thus in turn have to become experts as well…as a matter of self-defence of course.

The work of Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, had succeeded in producing some disturbingly interesting insights into four primary forms of nervous systems in dogs, that were combinations of inhibitory and excitatory temperaments; “strong excitatory”, “balanced”, “passive” and “calm imperturbable”. Pavlov found that depending on the category of nervous system temperament the dog had, this in turn would dictate the form of “conditioning” that would work best to “reprogram behaviour”. The relevance to “human conditioning” was not lost on anyone.

It was feared in the West, that such techniques would not only be used against their soldiers to invoke free-flowing uninhibited confessions to the enemy but that these soldiers could be sent back to their home countries, as zombified assassins and spies that could be set off with a simple code word. At least, these were the thriller stories and movies that were pumped into the population. How horrific indeed! That the enemy could apparently enter what was thought the only sacred ground to be our own…our very “minds”!

However, for those who were actually leading the field in mind control research, such as William Sargant, it was understood that this was not exactly how mind control worked.

For one thing, the issue of “free will” was getting in the way.

No matter the length or degree of electro-shock, insulin “therapy”, tranquilizer cocktails, induced comas, sleep deprivation, starvation etc induced, it was discovered that if the subject had a “strong conviction” and “strong belief” in something, this could not be simply erased, it could not be written over with any arbitrary thing. Rather, the subject would have to have the illusion that their “conditioning” was in fact a “choice”. This was an extremely challenging task, and long term conversions (months to years) were rare.

However, Sargant saw an opening. It was understood that one could not create a new individual from scratch, however, with the right conditioning that was meant to lead to a physical breakdown using abnormal stress (effectively a reboot of the nervous system), one could increase the “suggestibility” markedly in their subjects.

Sargant wrote in his “Battle of the Mind”: “Pavlov’s clinical descriptions of the ‘experimental neuroses’ which he could induce in dogs proved, in fact, to have a close correspondence with those war-neuroses which we were investigating at the time.

In addition, Sargant found that a falsely implanted memory could help induce abnormal stress leading to emotional exhaustion and physical breakdown to invoke “suggestibility”. That is, one didn’t even need to have a “real stress” but an “imagined stress” would work just as effectively.

Sargant goes on to state in his book: “It is not surprising that the ordinary person, in general, is much more easily indoctrinated than the abnormal…A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioural patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions.

Sargant then goes over the phenomenon of the London Blitz, which was an eight month period of heavy bombing of London during WWII. During this period, in order to cope and stay “sane”, people rapidly became accustomed to the idea that their neighbours could be and were buried alive in bombed houses around them. The thought was “If I can’t do anything about it what use is it that I trouble myself over it?” The best “coping” was thus found to be those who accepted the new “environment” and just focused on “surviving”, and did not try to resist it.

Sargant remarks that it is this “adaptability” to a changing environment which is part of the “survival” instinct and is very strong in the “healthy” and “normal” individual who can learn to cope and thus continues to be “functional” despite an ever changing environment.

It was thus our deeply programmed “survival instinct” that was found to be the key to the suggestibility of our minds. That the best “survivors” made for the best “brain-washing” in a sense.

Sargant quotes Hecker’s work, who was studying the dancing mania phenomenon that occurred during the Black Death, where Hecker observed that heightened suggestibility had the capability to cause a person to “embrace with equal force, reason and folly, good and evil, diminish the praise of virtue as well as the criminality of vice.”

And that such a state of mind was likened to the first efforts of the infant mind “this instinct of imitation when it exists in its highest degree, is also united a loss of all power over the will, which occurs as soon as the impression on the senses has become firmly established, producing a condition like that of small animals when they are fascinated by the look of a serpent.

I wonder if Sargant imagined himself the serpent…

Sargant does finally admit: “This does not mean that all persons can be genuinely indoctrinated by such means. Some will give only temporary submission to the demands made on them, and fight again when strength of body and mind returns. Others are saved by the supervention of madness. Or the will to resist may give way, but not the intellect itself.

But he comforts himself as a response to this stubborn resistance that “As mentioned in a previous context, the stake, the gallows, the firing squad, the prison, or the madhouse, are usually available for the failures.

The Art of Doublethink

“WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”

George Orwell’s “1984” (Big Brother Mantra)

Thus what Sargant found, and what Orwell astutely identified, was that the most reliable form of mind control was found to be in the art of “doublethink”, that is, the ability to accept two contradictory thoughts in your mind without acknowledging that they are in fact opposites.

Orwell identifies this under two forms of “doublethink”, which are “crimestop” and “blackwhite”. “Crimestop” meaning the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of a dangerous thought.

Orwell further states “It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments…and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop in short, means protective stupidity.

“Blackwhite”, is the act of contradiction of plain facts, applied to an opponent. And when applied to the Party, it is the willingness to say black is white when the Party discipline demands it so.

As Orwell describes it “it means the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past…The alteration of the past is necessary for two reasons…The subsidiary reason is that…he must be cut off from the past, just as he must be cut off from foreign countries, because it is necessary for him to believe that he is better off… [the precautionary reason] by far the more important reason for the readjustment of the past is the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party.”

Orwell continues “The splitting of the intelligence which the Party requires of its members, and which is more easily achieved in an atmosphere of war, is now almost universal, but the higher up the ranks one goes, the more marked it becomes. It is precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of the enemy are strongest.

That is, it is the Inner Party members who are the most indoctrinated, the best at inducing “mind control” or “doublethink” on themselves, and at the same time believe that it is the best and right thing to do.

Orwell describes “doublethink” thus: “The process has to be conscious , or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence guilt…To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink.

Through the Rabbit Hole and Out Again

What many fail to grasp when reading “1984” is that Orwell is not only the character Winston, he is also the character O’Brien. He is the Outer Party member-turned-revolutionary, and he is the Inner Party disciplinarian.

He is simultaneously the tormentor-programmer as well as the tormented-programmed.

Winston eventually breaks and releases the one thing that kept him human, his love and loyalty to Julia. In the end, an announcement is made that Oceania is ever nearer to winning the war and Winston looks up at a large poster of Big Brother and cries gin-filled tears of joy and relief, for he had finally come to love Big Brother.

He had become O’Brien.

Orwell’s is a tragic story of a product of the British Empire. Stationed as a senior police officer in Burma, he had first-hand experience in the “programmer” techniques O’Brien was using. Refer to Martin Sieff’s excellent article for more of this story.

I think it is safe to say that Orwell intended Big Brother to symbolise the British Empire, the largest empire that has ever existed in world history.

Today, NATO is planning on moving further eastward. 9500 U.S. troops are being removed from Germany with the plan of entering into Eastern Europe near the Russian border and into the Indo-Pacific region, a potential new hot-spot between the U.S. and China.

The justification for this move relies on the WWII and Cold War narrative that Russia and China have always been the enemies of the “free world”… that Russia and China have never left their fascist “ideologies” that have thrown the entire world into conflict and war for almost a century.

I will leave it up to you dear reader, to fill in the rest.

(1) The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of forbidden books, which were judged to be dangerous to the faith and morals of Roman Catholics, and had a suspicious gravitation towards works by platonic humanists. Among the banned works would include those of Dante, Erasmus and all of Machiavelli’s books. For more refer to my paper on this subject.

The author can be reached at cynthiachung@tutanota.com

[Category: History, Society, Big Tech, George Orwell, New World Order]

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[l] at 7/8/20 9:11am

Nicolas J S DAVIES

When President Clinton dropped 23,000 bombs on what was left of Yugoslavia in 1999 and NATO invaded and occupied the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, U.S. officials presented the war to the American public as a “humanitarian intervention” to protect Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population from genocide at the hands of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. That narrative has been unraveling piece by piece ever since.

In 2008 an international prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, accused U.S.-backed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of Kosovo of using the U.S. bombing campaign as cover to murder hundreds of people to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market. Del Ponte’s charges seemed almost too ghoulish to be true. But on June 24th, Thaci, now President of Kosovo, and nine other former leaders of the CIA-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA,) were finally indicted for these 20-year-old crimes by a special war crimes court at The Hague.

From 1996 on, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies covertly worked with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to instigate and fuel violence and chaos in Kosovo. The CIA spurned mainstream Kosovar nationalist leaders in favor of gangsters and heroin smugglers like Thaci and his cronies, recruiting them as terrorists and death squads to assassinate Yugoslav police and anyone who opposed them, ethnic Serbs and Albanians alike.

As it has done in country after country since the 1950s, the CIA unleashed a dirty civil war that Western politicians and media dutifully blamed on Yugoslav authorities. But by early 1998, even U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard called the KLA a “terrorist group” and the UN Security Council condemned “acts of terrorism” by the KLA and “all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training.” Once the war was over and Kosovo was successfully occupied by U.S. and NATO forces, CIA sources openly touted the agency’s role in manufacturing the civil war to set the stage for NATO intervention.

By September 1998, the UN reported that 230,000 civilians had fled the civil war, mostly across the border to Albania, and the UN Security Council passed resolution 1199, calling for a ceasefire, an international monitoring mission, the return of refugees and a political resolution. A new U.S. envoy, Richard Holbrooke, convinced Yugoslav President Milosevic to agree to a unilateral ceasefire and the introduction of a 2,000 member “verification” mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). But the U.S. and NATO immediately started drawing up plans for a bombing campaign to “enforce” the UN resolution and Yugoslavia’s unilateral ceasefire.

Holbrooke persuaded the chair of the OSCE, Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek, to appoint William Walker, the former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador during its civil war, to lead the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). The U.S. quickly hired 150 Dyncorp mercenaries to form the nucleus of Walker’s team, whose 1,380 members used GPS equipment to map Yugoslav military and civilian infrastructure for the planned NATO bombing campaign. Walker’s deputy, Gabriel Keller, France’s former Ambassador to Yugoslavia, accused Walker of sabotaging the KVM, and CIA sources later admitted that the KVM was a “CIA front” to coordinate with the KLA and spy on Yugoslavia.

The climactic incident of CIA-provoked violence that set the political stage for the NATO bombing and invasion was a firefight at a village called Racak, which the KLA had fortified as a base from which to ambush police patrols and dispatch death squads to kill local “collaborators.” In January 1999, Yugoslav police attacked the KLA base in Racak, leaving 43 men, a woman and a teenage boy dead.

After the firefight, Yugoslav police withdrew from the village, and the KLA reoccupied it and staged the scene to make the firefight look like a massacre of civilians. When William Walker and a KVM team visited Racak the next day, they accepted the KLA’s massacre story and broadcast it to the world, and it became a standard part of the narrative to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia and military occupation of Kosovo.

Autopsies by an international team of medical examiners found traces of gunpowder on the hands of nearly all the bodies, showing that they had fired weapons. They were nearly all killed by multiple gunshots as in a firefight, not by precise shots as in a summary execution, and only one victim was shot at close range. But the full autopsy results were only published much later, and the Finnish chief medical examiner accused Walker of pressuring her to alter them.

Two experienced French journalists and an AP camera crew at the scene challenged the KLA and Walker’s version of what happened in Racak. Christophe Chatelet’s article in Le Monde was headlined, “Were the dead in Racak really massacred in cold blood?” and veteran Yugoslavia correspondent Renaud Girard concluded his story in Le Figaro with another critical question, “Did the KLA seek to transform a military defeat into a political victory?”

NATO immediately threatened to bomb Yugoslavia, and France agreed to host high-level talks. But instead of inviting Kosovo’s mainstream nationalist leaders to the talks in Rambouillet, Secretary Albright flew in a delegation led by KLA commander Hashim Thaci, until then known to Yugoslav authorities only as a gangster and a terrorist.

Albright presented both sides with a draft agreement in two parts, civilian and military. The civilian part granted Kosovo unprecedented autonomy from Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav delegation accepted that. But the military agreement would have forced Yugoslavia to accept a NATO military occupation, not just of Kosovo but with no geographical limits, in effect placing all of Yugoslavia under NATO occupation.

When Milosevich refused Albright’s terms for unconditional surrender, the U.S. and NATO claimed he had rejected peace, and war was the only answer, the “last resort.” They did not return to the UN Security Council to try to legitimize their plan, knowing full well that Russia, China and other countries would reject it. When UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Albright the British government was “having trouble with our lawyers” over NATO’s plan for an illegal war of aggression against Yugoslavia, she told him to “get new lawyers.”

In March 1999, the KVM teams were withdrawn and the bombing began. Pascal Neuffer, a Swiss KVM observer reported, “The situation on the ground on the eve of the bombing did not justify a military intervention. We could certainly have continued our work. And the explanations given in the press, saying the mission was compromised by Serb threats, did not correspond to what I saw. Let’s say rather that we were evacuated because NATO had decided to bomb.”

NATO killed thousands of civilians in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, as it bombed 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 69 schools, 25,000 homes, power stations, a national TV station, the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and other diplomatic missions. After it invaded Kosovo, the U.S. military set up the 955-acre Camp Bondsteel, one of its largest bases in Europe, on its newest occupied territory. Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, visited Camp Bondsteel in 2002 and called it “a smaller version of Guantanamo,” exposing it as a secret CIA black site for illegal, unaccountable detention and torture.

But for the people of Kosovo, the ordeal was not over when the bombing stopped. Far more people had fled the bombing than the so-called “ethnic cleansing” the CIA had provoked to set the stage for it. A reported 900,000 refugees, nearly half the population, returned to a shattered, occupied province, now ruled by gangsters and foreign overlords.

Serbs and other minorities became second-class citizens, clinging precariously to homes and communities where many of their families had lived for centuries. More than 200,000 Serbs, Roma and other minorities fled, as the NATO occupation and KLA rule replaced the CIA’s manufactured illusion of ethnic cleansing with the real thing. Camp Bondsteel was the province’s largest employer, and U.S. military contractors also sent Kosovars to work in occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2019, Kosovo’s per capita GDP was only $4,458, less than any country in Europe except Moldova and war-torn, post-coup Ukraine.

In 2007, a German military intelligence report described Kosovo as a “Mafia society,” based on the “capture of the state” by criminals. The report named Hashim Thaci, then the leader of the Democratic Party, as an example of “the closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class.” In 2000, 80% of the heroin trade in Europe was controlled by Kosovar gangs, and the presence of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops fueled an explosion of prostitution and sex trafficking, also controlled by Kosovo’s new criminal ruling class.

In 2008, Thaci was elected Prime Minister, and Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. (The final dissolution of Yugoslavia in 2006 had left Serbia and Montenegro as separate countries.) The U.S. and 14 allies immediately recognized Kosovo’s independence, and ninety-seven countries, about half the countries in the world, have now done so. But neither Serbia nor the UN have recognized it, leaving Kosovo in long-term diplomatic limbo.

When the court in the Hague unveiled the charges against Thaci on June 24th, he was on his way to Washington for a White House meeting with Trump and President Vucic of Serbia to try to resolve Kosovo’s diplomatic impasse. But when the charges were announced, Thaci’s plane made a U-turn over the Atlantic, he returned to Kosovo and the meeting was canceled.

The accusation of murder and organ trafficking against Thaci was first made in 2008 by Carla Del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY), in a book she wrote after stepping down from that position. Del Ponte later explained that the ICTFY was prevented from charging Thaci and his co-defendants by the non-cooperation of NATO and the UN Mission in Kosovo. In an interview for the 2014 documentary, The Weight of Chains 2, she explained, “NATO and the KLA, as allies in the war, couldn’t act against each other.”

Human Rights Watch and the BBC followed up on Del Ponte’s allegations, and found evidence that Thaci and his cronies murdered up to 400 mostly Sebian prisoners during the NATO bombing in 1999. Survivors described prison camps in Albania where prisoners were tortured and killed, a yellow house where people’s organs were removed and an unmarked mass grave nearby.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty interviewed witnesses, gathered evidence and published a report, which the Council of Europe endorsed in January 2011, but the Kosovo parliament did not approve the plan for a special court in the Hague until 2015. The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and independent prosecutor’s office finally began work in 2017. Now the judges have six months to review the prosecutor’s charges and decide whether the trial should proceed.

A central part of the Western narrative on Yugoslavia was the demonization of President Milosevich of Yugoslavia, who resisted his country’s Western-backed dismemberment throughout the 1990s. Western leaders smeared Milosevich as a “New Hitler” and the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but he was still arguing his innocence when he died in a cell at The Hague in 2006.

Ten years later, at the trial of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the judges accepted the prosecution’s evidence that Milosevich strongly opposed Karadzic’s plan to carve out a Serb Republic in Bosnia. They convicted Karadzic of being fully responsible for the resulting civil war, in effect posthumously exonerating Milosevich of responsibility for the actions of the Bosnian Serbs, the most serious of the charges against him.

But the U.S.’s endless campaign to paint all its enemies as “violent dictators” and “New Hitlers” rolls on like a demonization machine on autopilot, against Putin, Xi, Maduro, Khamenei, the late Fidel Castro and any foreign leader who stands up to the imperial dictates of the U.S. government. These smear campaigns serve as pretexts for brutal sanctions and catastrophic wars against our international neighbors, but also as political weapons to attack and diminish any U.S. politician who stands up for peace, diplomacy and disarmament.

As the web of lies spun by Clinton and Albright has unraveled, and the truth behind their lies has spilled out piece by bloody piece, the war on Yugoslavia has emerged as a case study in how U.S. leaders mislead us into war. In many ways, Kosovo established the template that U.S. leaders have used to plunge our country and the world into endless war ever since. What U.S. leaders took away from their “success” in Kosovo was that legality, humanity and truth are no match for CIA-manufactured chaos and lies, and they doubled down on that strategy to plunge the U.S. and the world into endless war.

As it did in Kosovo, the CIA is still running wild, fabricating pretexts for new wars and unlimited military spending, based on sourceless accusationscovert operations and flawed, politicized intelligence. We have allowed American politicians to pat themselves on the back for being tough on “dictators” and “thugs,” letting them settle for the cheap shot instead of tackling the much harder job of reining in the real instigators of war and chaos: the U.S. military and the CIA.

But if the people of Kosovo can hold the CIA-backed gangsters who murdered their people, sold their body parts and hijacked their country accountable for their crimes, is it too much to hope that Americans can do the same and hold our leaders accountable for their far more widespread and systematic war crimes?

Iran recently indicted Donald Trump for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, and asked Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for him. Trump is probably not losing sleep over that, but the indictment of such a key U.S. ally as Thaci is a sign that the U.S. “accountabilty-free zone” of impunity for war crimes is finally starting to shrink, at least in the protection it provides to U.S. allies. Should Netanyahu, Bin Salman and Tony Blair be starting to look over their shoulders?

counterpunch.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, CIA, Criminal, Kosovo, United States, War Crimes]

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[l] at 7/8/20 8:53am

Giant avalanches sweeping all before them often start with just a few tiny pebbles tumbling down and no one at first pays any attention: The surprise victory of Ireland over Canada to be voted by the United Nations General Assembly on to the Security Council for the next year may well be such a fateful pebble to set off transformational avalanches on both sides of the Atlantic.

That thunderous impact is likely to be felt far more strongly across Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite his eternally boyish appearance has already led his country for six years, desperately scraping home in his most recent parliamentary elections and surviving one embarrassing disastrous bungle after another. At first glance, this defeat should be another one. it does not directly impact on Canada’s wealth or security or the wellbeing of its people.. It is purely a prestige issue. But Trudeau has dug a fateful hole for himself and now he has fallen into it.

For like his father before him, late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau is a dedicated liberal internationalist who imagined he could thrive by voicing supposedly principled criticisms of Canada’s two Big Brother partners the United States and Britain while they were led by conservative nationalists Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Of course, as is typical of liberal internationalists and especially so of Trudeau, it was always all hot air with no action that would make any real change or opposition to policies emanating out of London and Washington behind it.

But this time, Trudeau’s fabled charm and luck, which has enabled him to glide on the illusion of power and authority without ever actually having to do anything that required courage, sacrifice or good judgment looks like it is running out at last. The failure to win the Security Council seat is a ringing humiliation for al his centerpiece foreign policies on several fronts simultaneously, It displays vividly to the world that Trudeau’s fake pose of gutsy independence to the United States and Britain deceives nobody.

Canada is seen around the world as a loyal member-state of NATO: And Trump, Boris Johnson and Alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg are trying to expand the alliance to the Pacific Ocean to embrace Australia, Japan, South Korea and even India.

That is a catastrophe which would complete the dark, insane neo-imperialist vision of dividing the world into two new Manichean power blocs of East and West with the West aggressively seeking to destabilize and ruin the nations of the East under the false mask of upholding human rights in them.

Trudeau has always quietly loyally gone along with that policy. But he thought he could have his cake and eat it too. Ottawa’s sham as a principled, independent peacemaker and pillar of the UN has now been humiliatingly exposed.

This hurts Trudeau on two fronts. His own new rising generation of liberal progressives, especially environmentalists are as disillusioned with him. And the conservative heartlands in Western Canada have always viscerally loathed him and will be given heart to pose a renewed challenge to him.

On the other side of the ocean, the change has already started. Another discredited liberal international leader Leo Varadkar in Ireland was humiliated in the last general election and has just ceded power to a three-way coalition led by the nationalist Fianna Fail Party led by new Taoiseach (Prime Minister), former Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin.

The highly experienced Martin has an impressive track record that includes taking principled stands on Cuba and the Palestinians that have defied and angered previous U.S. and British governments. He is also much more likely to challenge risk-taking and irresponsible behavior by London on Northern Irish affairs than the well-meaning but far from forceful Varadkar.

Canada’s ruling Liberals have always implacably supported the fundamental interests of Wall Street and the City of London behind their worthless facade of fatuous platitudes.

Trudeau’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is a classic example of this: She backed every West European and EU move to undermine Russia whether by imposing would-be crippling economic sanctions (they failed) or slandering the president of Russia as virtually a neo-Nazi. Freeland of course never mentioned that her own grandfather had been one of the most notorious Nazi collaborators in Ukraine during World War II.

New Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has already shown he is prepared to stand up to Britain in defending the “backstop” open border between the Republic of Ireland and the still British-ruled North.

Change is coming in both Ottawa and Dublin, and its repercussions will be felt in Washington and London as well – very soon.

[Category: Americas, World, Canada, Diplomacy, Ireland, Justine Trudeau]

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[l] at 7/7/20 12:00pm

During the course of President Putin’s June 24 opening speech during the Moscow Parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of WWII, the following call to action was made:

“We understand how important it is to strengthen friendship and trust between nations, and are open to dialogue and cooperation on the most pressing issues on the international agenda. Among them is the creation of a common reliable security system, something the complex and rapidly changing modern world needs. Only together can we protect the world from new dangerous threats.”

This call echoed the President’s powerful June 19 article published in the National Interest where he outlined in stark terms the powerful financier and aristocratic forces behind the rise of Hitler in the wake of WWI, and the vital need to honor those millions who died to ensure freedom and survival for future generations. In his article, Putin laid out the call for an emergency meeting among the five veto-carrying members of the U.N. Security Council which he first publicized during his January 15, 2020 State of the Union.

Although respect for Russia’ leader runs high, I have noticed that most people have still found it exceptionally difficult to see how Putin’s solution-oriented spirit is anything but naïve fancy.

After all, aren’t relations between Russia and America as low as they have ever been? Aren’t things even worse between the USA and China? How could anything good possibly come from a USA which has acted like a decadent imperial machine for decades?

Although very understandable, this inability to understand Putin’s intention is something I would like to help correct within this brief article.

To restate my position: Putin is no idiot.

Putin is a figure who is very much animated by a strong sense of moral duty which has given him the insight into both history and the future which is rare among citizens of our current epoch, and even rarer among the political class.

Putin also recognizes that the western neo-liberal system is sitting on the precipice of the worst financial meltdown in recorded history and he also knows that a new system will, by necessity be brought online. It is understood that the terms of this new system have to be fleshed out as soon as possible if a new hardcore fascist “solution” will be avoided along with the obvious world war that would soon follow.

As I have laid out in a recent report, the foundations for that new operating system will either be rooted in open system or closed system thinking.

Closed Systems in Brief

If humanity’s new system is presumed to be of a closed nature, then I am sorry to tell you that fascism will be necessitated as the ultimate governing mechanism of the elite.

The reason for this depressing fact is simple.

In all closed (ie: finite/bounded) systems, the number of people alive will always tend to consume more energy than the system itself creates over time as resources, and agricultural potential is slowly drawn down and entropy increases.

In such a world, someone has to decide who receives those ever-diminishing returns of resources, and who are the useless eaters to be sacrificed “for the greater good” of the system. This is the Hobbesian world that such misanthropes like Thomas Malthus, T.H. Huxley, Henry Kissinger and Al Gore live in. In true Pygmalion fashion, these cynics will use any and all political clout at their disposal to force society to adhere to their obsession with “balance”, “mathematical equilibrium” and perfect linear predictability. The self-professed “alphas” of these sorts of master-slave societies are committed to forcing the “might-makes-right” laws of the jungle onto humanity. In the closed-uncreative world of such a misanthrope, imbalance is considered both un-natural and evil. Imbalance is wild. It is unpredictable. It is open.

Based on their words and actions, Putin, Xi, and other leaders of today’s multipolar alliance do not think this way.

Open Systems in Brief

As a short example of my meaning, listen to President Xi describe the fundamental principle of open system economics during a 2016 speech to the CPC central committee:

“Coordinated development is the unity of balanced development and imbalanced development. The process from balance to imbalance and then to rebalance is the basic law of development. Balance is relative while imbalance is absolute. Emphasizing coordinated development is not pursuing equalitarianism, but giving more importance to equal opportunities and balanced resource allocation.”

By placing imbalance as the absolute factor, and balance as merely relative, Xi is defining a process of progress built upon creative leaps with each higher system requiring a reasonable balance/distribution of resource use, but without ever becoming reliant on that particular set of finite resources.

Putin expressed his understanding of this principle in his own way when he discussed the importance of unlimited energy and growth potential attainable through the harnessing of fusion power:

“Potentially we can harness a colossal, inexhaustible and safe source of energy. However, we will only succeed in fusion energy and in solving other fundamental tasks if we establish broad international cooperation and interaction between government and business, and join the efforts of researchers representing different scientific schools and areas. If technological development becomes truly global, it will not be split up or reined in by attempts to monopolize progress, limit access to education and put up new obstacles to the free exchange of knowledge and ideas.. With their help, scientists will be able to literally see nature’s creation processes.”

Programs like China’s Belt and Road Initiative (and its space, polar, health and information extensions) has not only won over 135 nations to its framework but this program is entirely rooted in open system thinking. Within this framework’s operating system, there is no presumed fixed limit to resources or endpoint to the progress that nations can create if certain principles are adhered to.

At the heart of these vital principles is found the moral concept of “win-win cooperation” or as China’s former president Sun Yat-sen called it in his Three Principles of the People, the Principle of “Right makes Might”. Sun Yat-sen understood in 1924, as Presidents Xi and Putin do today, that if a nation adheres to win-win/right-makes-might thinking, then that nation will never lose the Mandate of Heaven (Tianxia). In the Western matrix, this principle is expressed beautifully by the Principle of Westphalia which established the first modern nation states in 1648 premised around the principle of the “Benefit of the Other.” When Kissinger, Brzezinski or Blair speak of a “post-Westphalian age”, it is this fundamental principle that they are attacking more than the mere existence of national borders.

This principle is again reflected in the UN Charter, which was designed by the anti-colonial President FDR “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.”

FDR’s early death and the British-Deep State takeover of America over his dead body prevented these ideals and open system dynamics from ever coming to life.

As long as nations are empowered to stand on their own feet, develop full spectrum agro-industrial economies and if people benefit by developing new skillsets, and if new technologies and new discoveries in science are encouraged rather than sabotaged (as has been the practice under the Might-Makes-Right Darwinian laws of gobble-ization), then potential for human perfectibility is as boundless as our ability to discover, create, plan and inspire future generations.

Some Points of Mutual Interest

Now there are an array of domains which all nations of the U.N. Security Council can focus on during this period of intense crisis that would tie civilization’s interests into open system thinking benefiting all nations and people. If the USA has even a modicum of sanity at this late stage, then Trump will give Pompeo and other neocons the Bolton/Bannon treatment and make Putin’s offer a top priority for the sake of the USA’s very survival as a nation, and humanity more broadly.

To end this paper, I wish to outline several of the most fruitful topics to be tackled at upcoming summits which will best define the coming century (or more) of cooperation and growth:

Space Diplomacy, Asteroid Defense, Arctic and Far east development, energy, and health infrastructure.

Space Diplomacy

America’s successful return to manned space flight on May 28th was more than just another space launch, but rather one important component of a much larger commitment illustrated by the May 15 Artemis Accords to not only send humans back to the Moon for the first time since 1973, but to permanently develop a Lunar and Mars-based economy with a focus on international cooperation. This outlook dovetails Russia’ commitment for permanent lunar colonization and resource development which will start with Luna 25 in 2021 followed by Luna 26, 27 and 28 soon thereafter with a plan to have a permanent manned base in early 2030. Describing Russia’s support for this initiative, Roscosmos Chief Dimitry Rogozin stated: “I can imagine what kind of feeling they had all these nine years, having no opportunity to deliver their astronauts to the ISS. It is a matter of honor and national pride. Let us wish them professional success.” The USA and Russia are also close partners in the ISS and Russia manufactures the strategic RD-180 and RD-181 engines used in American launch vehicles.

Both the USA and Russia are partners on the upcoming Lunar Gateway station which will soon orbit the Moon and serve as an important element in the new space-based infrastructure used both in mining and Mars launches. Although banned from the ISS and U.S.-cooperation since 2011, China has become a pioneer in space with a tight alliance with Russia on lunar cooperation signed in September 2019. China’s own Chang-e program has resulted in landing on the far side of the moon with plans for colonization in the coming decades as well as the development of Helium-3 mining for fusion power.

Asteroid Defense

Faced with the two-fold threat of NATO military encirclement on earth and asteroid collisions from abroad, Rogozin made headlines in 2011 by reviving the concept for a joint U.S.-Russia controlled defense system first announced by President Reagan’s 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative. Rogozin’s 2011 version (titled the Strategic Defense of Earth) now called for turning humanity’s arsenal of atomic weapons away from each other and towards the grave danger of asteroid collisions for which we are woefully unprepared. Introducing this topic into the emerging joint U.S/Russia working groups on arms control set to begin in mid-July would contribute in powerful non-linear ways that cannot be calculated by any linear standard of measurement. This vision has been echoed by China as well as the European and Japanese space agencies.

Arctic and Far East Development

In 2007, Russia revived a 150-year-old idea that once had the support of leading republicans of Lincoln’s 19th century America to unite rail lines in America and Eurasia through the Bering Strait crossing in the form of a 65 mile tunnel. Russia again re-emphasized its commitment to building this $64 billion project in 2011. With China’s Polar Silk Road having extended the traditionally east-west development corridor into the Arctic and as China and Russia have increasingly merged the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union, this new development dynamic offers incredible economic opportunities for all Arctic nations and also an escape from military confrontation.

Putin’s Far East Development Plan

Part in parcel with this initiative comes President Putin’s Far East development plans as a “21st century national priority” for Russia. The development of new cities, mining, transport corridors and oil and natural gas of Russia’s Far East represent one of the greatest boons for economic investment during the coming century and already features an array of partners from China, Japan, South Korea, India and other APEC nations. Putin’s 2018 proposal that the USA join in this project of win-win cooperation is important not only because it would build trust, create business opportunities and re-establish the lost art of long-term thinking, but would also help link up western businesses into partnership with the Asia Pacific development process now being shaped by China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Although tensions have been enflamed to schism China and India from cooperating directly on the BRI, India’s embrace of Russian Far East development investments has created a non-linear flank which can help bring these two Asian giants into harmony.

Only the tip of the iceberg…

Overall, there are many other points of common benefit shared by nations committed to a Multi-Polar “open system” future including education/cultural exchange, fission/fusion energy research, counterterrorism, and COVID-19 response coordination. On this last threat, the issue of a new world healthcare system has become an increasing focus of discussion, especially as nations set their sights on the post-pandemic world order.

Here, Russia, China and the USA can play a leading role to ensure a modern and equitable healthcare architecture for nations of the developing sector which has found itself so vulnerable when faced with the threat of world pandemics. Africa, South America, Asia and beyond require vastly improved healthcare services, hospitals, training, and medical technology worthy of the 21st century. Most importantly the world needs preventative systems such as sanitation, clean water, food sovereignty and electricity if COVID-19 and all future threats to world health shall be solved once and for all.

If Russia, America, China and other nations of the UN Security Council and BRICS were to apply their best minds to solving these problems rather than fall into a new arms race, then not only would either country benefit immensely, but so too would humanity more broadly.

Putin’s olive branches have piled up over recent years and there is no sign that he intends on permitting himself to be the cause for history’s repetition into war, and if we are smart, then we will do everything in our power to ensure that this discussion not only occurs, but that open system economics prevails.

The author can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

[Category: Society, New World Order, Russia, United States, Victory Day, Vladimir Putin]

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[l] at 7/7/20 10:53am

Patrick COCKBURN

President Trump is making plain the degree to which the country remains divided by the American Civil War. His threat to veto the $718bn Defence Bill if it renames military bases called after Confederate generals harks back to 1861. His stand highlights the bizarre way that the US military has named its biggest bases, like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas, after Confederate generals like Braxton Bragg and John Hood who fought a war to destroy the US.

Critics suggest derisively that this tradition of naming military installations after defeated enemies should mean that future bases will include at least one named after Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, and another after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis, both killed by US soldiers.

The fury generated by the dispute over the renaming of the bases and the removal of the statues of Confederate commanders underlines the contemporary relevance of the outcome of the civil war. A tweet by Trump gives a clue as to why this should be the case a century and a half after the Confederate surrender. “It was sad,” Trump wrote, “to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”

But which “history and culture” is Trump talking about? The US has two sources of political culture: one derives from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and a popular revolution against a distant imperial power, the other flows from the slave states with their vastly different tradition. Much of what non-Americans find peculiar and contradictory about the US stems from the uneasy cohabitation of these two cultures, whose democratic and authoritarian strands alternately repel each other and blend together. Americans are often in denial about this tainted legacy, preferring to see their past through the lens of the intentions of the founding fathers and the struggles of the frontier, playing down the civil war over slavery that left 750,000 dead.

The version of culture and history that Trump defends is that of the American South and is primarily to do with contemporary relations between black and white. Most of the statues to Confederate war commanders were erected long after the war and unblushingly asserted white supremacy. Memphis, Tennessee, for instance, until recently boasted a statue erected in 1905 to the Confederate cavalry general Nathan Bedford Forrest, a plantation owner, slave trader and Confederate commander whose troops massacred some 300 black Union army soldiers who surrendered at Fort Pillow in 1864. He later became the first leader of the Ku Klux Klan. As recently as 1998, another statue to Forrest was erected in Nashville, Tennessee.

The reason that the “cultural wars” resonate so strongly in the US is that they have their roots in a real war and have little to do with quaint military nostalgia, like people in England who dress up as 17th-century Cavaliers and Roundheads to restage civil war battles. The real message those statues carried was that the south might have lost the civil war and slavery might have been abolished, but black people would still be segregated, discriminated against and denied civil rights.

Trump’s racism is blatant and unconcealed, but the culture he is pledged to defend encompasses far more than racial division. It includes a whole set of fiercely defended attitudes to women, gun ownership, abortion, evangelical Christianity, paramilitary policing, crime and punishment, affirmative action, and the role of government in society. This matters because of a surprising development in the US since the de jure granting of civil rights to black Americans in the 1960s. This was seen by many as the moment that the US put the past behind it and the toxic traditions of the Old South would disappear into history. But no such thing happened. On the contrary, the counter-reaction to civil rights was in many respects more powerful and influential than the original movement that had tried to break the racist status quo.

This counter-reaction was so strong that the south was able to expand its culture in the broadest sense to the north and west, far beyond the boundaries of the old Confederacy. As Godfrey Hodgson wrote at the turn of the century in his prophetic book More Equal Than Others: America from Nixon to the New Century, it had been “assumed that the South would become more like the rest of the country, [but] in politics and in many aspects of culture, the rest of the country has come to resemble the South”.

This “southernisation” explains many strange aspects of American culture that appear inexplicable, such as the way in which attitudes over everything from gun ownership to abortion have become a mark of identity. It also explains a lot about Trump’s rise to power, which caught most Americans, including many of his supporters and almost all non-Americans, by surprise. He is occasionally referred to as “the last Confederate president”, which is over-simple; but the description does point the way towards the identity of his base, whose loyalty is so impervious to his failures.

The beliefs and values that mutated out of the defeated Confederacy produced a distinct variant of American nationalism. It combined with right-wing conservatism in the rest of the country to produce a winning political formula used by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. A Democratic president like Bill Clinton seemed to be an exception to this, but in many respects his record only confirmed the trend. In 1996, Peter Applebome, The New York Times correspondent in Atlanta, wrote a book called Dixie Rising: How the South is Shaping American Values, Politics and Culture. In a passage quoted by Hodgson, he says, “Bill Clinton is coming out for school prayer along with sweeping Republican legislation shredding welfare” and “the Supreme Court is acting as if [the Confederate president] Jefferson Davis were chief justice”.

The title of Applebome’s book explains its theme. He concludes that “to understand America you have to understand the South”.

The same is true of Trump and Trumpism. Southern political culture, which has percolated to all parts of the US, is his political base, which explains why the fate of the statues and the renaming of military bases matters so much to him.

counterpunch.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, Culture War, Donald Trump, Racism]

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[l] at 7/7/20 10:00am

With alarming frequency, law-abiding citizens who attempt to defend themselves and their private property with the use of guns are being portrayed as villains, while trespassers, looters and rioters get bailed out of prison. Have the liberals found a backdoor method for trashing the Second Amendment?

Last month, Mark and Patricia McCloskey were about to sit down for a dinner at their home in St. Louis, Missouri when members of Black Lives Matter smashed through the front gate and began marching through the private property. The McCloskeys, with memories of the violent protests that rocked their city just weeks before still fresh, believed their lives were under threat. They took matters into their own hands, appearing in the front of their home with a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun. Mrs. McCloskey pointed her gun at the trespassers, warning them to stay away. No shots were fired and the protesters moved on. So who came out of that skirmish smelling like roses? Not the McCloskeys.

“I am threatened by the events that occurred over the weekend where… peaceful protesters were met with guns and a violent assault,” said Kimberly Gardner, Missouri Attorney General. “I will work with the public and the police to investigate these tragic events.”

The irony here, aside from the fact that protecting one’s life and property is now deemed “violent assault,” is that the protesters were on their way to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson in order to demand her resignation for releasing the names of the individuals who supported defunding the police. If they believed their cause was so righteous, shouldn’t these people be happy to have their identities known? More to the point, however, is the question of the context. At a time when the police in the United States seem either incapable or unwilling of maintaining law and order, and sections of U.S. cities are being looted and torched, at what point is it legal for law-abiding citizens to brandish a firearm as a preemptive measure against possible violence?

A couple pointed guns at protesters in St. Louis as a group marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation. https://t.co/5EqDd43QCd pic.twitter.com/KWNaif77ch

— ABC News (@ABC) June 29, 2020

Instead of shedding some insight on that question, however, the mainstream media continues to recklessly aggravate the racial dimensions of such scenarios.

The New York Times, for example, reported how the McCloskeys took aim at the “peaceful black protesters” – never mind that there were many whites among the protesters as well – from the property of their “marble mansion.” Mark McCloskey was dressed for the occasion in his “pastel pink polo short and khakis,” the paper of historical record noted, while his very white wife, Patricia, was seen wearing “black capri pants” while brandishing a “silver handgun.”

A person would be forgiven for thinking they were perusing a fashion advert for the Summer Benetton Collection, as opposed to the latest hit piece against the phantom of ‘white privilege’ that it was.

In another powder-keg incident one week later, Eric Wuestenberg and his wife Jillian were attempting to leave a Michigan Chipotle franchise when they were confrontedrob by Takia Hill, a Black woman who accused Mrs. Wuestenberg of bumping into her daughter inside of the restaurant.

The situation escalated in the parking lot as Hill accused the couple of “racism,” while even threatening to beat up Mr. Wuestenberg for not addressing the issue with his wife. As the Wuestenbergs attempt to exit the parking lot, Hill blocked the vehicle, while punching the back window. At this point, Jillian Wuestenberg emerges from the vehicle brandishing a handgun, which she cocks and aims at Hill, telling her to “get the f*ck back!” Eventually, Wuestenberg gets back into the vehicle as her husband drives away.

Full video available here:

The couple has been charged with felonious assault, while Eric Wuestenberg, without a fair hearing in a court of law, has been fired from his job at Oakland University. In short, their lives appear to have been ruined.

In the cases of both the McCloskeys and Wuestenberg, charges of racism have been leveled against them, and this will certainly have incalculable consequences for the rest of their lives. Mr.Wuestenberg has already lost his livelihood. Aside from the question as to whether there is a court in the land where the two couples can get a fair hearing is the question of personal defense. At what point is it acceptable to brandish a firearm?

Missouri state law clearly states that a person “may use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person.”

Michigan, meanwhile, has ‘stand your ground’ legislation that makes it legal for a person to resort to “deadly force” if the person has “an honest and reasonable belief” that such force is necessary to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm” to yourself or to another individual.

In both cases, the McCloskeys and the Wuestenbergs clearly felt that the risk to their lives and safety was enough to warrant the brandishing of a weapon. At the same time, their feeling of personal insecurity was certainly heightened by the violence that has been engulfing the country ever since George Floyd lost his life during his arrest by a white police officer. This feeling has been aggravated not only by a media industrial complex that seems invested in the prospect of racial tensions, but by the growing awareness that the police may not respond to the call.

Most disturbingly, however, is how fast citizens are being condemned and imprisoned, their lives totally upended, before the facts of each individual case is given a fair hearing in a court of law. Such an approach to justice should be considered repulsive to Americans, and absolutely frightening to gun owners, who are increasingly found guilty by the mob and media for doing nothing more than defending themselves from possibly bodily harm.

[Category: Americas, World, Police State, United States]

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[l] at 7/7/20 9:00am

Ron PAUL

On July 2nd, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order mandating the wearing of face masks across the state, whether indoors or outdoors, when six feet cannot be maintained between people. In the governor’s decree, he cited a rise in Covid cases, a rise in test positivity, and a rise in hospitalizations as justification to force people to cover their faces in public.

The move is not only a violation of the civil liberties of all Texans. Abbott may have based his executive order on inaccurate information about a “rise” in Covid cases due to the Texas State Department of Health Services changing the definition of what constitutes a “Covid case.”

Thanks goes to Collin County Judge Chris Hill for blowing the whistle on what appears to be a move in mid-May to redefine what was a “Covid” case to open the door to a massive increase – all to match the mainstream media line that a “second wave” was on the way.

In a Commissioners Court hearing for Collin County on May 18th, it was revealed that while previously the determination of a Covid “case” was a confirmed test result, the definition was suddenly changed to count “probable” cases as “cases.” At the same time, the threshold for determining “probable” was lowered to a ridiculous level.

As Judge Hill said at that May 18th meeting, “If you have a subjective fever and you have a headache and you live in Collin County, you now meet the qualifications to be a probable COVID patient. It is remarkable how low the standard is now.”

Even worse, once a “probable” case was determined based on possibly unrelated subjective criteria, up to 15 people in possible contact with that “probable” case were also listed as “probable cases.” And “probable cases” were considered cases.

Repeat that farce across Texas and is it any wonder there was a “spike” in “cases”?

Also, Governor Abbott’s claim that hospitals were being over-run by Covid patients was refuted by the Houston hospital directors themselves, who said they were nowhere near actual capacity and in fact were about the same level as they were last year.

The basis for Abbott’s unconstitutional “executive order” has been shown to be false. Will he admit his mistake?

It is encouraging to see so many local and county officials across Texas announcing they will refuse to enforce Governor Abbott’s unconstitutional face mask order. Thankfully the spirit of freedom and love of liberty is still alive in Texas.

The “second wave” is driven by propaganda. Across the country, Covid testing increased from about 150,000 to more than 700,000 per day. You can’t drive through Houston without seeing a flurry of signs advertising “Free Covid test! Results in 15 minutes!” Last week Reuters reported that tests shipped around the country by the federal government were contaminated.

Deaths from coronavirus – even the deaths “with” coronavirus rather than deaths “from” coronavirus – are down more than 90 percent since the peak in April. The decline in deaths continues. That means we are closer to the “herd immunity” that will finally kill this virus. Yet Governor Abbott and others across the country see this as a reason to lock the country back down.

ronpaulinstitute.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, Crisis, Pandemic, Texas, United States]

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[l] at 7/7/20 7:46am

Since 1897 The New York Times has carried the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, and generally speaking that was appropriate over the years, save for a few times such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when it conveyed blatant bias in favour of the war and published what the appalling Trump would call “fake news”.

A year after the invasion the Times issued a half-hearted apology for its irresponsible journalistic fandangos which were intended to encourage the American public to support Washington’s war that destroyed countless lives and reduced the Middle East to chaos. In the end, the main reporter involved, a repulsive charlatan called Judith Miller, was forced to leave the newspaper (with a generous severance packet) after she had spent time in jail for having refused to divulge the name of yet another “source” for her information.

One of the intriguing things about the NYT’s lame apology is that it referred to a report that “A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq’s chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began.” The Times belatedly admitted that it “never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims.” And it seems that the Times continues to be reluctant to follow up on the reliability of some of its sources, because the latest Iraq-style scoop is an unverifiable ‘source-based’ story claiming that Russia paid the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Times refers relentlessly to “officials” as the sources of this extremely sensitive allegation, without the slightest intention of providing names or any sort of corroborative detail. There is not a shred of evidence supporting these explosive accusations because all the “information” comes from these ever-ready intelligence sources who feed attractively contrived drivel to willing patsies. As Ray McGovern put it, “the Times’ dubious allegations grabbed headlines across all media that are likely to remain indelible in the minds of credulous Americans – which seems to have been the main objective.” It certainly was, and although a multitude of independent observers have shredded the story, it was regrettable that the Times didn’t see fit to print the news that the Pentagon would not endorse it. On June 29 the Chief Pentagon Spokesman stated that “to date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.”

It is interesting that the Times story broke just five days after the Afghan National Security Council’s spokesman announced that “The past week was the deadliest of the past 19 years. Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces, martyring 291 ANDSF [security forces] members and wounding 550 others.” He didn’t mention the fact that 148 civilians had been killed and, bizarrely, it was the Times that recorded this, in its excellent “War Casualty Report” which appears in its magazine section each week. It was not stated how many of these civilians had been killed by government forces’ airstrikes, door-crashing home assaults or erratic mortar fire, but the UN’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan noted that “Civilian casualties attributed to the ANSF for April 2020 numbered 172 civilians, an increase of 38 per cent compared to April 2019 and 37 per cent higher than March 2020.”

Afghanistan’s security forces — its army, police, air force and swaggering special forces —are poorly trained and their motivation is open to question. The numerical strength of these services is not divulged, and in 2018 Reuters reported that the U.S. military had classified “for the first time since 2009, the actual and authorized total troop numbers and attrition rate for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, or ANDSF.” Suppression of bad or inconvenient news is a well-tried tactic in the propaganda playlist, and as observed by John Sopko, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, SIGAR, “the American people have constantly been lied to” regarding the conflict in Afghanistan.

In the years of war, 18.8 billion dollars have been poured in to Afghanistan in aid and it has almost all been wasted — notably the vast sums that have been used to purchase luxury mansions, apartments and waterside villas in Dubai and many other sinks for corruption cash.

And the situation on the ground in war-torn Afghanistan is desperate, with the Council on Foreign Relations recording on July 1 that “according to official U.S. government estimates of 2019, only 53.8 percent of Afghan districts [were] under government control or influence, 33.9 percent contested, and the remaining 12.3 percent under the control or influence of the Taliban. The ANDSF continue to suffer heavy casualties and, while actual figures have now been classified by the U.S. military, senior Afghan officials estimate that for several months in 2018 as many as thirty to forty ANDSF personnel were killed every day.”

The government in Kabul is incompetent and incapable of directing affairs throughout the country, as was publicly stated by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo after he visited Kabul in March 2020. He harshly censured President Ghani and his power-sharing rival Abdullah Abdullah, saying “The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed U.S.-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonours those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country. Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to U.S. national interests, effective immediately, the U.S. government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan.”

It is extremely irresponsible for the senior foreign affairs representative of any nation to openly criticise the leaders of a supposedly allied country that is engaged in a civil war, because the opponents of the established government will be given the most massive boost in propaganda terms. There are no reports on how the Taliban viewed Pompeo’s monstrous blunder, but it was abundant confirmation for them that those purporting to lead Afghanistan had failed. Not only that but it was said that the president was actually posing a threat to the blustering ally that had invaded their country almost twenty years ago. It would be most surprising if the Taliban were not making maximum propaganda use of this absurd bloomer.

Of equal importance, it is obvious that Pompeo and all the other arrogant amateurs in Washington have totally wrecked U.S.-Afghanistan relations and destroyed whatever shreds of trust in America that may have been lingering in the Kabul government.

An investigation by the Washington Post disclosed that “senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.” Given the combination of Washington’s deceit and insult, together with Kabul’s rampant corruption, its inability to govern in much of the country, and general incompetence, the picture is one of a disaster, a debacle of colossal proportions.

Washington should cease feeding the New York Times and others with fatuous tales about supposed plots involving bonuses for bodies and simply cut its (gargantuan) losses and get out now.

[Category: Middle East, World, Afghanistan, Mass Media, Pentagon, United States]

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[l] at 7/6/20 2:00pm

Starting on June 22, 1944, the Soviet Union inflicted the biggest defeat in German military history. In the space of a month, Army Group Center, the hard strategic rock on which German domination of Russia’s heartland had rested for three years, was annihilated. It was a cataclysmic defeat on an even bigger scale than Stalingrad.

(Click the image to enlarge)

[Category: INFOGRAPHICS, Germany, Nazism, USSR, World War II]

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[l] at 7/6/20 1:00pm

Strange things happen in civil wars: During the Russian Civil War in 1919, 13,000 U.S. troops were dispatched by President Woodrow Wilson to occupy the cities of Archangelsk in the Arctic and Vladivostok on the Pacific.

Half a century earlier, thousands of Imperial Russian Navy sailors and their officers flooded the cities of San Francisco and New York. But the circumstances were very different. They were there to defend the United States from foreign invasion – not to threaten it and they brilliantly succeeded in their tasks.

The incredible story is well told in “Friends in Peace and War: The Russian Navy’s Landmark Visit to Civil War San Francisco” by C. Douglas Kroll published in 2007.

As Kroll documents, the U.S. Navy’s tiny Pacific Squadron was weak at the time and Confederate commerce raiders indulgently encouraged by Britain roamed the Atlantic: The message the Russian forces sent was unmistakable: Any British or French naval attack on New York or San Francisco, the two great centers of U.S. commerce and financial power on the East and the new West Coast, would be an attack on Russia too.

The streets of San Francisco and New York teemed with Russian officers and sailors in their bright uniforms in 1863 and they were social successes too. Innumerable parades, dance balls and dinners were organized, many by the visiting Russians themselves.

The two squadrons were dispatched by Tsar Alexander II, all his life a great and true friend of the United States, to protect the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines of North America if the two other most powerful nations in the world – the British and French Empires – chose to intervene in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, as they openly moved towards doing during the high-tide of their war during 1862.

The British Empire’s efforts to dismantle the United States during the Civil War have been documented in these columns in the articles of Matthew Ehret.

The British government was dominated in the1860s by the great champion of democracy, open borders and Free Trade William Ewart Gladstone, whose father had made the family fortune by being the biggest slave trader in the world. Gladstone at the height of his power and influence as Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer or finance minister openly pressed for recognition of the slave-owning Confederacy,

The same policy was pushed by the sinister and brilliant Robert Gascoigne-Cecil, later to rule as foreign secretary and prime minister as Lord Salisbury after Gladstone from 1886 most of the time to 1902. He dominated British foreign policymaking for 40 years and to the day he died he openly expressed regret that the Empire had not seized its opportunity during the Civil War to destroy the United States.

It was Tsar Alexander’s intervention which prevented that. He could see with the burning and plundering of Beijing in 1860 that St, Petersburg could well be next. Across Eurasia, he made common cause with Otto Von Bismarck, new Chancellor of Prussia, to unite Germany and drive back British and French influence from the heart of Europe.

Then Alexander developed an extraordinary friendship with U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Ignored for almost one and a half centuries. “The Tsar and the President: Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln, Liberator and Emancipator” by Marilyn Pfeifer Swezey (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009) documented this astonishing friendship, conducted by letter between the two great liberators of East and West, who both fell, martyred by foul assassins.

Protecting the Union in its drive to abolish slavery against the British Empire was central both to the great tsar’s moral passion and his strategic vision to defend his country.

Alexander II’s grand strategy is never taught in the schools and universities of the Western World to this day but it was a brilliant success.

By 1870, Russian protection and support had ensured the survival and reunification of the United States in North America and the unification of Germany in Europe.

The alliance of the British and French Empires which had inflicted havoc around the world from Russia and Austria-Hungary to India, China, Mexico and the United States for 20 years was smashed when Napoleon III was toppled in France after Prussian forces captured him in the 1870 war.

Alexander put Britain on the global strategic defensive for the first time since its defeat in the American War of Independence 90 tears earlier. By 1870, the United States and Germany had already outstripped Britain in railroad construction and steel production. Both of them practiced protectionist tariff policies to protect the jobs and well-being, profit and industrial capabilities of their own peoples – a model that was also being adopted by Japan. Between the United States to the west and Germany to the east, Britain was boxed in and could no longer pose a direct threat to Russia.

Until the Russian Revolution, and the arrogant insanity of Woodrow Wilson (diagnosed as chronically insane by none other than Sigmund Freud himself, who wrote a book about it), the United States and Imperial Russia remained good friends.

Tsar Alexander sold Alaska to the United States. Lincoln’s surviving secretary of state William Seward negotiated the deal. Alexander even invited Lincoln and his First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln as his honored guests to St. Petersburg after he stepped down from the presidency and Lincoln accepted the offer.

In the event, Lincoln’s true heir, General Ulysses S. Grant took up the offer and was warmly entertained as the emperor’s guest in August 1878 just three years before his own assassination in 1881. (Grant, the most astute of observers, quietly noted that the great tsar seemed nervous and worn down after so many attempts on his life by the revolutionaries.)

This crucial true story of the real strategic context of the U.S. Civil War is never taught in any U.S. schools and universities. All U.S. politicians, policymakers and pundits (P3) are totally ignorant of it. Once again, total, pathetic ignorance of the most profound lessons of their own history has fatally blinded modern Americans.

[Category: History, Civil War, Russian Empire, United States]

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[l] at 7/6/20 12:00pm

Charles Hugh SMITH

Not only will there not be a recovery, but there can’t be a recovery, as those brittle extremes have been lost for good.

How did the global economy end up teetering on a precarious financial precipice? To formulate a cogent answer, let’s take a whirlwind tour of the history of the global economy 1946-2020.

Before we start the tour, I want to return briefly to my first Musings of the year, which was posted on January 4, 2020, before Covid-19 was officially announced on January 23, 2020. (The Musings Reports are sent weekly to patrons and subscribers at the $5/month or higher level.)

Instability Rising: Why 2020 Will Be Different:

“Economically, the 11 years since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 have been one relatively coherent era of modest growth, rising wealth/income inequality and coordinated central bank stimulus every time a crisis threatened to disrupt the domestic or global economy.

This era will draw to a close in 2020 and a new era of destabilization and uncertainty begins.”

The long-term trends set up a row of dominoes that the pandemic has toppled. But any puff of air that toppled the first domino would have toppled all the dominoes of fragility, instability and unsustainable extremes that characterize the global economy.

The whirlwind tour of the global economy’s history must include these essential dynamics: energy, currencies, globalization, debt and financialization, which broadly speaking refers to everything that renders finance (borrowing, leverage, speculation) more profitable than actually generating goods and services.

The “glorious thirty” (Les Trente Glorieuses) years from 1946 to 1975 were decades of rising prosperity in the developed world (Europe, Japan, North America) and rapid development in the first tier of developing countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. (Decolonized nations and China struggled with political, social and economic turmoil.)

Costs were low for fuel, housing, food, healthcare, education, etc. as rebuilt industrial bases produced lower cost goods and oil/natural gas were cheap. The global currency market was stable as the U.S. dollar was pre-eminent, enabling Japan and Western Europe to sell their goods to America at discounted prices due to the strong dollar. This policy was explicitly designed to strengthen the economies of allies faced with the threat of the Soviet Union’s global ambitions.

The “glorious thirty” were also decades of rising wages and affordable, modestly growing credit and low inflation as the money supply expanded more or less in tandem with the expansion of goods and services and credit.

The wheels fell off in the 1970s as the oil-exporting nations muscled energy prices higher to gain a share of the profits, the gold-backed US dollar regime fell to pieces and inflation skyrocketed, generating a previously unknown economic malaise known as stagflation: high inflation plus stagnant growth.

At this same juncture, the external costs of industrial pollution finally came due, and global competition from lower-cost nations (helped by currencies that traded at deep discounts to the US dollar) crushed inefficient industries in the U.S. and Europe.

The 1980s saw a resurgence of growth, but with a different mix of sources. Demographically, the global postwar Baby Boom generation entered their highest productivity and spending years, boosting global demand, the supermassive new oil fields discovered in the early 1970s finally came online (Alaska, North Sea, West Africa), dramatically lowered the price of oil while soaring interest rates crushed inflation and wrung bad debt out of the developed economies, Developing nations that had struggled in the 1970s finally found their footing (India, China, South America, etc.)

The steep investment in reducing pollution began paying off and the first wave of financialization boosted mergers, buyouts and asset prices.

The 1980s was capped by the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, eliminating the costly military rivalry of the Cold War, and the collapse of Japan’s massive credit/asset bubble in 1989-90–a warning sign that was ignored as a one-off.

The 1990s continued the trend of global growth, aided by low inflation, cheap energy, expanding globalization and the mass commercialization of the Internet and computing, as technologies that were once expensive and difficult to use became affordable and accessible.

The Neoliberal ideology – that the way to solve virtually any problem, from poverty on up, is to turn everything into a global market of freely traded labor, capital, goods and services– became the default global economic faith, with some variations (a market economy with Chinese characteristics, etc.)

The 1990s was capped by the emergence of China as the manufacturing hub of the global economy, a role that was institutionalized by China’s acceptance into the WTO, and the bursting of the Dot-Com bubble in March 2000.

As globalization and financialization became dominant forces (the natural result of Neoliberalism), instabilities appeared in currency markets (the Thai baht / Asian contagion of the late 1990s) and asset markets (the Dot-Com stock market bubble). Japan’s recovery from the credit bubble collapse faltered, ushering in 30+ years of stagnation, leading to an overlooked social decay with extraordinary demographic and economic consequences that are still playing out.

As the global economy reeled from these instabilities in 1998-2000, central banks flooded asset markets with newly created currency, the goal being to stave off a recession, which burns off bad debt, marginal investments and companies, reducing credit expansion and consumption.

Rather than accept the risks of a conventional business-cycle recession, central banks pushed financialization to new heights–heights which quickly distorted markets.

As a result, the growth of the 2000s was different: in effect, central banks had created a credit/asset-bubble dependent economy, with growth coming not from lowering costs, improving productivity and rising wages, but from speculations in financialized markets.

This was simply the logical extension of Neoliberalism: if existing markets weren’t profitable enough, then create new markets for new exotic financial instruments and lower the cost of borrowing to spur consumption and investment.

The benefits of these financial instruments were asymmetric: those originating these instruments made billions, while the borrowers taking on the subprime mortgages, etc. were accepting risks they didn’t understand. This dynamic fueled soaring wealth/income inequality.

Apparently unbeknownst to central bankers, super-low interest rates and abundant liquidity didn’t spur investments in increasing productivity, it incentivized highly leveraged speculative bets. This manifested in subprime mortgages funding house-flipping by the masses and the origination of exotic financial instruments such as CDOs and CLOs.

Ultimately, the central banks’ no-holds-barred Neoliberalism led to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008-09, as the risks that were supposedly hedged blew up and the markets froze up (i.e. markets became illiquid as buyers vanished).

As former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan admitted, the central banks failed to see that markets are not as self-regulating as the Neoliberal faithful believed: when bubbles pop, buyers vanish and markets go bidless/illiquid: sellers are desperate to sell but there are no buyers at any price.

This was the inevitable end-game of financialized, globalized Neoliberalism, and rather than face that reality, central banks and policy-makers double-downed on the same policies that created the 2008 bubble that was destined to pop with horrific consequences to everyone who had a stake in any of the casino’s games.

We now come to the 2010s, in which financialization and globalization essentially conquered the global economy, leading to the brittle fragilities that are now unraveling.

With the cost of living rising and wages stagnating, the “solution” was to borrow $10 to get $1 of growth. Since global markets were saturated with debt and risk, lenders cannibalized domestic markets, loading college students with $2 trillion in student loans and enabling a fracking “miracle” that was less an energy miracle and more a financial miracle as companies that lost billions continued to get cheap loans and sell bonds.

The global economy is now teetering on a precipice in every sector: energy extraction costs have risen, requiring higher prices for oil, but consumers whose wages have stagnated for 20 years can no longer afford higher prices for oil or anything else.

Globalization has optimized profits at the expense of everything else: ecological sustainability, the security of food and energy sources, etc., while financialization has gutted the real economy in an extraction process that concentrates all the gains into the hands of the few at the top of the financialization/globalization pyramid: a winners-take-most economy that has corrupted and distorted the political and social orders.

All the critical dynamics–energy, currencies, globalization, debt and financialization–have reached extremes that made destabilization–i.e. a tumble into collapse–inevitable.

What happens when the naive hope that the brittle, fragile extremes of the global economy could be completely restored to mid-2019 levels dissipates and is replaced by the sober realization there not only will there not be a recovery, but there can’t be a recovery, as those brittle extremes have been lost for good?

Since the authorities have no Plan B, uncertainty, risk and volatility could reach extremes few anticipate as Plan A–push extremes to even riskier extremes–generates increasingly consequential unintended consequences.

The unstable, brittle edge of the precipice is giving way, and there is nothing but air below.

oftwominds.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Crisis, Economy]

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[l] at 7/6/20 11:00am

In case you’ve been living in a cave the last few weeks, here’s latest news scoop riling the United States: Russia has been paying the Afghan Taliban bounties for American scalps.

How do we know? Because the New York Times tells us so, and the Times is not the kind of paper to make stuff up. But how does the Times know it’s true? Because sources say so, sources so super-sensitive and high up that it can’t reveal their names. All it can say according to in a front-page exposé that ran on June 26 is that they consist of “officials briefed on the matter” and “officials [who] spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the delicate intelligence and internal deliberations.”

What could be more convincing? But the Times has since added more details from more sources, all anonymous of course. On June 27, it reported that the tip was so solid that it made its way into the morning intelligence wrap-up known as “president’s daily brief,” even though President Trump says he never heard a word. On June 28, it said that two “officials briefed on the matter … believed at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties” and that another unnamed official said that “[i]nterrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019.”

So it turns out officials they have evidence after all even though we still have no idea what it is. Finally, the Times reported on June 30 that suspicions were aroused when “American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account.” Then came the usual disclaimer:

“The three American officials who described and confirmed details about the basis for the intelligence assessment spoke on the condition of anonymity amid swelling turmoil over the Trump administration’s failure to authorize any response to Russia’s suspected proxy targeting of American troops and playing down of the issue after it came to light four days ago.”

It’s all true even though the Times can’t say who its sources are because … because … well, just because it can’t.

Still, the Times wants us to believe since the effect is to discredit two of its top bêtes noires, Trump and Vladimir Putin. (It would score an all-too-perfect trifecta if it could somehow rope Bashar al-Assad into the bargain, but that’s probably asking too much.) In any case, why not play along all that turmoil can continue to swell?

But we can’t for one simple reason: the chances of the story being true, conservatively speaking, are somewhere between zero and one percent.

Why? Let’s start with the most obvious. An assertion by some spook or other is not the same thing as evidence, as the redoubtable Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out. Rather, it’s an opinion that neutral bystanders are free to accept or reject. An assertion by an anonymous spook, moreover, is even more unimpressive. Meanwhile, not only has U.S. intelligence compiled a record of accuracy over the last two decades that couldn’t be more dismal, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who ran the CIA for fifteen months in 2017-18, actually bragged about the agency’s skill in misleading the public. As he put it, “We lied, we cheated, we stole … we had entire training courses.” So after lying about everything from weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to “golden showers” in the Moscow Ritz Carlton, why should we believe the “intelligence community” now when it says it’s telling the truth?

All Cretans are liars, saith Epimenides the Cretan – which is a fancy way saying we shouldn’t, not unless we want to be led by the nose into another disastrous war, that is.

But the report doesn’t even make sense. Not only have the Taliban been at war with the United States since 2001, they’re winning. So why should Russia pay them to do what they’ve been happily doing on their own for close to two decades? Contrary to what the Times wants us to believe, there’s no evidence that Russia backs the Taliban or wants the U.S. to leave with its tail between its legs. Quite the opposite as a quick glance at a map will attest. Given that Afghanistan abuts the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan and is less than a thousand miles from Chechnya, where Russia fought a brutal war against Sunni Islamist separatists in 1999-2000, the last thing it wants is a Muslim fundamentalist republic in the heart of Central Asia.

The same goes for China since Afghanistan also shares a small border with the troubled autonomous region of Xinjiang. What both countries want is stability, which is why they’re hoping against hope that the Kabul government will somehow prevail and that the Taliban will remain at an arm’s length.

This is not to say that Moscow doesn’t experience an occasional surge of schadenfreude over America’s plight in Afghanistan. How could it not given that the U.S. financed a decade-long war that drove the Soviets out in 1989 and now, thirty years or so later, finds itself caught in the same trap in precisely the same locale?

It’s an irony worth savoring. Yet schadenfreude is a luxury that Vladimir Putin, with his finely tuned sense of realpolitik, can ill afford. This is why the Kremlin has made it clear that it doesn’t want a U.S. collapse since it would almost surely lead to a replay of the anarchy of the early 1990s. As even the neo-conservative Institute for the Study of War – headed by such luminaries as Bill Kristol, Kimberly Kagan, and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman – concedes:

“…Russia is concerned about the growth of Islamism and terrorism in its traditional sphere of influence or ‘near abroad’ – the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Many militants from these areas have significant ties to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or other groups in Afghanistan, and therefore Russia does not want to see a Taliban comeback in Kabul or a failed state emerge in Afghanistan. While the Kremlin may disapprove of NATO’s presence along its southern frontier, it does not want to see Afghanistan become a safe haven for a separatist, terrorist, or Islamist forces.

This is why Russia, the ISW adds, “allowed the U.S. and its partners to set up bases in its ‘near abroad’ in Central Asia – Uzbekistan and later Kyrgyzstan – and allowed for the transport of supplies through Russian territory.” It did so because defeating Islamism was its prime goal then and remains so today. But if that’s the case, why reverse course now by paying Afghan mujahideen to kill U.S. troops?

There’s no reason to think it would since it’s unnecessary and the outcry would be sure to be enormous if word got out – as inevitably it would. The fact that the New York Times doesn’t even consider such questions makes its reporting seem all the more dubious.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Democrats from seizing the occasion to pummel Trump yet again as a Kremlin puppet. This is something they’ve been doing nonstop since 2016, and the only thing it’s gotten them has been to firm up Trump’s poll numbers and make themselves look like fools. But even though Trump is destroying his own prospects thanks to his disastrous handling of Covid-19, they’re doing it again. Could it be that, deep down, they want him to win after all?

[Category: Afghanistan, Fake News, Propaganda, Russia, Taliban]

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[l] at 7/6/20 10:16am

Eric ZUESSE

On Friday, July 3rd, the judge in the Netherlands court case against Russia as having fired a Buk missile that brought down the Malaysian Airlines plane that Ukrainian Air Traffic Control had instructed to fly over Ukraine’s civil-war zone on 17 July 2014 ruled out any consideration of evidence from Russia.

Judge Hendrik Steenhuis “refused to allow Russian military intelligence to reveal where the missile was located between 1987 and July 17, 2014, when the Dutch prosecution claims the missile was fired by a Russian military crew at MH17,” as John Helmer reported on Friday. The Dutch prosecutor says that that Buk missile was fired by Russia’s Government, not by Ukraine’s Government, and that it was owned by Russia and had been maintained by Russia ever since having been manufactured in Russia in 1986, and the Dutch judge announced that he refuses to consider Russia’s evidence to the contrary.

Russia’s Government alleges that it can provide evidence that that missile did not, in fact, bring the airliner down, and that, instead, it was brought down by two Ukrainian Air Force jets that fired directly at and into the airliner’s pilot, but previously the Dutch court had ruled out any consideration of such evidence, though even the Dutch Government’s own investigation included and buried the following information, as I reported just a few days ago on June 24th:

The Dutch Government’s 279-page investigative findings on the “Crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17” were published in October 2015, and reported, on page 84, (under 2.13.2 “Crew autopsy”) that “First Officer Team A … During the body scan of the First Officer’s body, over 120 objects (mostly metal fragments) were detected. The majority of the fragments were found in left side of the upper torso.” Then, it reported, on page 85 (under 2.13.3) “the First Officer, from Team A, who was operating the aeroplane at the time of the crash.”

(Note that they buried this crucial information, instead of saying clearly that “The pilot’s upper left torso, immediately to the left of the area of the fuselage that had been shot out, had 120 objects that were mostly metal fragments.”) (Here is a closer picture of that side-panel on the left side of the fuselage, to the pilot’s immediate left, and here is that side-panel shown back on the airliner, so that one can see that this firing had to have been done from below, shooting upward into the pilot.)

This crucial physical finding, that the pilot’s corpse had been loaded with “over 120 objects (mostly metal fragments),” is entirely consistent with the side-panel’s having been shot through by bullets, which would have been coming from a Ukrainian military jet and aimed upward, directly at the pilot. That marksman had to have been highly proficient in order to hit the pilot so accurately with so many bullets.

Nothing else was found to be shot through with anything like such an intensity of “mostly metal fragments,” but only the pilot’s upper left torso. This, alone, is virtually conclusive proof that a Ukrainian military jet plane had fired directly at the pilot in order to bring down this civilian plane. (More will be cited here, in #2 below.)

All of this evidence was entirely buried and ignored by the Dutch Government, revealed deep in the report, and only in sub-clauses, instead of in any direct sentences. Furthermore“There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine-gun fire, very very strong machine-gun fire.” This remarkable statement comes not from Haisenko, but from one of the first OSCE investigators who arrived at the scene of the disaster. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ze9BNGDyk4  and you will see it. [But, now, it has been removed. Here is the information on that video. That video was titled “OSCE monitor mentions bullet holes in MH17”.]

That evidence is consistent with the Dutch Government’s having found (but buried) that the pilot’s corpse had been riddled with “metal fragments.”

The matter which was being addressed on July 3rd was strictly concerning which Government owned and operated that Buk missile (which Russia has always contended did not bring down that plane).

Previously, when Ukraine’s Government authorized Holland’s Government to investigate and rule on what caused the MH17 to be shot down, Holland’s Government signed onto a secret agreement with Ukraine’s Government that included a provision allowing Ukraine’s Government to block and prevent any finding from being issued that would implicate Ukraine’s Government in having shot it down. Holland’s Government violates its own Freedom of Information law by refusing to make public what that secret agreement says. However, at the time when the existence of the agreement slipped through into mention by a Ukrainian news-site on 8 August 2014, that news-report said “As part of the four-party agreement signed on August 8 between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia [all of which nations are allies of the United States and are cooperating with its new Cold War against Russia], information on the investigation into the disaster Malaysian ‘Boeing-777’ will not be disclosed.”

thesaker.is

[Category: Editor's Choice, Corruption, Justice, MH17, Netherlands]

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[l] at 7/6/20 10:03am

Diplomacy is in a crisis, re-emerging as something else more sinister and darker for its ambassadors. From Venezuela to Lebanon though, their time is up. Their dirty game is no longer a secret and it will be the starving Lebanese who will unseat them.

Diplomacy has been in the news quite a bit in late June. Yet it has still left many of us wondering if there is ever a real role for diplomats to play in this junk-news, social media-obsessed world which has reduced them to mere “waiters who are occasionally allowed to sit down” as Peter Ustinov once put it.

But Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro, who the West hates, has proved (contrary to my own thoughts) that diplomats are not entirely useless. Indeed, one could argue that they have a role to play – even a nefarious one – which is why he has thrown out of the country the EU’s own ‘ambassador’ in Caracas. Just recently the EU imposed fresh sanctions on 11 officials there, which follows an earlier ruse to topple Maduro, which involved an arms embargo enforced in 2017.

Maduro is simply getting tired of the dirty tricks that the EU is playing there which include recognising Juan Guaido as “interim president” despite no elections being held. Typically for the EU, any pretences of democratic leanings are dispatched into the long grass when Brussels doesn’t get what it wants – whether we’re talking about re-running referendums when the result is ’wrong’ or installing their own puppet as president in south American regimes which are aligned to their interests.

It was very good though of Maduro to arrange a plane for Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa though during a corona lockdown where all flights are cancelled. I wonder if this move will start a trend with the EU’s 120 or so diplomats around the world, who are mainly based in poor countries where they can bully local despots into signing up to their hegemony – and getting trade and aid in return.

In most cases though this won’t be the knock-on effect as local EU ‘ambassadors’ rarely hold their host countries to account on human rights atrocities. In Morocco where I live, for example, we haven’t heard a squeak out of the EU delegation in Rabat over a spate of journalists being arrested here on trumped up sex-related charges, or even the more sobering reports of the Moroccan government allegedly buying Israeli spy software and using it to bug journalists – denied firmly by Rabat of course.

The same can be said for the British ambassador here who is excremental in making video clips and arranging local media to interview him when the main subject is…himself. But not a word from Thomas Reilly on the local journalists. Given that Reilly hasn’t achieved a single thing for Britain in three years of extreme sycophancy of both elites in Morocco and the UK and is singularly incapable of pulling off one deal for UK businesses, one has to ask the question, what is the point of him?

Indeed, the Foreign Office in London have asked the same question and have concluded that he has to go in the coming weeks, cutting short his expected term by one year.

But it is a valid question. What is the point of diplomats in this age? What should their role be when, in Reilly’s case, all it amounted to be was naked self-promotion to gentrify himself. And yet, even at that, he seems to have failed.

The answer seems to be that they do have a role. It’s just not the one which is sold to us. They are not there to help stranded tourists (the UK embassy’s failure in Morocco is legendary as there are still British tourists as I write stranded here); their role is not to oil the wheels of international business as Reilly’s track record is null. And their role is certainly not to improve relations between their host country and their own. Relations between Britain and Morocco are so bad that the foreign minister in Rabat won’t see – or be seen – with Reilly, who, in turn, doesn’t even rate the gentleman as worthy of an official visit.

A lot of smoke and mirrors. But when you see through the fog, you see that diplomats today have a more disreputable role to play, when required. Just look at the Madeleine McCann scandal which is surfacing once again and examine the role of the British embassy in Portugal whose ambassador initially went to the holiday resort where Maddie was snatched and did his own snooping – with the conclusion that he recommends in a letter to the Foreign Office in London in 2007 that the government should distance itself from the McCanns who he suspects are complicit in their daughter’s death. What followed was a tawdry policy decision by Tony Blair which challenges the Ambassador’s findings (inconsistent witness statements) and kicks off the most corrupt campaign to support the McCanns and to put as much government resources into the ‘abduction’ theory as possible (which supports their innocence). John Buck, the UK ambassador there at the time must have asked himself what is the point of being an ambassador (when London has almost no regard for his point of view whatsoever) while many British people would question whether it’s correct of diplomats to investigate murders.

London didn’t want Buck to do any work unless it concluded in their own political agenda of supporting the McCanns and smothering any possible scandal which could disrupt the EU’s expansion process of going on at the time, The Lisbon Agenda.

And even today we see more examples of diplomats neither helping their own citizens, nor supporting their own countries industries – let alone smoothing relations between their own country and their hosts – but more involved in dirty work.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the EU was aligning itself with the U.S. over China. In recent days though that informal policy has become formalised into what could only be called an EU-U.S. ‘gang bang’ against Beijing. Goaded on by Mike Pompeo and amid a few denials, it seems that both these blocks are tag-teaming to present a double barrelled policy towards China, post corona. I’m certain diplomats have their hands sullied by this on both sides where they work surreptitiously before cleaning themselves up the next day to do a zoom interview by a local useful elitist idiot who showers them with torrential bullshit about their achievements and presents them with a cake and a candle.

Have a heart for the Lebanese who treated ambassadors of EU countries like superstars, without realising how they were being duped. Now, via twitter, more and more Lebanese are coming to me and regaling me about the utter impotence of EU and – in particular – the British ambassador in Beirut. As now mere spectators to an economy which is heading towards the Venezuela model, as for the first time, bread queues make the headlines, along with middle class Lebanese having empty fridges – the Lebanese reflect on the role of these diplomats. What are they doing? What is the point of them?

How long before the angry crowds in Lebanon vent their anger towards EU embassies and even the EU ‘delegation’ office itself when their unreserved uselessness becomes more and more evident? As each day passes, diplomats there become richer and richer as the local currency crashes but the ambassadors continue to draw their hard currency salaries. Soon only the hyper inflated food in the super markets will be bought by these diplomats while humble Lebanese starve.

Will people think about the role of diplomats then? Will they then be allowed to “sit occasionally” and eat magre du canard while middle class Lebanese can’t even buy bread? Will the starving Lebanese then begin to think of them as supporting the corrupt elite and therefore part of the problem itself?

[Category: Americas, Europe, World, Diplomacy, European Union, Juan Guaidó, Venezuela]

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[l] at 7/5/20 2:30pm

Can Making Black Lives Matter Rescue a Failing State?

Rebecca GORDON

You know that feeling when you trip on the street and instantly sense that you’re about to crash hard and there’s no way to prevent it? As gravity has its way with you, all you can do is watch yourself going down. Yeah, that feeling.

I had it the other day on my way to a Black Lives Matter demonstration when I caught my toe on a curb and pitched forward. As time slowed down, I saw not my past, but my future, pass before my eyes — a future that would at worst include months of rehabbing a broken hip and at best a few weeks hobbling around on crutches. I was lucky. Nothing was broken and I’ll probably be off the crutches by the time you read this.

But that feeling of falling and knowing it’s too late to stop it has stayed with me. I suspect it reflects a sensation many people in the United States might be having right now, a sense that time is moving slowly while we watch a flailing country in a slow-motion free fall. It has taken decades of government dereliction to get us to this point and a few years of Trumpian sabotage to show us just where we really are. To have any hope of pulling back from the brink, however, will take the determination of organizations like the Movement for Black Lives.

That national descent, when it came, proved remarkably swift. In less than six months, we’ve seen more than 2.5 million confirmed Covid-19 infections and more than 125,000 deaths. And it’s not slowing down. June 24th, in fact, saw the biggest single-day total in new U.S. infections (more than 38,000) since April and that number may well have been superseded by the time this piece comes out. During this pandemic, we’ve gone from an economy of almost full employment — even if at starvation levels for those earning a minimum wage — to one with the worst unemployment since the Great Depression (even as billionaires have once again made a rather literal killing). The government’s response to these twin catastrophes has been feckless at best and criminal at worst. While this country may not yet be a failed state, it’s certainly in a free fall all its own.

What Is a Failed State?

People use this expression to indicate a political entity whose government has ceased to perform most or all of its basic functions. Such a condition can result from civil war, untrammeled corruption, natural disaster, or some combination of those and more. The Fund for Peace, which has been working on such issues for more than 70 years, lists four criteria to identify such a country:

  • “Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
  • Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
  • Inability to provide public services
  • Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community”

I’ve always thought of such fallen lands (sometimes given a fatal shove by my own government) as far-away places. Countries like Libya. The Fund for Peace identifies that beleaguered and now fractured nation, where rival armed forces compete for primacy, as the one in which government fragility has increased most over the last decade. The present chaos began when the United States and its NATO allies stepped in militarily, precipitating the overthrow of autocrat Muammar Qaddafi, with no particular plan for the day after.

Then there’s Yemen, where Washington’s support for the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates only exacerbated an ongoing civil war, whose civilian victims have been left to confront famine, cholera, and most recently, with a shattered healthcare system, the coronavirus. And before Libya and Yemen, don’t forget the Bush administration’s disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq, which damaged that country’s physical and political infrastructure in ways it is now, 17 years later, starting to dig out of.

So, yes, I’d known about failed states, but it wasn’t until I read “We Are Living in a Failed State” by George Packer in the June 2020 Atlantic magazine that I began to seriously entertain the idea that my country was bouncing down the same flight of stairs. As that article’s subtitle put it: “The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.”

The Monopoly of the Legitimate Use of Force

In his 1919 lecture “Politics as a Vocation,” German sociologist Max Weber observed that “a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” In other words, a state is a given territory whose inhabitants recognize that only one institution, the government, has the capacity — and therefore the right — to authorize the use of violence against members of the community.

Weber described three main ways that the use of violence acquires legitimacy: through long tradition, through the charisma of individual leaders, or in the case of many modern states, through the rule of law. In a way, Donald Trump’s administration can be viewed as one long attempt to roll back the legitimacy derived from the rule of law and replace it with the power of one man’s personal charisma. The president’s often-bumbling attempts to rule by fiat have reminded many fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation of a hapless imitation of Captain Jean-Luc Picard repeatedly calling out from the bridge of the Enterprise, “Make it so!”

Recently, however, Trump has used his presidential authority to directly threaten his own citizens with military force. On June 1st, he said at a Rose Garden press conference, “If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” Minutes later, he showed just how it could be done, when protesters in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square were attacked by a combined force of National Guard, federal Park Police, and Secret Service agents. That last group Trump chose to congratulate for the job they did in a celebratory tweet, addressing them as the “S.S.,” an evocation — one hopes unintentional — of the Schutzstaffel (a Nazi paramilitary force of the previous century.) The world saw, as the Washington Post reported, “federal officers shoving protesters with shields and firing pepper balls, chemical grenades, and smoke bombs at retreating crowds” — all so the president could have a photo op with his buddy, the Bible, in front of a church down the street from the White House.

Max Weber was hardly suggesting that, in a functional state, only the government uses force to achieve its ends. Residents would still, for instance, experience criminal violence. When a state begins to fail, however, it either can’t or won’t prevent other forces from threatening or using violence — a growing trend in Donald Trump’s America. He has even, for instance, encouraged attendees at his rallies to “knock the crap out of” hecklers and offered to pay their legal fees afterward. We’ve watched him congratulate a Republican congressman for physically attacking a reporter and noted his approval of some “very fine people” at the 2017 Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white nationalist murdered a woman by driving his car into a crowd of counterdemonstrators.

Recently, the president’s support for extralegal violence has taken a far more sinister turn. Now, he’s given his imprimatur not just to his individual supporters, but to armed militias opposing their states’ efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He’s urged them to “LIBERATE!” places like Michigan and Virginia, approved of armed vigilantes physically menacing legislators deliberating about Michigan’s stay-at-home policies, and had no objection to their parading in front of the office of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer with signs bearing slogans like “Tyrants get the rope!” His encouragement of armed resistance to state authority so alarmed Washington Governor Jay Inslee that he accused the president of “fomenting domestic rebellion.”

What do you call a nation in which armed militias can threaten officials without fear of penalty? Whether it’s Libya or the U.S., I’d call it a state on the way to failing.

Eroding the Legitimacy of Collective Decision Making

The United States is a republic. Those who can vote elect representatives who make the laws that govern us. That’s how federal and state constitutions, city charters, and town bylaws have set out the major process for collective decision-making in this country. (Of course, sometimes we also participate more directly, as when we speak or write about public affairs, demonstrate our concerns in marches with banners and chants, or organize ourselves as communities, workers, or other groups of people sharing common interests.)

Recognizing that this country is still officially a republic doesn’t mean that everyone legally entitled to vote is actually able to vote. I wish that were so. In many parts of this country, however, the Republicans have been working assiduously to make voting by some of us either illegal or impossible.

In my lifetime, African Americans (and some white allies) died to secure the vote, an effort that culminated in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013, however, under George W. Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court essentially gutted the act. Ever since, we’ve seen an acceleration of efforts to reduce access to the polls for African Americans and other marginalized groups. These include onerous voter identification procedures and restrictions on early voting or access to vote-by-mail options. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that, in the past decade, 25 states have imposed new restrictions on voting.

To the extent that Americans recognize elections as a means of collective decision-making, it’s because a sufficient number of us have confidence in the basic integrity of the system. In less functional societies, the results of elections are frequently, sometimes violently, contested by the losing side. So it’s one thing — and bad enough — for local jurisdictions to make it difficult or impossible for particular groups of people to vote. It’s quite another when a country’s leader acts to undermine public confidence in the entire electoral process.

That, of course, is exactly what Donald Trump has been doing from the moment of his 2016 electoral victory when he began blaming his failure to win the popular vote on millions of ballots supposedly cast illegally by undocumented immigrants. He even set up a presidential commission to investigate such a massive fraud, which later disbanded without finding any evidence to support his contention.

Nonetheless, the president revisited the theme of voter fraud in a 2019 address to young conservatives, this time throwing in a few made-up details for verisimilitude:

“…and then those illegals get out and vote, because they vote anyway. Don’t kid yourself. Those numbers in California and numerous other states, they’re rigged. They’ve got people voting that shouldn’t be voting. They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times. It’s like a circle. They come back, they put a new hat on. They come back, they put a new shirt on. And in many cases, they don’t even do that. You know what’s going on. It’s a rigged deal.”

In the context of an ongoing pandemic, the most sensible way to hold the November 2020 election is largely by mail. Oregon has held successful all-mail elections for two decades. In fact, mail-in voting turns out both to be efficient and to substantially boost participation. (Oregon’s turnout was a whopping 63% in the 2018 midterm election.) Greater turnout, however, often favors Democratic candidates, which may be why Trump has launched a campaign against mail-in elections, claiming they are fraught with fraud, making his own wild claims in the process. In May, for instance, he tweeted:

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”

Only recently, he went at it again, all-cap tweeting: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!”

Undermining public confidence in electoral integrity is a vicious strategy. In a country armed to the teeth like this one, when Trump encourages his supporters to believe that only massive fraud will explain his losing the 2020 election, he’s playing a dangerous game indeed. You know that you’re in a new world when opinion writers in the mainstream media find themselves asking if Trump will actually relinquish the White House, should he lose the election. (And if he is losing and vote-by-mail slows the counting process in some states, he’ll use any delay after November 3rd to create further “rigged-election” chaos.)

Inability to Provide Public Services

There’s no need to rehearse here the hideous details of the Trump administration’s abject failure to confront the spread of Covid-19 and to acknowledge the people it’s killed. Suffice it to say that a combination of disinterest and incompetence at the federal level has thrown responsibility on individual states and counties, which have found themselves in competition for life-saving equipment and have even been reduced to begging the federal government for support. As thousands were dying, corrupt procurement processes led to absurdities like the purchase of millions of miniature (and unusable) soda bottles instead of the glass tubes needed for virus testing.

As a result, by June 20, 2020, the U.S., with 4.25% of the world’s population, accounted for more than 26% of its 8.9 million verified coronavirus cases and about the same proportion of Covid-19 deaths. However, even if the administration’s response had been well-prepared and brilliantly executed, the pandemic would still have revealed this country’s longstanding inability to provide basic healthcare to large numbers of its citizens, especially in communities of color and among the poor.

As Covid-19 spreads in jails and prisons, a grim new aspect of decades of unnecessary and cruel mass incarceration has been revealed. As it ravages encampments of unhoused people, the virus continues to reveal to anyone who hadn’t already noticed the nation’s decades-long inability to house its citizens. The pandemic has also illuminated the devastation wrought by the most profound level of economic inequality since the Gilded Age — the inevitable result of combining staggering tax cuts for the rich with the systematic dismantling of one public service after another, from public education to infrastructure maintenance to emergency food support.

The country that, until recently, had the world’s greatest economy can’t even guarantee clean drinking water for 63 million Americans. The lead-contaminated water of Flint, Michigan, is only the best-known example of this.

Recently, the Ford Foundation, with other big nonprofit funders, made an extraordinary announcement. In the face of the government’s inability to respond adequately to the present crisis, they plan to make at least a billion dollars in new grants. Foundations giving away money is, of course, nothing new. What’s different is how they plan to fund this operation: by issuing “social bonds” — investment instruments for sale alongside U.S. Treasury bills and municipal bonds.

What does it say about a country when private foundations find themselves driven to borrow money in the bond market to provide public services that ought to come from the government?

Inability to Act as a Full Member of the International Community

Here, too, the Trump administration has pushed the United States towards failure. Though this country had, in the past, routinely acted less like a member of the international community than its hegemon, with this president there is no longer even a semblance of international cooperation on global issues. He’s withdrawn us from a previously successful treaty to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as well as from successful Cold War treaties to control them. He’s repeatedly threatened to pull the U.S. out of NATO and placed sanctions on individuals working with the International Criminal Court investigating possible American war crimes in Afghanistan. In the midst of this global pandemic, he’s even pulling out of the World Health Organization.

Perhaps most disastrous of all, he’s reneged on our obligations under the Paris climate accord, thereby undermining humanity’s best hope of staving off an ecological catastrophe.

Under Donald Trump, in other words, the United States has demonstrated that even if it is not unable to take its place among the community of nations, it is certainly unwilling to do so.

Can Black Lives Matter Break the Fall?

My thinking about our nation’s rapid fall into failure began with my personal tumble on the way to a Black Lives Matter demonstration. In a way, that couldn’t be more fitting, because African Americans, particularly through their presence on the streets and in the media, are leading the present effort to pull this country back from the brink and toward legitimacy, more collective decision-making, the genuine provision of people’s needs, and participation in the community of nations.

The platform of the Movement for Black Lives represents an excellent place to start when it comes to preventing this country from becoming a failed state. The document itself is the result of an extended process of collective discussion and decision-making. Its goals include ending police violence and mass incarceration; investing in community needs; supporting the rights of women, LGBTQ communities, and immigrants; creating economic justice; and increasing black political power.

The Black Lives Matter movement began in response to this country’s long history of state-sanctioned violence against African Americans, whether in the form of lynching, cultural erasure, forced labor, or predatory lending. More than a century of violent, indeed murderous, policing of black and other marginalized communities has made this country’s use of state violence profoundly illegitimate. The present wave of resistance has forced the rest of the country, and the world, to look at it squarely.

If the U.S. is to break its headlong rush into failed statehood, it must begin by addressing the legitimate demands of the people this country has failed from its very inception. Through that process we might also begin to restore our nation’s collective decision-making, improve the genuine provision of public services, and make a new and better place for ourselves in the community of nations. Without it, there is no hope of doing so.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves, though. In Donald Trump’s — or even Joe Biden’s — United States, it’s going to be a long, hard haul. But better that than a steep fall.

tomdispatch.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Crisis, Pandemic, Protests, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 7/5/20 2:00pm

Despite what American and European commentators may think, there really is a deep desire among people to vote for their own sovereignty. And that impulse was on full display last week with the announcement of the results of Russia’s public vote to approve the changes to its constitution.

The final tally put the vote at 78% in favor with a 65% voter turnout for the referendum. These are the most sweeping changes to Russia’s constitution since it was ratified back in 1993, which vested the President with immense power.

And while the final package of reforms differed in one important aspect from the original one – allowing for a president to serve more than two ‘consecutive’ terms – the over-arching theme of the changes was to devolve power out of the presidency putting more power in the hands of the elected representatives in the Duma.

The president’s cabinet is to be drawn from the Duma rather than the appointed by the president, while the State Council has been officially added to the constitution which can implement presidential edicts directly to the regions. In effect, there is now a greater balance (and tension) between these various branches of government as the president loses control over appointing his cabinet but strengthens his ability to bypass the elected parliament.

What was clear at the outset of this process was that Putin was trying to prepare his succession while minimizing the potential for another ‘foreign puppet’ to wield the immense power of the Russian presidency, as it was under Boris Yeltsin.

Putin was looking to retire in 2024, at 71, with an eye of maintaining a strong presence in Russian politics by leading the Security Council, which with these reforms has a more direct role in shaping military and diplomatic policy than it did before.

Back in December I did a podcast with Alexander Mercouris of The Duran where we discussed these potential changes in detail (which pre-dates the changes to the president’s term limit) which I think is important to review at this point since the changes are now law.

No matter what political perspective you come from there will be valid criticisms of these changes seeing the potential for abuse, but the overall arc of them is to make Russia far more resistant to outside interference while reflecting the growing pride of Russians for their home and their surviving the hell imposed on them post-USSR.

And these changes have to be viewed through that lens. In my mind Russia has been in a state of war with the West since late 2013 with the EU’s attempt to fast-track Ukraine into its bosom. That morphed into the Maidan uprising and the subsequent reunification with Crimea and the War to Prevent Donbass Secession.

Putin came to power at the height of Russia’s post-Soviet economic and societal collapse. He knows who was behind it and where, metaphorically, the bodies are buried. He is still making moves which are, at best, incremental changes which are achievable when obvious wholesale changes are necessary.

That’s what a lot of these constitutional changes represent, incremental changes necessary to secure Russia’s near-term future in the context of an infinitely hostile West in the death throes of Empire.

For that reason, they are welcome, if to be distrusted as all power is to be inherently distrusted. And the Russian people understand the nature of the conflict to the degree that they were motivated to make a definitive statement about it.

The response from the western press has been suitably pathetic, leading with headlines which only emphasize the potential for Putin to remain in power until 2036 (at which point he’ll be 83) and the small pockets of resistance to these changes.

The people crying the most today are the neoliberal/neocons and their intelligence agents who Putin has consistently outmaneuvered over the past thirty years who planned on waiting him out. These changes to the constitution may, in the end, as Gilbert Doctorow suggests, strengthen the presidency in unforeseen ways, but the one thing it does do is ensure that if Russia is to sink into autocracy it will do so on its terms and not on those that openly destroyed it back in the 1990’s.

This is an age of extreme political instability which reflects the poisoned economic foundation those institutions are built upon. All across the West we are seeing massive resistance to the existing order from all sides of the political spectrum. Their anger and frustration have the same genesis while their goals are vastly different.

The powers that be are behind the ones aimed at tearing down the political order in the U.S. while opposing the same drive in Europe. The irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone that a color revolution is underway in the U.S. where the institutional system is vested in a national government with individual states still operating in accordance with that national government.

While at the same time, a loose collection of treaties binds sovereign nations together into the European Union which has almost zero legal authority to enforce its edicts, but which has violently resisted all expressions of national sovereignty as barbaric.

So, the picture should be very clear what the dynamic is and who is pulling what strings to what end. And this is why there is the kind of howling and teeth gnashing coming from the West over these reforms, they cannot allow to stand any successful expression of national sovereignty lest the serfs get some funny ideas.

But I don’t think either of these dynamics will win out ultimately. The U.S. in its current form may not survive its civil war but neither will Europe go gently into the long night of The Davos Crowd’s intended supranational police state either.

The key to Putin’s success has been his conservative nature which understands that change comes over time. You can’t force lasting change. You have to allow people time to get used to an idea while also be willing to admit some changes made were the wrong ones.

That’s why these changes passed with a near 80% majority. They were overwhelmingly in agreement with public opinion about what Russia’s future should look like and who should make those decisions.

As such Russians stated to the world the other day that the truly dangerous disease infecting the West – unrestrained liberalism bordering on the libertine – will not be public policy going forward.

[Category: Society, Constitution, Politics, Russia, Vladimir Putin, West]

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