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How Putin Blocked The U.S. Pivot To Asia

March 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

“The collapse of the Soviet Union removed the only constraint on Washington’s power to act unilaterally abroad…. Suddenly the United States found itself to be the Uni-power, the ‘world’s only superpower.’  Neoconservatives proclaimed ‘the end of history.’”

—  Paul Craig Roberts,  former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury

“Don’t blame the mirror if your face is crooked.”

Russian proverb

Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the 43rd Munich Security Conference that created a rift between Washington and Moscow that has only deepened over time.  The Russian President’s blistering hour-long critique of US foreign policy provided a rational, point-by-point indictment of US interventions around the world and their devastating effect on global security.   Putin probably didn’t realize the impact his candid observations would have on the assembly in Munich or the reaction of  powerbrokers in the US who saw the presentation as a turning point in US-Russian relations. But, the fact is, Washington’s hostility towards Russia can be traced back to this particular incident, a speech in which Putin publicly committed himself to a multipolar global system, thus, repudiating the NWO pretensions of US elites. Here’s what he said:

“I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue.”

With that one formulation, Putin rejected the United States assumed role as the world’s only superpower and steward of global security, a privileged position which Washington feels it earned by prevailing in the Cold War and which entitles the US to unilaterally intervene whenever it sees fit. Putin’s announcement ended years of bickering and deliberation among think tank analysts as to whether Russia could be integrated into the US-led system or not.  Now they knew that Putin would never dance to Washington’s tune.

In the early years of his presidency, it was believed that Putin would learn to comply with western demands and accept a subordinate role in the Washington-centric system. But it hasn’t worked out that way. The speech in Munich merely underscored what many US hawks and Cold Warriors had been saying from the beginning, that Putin would not relinquish Russian sovereignty without a fight.  The declaration challenging US aspirations to rule the world, left no doubt that  Putin was going to be a problem that had to be dealt with by any means necessary including harsh economic sanctions, a State Department-led coup in neighboring Ukraine, a conspiracy to crash oil prices, a speculative attack of the ruble, a proxy war in the Donbass using neo-Nazis as the empire’s shock troops, and myriad false flag operations used to discredit Putin personally while driving a wedge between Moscow and its primary business partners in Europe. Now the Pentagon is planning to send 600 paratroopers to Ukraine ostensibly to “train the Ukrainian National Guard”, a serious escalation that violates the spirit of Minsk 2 and which calls for a proportionate response from the Kremlin. Bottom line: The US is using all the weapons in its arsenal to prosecute its war on Putin.

Last week’s gangland-style murder of Russian opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, has to be considered in terms of the larger geopolitical game that is currently underway. While we may never know who perpetrated the crime, we can say with certainly that the lack of evidence hasn’t deterred the media or US politicians from using the tragedy to advance an anti-Putin agenda aimed at destabilizing the government and triggering regime change in Moscow.  Putin himself suggested that the killing may have been a set-up designed to put more pressure on the Kremlin. The World Socialist Web Site summed up the political implications like this:

“The assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is a significant political event that arises out of the US-Russia confrontation and the intense struggle that is now underway within the highest levels of the Russian state. The Obama administration and the CIA are playing a major role in the escalation of this conflict, with the aim of producing an outcome that serves the global geo-political and financial interests of US imperialism….

It is all but obvious that the Obama administration is hoping a faction will emerge within the Russian elite, backed by elements in the military and secret police, capable of staging a “palace coup” and getting rid of Putin….

The United States is not seeking to trigger a widespread popular revolt. (But) are directed entirely at convincing a section of the oligarchy and emerging capitalist class that their business interests and personal wealth depend upon US support. That is why the Obama administration has used economic sanctions targeting individuals as a means of exerting pressure on the oligarchs as well as broader sections of the entrepreneurial elite….

It is in the context of this international power struggle that one must evaluate Nemtsov’s murder. Of course, it is possible that his death was the outcome of his private dealings. But it is more likely that he was killed for political reasons. Certainly, the timing of the killing—on the eve of the opposition’s anti-Putin demonstration in Moscow—strongly indicates that the killing was a political assassination, not a private settling of accounts.”  (“Murder in Moscow: Why was Boris Nemtsov assassinated?“, David North, World Socialist Web Site)

Just hours after Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow, the western media swung into action releasing a barrage of articles suggesting Kremlin involvement without a shred of  evidence to support their claims. The campaign of innuendo has steadily gained momentum as more Russia “experts” and politicians offer their opinions about who might be responsible. Naturally, none of the interviewees veer from the official storyline that someone in Putin’s charge must have carried out the attack.  An article in the Washington Post is a good example of the tactics used in the latest PR campaign to discredit Putin.  According to Vladimir Gel’man, Political Scientists European University at St. Petersburg and the University of Helsinki:

“Boris Nemtsov, one of the leaders of political opposition, was shot dead nearby the Kremlin. In my opinion, it has all the hallmarks of a political assassination provoked by an aggressive Kremlin-induced campaign against the “fifth column of national traitors”, who opposed the annexation of Crimea, war with the West over Ukraine, and further decline of political and civil freedoms in the country. We may never know whether the Kremlin ordered this killing, but given the fact that Nemtsov was one of the most consistent critics not only of the Russian regime as such but also of Putin in person, his dissenting voice will never upset Putin and his inner circle anymore.”  (“What does Boris Nemtsov’s murder mean for Russia?“, Washington Post)

The article in the Washington Post is fairly typical of others published in the MSM. The coverage is invariably long on finger-pointing and insinuation and short on facts. Traditional journalistic standards of objectivity and fact-gathering have been jettisoned to advance a political agenda that reflects the objectives of ownership. The Nemtsov assassination is just the latest illustration of the abysmal state of western media.

The idea that Putin’s agents would “whack” an opposition candidate just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin is far fetched to say the least.  As one commenter at the Moon of Alabama blog noted:

“Isn’t the image of a dead political opponent lying on a bridge overlooked by the Kremlin a bit rich? I mean, short of a dagger lodged between his shoulder blades with the inscription “if found, please return to Mr Putin”, I can’t think of a more over-egged attempt at trying to implicate the Government. And on the night before an opposition rally Nemtsov hoped to lead. I mean, come on.”

While there’s no denying that Moscow could be involved, it seems unlikely. The more probable explanation is that the incident is part of a larger regime change scheme to ignite social unrest and destabilize the government. The US has used these tactics so many times before in various color-coded revolutions, that we won’t reiterate the details here. Even so, it’s worth noting that the US has no red lines when it comes to achieving its strategic goals.  It will do whatever it feels is necessary to prevail in its clash with Putin.

The question is why? Why is Washington so determined to remove Putin?

Putin answered this question himself recently at a celebration of Russia’s diplomatic workers’ day. He said Russia would pursue an independent foreign policy despite pressure in what he called “today’s challenging international environment.”

“No matter how much pressure is put on us, the Russian Federation will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy, to support the fundamental interests of our people and in line with global security and stability.” (Reuters)

This is Putin’s unforgivable crime, the same crime as Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and countless other nations that refuse to march in lockstep to Washington’s directives.

Putin has also resisted NATO encirclement and attempts by the US to loot Russia’s vast natural resources. And while Putin has made every effort to avoid a direct confrontation with the US, he has not backed down on issues that are vital to Russia’s national security, in fact, he  has pointed out numerous times not only the threat that encroaching NATO poses to Moscow, but also the lies that preceded its eastward expansion. Here’s Putin at Munich again:

“I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee….

Where are these guarantees?”

Where, indeed. Apparently, they were all lies.  As political analyst Pat Buchanan said in his article “Doesn’t Putin Have a Point?”:

“Though the Red Army had picked up and gone home from Eastern Europe voluntarily, and Moscow felt it had an understanding we would not move NATO eastward, we exploited our moment. Not only did we bring Poland into NATO, we brought in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and virtually the whole Warsaw Pact, planting NATO right on Mother Russia’s front porch. Now, there is a scheme afoot to bring in Ukraine and Georgia in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin….

… though Putin gave us a green light to use bases in the old Soviet republics for the liberation of Afghanistan, we now seem hell-bent on making those bases in Central Asia permanent.

… through the National Endowment for Democracy, its GOP and Democratic auxiliaries, and tax-exempt think tanks, foundations, and “human rights” institutes such as Freedom House,… we have been fomenting regime change in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, and Russia herself….

These are Putin’s grievances. Does he not have a small point?” “(Doesn’t Putin Have a Point?”, Pat Buchanan, antiwar.com)

Now the US wants to deploy its missile defense system to Eastern Europe, a system which–according to Putin “will work automatically with and be an integral part of the US nuclear capability. For the first time in history, and I want to emphasize this, there are elements of the US nuclear capability on the European continent. It simply changes the whole configuration of international security…..Of course, we have to respond to that.”

How can Putin allow this to happen?  How can he allow the US to situate nuclear weapons in a location that would increase its first-strike capability and undermine the balance of deterrents allowing the US to force Russia to follow its orders or face certain annihilation. Putin has no choice but to resist this outcome, just as has no choice but to oppose the principle upon which US expansion is based, the notion that the Cold War was won by the US, therefore the US has the right to reshape the world in a way that best suits its own economic and geopolitical interests. Here’s Putin again:

“What is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term,  it refers to a type of situation where there is one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making.   It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. At the end of the day, this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within…..

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world…. the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilization….” (Munich, 2007)

What sort of man talks like this? What sort of man talks about “the moral foundations for modern civilization” or invokes FDR in his address?

Putin:  “‘Security for one is security for all’. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: ‘When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.’ These words remain topical today.”

I urge everyone to watch at least the first 10 minutes of Putin’s speech and decide for themselves whether they think the characterization (and demonization) of Putin in the media is fair or not. And pay special attention to Minute 6 where Putin says this:

“We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?” (“Vladimir Putin’s legendary speech at Munich Security Conference“)

While Putin is making this statement, the camera pans to John McCain and Joe Lieberman who are sitting stone-faced in the front row seething at every word uttered by the Russian president. If you look close enough, you can see the steam emerging from McCain’s ears.

This is why Washington wants regime change in Moscow. It’s because Putin refuses to be pushed around by the United States. It’s because he wants a world that is governed by international laws that are impartially administered by the United Nations. It’s because he rejects a “unipolar” world order where one nation dictates policy to everyone else and where military confrontation becomes the preferred way for the powerful to impose their will on the weak.

Putin:  “Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts…The United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way….And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasize this — no one feels safe.”  Vladimir Putin, Munich 2007

Putin isn’t a perfect man. He has his shortcomings and flaws like everyone else. But he appears to be a decent person who has made great strides in restoring Russia’s economy after it was looted by agents of the US following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He has lifted living standards,  increased pensions,  reduced poverty, and improved education and health care which is why his public approval ratings are currently hovering at an eye-watering 86 percent.  Even so, Putin is most admired for standing up to the United States and blocking its strategy to pivot to Asia. The proxy war in Ukraine is actually a struggle to thwart Washington’s plan to break up the Russian Federation, encircle China, control the flow of resources from Asia to Europe,  and rule the world.   Vladimir Putin is at the forefront of that conflagration which is why he has gained the respect and admiration of people around the world.

As for “democracy”, Putin said it best himself:

“Am I a ‘pure democrat’? (laughs) Of course I am. Absolutely. The problem is that I’m all alone, the only one of my kind in the whole world. Just look at what’s happening in    America, it’s terrible—torture, homeless people, Guantanamo, people detained without trial or investigation.     And look at  Europe—harsh treatment of demonstrators, rubber bullets and tear gas used in one capital after another, demonstrators killed on the streets….. I have no one to talk to since Gandhi died.”

Well said, Vladimir.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Showdown In Athens

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Varoufakis vs. The Troika…

“Will the United States, Germany, the rest of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – collectively constituting the International Mafia – allow the new Greek leaders of the Syriza party to dictate the conditions of Greece’s rescue and salvation? The answer at the moment is a decided “No”.

— William Blum, The Greek Tragedy, Veracity Voice

“The Greek economy is finished…. There is no power, no force within the Greek economy, within Greek society that can avert – it’s like – imagine if we were in Ohio in 1931 and we were to ask: What can Ohio politicians do to get Ohio out of the Great Depression? The answer is nothing.”

— Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Finance Minister

A disagreement over the terms of a deal to provide a bailout extension for Greece, has set the stage for a final clash between the Eurogroup and members of the Greek ruling party, Syriza.  Although the agreement was approved on Tuesday when a list of reforms were submitted by Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to the Eurogroup, Varoufakis believes that changes to the original program give him greater flexibility to implement policies that will end austerity, reduce the ailing country’s primary budget surplus, and ease the humanitarian crisis that has persisted for 6 years.  Regrettably,  no one at the ECB, the European Commission or the IMF shares Varoufakis’s views on the subject. The so called “troika” thinks that Greece has signed on to essentially the same program that was in place before the negotiations, give or take a few cosmetic changes in the language. And because the program is the same, they think Varoufakis should stick with the same policies as his predecessor and ignore mounting public opposition to austerity. Given the irreconcilable differences between the two parties, there’s bound to be a violent confrontation in the near future that will lead to heated recriminations and, eventually, a Grexit.

To illustrate the widening chasm between Varoufakis and the members of the Eurogroup, consider the fact that, going into the negotiations, Varoufakis was determined to end the bailouts and secure a “bridge” loan that would shield Greece from default for a six month period of adjustment after which basic changes to the current austerity regime would be re-negotiated. While the Eurogroup agreed to change the term “program” to “agreement” and “troika” to “institutions”, in the minds of the EU finance minsters, the substance of the original deal, which was laid out in the hated Memorandum of Understanding, remained the same. Take a look at this excerpt from a letter from ECB president Mario Draghi and Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem and you’ll see how this is playing out:

“I assume that it is clear, that the basis of concluding the current review, and also any future arrangements, will be the existing commitments in the current Memorandum of Understanding and The Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies  (MEFP). In this context we note that the commitments outlined by the authorities differ from existing programme commitments in a number of areas. In such cases, we will have to assess during the review whether measures which are not accepted by the authorities are replaced with measures of equal or better quality in terms of achieving the objectives of the programme.” (Naked Capitalism)

What Draghi is saying is that Varoufakis’s changes will be put under a microscope to see if they conform with the memorandum which Varoufakis believes no longer applies. The way this will work on a practical basis, is that additional money will only be meted out incrementally depending on compliance with, you guessed it, the old agreement. In other words, Varoufakis will not have a 4 month grace period to experiment with his pro-growth, anti-austerity economic policies. He’ll be expected to toe the line from Day 1.

Varoufakis either doesn’t understand what he signed or thinks he can implement his own plan without too much interference from the Eurogroup. Either way, there’s probably going to be a confrontation given the vast disparity in the way the agreement is being interpreted. In a Tuesday interview with CNBC, Varoufakis said that the new deal is fundamentally different than the previous agreement. He said:

“Some people have been insisting that the program that we’ve been under must surely be the program that we shall remain under simply refuse to understand that this has changed. So they keep insisting that that program is still on-going. Let me give you a very simple number. The program that we challenged compelled to the Greek government to extract 4.5% of the primary surplus every year in a depressed economy. We’ve changed that. Now surely that is not dismissed as simply a non-event and it’s business as usual, so it’s not business as usual we have a fresh start and now what matters is to use the opportunity of that fresh start in order to build something good on top of it. And we will endeavor to do this.” (“CNBC Exclusive Interview: Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis“, CNBC)

See? He sincerely believes that the old deal is history. But the troika, the Eurogroup, and the majority of people who have analyzed the new arrangement, disagree. They think everything is the same (which explains why critics on the right and left have repudiated the deal as a “climb-down, a capitulation and a sellout.)

In an interview with Nikos Hatzinikolaou on REAL FM, Greece, Varoufakis rejected the Memorandum while claiming that the new agreement represents “a huge success’ in ending the “recessionary measures” that are needlessly prolonging Greece’s Great Depression. Here’s what he said:

Varoufakis: “The current  government (Syriza) wants to say things with their name. I will explain it to you in very simple terms, Mr. Hatzinikolaou. As long as our debt is what it is, as long as Greece was bounded within this iron cage of primary surpluses that were impossible to achieve without killing whatever is left in the private sector, and as long we have a negative sign in investments (essentially, real investments), it was impossible to achieve this exit.

What we are trying to do – and have succeeded in doing so; it was a huge success, I’d say – is to create a four-month bridge during which we achieve the following:

First, the cancelation of the recessionary measures and the implementation of a transitional program we ourselves have made, one the Greek society will be able to withstand. This will help us negotiate during this four-month period a new contract between us and our partners with the goal of solving this system of three equations with three unknowns.

Hatzinikolaou: Thus, we are talking about a new Memorandum? ….

Varoufakis: OK. Let us be careful with the words. What does the Memorandum mean? … Let me remind you of what it comprises. It comprises the logic of continuous domestic [or internal] devaluation, of  huge primary surpluses in an economy that does not have a real credit system, where investments are negative, and at the same time where we have a series of measures that empower this recession.  This is the MoU. It is the automation, the a-politicization, and the subjection to the crisis.” (“The juicy interview of Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis“, Greek Analyst)

Varoufakis  appears to be saying that, in his view, the new agreement constitutes a rejection of the memorandum and, thus, is a de facto repudiation of austerity.  The question is whether Varoufakis is stretching the facts to give himself greater latitude to relieve Greece’s humanitarian crisis and to put Greece back on a sound path to growth.  While those are worthy goals, they are not likely to win the Eurogroup’s support. Check out this excerpt from a letter from the IMF to Dijsselbloem concerning the vagueness of Varoufakis’s reform package:

“In quite a few areas, however, including perhaps the most important ones, the letter is not conveying clear assurances that the Government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged in the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies. We note in particular that there are neither clear commitments to design the envisaged comprehensive pension and VAT policy reforms, nor unequivocal undertakings to continue already-agreed policies for opening up closed sectors, for administrative reforms, for privatization, and for labor market reforms. As you know, we consider such commitments and undertakings to be critical for Greece’s ability to meet the basic objectives of its Fund-supported program, which is why these are the areas subject to most of the structural benchmarks agreed with the Fund.” (Excerpt IMF letter posted at Naked capitalism)

Repeat: “We consider such commitments and undertakings to be critical for Greece’s ability to meet the basic objectives of its Fund-supported program.”  In other words, Greece should not expect to get its loan extension unless it follows the troika’s explicit orders on pensions, VAT (sales taxes), government cutbacks, privatization and labor market reforms.

So, what is Varoufakis’s approach to these benchmarks?

Let’s take a look at pension reform. In an interview with CNBC’s Julia Chatterley on Tuesday, Chatterley asked Varoufakis point blank, “So you’re ruling out pension cuts?”

Varoufakis: “Of course over the next four months there will be no such thing.” (CNBC)

How about raising the VAT tax?

Same thing. And in the interview on REAL FM Varoufakis covered the other policies that the troika sees as “critical”. Listen to this exchange:

Hatzinikolaou: My fundamental question about the e-mail is whether or not it entails layoffs in the public sector …, if it entails pension reductions … if it entails wage reductions?

Varoufakis: I will answer to all these questions, since these are very specific questions, and it is best that we speak forthrightly. My answer to all of these questions is NO, in NO WAY.”

Let’s summarize: No pension cuts, no higher VAT taxes, no lower wages for public workers, and no layoffs. While I admire what Varoufakis is suggesting, I can’t figure out how he’s going to convince the troika to give him more money.  Apparently, he thinks that streamlining the government and aggressively pursuing tax cheats will do the trick. Or maybe he has something else up his sleeve, like ignoring the terms of the agreement long enough to generate growth in the economy, lower unemployment, and create an improved environment for foreign investment. He might think that that will force the troika to acknowledge that austerity has failed and that pro-growth Keynesian strategies actually produce positive results. Of course, that’s just a guess on my part. It’s impossible to know for sure.

Here’s more of the interview with CNBC:

Varoufakis:   “The reason why we have this 4 month period is to re-establish bonds of trust between us and our European partners as well as the IMF in order to build a new, we call it, contract between us and our partners so as to put an end to this spiral, the debt inflationary spiral; reform Greece; and make sure that CNBC doesn’t care about Greece anymore, because we don’t want to be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.” (“CNBC Exclusive Interview: Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis“, CNBC)

The “bonds of trust” are going to  put to the test if Varoufakis doesn’t comply with the troika’s diktats, that’s for sure.

Varoufakis assumes that the troika doesn’t understand the impact of its belt-tightening policies. He seems to think that the punishment that’s being inflicted on Greece is just the unfortunate byproduct of debt reduction policy and not a deliberate attempt to crush the unions, roll back progressive reforms, decimate the welfare state, and reduce the country to a condition of “permanent colonial dependency.”    But that viewpoint is shockingly naïve, after all, the IMF has been in the looting biz for a long time and has a pretty good grasp of the effects its toxic policies.  They know what they’re doing, just like know that austerity is just a refinement of the “shock doctrine” which is the traditional way the elites exploit crises by imposing harsh, economy-demolishing reforms that only benefit themselves and their class. The men who conjure up these thieving schemes aren’t likely to be hoodwinked by Varoufakis’s vague reforms. They’re going to force Varoufakis to jump through all their respective hoops before he gets one dime of their precious money. Here’s Varoufakis again:

“There is going to be a great deal of toing and froing between us and the institutions and our partners but what we have established through stubborn refusal to succumb to the notion that elections change nothing over the past couple of months or weeks I should say is the notion that this government deserves to have a degree of room for policy-making that allows us to reform Greece and to carry the great multitude out there with us. This is the government for the first time in Greece that has the people behind it and it would be a terrible waste not just for us but for our partners to allow this wave of support to dissipate through non-action.” (CNBC)

Does Varoufakis really think he can pull this off?  Does he really think he can out-fox the slimy, authoritarian brigands and leg-breakers who run these extortionist institutions and who will use every means possible to extract the last drop of blood from their victim be he an aspiring, but penniless student at the university or a destitute pensioner huddling homeless and frozen in an abandoned doorway in downtown Athens?

This isn’t going to end well. Varoufakis had one card to play–the threat of leaving the Euro–and he failed to play it. Now his leverage is gone and the roof is about to cave in. Just wait and see.

The troika isn’t going to convene another dreary round of negotiations to rehash the same old nonsense. Those days are over.  They’re simply going to withhold the money, curtail liquidity assistance, and torpedo the Greek banking system. Kaboom! That’s the way this thing is going to go down. The mood among the EZ finance ministers has soured considerably since the last meeting. They want to put this whole thing behind them. They’re sick of it.  They want closure. They’re not going to quibble over issues they’ve already gone over and clarified a million times.  Varoufakis will either have to get with the program or face the consequences. That’s the way it works in Mafia-land; you either pay the piper or you find yourself in the East River in cement booties.

Who knows: maybe this is what Varoufakis wanted from the beginning, a ferocious clash ending in banishment, a Grexit.  Well, he won’t have to wait long now.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Varoufakis Keeps Greece In The Eurozone, By Its Fingernails

February 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

“Though it’s happening to a stricken country, on the edge of Europe, the choices presented to Greece are being understood throughout Europe… Obey or leave.”

— Paul Mason, Channel 4 News Blog

It’s not easy to negotiate with a gun to your head.  Nevertheless, that’s the situation Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis found himself in on Friday preceding a crucial meeting with the Eurogroup. According to one report, the objective of the last-ditch confab  “was to prepare a consensus text that would be the basis for the discussion” with the EU’s finance ministers.  That might sound innocent enough, but it doesn’t come close to explaining the real purpose of the meeting which was far more sinister.  Check out this blurb from Costas Efimeros at the Press Project:

“According to a Greek official who doesn’t want to be named, the Greek delegation were yesterday subject to outright blackmail. Our ‘partners’ informed us that if Eurogroup doesn’t result in an agreement, on Tuesday the Greek government will be forced to implement capital controls. It seemed that they had taken the decision to strangle the Greek economy by cutting off funding to the banks through the ELA system. Furthermore, it seemed that the big Greek banks already knew this. Leaks from the ECB, after all, had suggested that they were preparing for a GREXIT.” (“Europe trashed democracy“, Costas Efimeros, The Press Project)

It’s nice to know that EU leaders ascribe to the same basic moral code as Don Corleone, isn’t it?

The fact is, a slow motion bank run has been underway in Greece for more than a month draining roughly 40 billion euros from the Greek banking system. If a deal hadn’t been struck on Friday, the ECB would have pulled the plug on its liquidity assistance program and blown the whole system to kingdom come. That’s how the Eurocrats planned to say goodbye to their long-struggling member, Greece, by giving them a sharp jolt to the groin before razing their economy to the ground. That tells you everything you need to know about the Eurogroup.

If Greece got the boot on Friday, it’s humanitarian crisis would have deepened overnight while the blow to the capital markets would have paved the way for another financial crisis.  Fortunately, the catastrophe was averted mainly because Varoufakis was able to cobble together a viable plan for meeting the Eurogroup’s basic requirements while creating significant opportunities to ease conditions in Greece.  Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a perfect deal by any stretch, but it is the best deal that could have been reached given the circumstances and the unbridled hostility from German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who was eager to scuttle the whole project and throw Greece to the wolves.  Varoufakis managed to out maneuver the irascible Schaeuble and get some of what he wanted, but only through stiff-necked resolve and significant compromise.  As a result, Greece is still a member of the Eurozone,  but just barely. A rejection of its reform package today (Monday) could push the beleaguered country out of the 19-member Union for good.

Keep in mind, the Eurogroup made it perfectly clear from the beginning that they weren’t going to restructure Greece’s debts or end the austerity program. The issues weren’t even on the table. So, those who think that Varoufakis should have given the Eurogroup an ultimatum (“Reduce our debts or we’ll leave.”) simply don’t understand the nature of the negotiations.  Varoufakis was forced to operate  within very strict parameters. Given those limitations, he nabbed a very respectable deal. Even so, it’s only natural for people to feel let-down, especially since Syriza had promised much more than they could deliver.  But that doesn’t mean Varoufakis is a traitor or a sellout. Not at all. It merely means that Syriza’s belief that it could end austerity but keep Greece in the Eurozone proved to be unfounded. In fact, German opposition has made it nearly impossible. The larger point is this: Syriza had no mandate to spearhead a Grexit.  That is not what the people voted for or what they want.  Varoufakis’s was asked to do the impossible, square the circle. In that regard, he failed. But still, the deal he hammered out should mitigate Greece’s slump to some extent, although one should not expect a full-blown economic recovery, not without a healthy dose of fiscal stimulus which is nowhere in sight.

Varoufakis managed to change the terms of the deal which is now referred to as the “existing arrangement” rather than a “program”.  According to Norbert Haring, this new “arrangement”…”is not a “technical” extension of the “program” any more, but an extension of the funding arrangement, plus vague conditionality.”  (“Was it worth it? Concessions to Greece relative to the rejected draft of 16 February“, Nobert Haring)

It all sounds very tedious and legalistic, but the change is significant. You see, the real fight between Varoufakis and the Eurogroup was over this precise issue, that is, changing the inflexible, ironclad austerity “program” into a looser “arrangement” where polices can be altered via–what Varoufakis dubbed –“constructive ambiguity.” Varoufakis objective is to create enough gray area for Greece to regain sovereign control over its own economic policies. Constructive ambiguity will help to achieve that, provided the reforms meet the Eurogroup’s fiscal targets.

Here’s more from Haring’s post:  “There is no mention any more of “successful conclusion of the program”, nor of “program” in the text. Instead a successful conclusion of the review of the “conditions in the current arrangement”  is the new condition. This allows the Greek government to continue to say that the old program cannot be successful. It also allows for changes in the program, as “conditions of the arrangement” is deliberately more vague.”    (“Was it worth it? Concessions to Greece relative to the rejected draft of 16 February”, Nobert Haring)

This isn’t just legal claptrap. It’s a critical change in the way the policy is implemented.  Once again, Varoufakis has loosened the financial straitjacket in which Greece finds itself, which can only be seen as progress.

The new deal also allows Greece to decide its own reform package rather than the troika dictating what government expenses to cut or which publicly owned assets to sell.  Here’s another excerpt from Haring’s post:   “Most important change of the whole document: Addition of “The institutions will, for the 2015 primary surplus target, take the economic circumstances in 2015 into account.” Excessive, self-defeating austerity is off.  Only the target for 2015 is mentioned, because everything further out would have to be part of a new arrangement, still to be negotiated.”

So Varoufakis has achieved his goal of reducing austerity. Not only is there greater flexibility operationally but, also, Greece will control the levers of decision-making  in the “field of tax policy, privatisation, labour market reforms, financial sector, and pensions”. Naturally, the lower the primary surplus, the more fiscal stimulus is available for economic growth. (Running a surplus during a depression is absolute madness, but this is the lousy hand Varoufakis was dealt.)

Haring’s final comments are a good summary of Varoufakis’s achievement:

“Was it worth the hassle to reject the draft of 16 February, just to accept the statement four days later? For Athens it most certainly was. It got the promise that no self-defeating, excessive austerity would be asked of it any more, the assurance that it could devise its own economic and social policies, as long as they did not impact negatively on the interests of its partners, rather than having to execute and leaving in place all the measures accepted by the former government and strongly rejected by the people. These are huge improvements for Athens, with no significant counterbalancing downside compared to 16 February.”  (“Was it worth it? Concessions to Greece relative to the rejected draft of 16 February”, Nobert Haring)

Clearly, this is a good deal for Greece, but let’s not go overboard; the basic situation still stinks to high heaven, mainly because the Eurogroup would rather lecture and punish than give a struggling member a helping hand.  Had the Eurozone evolved into a viable political union that distributed fiscal transfers to the weaker states on the periphery, Greece would have emerged from its recession years ago. Instead, the fiasco drags on endlessly punctuated by infrequent outbursts from EU leaders who vehemently defend belt-tightening measures that have only made matters worse.  If anything, this experience should help the Greek people decide whether there’s a future for them and their children in the Eurozone or not.  Dealing with authoritarian boneheads (The Eurogroup) may eventually prove to be more trouble than its worth. (A Grexit looks better by the day!)

As for Varoufakis, well, he passed the finance minister’s test with flying colors. He distinguished himself as a capable horse trader and managed to squeeze more concessions out of the EU’s  austerity-obsessed representatives than anyone thought possible. The man proved that he’s neither a “sell out” or a “traitor”.(as some claim.) Quite the contrary, he kept his word and did exactly what the Greek people asked of him.

At the very least, he deserves credit for a valiant effort.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

What Would Happen If The US Became Isolationist Again?

February 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

What would happen if we Americans suddenly decided to withdraw all of our troops currently scattered all over the world and to actually bring them back to within our own US borders where they belong?  What would happen if we actually closed down all of America’s extensive and pricy (over one thousand and counting) military bases and black-site operations all around the globe?  We may never know.  “Why?” you might ask.  Because it is never gonna happen, that’s why.

Despite all of the incredibly huge amounts of money, energy, pain and grief that all these bases and black-site operations are costing us American taxpayers daily right now, the subject of closing even a few of these bases and black-site operations (or at least to stop opening up new ones!) isn’t even up for debate.

There are so many other topics that we are happily debating in America right now — but not this one.

Americans are currently debating such crap topics as how best to save rich people from having to pay taxes; whether cops should be allowed to kill minority and/or poor people at will; why torture is a good thing; how we can most easily give large corporations our life savings and pensions; whether or not our kids should get measles vaccines; and exactly how soon “we” can bomb the crap out of Russia.  But one of the most important subjects for debate in America today is not even on the menu right now.

A raging debate on how to return America to its grand old isolationist tradition should be the major topic in every newspaper headline and TV news show in America right now.  But, sadly, it is not.

And there are many other life-threatening topics for debate here in America that we should be discussing too (but are not) such as, “Is it really in our best interest to support chaos in the Middle East or be Israeli neo-colonialists’ catspaws?”  Or whether corporations really are people, or “Why is election-malfeasance in America is still running amuck?”  Or if we really want to be committing climate-change suicide?  Or why America now has the same distribution of wealth between the upper classes and the rest of us that it had back in 1910 and that the difference in income between America’s top 1% and the rest of us is further apart now than any other time in history including the Roman Empire, Charles Dickens’ London and Marie Antoinette’s France.

According to economist Thomas Piketty, “Income inequality has exploded in the United States.”

And why the freak is America a member of NATO, the most war-mongering organization in the entire world outside of the US Department of “Defense”?

And — really?  Here’s a headline that will warm all those Scrooge-like corporate hearts: “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown“Social science is being militarized to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and non-violent protest movements. Should we not be discussing that too?

And then there’s that good old “New World Order” thingie popping up again, and it no longer even includes America on the list of those giving the New Orders — because the global overlord dudes who are currently drawing up the list to re-order our world seem to have us Americans in mind only to play the minor roles of vassals and serfs.

But none of these other topics are up for debate in America either.

According to journalist Juan Cole, the top five favorite planks for the Republican party platform in 2016 are gonna be torture, war-mongering, bank corruption, tax evasion for the uber-rich and how best to steal elections.     Why aren’t we discussing that either?

Frankly, there seems to be no debate in America today on almost any topic that should be of primary concern to We the People who are paying for all this crap.  But I digress.  Let’s get back on topic, the topic of closing over a thousand US military bases and black-site operations all across the globe.

Of course I myself am obviously an advocate for closing all U.S. bases and black-site operations on foreign soil and bringing all of our troops home where they belong.  So.  Let’s debate.

Debaters in favor of keeping America’s foreign empire strong and all these bases and black-site operations open might come up with a list of arguments such as:

1.  “They” will come here and terrorize us if we let down our guard.

2.  We will then have little or no access to raw materials and natural resources.  Our economy will shrink.

3.  We need the war industry because it produces jobs.

4.  We must bring freedom and democracy to the world and stop tyrannies.

These four points are all laughably easy to refute — except for perhaps point number three.  Here are my counter-arguments:

1.  In the many decades since the end of WW II, America has systematically created more enemies than one can shake a stick at due to its brutal policy of foreign military interference abroad.  People all over the world used to love America.  But this is no longer true.  Obviously.  These foreign bases and black-site operations are not keeping America safe.  Just look at 9/11.  Just look at the Great Recession of 2008.  I rest my case.

2.  Hey, we can always get access to foreign natural resources by actually paying for them.  Now there’s a unique idea.  It’s called Capitalism!

Right now, our military mainly serves the purpose of acting as thugs and extortionists for corporations, allowing corporations to go into foreign countries at will and steal their natural resources.  Our nation’s finest young men and women are being forced to serve as mega-corporations’ personal security forces and Mafia crews.  Hell, let these corporations pay for their own damn security thugs.  Why should we taxpayers do the job?  We are never the ones who make money off of this deal.  Au contraire.  We get to pay through the nose for it.

Why should we American taxpayers keep paying out trillions of dollars so that the best and brightest of our young generation can die violent and lonely deaths and leave widows and orphans behind them — in order to “Keep Corporations Strong”?  It’s like Vietnam all over again.

3.  Yes, the war industry does produce jobs.  But working for the Yankee Dollar is a high-risk employment, is morally repugnant and the benefits are few.  How about, instead, that we hire all those soldiers to work in the solar industry or to repair our shabby infrastructure?  Or train them to become doctors or teachers.  Just think of the money we’d save!

4.  America doesn’t bring democracy to the world.  “We” mostly bring dictators and ruffians and torturers and election fraud.  And “we” are currently supporting monsters like ISIS and those neo-Nazis in Ukraine.  It’s all about the money.  The American dream has become a nightmare if you live overseas (and will probably become more of a nightmare here too if we continue to keep the same vampires and doofuses in charge).

That’s my argument and I’m sticking with it.

Hey, I may be wrong here about proposing that we immediately bring all of “our” weapons and troops home.  Or I may be right.  Who knows.  But shouldn’t we at least be having this debate?


Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

The Battle Behind the Fog of Propaganda

February 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The “Exceptional” U.S. Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo…

“There’s no city left. It’s destroyed.”

— Anonymous Ukrainian soldier following the battle of Debaltsevo

In less than a year, the United States has toppled the democratically-elected government of Ukraine, installed a Washington-backed stooge in Kiev, launched a bloody and costly war of annihilation on Russian-speaking people in the East, thrust the economy into a downward death spiral, and reduced the nation to an anarchic, failed state destined to endure a vicious fratricidal civil war for as far as the eye can see.

Last week, Washington suffered its greatest military defeat in more than a decade when Ukraine’s US-backed army was soundly routed in the major railway hub of Debaltsevo. Roughly, 8,000 Ukrainian regulars along with untold numbers of tanks and armored units were surrounded in what-came-to-be-known-as “the cauldron.”  The army of the Donetsk Peoples Republic led by DPR commander  Alexander Zakharchenko, encircled the invading army and gradually tightened the cordon, eventually killing or capturing most of the troops within the pocket. The Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging between  3,000 to 3,500 while a vast amount of lethal military hardware was left behind.

According to Zakharchenko, “The amount of equipment Ukrainian units have lost here is beyond description.”

Additionally, the US-backed proxy-army saw many of its crack troops and top-notch units destroyed in the fighting leaving Kiev unable to continue the war without assistance from allies in the US or Europe.  The full impact of the defeat will not be known until angry troops returning from the front amass on the streets of the Capital and demand Petro Poroshenko’s resignation. The Ukrainian President is responsible for the massacre at Debaltsevo.  He was fully aware that his army faced encirclement but ordered them to remain in order to satisfy powerful right-wing elements in his government. The disaster is even more terrible due to the fact that it was entirely avoidable and achieved no strategic purpose at all. Extreme hubris frequently impacts outcomes on the battlefield. This was the case at Debaltsevo.

The debacle ensures that the bumbling president’s days are numbered. It’s nearly certain that he will either be replaced or hanged sometime in weeks ahead. He has already flown his family to safety out of the country, and there’s growing speculation that both Washington and the far-right nationalists who occupy the Security Services will insist on his removal. That paves the way for a second Ukrainian coup in less than a year, a grim reminder of the tragic failings of US policy in Ukraine. Check out this blurb from a post at the Vineyard of the Saker:

“Looks like the Nazi death squads are on the march again, this time they are looking at Kiev.  Thirteen death-squad (aka “volunteer battalion”) leaders have now declared that they are forming their own military command under the command of the notorious Semen Semenchenko. Officially, they are not in any way opposed to the current regime, so said Semenchenko, but in reality their rank and file members are pretty clear about what they want to do: organize a third Maidan and toss out Poroshenko.

What makes these 21st century version of the SA so dangerous for Poroshenko it that he, unlike Hitler, does not have a 21st century version of the SS to eliminate them all overnight.  In fact, according to many reports the entire southern part of the rump-Ukraine is now “Kolomoiski-land” fully under the control of the oligarch who finances these death-squads.  Add to this the fact that most of the Rada is composed of the very same battalion commanders and assorted Nazi freaks, and you will why Poroshenko is now very much in danger……

The sad reality is that there is simply nobody in the Ukraine capable of disarming these so-called “volunteer battalions”.  There are now thousands of uniformed Nazi freaks roaming around with guns who can now impose their law of the jungle on everybody.  It sure looks like the future of Banderastan will be something like a mix of Somalia and Mad Max – a failed state, a comprehensively destroyed economy, a collapsed social order and the law of armed gangs of thugs.” (The Vineyard of the Saker)

If Poroshenko is doomed to be the scapegoat in the Debaltsevo cock-up, it’s only because he followed the foolhardy advice of his Washington paymasters. Had he listened to his military advisors instead, he probably would have withdrawn his troops earlier and spared himself a Gadhafi-like demise.  Now, that’s probably no longer possible.

Poroshenko’s desperation has led to an appeal to western allies and the United Nations for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.  The request is an admission of defeat and has no chance of being implemented, mainly because it  violates the terms of the recent peace agreement (Minsk 2.0), but, also, because voting members on the Security Council (Russia and China) are certain to veto the idea. Clearly, Poroshenko, who is increasingly embattled and reviled, is grasping at straws hoping to avoid the same violent end he ruthlessly inflicted on so many of his countrymen. Here is a brief summary of recent events from the World Socialist Web Site:

“The debacle suffered by the Kiev regime exposes the utterly reckless and frankly stupid character of the policy pursued by Washington and its EU allies in Ukraine….

The initial attempts of the Kiev regime and its CIA backers to subjugate east Ukraine by sheer military terror, relying on fascist militias and select units of the Ukraine army that it considered to be reliable, have failed….

Nevertheless, Washington is pressing Kiev to prepare for a renewed offensive and is still discussing directly arming the Ukrainian army against Russia with US weapons….

In west Ukraine, the population is evading or resisting draft orders to obtain more cannon fodder for the east Ukraine war. At the same time, Ukraine’s economy, cut off from its main industrial base in east Ukraine and its export markets in Russia, is collapsing.

“The country is at war that they cannot afford to fight. There is no economy any longer….Gerald Celente of Trends Journal told Russia Today. “That $160 billion loss of trade with Russia has destroyed the economy, when it was already in a severe recession. It went from very bad to worse than depression levels.”

(“US-backed Kiev regime faces military debacle in east Ukraine war“, Alex Lantier, World Socialist Web Site

Washington has largely won the information war, having persuaded Congress and the American people that US policy in Ukraine is “just”, but on the ground, where it counts, Washington has encountered one catastrophic failure after another. This process will undoubtedly persist until the costs are too exorbitant to bear.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Don’t Tell Anyone In Berlin

February 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ironman Varoufakis’s Revolutionary Plan for Europe…

“The ongoing dispute between the German and Greek governments is nothing less than a democratic revolution against German hegemony and the attempt of the Germans and their paladins in the EU to dictate Greek domestic policy.”

–Mathew D. Rose, It’s a revolution, Stupid! Naked Capitalism

“Germany is eating itself over Greece. It is eroding its moral authority, and seems prepared to destroy the eurozone’s integrity just to make a point.”

–Paul Mason, Germany v Greece is a fight to the death, a cultural and economic clash of wills, Guardian

If you haven’t been following developments in the Greek-EU standoff, you’re really missing out. This might be the best story of the year. And what makes it so riveting, is that no one thought that little Greece could face off with the powerful leaders of the EU and make them blink. But that’s exactly what’s happened. On Monday, members of the Eurogroup met with Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, to decide whether they would accept Greece’s terms for an extension of the current loan agreement. There were no real changes to the agreement. The only difference was semantics, that is, the loan would not be seen as a bailout but as “a transitional stage to a new contract for growth for Greece”. In other words, a bridge to a different program altogether.

In retrospect, Varoufakis’s strategy was pure genius, mainly because it knocked the EU finance ministers off balance and threw the process into turmoil. After all, how could they vote “thumbs down” on loan package that they had previously approved just because the language was slightly different? But if they voted “thumbs up”, then what?

Well, then they would be acknowledging (and, tacitly, approving) Greece’s determination to make the program less punitive in the future. That means they’d be paving the way for an end to austerity and a rethink on loan repayment. They’d also be conceding that Greece’s democratically-elected government had the right to alter the policies of the Eurogroup. How could they let that happen?

But, then again, how could they vote it down, after all, it was basically the same deal. As Varoufakis pointed out in a press conference on Monday:

“We agree to the terms of our loan agreements to all our creditors”. And we have “agreed to do nothing to derail the existing budget framework during the interim period.”

See? It’s the same deal.

This is the conundrum the Eurogroup faced on Monday, but instead of dealing with it head-on, as you would expect any mature person to do, they punted. They put off the loan extension decision for another day and called it quits. Now maybe that was the smart thing to do, but the optics sure looked terrible. It looked like Varoufakis stared them down and sent them fleeing like scared schoolchildren.

Now, remember, Monday was the absolute, drop-dead deadline for deciding whether the Eurogroup would approve or reject the new terms for Greece’s loan extension. That means the Eurogroup’s task could not have been more straightforward. All they had to do was vote yes or no. That’s it.

Instead, they called ‘Time Out’ and kicked the can a little further down the road. It was not a particularly proud moment for the European Union. But what’s even worse, is the subterfuge that preceded the meetings; that’s what cast doubt on the character of the people running EU negotiations. Here’s the scoop: About 15 minutes before the confab began, Varoufakis was given a draft communique outlining the provisions of the proposed loan extension. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the document met all his requirements and, so, he was prepared to sign it. Unfortunately, the document was switched shortly before the negotiations began with one that backtracked on all the crucial points.

I’m not making this up. The freaking Eurogroup tried to pull the old switcheroo on Varoufakis to get him to sign something that was different than the original. Can you believe it? And it’s only because Varoufakis studiously combed through the new memo that he was able to notice the discrepancy and jam on the brakes. As it happens, the final copy was just a rehash of the same agreement that Varoufakis has rejected from the onset. The only difference was the underhanded way the Eurogroup tried to slip it by him.

Now you tell me: Would you consider people who do something like that “trustworthy”?

Of course not. This is how people behave when they don’t care about integrity or credibility, when all that matters is winning. If the Eurogroup can trick the Greeks into signing something that’s different than what they think they’re signing; then tough luck for the Greeks. “Caveat emptor”. Buyer beware. The Eurogroup has no problem with that kind of shabby double-dealing. That’s just how they play the game.

But their trickery and bullying hasn’t worked, mainly because Varoufakis is too smart for them. And he’s too charismatic and talented too, which is a problem for the EU bigwigs who resent the fact that this upstart Marxist academic has captured the imaginations of people around the world upsetting their little plan to perpetuate Greece’s 6-year long Depression. They never anticipated that public opinion would shift so dramatically against them, nor had they imagined that all of Europe would be focused laserlike on the shady and autocratic workings of the feckless Eurogroup. That’s not what they wanted. What they wanted was carte blanche to impose their medieval policies on the profligate Greeks, just like the good old days after Lehman Brothers tanked. After all, that’s how a “anti-democratic imperialist project” like the EU is supposed to work, right?

Right, except now Varoufakis and his Marxist troopers have thrown a wrench in the Eurogroup’s plans and put the future in doubt. The tide has turned sharply towards reason, solidarity and compassion instead of repression, exploitation and cruelty. In just a few weeks, the entire playing field has changed, and Greece appears to be getting the upper hand. Who would have known?

If you look at the way that Varoufakis has handled the Eurogroup, you have to admire the subtlety, but effectiveness of his strategy. In any battle, one must draw attention to the righteousness of their cause while exposing the flaws in the character of their adversary. The incident on Monday certainly achieved both. While David never really slayed Goliath, Goliath is certainly in retreat. And that’s alot better than anyone expected.

As for the “cause”, well, that speaks for itself. The Greek bailout was never reasonable because the plan wasn’t designed to create a path for Greece to grow its way out of debt and deflation. No. It was basically a public relations smokescreen used to conceal what was really going on behind the scenes, which was a massive giveaway to the banks and bondholders. Everyone knows this. Check this out from Naked Capitalism:

“According to the Jubilee Debt Campaign, 92% of €240 billion Greece has received since the May 2010 bailout went to Greek and European financial institutions.” (Naked Capitalism)

Yep, it was all just one big welfare payment to the moocher class. Meanwhile, the Greeks got zilch. And, yet, the Eurogroup wants them to continue with this same program?

No thanks.

As far as Greece’s finances are concerned, they’ve gotten progressively worse every year the bailout has dragged on. For example, Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio has gone from 115 percent in 2010 more than 170 percent today. The country is headed in the wrong direction, which is what makes Varoufakis’s remedies so compelling. It’s because everyone knows that ‘if you are already in a hole, stop digging’. That’s the logic behind Varoufakis’s position; he simply wants to “stop digging.” But that can’t be done by borrowing more money to repay debts that only get bigger with each new bailout. And it can’t be done by implementing excruciating belt-tightening measures that increase unemployment and shrink the economy. It can only be done by reducing one’s debts and initiating programs that help to grow the economy back to health. This isn’t rocket science, but it is anathema to the retrograde ideology of the European Union which is one part bonehead economics and one part German sanctimony. Put the two together and you come up with a pre-Keynesian dystopia where one of the wealthiest regions in the world inches ever-closer to anarchy and ruin for the sole purpose of proving that contractionary expansion actually works. Well, guess what? It doesn’t, and we now have six years of evidence to prove it.

It’s worth noting that the Eurogroup hasn’t budged one inch from its original position. In other words, there really haven’t been any negotiations, not in any meaningful sense of the word. What there has been is one group of pompous blowhards reiterating the same discredited mantra over and over again, even though austerity has been thoroughly denounced by every reputable economist on the planet. Of course that doesn’t matter to the ex-Goldman swindlers at the ECB or their hairshirt counterparts in Berlin. What they want is to extract every last drop of blood from their Greek victims. That’s their game. And, of course, ultimately what they want to do is annihilate the entire EU welfare state; crush the unions, eviscerate pensions, wages and health care, and privatize everything they can get their greasy hands on. That’s the real objective. Greece’s exorbitant debts are just a means to an end, just a way to decimate the middle class in one fell swoop.

Keep in mind, the EU just narrowly avoided a triple-dip recession in the third quarter, which would have been their third slump in less than six years. How do you like that track record? It just illustrates the stunning mismanagement of the Union’s economic affairs and the incompetence of the bureaucrats making the decisions. Even so, these same leaders have no qualms about telling Greece to step in line and follow their diktats to the letter.

Can you believe the arrogance?

Fortunately, Greece has broken from the herd and set out on a new course. They’ve disposed of the mealy-mouth, sellout politicians who used to run the country and put the A-Team in their place. And, boy, are they happy with the results. Syriza’s public approval ratings are through the roof while Varoufakis has become the most admired man in Europe. The question is whether this new troupe of committed leftists can deliver the goods or not. So far, there’s reason for hope, that is, if we can agree about what Varoufakis’s strategy really is.

In earlier writings, Varoufakis said that he wants a New Deal for Greece. He said:

“Unless we have a new deal for Europe, Greece is not going to get a chance….It’s a necessary condition that the eurozone finds a rational plan for itself…. until and unless the eurozone finds a rational plan for stopping this train wreck throughout the European Union, throughout the eurozone, Greece has no chance at all.” Naked Capitalism)

Okay, so Varoufakis wants to stay in the EU, but he wants a change in policy. (Reducing the debts, ending austerity, and boosting fiscal stimulus.) But he also has more ambitious plans of which no one in Brussels, Frankfurt or Berlin seems to be aware. He wants to change the prevailing culture of the Eurozone; gradually, incrementally, but persistently. He wants a Europe that is more democratic and more responsive to the needs of the member states, but he also wants a Europe that is more united via institutions and programs that will strengthen the union. He believes that success will only be achieved if concrete steps are taken “to unify the banking system”, mutualize debt (“the Federal Government having its own debt over and above states.”) …”And thirdly we need an investment policy which runs throughout the Eurozone… a recycling mechanism for the whole thing. Unless we have these things,… I’m afraid there is absolutely nothing to avert the continuation of this slow motion derailment.” (Naked Capitalism)

So, there you have it. Nationalize the banking system, create a Euro-wide bond market, and establish mechanisms for fiscal transfers to the weaker states like we do in the US via welfare, food stamps, gov contracts, subsidies etc. to create some balance between the very rich and productive states like California and New York and the poorer states like South Dakota and Oklahoma. That’s what it’s going to take to create a viable United States of Europe and escape these frustratingly recurrent crises. Varoufakis knows this, but of course he’s not pushing for this. Not yet at least.

Instead, he’s decided to take it slowly, one step at a time. Incremental change, that’s the ticket. Just keep plugging away and building support until the edifice cracks and democracy appears.

That’s Varoufakis’s plan in a nutshell: Revolution from within. Just don’t tell anyone in Berlin.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Courage To Face True History

February 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Human consciousness and the ability to understand that which really occurred in the past, is a skill that many people have little experience with mastering. Scholarship and researching the yesteryear relies upon analyzing accounts of others and is usually based on chronicles written centuries ago. Most of the original evidence used in writing the accounts may be lost, based upon oral myths or accurate translations of vanished languages. Even when the original sources are impeccable in their authenticity or go unquestioned in the ivory towers of academic scrutiny, the crucial question still remains, Was It So? Attempts to provide definitive proof, when it comes to explaining political events, relies more often on the art of understanding the connection among factions, based within the context of their intended agendas than smoking gun documents.

At the offset, the axiom that history is written by the victors, applies more to the popular culture then just to stories of military campaigns. Control of the perception of current events is the first stage for formulating the narrative, which will be accepted as the initial draft of history. The means upon which societies are manipulated have more to do with defining acceptable reports, using fictional circumstances and conclusions, then the butt of a rifle.

Yet, the distracted public mostly views history as recounts of war and power politics.  The popularity of television channels like the History Channel, H2, AHC and the subjects that air nearly 24/7, provide a version of past events that go virtually unchallenged. At the least, this method for a primary overview is more accurate, when compared to the common core education being taught in government schools.

However, for the most definitive interpretation of the past, the Hollywood extravaganza defines the memory impressions in the movie epics. The ordinary man and woman are not well educated in the depth and range of the human saga. For every dedicated student of former eras, the multitude is content to get their outlook of a different age as well as their attitudes on current affairs from the scripted culture that serves the interests of the elites that rule.

The deceased broadcaster, Paul Harvey used a signature line, The Rest of the Story. Well, it is one thing to elaborate in detail on the background aspects of a particular incident, but seldom will you find in the mass media accounts that explain the true nature of the institutions and government entities, designed to impose penal governance over the expendable subjects of any country.

With the fulfillment from centuries of consolidation for global power and domination, popularly known as the New World Order, the forces for technological and debt money enslavement are achieving their nightmare for humanity. Coining the term, Nefarious Warrior Organism that more closely explains the NWO cabal, will not be found in the establishment annals.

The canard that condemns inquiry into the core elements of the systematic destruction for the planet uses the slur of “Conspiracy Theorist” as the ultimate jab to discredit. Naïve simpletons refuse to do any inquiry on their own, out of fear that they may be tainted with the stain of being cast into the pit of subversives. Pray tell, the essay, There Is No Conspiracy – Only Official Policy illustrates one example of how the MSM, especially The New York Times, serves the interests of ruling elites.

One need not adopt the speculations of Ancient Aliens presented on H2 to be lumped into the pit of social discontents. Just the notion of questioning the official narrative of the past carries a social risk in the corridors of the global economy.

Our emphasis in investigation of Forbidden History focuses upon the political accounts that make up a distorted viewpoint of the last several centuries. Western Civilization is under an existential attack, not predominantly by foreign cultures but from the betrayal of the primacy principles of our genuine heritage.

All moral and political values stem from the cardinal maxim of the sanctity of all life. As this undeniable dogma is being eliminated from the social order, the replacement of divinely created humans are being prepared to accept the Transhumanism Singularity.

The article, NWO Overman is the Eupraxsophy of Transhumanism concludes with a dare that most probably will turn off those who repel from intellectual inquiry into the past traditions which our world accepted for millenniums.

“The end of this age is rapidly approaching. What follows does not bode well for humanity under the reign of a Transhumanism world. Salvation for our created human beings from the evil transgressions of the Overman’s hubris requires our humbling before our Lord and Creator. Faith and belief is the alternative to malevolence and despair. Hope in providential intervention is intellectually founded and sound, when compared to the prospects of the DARPA superman. The Elijah Option challenges you. Whom do you serve?”

Searching to understand the Forbidden History of our age requires the internal fortitude to challenge establishment convention, while maintaining the accuracies of eternal truths. History is often referred to as His Story. The “his” represents the power to invent the chronicle and fabricate meaning of events.

Courage to face the evidence and corroborate alternative explanations to established accounts is not easy. The slings and arrows that target anyone who dares to dispute the ruling order is a given. Demonization of any contrary storyline that conflicts with the comfort of clichés and tales of self-serving accounts is the price one pays for seeking the truth.

Several quotations reveal the components that are valuable to maintain and the methods to achieve this quest.

Remember the portrayal of the Old Gringo in that movie version of Ambrose Bierce? Now read his timeless words.

“History: An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.” ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

This perspective is expanded by none other than the author of the renowned Hegelian dialectic.

“History… is, indeed, little more than the register of the ‘crimes, follies, and misfortunes’ of mankind. But what experience and history teach is this – that peoples and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” ~Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History, “Introduction,” 1807

When an American cynic and a philosopher known for German Idealism share a similar regret for the repeat of corrupt actions of rulers, a pattern for judicious distrust for mainstream stories, should be adopted.

So what approach does a prudent person undertake? Learning the skills of philosophical inquest is the suggestion of George E. Wilson.

“For me there is no greater subject than history. How a man can study it and not be forced to become a philosopher, I cannot tell.” ~George E. Wilson

Nevertheless, intellectual inquiry is not enough according to Shailer Mathews who advocated a progressive Social Gospel message.

“When a historian enters into metaphysics he has gone to a far country from whose bourne he will never return a historian.” ~Shailer Mathews, The Spiritual Interpretation of History

That far country that Mathews entered into viewed “the clash of civilizations was in reality a clash of different kinds of social experiences and mentalities and the religious ideas that supported them.”

Developing the bravery to address the elements of Forbidden History is essential to the growth of both temporal and spiritual awareness. Most people avoid such a journey. They never draw upon the courage to enter that metaphysical world, because they are too scared to buck the system or rescind their own denial morass.

Cognitive dissonance is just too comfortable for most to explore real historic investigation.

British historian George Macaulay Trevelyan offers the reasonable urging, that people pursue their own growth in intellectual authenticity. However, history shows that most will decline the invitation.

“History is the open Bible: we historians are not priests to expound it infallibly: our function is to teach people to read it and to reflect upon it for themselves.” ~George Macaulay Trevelyan

BREAKING ALL THE RULES agrees with our fellow Existentialist, Albert Camus. Rebellion is a reoccurring necessity for Camus. When Camus states: “Integrity has no need of rules”, we are given an insight that few can digest. Their own lack of honesty, principle and integrity allows them to accept the madness that dominates society.

“The entire history of mankind is, in any case, nothing but a prolonged fight to the death for the conquest of universal prestige and absolute power.” ~Albert Camus, The Rebel

This immutable reality is rejected by every media gatekeeper or establishment toady on the payroll of the criminals that rule the globe. Forbidden History will offend the timid and outrage the dishonest. Gauging the onslaughts on this publisher only goes to confirm our motto – “Many seek to become a Syndicated Columnist, while the few strive to be a Vindicated Publisher . . .” Forbidden History reveals that exoneration lies in the truth of real historic accounts. Do you have the courage to judge for yourself?


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Combating Nigeria’s Growing Insecurity

February 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A roundtable, held last week at the Institute of African Studies reports that the Nigerian government’s “…campaigns have not addressed their plans for combating the growing insecurity that has left Nigerians living in fear, and paralyzed educational and economic activities in large swaths of Northeastern Nigeria.” A string of terrorist attacks have occurred as Nigeria has struggled to build a functional and coherent response. Fortunately, there is a science-based approach to create societal coherence that can protect Nigeria from both internal and external threats. It is called Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) because it assures invincibility, peace, and even economic progress, to the nation and the military that employ it.

Invincible Defense Technology (IDT), a Proven, State-of-the-Art, Non-violent Military Solution

The IDT approach to defense has its basis in a radically new preventive model that has been thoroughly field-tested in numerous world battlegrounds. This approach results in rapid reduction of individual, societal and national collective stress. Its methods have been proven and adopted as part of the training of America’s future commanders at Norwich University, a nationally respected and oldest military academy in the USA (see also the YouTube video “Meditation Improves Performance at Military University” and the Official Homepage of the US Army). IDT is further validated by 23 peer-reviewed studies carried out in both developed and developing nations. Its coherence-creating effect has also been documented on a global scale in a study published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. When large assemblies of civilian IDT experts gathered during the years 1983 – 1985, international conflict decreased 32%, terrorism-related casualties decreased 72%, and overall violence was reduced in nations without intrusion by other governments.

IDT is totally unlike any other defense technology because it does not use violence in an attempt to quell violence. It is a more civilized approach, one especially worthy of nations that abhor violence as a means to power. IDT uniquely goes to the root cause of violence – the built-up stress in the individual and collective consciousness. Scientists have evidence that high levels of collective societal stress are the underlying cause of war, violence, crime and terrorism. When the IDT methodology is applied, stress levels throughout the population are rapidly reduced.

In an environment of lowered stress even staunch adversaries find ways to cooperate and overcome long-standing differences.

IDT Reduces Societal Stress

IDT uniquely neutralizes the underlying power base of contending groups, which is the stress, frustration and civil dissatisfaction prevailing in the general population. By eliminating the root cause of insurgency, violent outbreaks are pre-empted and prevented. IDT is effective because it gets to the heart of the matter. Terrorism often thrives in nations in which decades or even centuries of under-employment, poverty, and hunger have created a huge societal weight of stress, frustration and endemic unhappiness. This inevitably finds expression in acts of terrorism, civil unrest, social violence, and a downward spiral of economic degradation.

A specially trained military unit, an “IDT Prevention Wing of the Military,” uses IDT to reduce stress in the national collective consciousness. IDT could also be introduced into other large groups such as the police forces, or militias. As the stress and frustration ease, the population is more capable of finding orderly and constructive solutions to their problems.

Experience with IDT in other war-torn nations demonstrated increases in economic incentive and growth. Entrepreneurship and individual creativity also increased. With increased civic calm, people’s aspirations are raised and a more productive and balanced society emerges. Such a society abhors violence as a means for change or as an expression of discontent. With this, the ground for terrorism is eliminated. What is more fascinating, this change takes place within a few days or weeks after IDT is introduced. The changes are measurable from such statistics as crime rates, accidents, hospital admissions, infant mortality, etc.

Picture of Prevention Wing of the Military in Ecucador

Military personnel in Latin America, Africa and Asia practice group Transcendental Meditation to help protect their nations

Indoor Picture of Prevention Wing of the Military in Ecuador

Rapid Transformation Through IDT

The daily routine for the IDT military personnel includes the nonreligious practice of the Transcendental Meditation® program along with its advanced form, the TM-Sidhi program. As a societal coherence-creating military unit, they practice these programs twice a day, seven days a week, preferably in a secure location near the targeted population.

Such coherence-creating groups have achieved positive benefits in society, shown statistically, in a short time. Modern statistical methods used in this research show a low probability of any explanation other than a causal influence of the technology. The IDT approach has been used during wartime resulting in the reduction of fighting, a decreased number of deaths and casualties, and an improvement in progress toward resolving the conflict peacefully. The war in Lebanon in 1983 was dramatically impacted in a peaceful way by an IDT Intervention Group. A thoroughly documented study of this phenomenon was published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and summaries of follow-up studies were published in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personalityand the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

Summary

IDT works by utilizing our natural human brain mechanics, the most powerful natural resource possessed by every nation on earth. The beneficial transformational effects of IDT have been statistically proven numerous times to decrease and prevent violence and terrorism, and boost the economy.

IDT defense technology supersedes all other known defense technologies (which are based on electronic, chemical, and/or nuclear forces). These old, fear-based modalities are ultimately self-destructive for any nation, and for the human race as a whole, and must be replaced with IDT. So far, IDT is the only known, proven constructive approach.

The military that deploys this powerful, human-resource-based technology disallows negative trends and prevents enemies from arising, and as a result, it has no enemies. No enemies means no war, terrorism and no insurgency.

The Time for Action is Now

IDT is the twenty-first century’s leading-edge defense system. If Nigeria establishes IDT Prevention Wings of the Military, they will ease high tensions, reverse mistrust, crush hatred, create stability and permanently prevent war and terrorism. Extensive scientific research objectively says, “Yes, the system works.” Why not use it in Nigeria? Time is running out. The best time to act is now, before Nigeria’s perilous situation worsens.

References

1. Dr. David R. Leffler (Fall 2009). A New Role for the Military: Preventing Enemies from Arising-Reviving an Ancient Approach to Peace. Journal of Management & Social Science (JMSS), Vol. 5, No. 2., pp. 153-162. This peer-reviewed journal is published by the Institute of Business & Technology BIZTEK in Pakistan. The abstract was published in Session 6, p. 44 of the proceeding of the “International Sociological Association Research Committee 01 Seoul National University & Korea Military Academy International Conference on Armed Forces & Conflict Resolution in a Globalized World.” July 14 – 17, 2008, Seoul, Korea. The paper was also presented at KIDA, the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses.

2. Col. (Retd) S. P. Bakshi, Gerald Geer, and Dr. David Leffler (Special Issue May, 2013). Defense Personnel Worldwide Find Transcendental Meditation To be an Effective Tool in Combating Stress. Defence and Security Alert. Vol. 4, Issue No. 8, pages 34-39. PDF available online at: http://davidleffler.com/2013/defence-security-alert-magazine

3. Dr. David R. Leffler (2008, February). An Overlooked, Proven Solution to Terrorism. In “55 Trends Now Shaping the Future of Terrorism.” Edited by Dr. Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies: The Proteus Trends Series, Volume 1, Issue 2 (pp. 18, 79, 176, C-13 through C-16). Dr. Leffler served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College where he was published in this US government-sponsored report aimed at governmental and military leaders. Excerpts about Invincible Defense Technology taken from the 254 page report are available online at: http://www.DavidLeffler.com/terrorism-trends.html Note: The entire paper version of the report is available online at:http://www.amazon.com/Trends-Now-Shaping-Future-Terrorism/dp/1441451412

4. Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Kulwant Singh and Dr. David Leffler (July 2014). Preventing Future Boko Haram Attacks. CBRNE-Terrorism Newsletter (CBRNE is an acronym that stands for “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive”). PDF available online at:
http://www.cbrne-terrorism-newsletter.com/resources/JULY_2014_Part_C.pdf

5. Lieutenant General Jose Villamil (Ret.) with Dr. David Leffler (2003, January 29). Project: Coherence. India Defence Consultants. Available online at:http://www.indiadefence.com/proj_cohere.htm

Dr. David Leffler is a guest columnist for Veracity Voice

Dr. David Leffler was a member of the US Air Force for nearly nine years. Dr. Leffler served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College. He now serves as the Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) in Fairfield, Iowa and teaches IDT. Contact at: http://www.davidleffler.com

How Obama Is Making The World More Dangerous

February 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

You’re not paranoid if you think the world feels more unstable — it is.  There’s a dangerous confluence of political, economic, and military phenomena that is producing a very hazardous international situation.   Heightened national tensions that lead to regional confrontations have become normal as economic and political winds constantly shift in the direction of instability and conflict.

At the center of each maelstrom is the U.S. Government, and instead of acting as a promoter of peace and stability the Obama administration has been a catalyst of confrontation and war.

Whether it be the Middle East, Asia, Russia’s border, or the world economy, the actions of the Obama administration have leaned towards various forms of provocation and aggression — economic sanctions, threats, funneling arms, etc. This dynamic makes an eventual regional conflict inevitable, beyond the one already occurring in Syria/Iraq, where a U.S.-led proxy war against Syria and Iran is dangerously close to a full-out regional war.

The U.S. public is dangerously ignorant about the significance of these various regional conflicts. To the extent that they’re even reported, the “news” has excelled at blaming others and sharpening conflict, rather than shedding light or presenting peaceful alternatives.

An especially combustible zone is the Ukraine, where the U.S. is engaged in what is becoming a full-fledged proxy war with Russia. The Obama administration’s decisive role in the Ukrainian conflict has received only a sliver of space from the U.S. media, even after an audio of Obama’s Under Secretary of State was leaked, exposing the U.S.’ direct leadership role in a coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected government.

Obama’s allied boots on the ground in the Ukrainian coup were open fascists — the Svoboda and “Right Sector” — whose ideological hero, Stepan Bandera, was one of Hitler’s most reliable fascist allies during World War II.

The Obama administration has given crucial military and economic support to the anti-Russian Ukrainian government, and provided this fascist-friendly government with various forms of military assistance, and now is considering giving more “lethal” military aid to a government that cemented its coup power via questionable elections during the start of a civil war.

Former USSR president and media darling, Mikhail Gorbachev, is now disregarded by the U.S. media, since his words no longer promote U.S. foreign policy objectives. Gorbachev recently said:

“If we call a spade a spade, America has pulled us into a new cold war, trying to openly implement its general idea of triumphalism. Where will it take us all? The [new] cold war is already on. What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot say firmly that the cold war will not lead to the hot one. I’m afraid that they might take the risk.”

This “new cold war” is warming quickly, since the U.S.-Russian proxy war in Ukraine shares a large chunk of Russia’s border, and like all wars borders are ignored when convenient. Gorbachev fears that the 5,000 dead Ukrainians and 1.5 million refugees may just be the detonator for a larger war between two fully nuclear countries. Meanwhile, the U.S. media completely ignores this very real threat, giving valuable political cover to Obama’s reckless actions.

Equally crazy is Obama’s longstanding policy in the Middle East, where his “no troops on the ground” mantra has led to non-stop drone bombing and a massive proxy war in Syria, which every nation in the region has directly contributed to. The 200,000 dead and millions of refugees have boiled political tensions across the region, and Obama’s dedication to regime change in Syria is partially due to his dedication to the two biggest pariah nations in the world — Saudi Arabia and Israel.

When Israel recently bombed Syria again — a now regular occurrence — an Iranian general and Hezbollah leader were killed in the attack, which was labeled an assassination. Soon after, it was finally revealed that in 2008 the U.S. and Israel organized a terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed a Hezbollah leader. Both events push the Syrian conflict to the tipping point of regional war, and Obama’s silence over Israel’s repeated bombings against Syria only encourage an extremely dangerous regional conflagration.

Equally reckless is that Obama’s Syrian proxy war relied on thousands of Islamic extremists from neighboring countries.  Obama’s funding, training, and tolerating these extremists created the ideal conditions for a group like ISIS to rise from obscurity into a regional colossus.

To date the Obama administration has proposed no peace plan for Syria outside of “regime change.” When the Russian government recently organized a major peace conference to address the Syrian war, the U.S.-led Syrian National Coalition boycotted the talks, and Obama put no public pressure on his allies to attend, when he should have been publicly demanding it. Once the peace conference started neither Obama nor the U.S. media cared much to talk about the happenings, since continued fighting is the priority.

One shouldn’t forget Obama’s Africa policies, where his “successful” bombing campaign-turned regime change in Libya has ruined a country that previously had the highest standard of living on the continent. After Obama waged an illegal, aggressive war and assassinated the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, Hillary Clinton said — while giggling — “we came, we saw, he died.”

Libya’s weapons were looted and are now, according to the U.N., being funneled throughout the Middle East and Africa, destabilizing neighboring countries and empowering the Islamic extremists that Obama allied with against Gaddafi (similar to the ones he allied with against Syria’s president).

When it comes to the global economy Obama has been launching financial weapons of mass destruction against his enemies. The economic sanctions against Iran, Russia, N. Korea, Venezuela, Syria, etc., are of course an act of war. This kind of war is described in the book, “Treasury’s War,” by former Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Juan Zarate, who glamorizes this “new” form of war that the U.S. has a monopoly over, given the U.S. dollar’s preeminence as the global reserve currency.

Another lethal non-military weapon Obama has recklessly used is his helping crash the price of oil. The U.S. media publicly discussed the anti-Russian motive behind Obama intervening in the oil markets, by selling the “strategic oil reserves” held by the U.S. government — intended to be used at times of severe shortages. But Obama started unloading the strategic reserves at a time when there was already increasing global supply. The oil price floor fell out when Obama persuaded Saudi Arabia to ramp up production, flooding the market with cheap oil.

And whereas the Obama administration has kept mum about the Saudi’s accomplice role in crashing the oil market, the Saudis themselves have been pretty open about using their oil weapon, which they’re using to force Russia to drop support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The New York Times reported:

“Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices.”

Russia’s economy is consequently in free fall, with Iran, Venezuela and every other oil-producing nation suffering massive economic consequences. All of this is barely mentioned in the complicit U.S. media, content with shrugging its shoulders over the subsequent political chaos that directly affects hundreds of millions of people globally, and threatens to boomerang back on the U.S. in the form of unemployment and economic disruption.

All of the above policies have directly created havoc internationally. And today’s world is more inter-connected than ever; the chaos in the oil markets has already caused layoffs in the U.S., and threatens a larger economic conflagration. Obama’s policies in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have greatly increased the likelihood of another terror attack in the U.S.

In a world of increasing danger and threats of war, the Obama administration has been completely unable to champion any serious peace proposal. His main contribution to global affairs has been chaos and death — either by proxy (Syria and Ukraine), drones (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc.) dollars, gun trafficking, sanctions, or direct military intervention (Afghanistan and Libya).

Even the pathetic “peace process” Obama faked with Israel-Palestine was revealed as farce the second Israel decided to re-destroy the Gaza Strip: Obama gave crucial support to Israel in committing its numerous war crimes.

Obama is aided and abetted in his reckless actions by a media that cheer-leads the government’s every move, except when it encourages a more “aggressive” approach. In this way the above realities of U.S. foreign policy — and the very real dangers they present — are completely obscured from the American public. And when the next inevitable military combustion occurs, the public may be disorientated just long enough to fall victim to scapegoating and fear mongering that can lead to a bi-partisan military “solution.”


Shamus Cooke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

The Fallujah Option For East Ukraine

February 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

“I want to appeal to the Ukrainian people, to the mothers, the fathers, the sisters and the grandparents. Stop sending your sons and brothers to this pointless, merciless slaughter. The interests of the Ukrainian government are not your interests. I beg of you: Come to your senses. You do not have to water Donbass fields with Ukrainian blood. It’s not worth it.”

— Alexander Zakharchenko,  Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic

Washington needs a war in Ukraine to achieve its strategic objectives. This point cannot be overstated.

The US wants to push NATO to Russia’s western border. It wants a land-bridge to Asia to spread US military bases across the continent.  It wants to control the pipeline corridors from Russia to Europe to monitor Moscow’s revenues and to  ensure that gas continues to be denominated in dollars. And it wants a weaker, unstable Russia that is more prone to regime change, fragmentation and, ultimately, foreign control. These objectives cannot be achieved peacefully, indeed, if the fighting stopped tomorrow,  the sanctions would be lifted shortly after, and the Russian economy would begin to recover. How would that benefit Washington?

It wouldn’t. It would undermine Washington’s broader plan to integrate China and Russia into the prevailing economic system, the dollar system. Powerbrokers in the US realize that the present system must either expand or collapse. Either China and Russia are brought to heel and persuaded to accept a subordinate role in the US-led global order or Washington’s tenure as global hegemon will come to an end.

This is why hostilities in East Ukraine have escalated and will continue to escalate. This is why the U.S. Congress  approved a bill for tougher sanctions on Russia’s energy sector and lethal aid for Ukraine’s military. This is why Washington has sent military trainers to Ukraine and is preparing to provide  $3 billion in  “anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees, and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.” All of Washington’s actions are designed with one purpose in mind, to intensify the fighting and escalate the conflict. The heavy losses sustained by Ukraine’s inexperienced army and the terrible suffering of the civilians in Lugansk and Donetsk  are of no interest to US war-planners. Their job is to make sure that peace is avoided at all cost because peace would derail US plans to pivot to Asia and remain the world’s only superpower. Here’s an except from an article in the WSWS:

“The ultimate aim of the US and its allies is to reduce Russia to an impoverished and semi-colonial status. Such a strategy, historically associated with Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, is again being openly promoted.

In a speech last year at the Wilson Center, Brzezinski called on Washington to provide Kiev with “weapons designed particularly to permit the Ukrainians to engage in effective urban warfare of resistance.” In line with the policies now recommended in the report by the Brookings Institution and other think tanks calling for US arms to the Kiev regime, Brzezinski called for providing “anti-tank weapons…weapons capable for use in urban short-range fighting.”

While the strategy outlined by Brzezinski is politically criminal—trapping Russia in an ethnic urban war in Ukraine that would threaten the deaths of millions, if not billions of people—it is fully aligned with the policies he has promoted against Russia for decades.” (“The US arming of Ukraine and the danger of World War III“, World Socialist Web Site)

Non-lethal military aid will inevitably lead to lethal military aid, sophisticated weaponry, no-fly zones, covert assistance, foreign contractors, Special ops, and boots on the ground. We’ve seen it all before. There is no popular opposition to the war in the US, no thriving antiwar movement that can shut down cities, order a general strike or disrupt the status quo. So there’s no way to stop the persistent drive to war. The media and the political class have given Obama carte blanche, the authority to prosecute the conflict as he sees fit. That increases the probability of a broader war by this summer following the spring thaw.

While the possibility of a nuclear conflagration cannot be excluded, it won’t effect US plans for the near future. No one thinks that Putin will launch a nuclear war to protect the Donbass, so the deterrent value of the weapons is lost.

And Washington isn’t worried about the costs either.   Despite botched military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and half a dozen other countries around the world; US stocks are still soaring, foreign investment in US Treasuries is at record levels,, the US economy is growing at a faster pace than any of its global competitors, and the dollar has risen an eye-watering 13 percent against a basket of foreign currencies since last June. America has paid nothing for decimating vast swathes of the planet and killing more than a million people. Why would they stop now?

They won’t, which is why the fighting in Ukraine is going to escalate. Check this out from the WSWS:

“On Monday, the New York Times announced that the Obama administration is moving to directly arm the Ukrainian army and the fascistic militias supporting the NATO-backed regime in Kiev, after its recent setbacks in the offensive against pro-Russian separatist forces in east Ukraine.

The article cites a joint report issued Monday by the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and delivered to President Obama, advising the White House and NATO on the best way to escalate the war in Ukraine….

According to the Times, US officials are rapidly shifting to support the report’s proposals. NATO military commander in Europe General Philip M. Breedlove, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey all supported discussions on directly arming Kiev. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is reconsidering her opposition to arming Kiev, paving the way for Obama’s approval.” (“Washington moves toward arming Ukrainian regime“, World Socialist Web Site)

See what’s going on? The die is already cast. There will be a war with Russia because that’s what the political establishment wants. It’s that simple. And while previous provocations failed to lure Putin into the Ukrainian cauldron, this new surge of violence–a spring offensive– is bound to do the trick. Putin is not going to sit on his hands while proxies armed with US weapons and US logistical support pound the Donbass to Fallujah-type rubble.  He’ll do what any responsible leader would do. He’ll protect his people. That means war. (See the vast damage that Obama’s proxy war has done to E. Ukraine here: “An overview of the socio – humanitarian situation on the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic as a consequence of military action from 17 to 23 January 2015“)

Asymmetrical Warfare: Falling Oil Prices

Keep in mind, that the Russian economy has already been battered by economic sanctions, oil price manipulation, and a vicious attack of the ruble. Until this week, the mainstream media dismissed the idea that the Saudis were deliberately pushing down oil prices to hurt Russia. They said the Saudis were merely trying to retain “market share” by maintaining current production levels and letting prices fall naturally. But it was all bunkum as the New York Times finally admitted on Tuesday in an article titled: “Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad”. Here’s a clip from the article:

“Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices…

Saudi officials say — and they have told the United States — that they think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability to reduce the supply of oil and possibly drive up prices….Any weakening of Russian support for Mr. Assad could be one of the first signs that the recent tumult in the oil market is having an impact on global statecraft…..

Saudi Arabia’s leverage depends on how seriously Moscow views its declining oil revenue. “If they are hurting so bad that they need the oil deal right away, the Saudis are in a good position to make them pay a geopolitical price as well,” said F. Gregory Gause III, a Middle East specialist at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service (“Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad“, New York Times)

The Saudis “think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability” to manipulate prices?

That says it all, doesn’t it?

What’s interesting about this article is the way it conflicts with previous pieces in the Times. For example, just two weeks ago, in an article titled “Who Will Rule the Oil Market?”  the author failed to see any political motive behind the Saudi’s action.  According to the narrative, the Saudis were just afraid that “they would lose market share permanently” if they cut production and kept prices high. Now the Times has done a 180 and joined the so called conspiracy nuts who said that prices were manipulated for political reasons.  In fact, the  sudden price plunge had nothing to do with deflationary pressures, supply-demand dynamics, or any other mumbo-jumbo market forces. It was 100 percent politics.

The attack on the ruble was also politically motivated, although the details are much more sketchy. There’s an interesting interview with Alistair Crooke that’s worth a read for those who are curious about how the Pentagon’s “full spectrum dominance” applies to financial warfare. According to Crooke:

“…with Ukraine, we have entered a new era: We have a substantial, geostrategic conflict taking place, but it’s effectively a geo-financial war between the US and Russia. We have the collapse in the oil prices; we have the currency wars; we have the contrived “shorting” — selling short — of the ruble. We have a geo-financial war, and what we are seeing as a consequence of this geo-financial war is that first of all, it has brought about a close alliance between Russia and China.

China understands that Russia constitutes the first domino; if Russia is to fall, China will be next. These two states are together moving to create a parallel financial system, disentangled from the Western financial system. ……

For some time, the international order was structured around the United Nations and the corpus of international law, but more and more the West has tended to bypass the UN as an institution designed to maintain the international order, and instead relies on economic sanctions to pressure some countries. We have a dollar-based financial system, and through instrumentalizing America’s position as controller of all dollar transactions, the US has been able to bypass the old tools of diplomacy and the UN — in order to further its aims.

But increasingly, this monopoly over the reserve currency has become the unilateral tool of the United States — displacing multilateral action at the UN. The US claims jurisdiction over any dollar-denominated transaction that takes place anywhere in the world. And most business and trading transactions in the world are denominated in dollars. This essentially constitutes the financialization of the global order: The International Order depends more on control by the US Treasury and Federal Reserve than on the UN as before.” (“Turkey might become hostage to ISIL just like Pakistan did“,  Today’s Zaman)

Financial warfare, asymmetrical warfare, Forth Generation warfare, space warfare, information warfare, nuclear warfare, laser, chemical, and biological warfare. The US has expanded its arsenal well beyond the  traditional range of conventional weaponry. The goal, of course, is to preserve the post-1991 world order (The dissolution up of the Soviet Union) and maintain full spectrum dominance. The emergence of a multi-polar world order spearheaded by Moscow poses the greatest single threat to Washington’s plans for continued domination.  The first significant clash between these two competing world views will likely take place sometime this summer in East Ukraine. God help us.

NOTE:  The Novorussia Armed Forces (NAF) currently have 8,000 Ukrainian regulars surrounded in Debaltsevo, East Ukraine.  This is a very big deal although the media has been (predictably) keeping the story out of the headlines.

Evacuation corridors have been opened to allow civilians to leave the area.  Fighting could break out at anytime.  At present, it looks like a good part of the Kiev’s Nazi army could be destroyed in one fell swoop.  This is why Merkel and Hollande have taken an emergency flight to Moscow to talk with Putin.  They are not interested in peace. They merely want to save their proxy army from annihilation.

I expect Putin may intervene on behalf of the Ukrainian soldiers, but I think commander Zakharchenko will resist.   If he lets these troops go now, what assurance does he have that they won’t be back in a month or so with high-powered weaponry provided by our war-mongering congress and White House?

Tell me; what choice does Zakharchenko really have? If his comrades are killed in future combat because he let Kiev’s army escape, who can he blame but himself?

There are no good choices.

Check here for updates:  Ukraine SITREP: *Extremely* dangerous situation in Debaltsevo


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

The Northeast Nanny-Staters Who Are And The Blizzard That Never Was

January 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Call it the Blizzard of Oz. The “Snowstorm of the Century” Monday was supposed to be historic.

All we got was histrionics.

It turned out that the real blustery wind was hot air — and the worst accumulation was the knee-deep nanny-state politicians who think some snow warrants a travel ban.

In New York, the little man behind the curtain was Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, as usual, provided more bluster than any storm ever could.

I knew the blizzard would be a relative bust. How? Because they often are. Everything is over-hyped today, from the weather to entertainment to sports to hopey-changey politicians.

And we’re getting change alright, the kind effected by, as C.S. Lewis put it, “omnipotent moral busybodies” who “torment us for our own good [and] will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

As to this, a statewide travel ban in Connecticut began at 9 p.m. (ET) Monday, ordered by Governor Dannel Malloy. In my sorry state, the Peoples Republic of Nueva York, Il Duce II (hat tip: the late Bob Grant, who famously christened Andrew Cuomo’s father, Mario, Il Duce) prohibited travel in a trove of counties, including mine, starting at 11 p.m. For snow? Really?

For the record, the total snowfall in Central Park, NYC was 5.5 inches.

And though it was heavier in some other areas, let’s get something straight: in a supposedly free country, you don’t tell people they can’t travel because of some snow.

(Good test run for martial law, though.)

Of course, this position finds plenty of opposition nowadays, conditioned as people are to be protected puppets of the state. But know that heavy snowfalls aren’t unusual. During my childhood in the early and mid-’70s — you know, back when they warned us in elementary school of an impending ice age — we had impressive blizzards.

No one thought of telling free people they couldn’t drive around.

But that was at a time when we actually were something approximating a “free” people.

It’s not as if the commoners — the “folks” as ’BamaCare Barry likes to say — can’t have good reason to have to travel. There could be on-call obstetricians who have to rush to deliveries (I know doctors in this field), or it could be someone having to help an elderly parent. And there could be other reasons, not to mention the tens of millions of dollars ill-conceived travel bans can cost the economy.

We have become a soft people. Kids once might walk great distances to school, men marched a hundred miles to fight bloody battles and, believe it or not, for most of history no one had modern medical care. Now a winter storm means we hunker down as if a Viking raid is nigh.

An even larger issue here is the safety-freak mentality sweeping our secular society and dominating the craniums of callow neo-communists coast to coast. It’s reflected in Michelle Obama’s food-Nazi agenda, the banning of trans-fats and big sodas, child-seat and helmet laws, and the new commandment, “Thou shalt ensconce thy progeny in bubble wrap.”

And, for sure, every other nattering-nabob, nanny-state notion today is “for the children.” People are especially incredulous when I dismiss, as I did above, child-seat and helmet laws. But spare me. Yeah, a five-mph national speed limit would save lives, too, but the real limit we need is on government meddling. I experienced the childhood joys of riding in the back of a station wagon with a bunch of other kids and rode my bike helmet-free. I survived. I know, I know, better safe than sorry, they say. What “they” miss is that you can be safe and sorry.

We’re also supposed to believe our omnipotent moral busybodies care about us — deeply. But I could echo here Rodney Dangerfield’s reaction after a loud exchange with a mentally unhinged professor in the film Back to School. Yeah, our leftist politicians really care.

About what, I have no idea.

Cuomo and the rest of his ilk are so concerned about our well-being they’re going to save us from ourselves.

These are the same people who can’t shriek loudly enough for the killing of intrauterine babies.

But don’t dare increase your child’s risk of death even one iota after he’s born by failing to use a child seat or not providing a bicycle helmet. That’ll be a ticketing. For your own good, we’re going to liberate some cash from your wallet.

That reminds me of what I now call police: revenuers. Yeah, I know there are “good cops.” I hear about them all the time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m fair; I defended in print Ferguson officer Darren Wilson and other impugned police as much as anyone. And I thoroughly admire Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Oath Keeper crew. But don’t kid yourself: like most people, the average cop is a low-info voter. Just like the Nassau County, NY, police who obediently did their masters’ bidding and stole $100,000-worth of guns and ammo from a citizen — just like the New Orleans jackboots who seized firearms from law-abiding residents just when they really needed them in Hurricane Katrina’s wake — most cops vill follow zee orders vhen zey are handed down. Remember, too, the Department of Injustice has warned that constitutionalists can be a terror threat. And this Spokane officer who explained why his department needed military equipment certainly got the memo.

I would be remiss if I didn’t deepen my little rant by mentioning that all our problems stem from a loss of faith. Just consider our safety-freak mentality. Those who believe in an afterlife may certainly tend to the temple of the soul, but they usually don’t initiate themselves into the Cult of the Body. When people believe this world is all there is, however, they can become maniacally obsessed with staying in this world as long as possible. This phenomenon’s ultimate manifestation is “transhumanism,” the new movement and aspiration to use technology to transcend being human and extend “life” virtually indefinitely. Why, it has even been theorized that we may one day be able to upload our consciousness into a computer. (Of course, this would imply there’s something beyond the brain — namely the mind — which contradicts the dogma of atheistic psychologists who say there is no such thing. Yet if we’re not just the organic robots of secularist dreams, a question presents itself: why not just wait for your consciousness to be uploaded into the hereafter, hopefully Heaven? {The world’s Andrew Cuomos might understandably want to delay that upload as long as possible}. But now I’m getting way too deep for a rant.)

So that explains the popularity of a Dr. Oz. It also explains why we’re living in Oz, with the con man behind the curtain.

Or is our third-millennium location better described as Go Ask Alice, in Wonderland, when she’s 10 feet tall?

Whatever the case, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. And Middle America will continue shrinking until we as a people find a heart, a brain and some courage.


Selwyn Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show and has been a regular guest on the award-winning Michael Savage Show. His work has appeared in Pat Buchanan’s magazine The American Conservative and he writes regularly for The New American and Christian Music Perspective.

He can be reached at: SelwynDuke@optonline.net

Selwyn Duke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Greek Vote Pushes EU To Limit

January 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The resounding victory of Alexis Tsipras in the Greek election was certainly a referendum that rejected the austerity demands placed on Greece by the European Union. The Wall Street Journal says the following, in Syriza Win in Greek Election Sets Up New Europe Clash.

“A Syriza victory marks an astonishing upset of Europe’s political order, which decades ago settled into an orthodox centrism while many in Syriza describe themselves as Marxists. It emboldens the challenges of other radical parties, from the right-wing National Front in France to the newly formed left-wing Podemos party in Spain, and it sets Greece on a collision course with Germany and its other eurozone rescuers.”

What informed political onlooker did not see this coming? The EU acts as if it was a Holy Roman Empire using some very unholy demands and requirements. Since Greece has a laid back culture, the notion that imposing a rigorous German work ethic on the Mediterranean city-states is about as shortsighted as allowing a popular vote in the cradle of Democracy. If the EU wants to be the seat of the Banksters New World Order, rectifying this oversight needs to be part of any additional rollovers of the debt.

The NYT reports on the German reaction to this election, in Greece Chooses Anti-Austerity Party in Major Shift.

“While Greece sees itself as being punished by creditors’ demands, Germany and a host of European officials have argued that Greece and other troubled nations in the eurozone must clean up the high debts and deficits at the root of Europe’s crisis . They say Athens has failed to make enough progress on structural reforms seen as necessary to stabilize the economy, and they are pressing Greece to raise billions of euros through more budgetary cutbacks and taxes.”

Sounds like NATO Panzer tanks may need to surround the Acropolis. At issue is the next round of payments and exactly how far Tsipras’ new coalition government will push back.

From the socialist French press, Greek radical-left leader vows to end ‘humiliation and pain’, the precedent dispute provides a look at the agenda that will be fought over.

“Greece’s bailout deal with the eurozone is due to end on February 28 and Tsipras’s immediate challenge will be to settle doubts over the next installment of more than 7 billion euros in international aid. EU finance ministers are due to discuss the issue in Brussels on Monday.

Tsipras has promised to renegotiate agreements with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund “troika” and write off much of Greece’s 320-billion-euro debt, which at more than 175 percent of gross domestic product, is the world’s second highest after Japan.”

The imposed neocolonialism from Brussels technocrats on Greece after the 2008 financial bubble is A True Greek Tragedy – Odyssey of the EU, concluded that “This tragedy is an existential test. Appreciate the absurdity of compliance with the New World Order, and apply comic relief, to those who follow commends of the EU Poseidon ship of state.”

At stake is the ability of the EU to continue their centralization dictates in the face of public resistance. The victory of SYRIZA provides encouragement for similar movements from Spain, Portugal to Italy. However, such self-government enthusiasm flies in the face of the institutional power of the blue-blood aristocracy of financial elites, who in the past have never hesitated waging, war to suppress independence sentiments.

The term Grexit is introduced to forewarn the op-out of the EU option. Further explanation is elaborated in Greece lightning: six things you need to know about Syriza’s victory.

  1. Background – the Greek economy
  2. Yesterday’s election – and why Syriza wants to stay in the EU
  3. But Germany is more relaxed about a ‘Grex
  4. It’s now a question of how far Germany will budge
  5.    The Eurozone is (probably) strong enough to withstand Grexit
  6. But still, Grexit would be a risk that no one actively wants to take

Hugo Dixon: Grexit still unlikely after Syriza win takes another viewpoint. His outlook is based on the assumption that “no head of government in the other euro countries wants Greece to leave”, so some kind of accommodation will be offered to appease the factions that resist their inordinate debt burden.

“So there might be a way of cutting a deal. The snag is that doing so would involve a massive somersault – or what Greeks call a “kolotoumba”. Many of Tsipras’ backers would then accuse him of betraying their cause. It is still far from clear whether he is prepared to do that.

But if the Syriza leader is not prepared to compromise, Greece will default and will have to impose capital controls to stop the banks collapsing. If the people then forced the government to backtrack, there would be one final chance to stay in the euro. Otherwise, the drachma would beckon.”

Oh the horror of a country leaving the European Union and chucking the EURO. The factual consequences of Greece exiting the EU should not be gauged solely in economic terms. The limits upon which the Bilderberg oligarchy will tolerate liberation dissent become the decisive price and test of brute power in this battle for autonomy.

The Greek version of socialism is surely no model for economic prosperity. Nonetheless, the systematic fleecing of Greek assets by the vultures preying on the misery from the 2008 crash has yet to be put back in balance.

The viability of EU Bonds Rollover Debt with a Chinese Bailout makes the case why the EU is vulnerable to the mountains of their own obligations. The most likely outcome from the election of Alexis Tsipras is that a rescheduling rather than a reduction in the amount of indebtedness will take place. The EU Rothschild band of thieves knows no forgiveness, when it comes to collecting on their phony debt created currency loans.

The brave Spartans saved civilization at Thermopylae. It is doubtful that type of campaign can be fought again by today’s Greeks.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Are Plunging Petrodollar Revenues Behind The Fed’s Projected Rate Hikes?

January 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If This Doesn’t Make You Mad…

Why is the Fed threatening to raise interest rates when the economy is still in the doldrums? Is it because they want to avoid further asset-price inflation, prevent the economy from overheating, or is it something else altogether? Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see why the Fed might want to raise rates prematurely. It all has to do with the sharp decline in petrodollars that are no longer recycling into US financial assets. This is from Reuters:

unnamed

Petrodollar Exports
Source: Reuters

“Energy-exporting countries are set to pull their ‘petrodollars’ out of world markets this year for the first time in almost two decades, according to a study by BNP Paribas. Driven by this year’s drop in oil prices, the shift is likely to cause global market liquidity to fall, the study showed…

This decline follows years of windfalls for oil exporters such as Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Much of that money found its way into financial markets, helping to boost asset prices and keep the cost of borrowing down, through so-called petrodollar recycling.

This year, however, the oil producers will effectively import capital amounting to $7.6 billion. By comparison, they exported $60 billion in 2013 and $248 billion in 2012, according to the following graphic based on BNP Paribas calculations:

‘At its peak, about $500 billion a year was being recycled back into financial markets. This will be the first year in a long time that energy exporters will be sucking capital out,’ said David Spegel, global head of emerging market sovereign and corporate Research at BNP.

In other words, oil exporters are now pulling liquidity out of financial markets rather than putting money in. That could result in higher borrowing costs for governments, companies, and ultimately, consumers as money becomes scarcer.” (Petrodollars leave world markets for first time in 18 years – BNP, Reuters)

Can you see what’s going on?

Now that petrodollar funding has dried up, the Fed needs to find an alternate source of capital to keep the markets bubbly and to shore up the greenback. That’s why the Fed has been talking up the dollar (“jawboning”) and promising to raise rates even though the economy is still pushing up daisies. According to the Fed’s favorite mouthpiece, Jon Hilsenrath:

“Federal Reserve officials are on track to start raising short-term interest rates later this year, even though long-term rates are going in the other direction amid new investor worries about weak global growth, falling oil prices and slowing consumer price inflation…

Many Fed officials have signaled they expect to start lifting their benchmark short-term rate from near zero around the middle of the year. Recent developments in the economy and markets have caused some trepidation among Fed officials and, if sustained, could cause them to delay acting. However several have indicated recently they still expect to move this year and are withholding judgment on delay.” (Fed Officials on Track to Raise Short-Term Rates Later in the Year, Jon Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal)

And we’re hearing the same from Reuters: “The Federal Reserve is still on track for a potential mid-year interest-rate increase, a top Fed official said on Friday, citing strong U.S. economic momentum and a falling unemployment rate.”

Notice the sudden change in tone from dovish to hawkish? Expect that to intensify in the months ahead as the major media tries to spin the data in a way that serves the Fed’s broader objectives. Like this article in Bloomberg titled, “Yellen Signals She Won’t Babysit Markets in Turmoil”:

“Janet Yellen is leaving the Greenspan ‘put”’behind as she charts the first interest-rate increase since 2006 amid growing financial-market volatility.

The Federal Reserve chair has signaled she wants to place the economic outlook at the center of policy making, while looking past short-term market fluctuations. To succeed, she must wean investors from the notion, which gained currency under predecessor Alan Greenspan, that the Fed will bail them out if their bets go bad — just as a put option protects against a drop in stock prices.

“The succession of Fed puts over the years has led to a wide range of distortions in financial markets,” said Lawrence Goodman, president of the Center for Financial Stability, a monetary research group in New York. “There have been swollen asset values followed by sharp declines. This is a very good time for the Fed to move away.

“Let me be clear, there is no Fed equity market put,” William C. Dudley, president of the New York Fed, the central bank’s watchdog on financial markets, said in a Dec. 1 speech in New York.” (She’s No Greenspan: Yellen Signals She Won’t Babysit Markets in Turmoil)

“There’s no Fed equity put”?

That’s ridiculous. Then how does one explain the way the Fed has launched additional rounds of QE every time stocks have started to sputter? And how does one explain the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet all of which was spent on financial assets?

Let’s face it, Central bank intervention has been the only game in town. It’s not just the main driver of stocks. It’s the only driver of stocks. Everyone knows that. Yellen is going to do everything in her power to keep stocks in the stratosphere just like her predecessors, Greenspan and Bernanke. The only that’s going to change, is her approach.

As for the economy, well, just a glance of the headlines tells the whole story. Like this gem from CNBC last week:

“U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest decline in six years in December and underlying inflation pressures were benign,…The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index fell 0.4 percent last month, the largest drop since December 2008, after sliding 0.3 percent in November. In the 12 months through December, CPI increased 0.8 percent…

Darkening prospects for the global economy could also complicate matters for the U.S. central bank.

Inflation is running below the Fed’s 2 percent target, despite a strengthening labor market and overall economy.” (Consumer Price Index drops 0.4% in December, in line with estimates, CNBC)

Think about that for a minute: Consumer prices just logged their biggest drop since the freaking slump of 2008 and, yet, the Fed is still babbling about raising rates.

Talk about lunacy. Not only has the Fed not reached its inflation target of 2%, but it’s abandoned the project altogether. Why? Why has the Fed suddenly stopped trying to boost inflation when the yields on benchmark 10-year US Treasuries have just plunged to record lows (1.70%) and are blinking red? In other words, the bond market is signaling slow growth and zero inflation for as far as the eye can see, but the Fed wants to raise rates and slash growth even more?? It doesn’t make any sense, unless of course, Yellen has something else up her sleeve. Which she does.

Now get a load of this shocker on retail sales in last week’s news. This is from Bloomberg:

“The optimism surrounding the outlook for U.S. consumers was taken down a notch as retail sales slumped in December by the most in almost a year, prompting some economists to lower spending and growth forecasts.
The 0.9 percent decline in purchases …. extended beyond any single group as receipts fell in nine of 13 major retail categories.

Treasury yields and stocks fell as a deepening commodities rout and the drop in sales spurred concern global growth is slowing…

…average hourly earnings falling 0.2 percent in December from the month before in the first drop since late 2012. That limits the amount of spending consumers can undertake without dipping into savings or racking up debt.” (U.S. Retail Sales Down Sharply, Likely Cuts to Growth Forecasts Ahead, Bloomberg)

Remember when everyone thought that low oil prices were going to save the economy? It hasn’t worked out that way though, has it? Nor will it. Falling oil prices usually indicate recession, crisis or deflation. Take your pick. They’re usually not a sign of green shoots, escape velocity, or sunny uplands.

And did you catch that part about falling wages? How do you expand a consumer-dependent economy, when workers are seeing their wages shrivel every month? In case, you haven’t seen the abysmal stagnation of wages in graph-form, here’s a chart from American Progress:

unnamed-1

Negative real wage growth means the amount of slack in the market is still considerable.

So while stock prices have doubled or tripled in the last 6 years, wages have basically been flatlining. That’s a pretty crummy distribution system, don’t you think. Unless you’re in the 1 percent of course, then everything is just hunky dory.

But at least Yellen can find some comfort in the fact that unemployment continues to improve. In fact, just two weeks ago unemployment dropped to an impressive 5.4%, the lowest since 2007. So if we forget about the fact that wages are stagnating, that management has nabbed all the productivity-gains for the last 40 years, and that another 451,000 workers dropped off the radar altogether in December, then everything looks pretty rosy. But, of course, it’s all just a bunch of baloney. Take a look at this from Zero Hedge:

“Another month, another attempt by the BLS to mask the collapse in the US labor force with a seasonally-adjusted surge in waiter, bartender and other low-paying jobs. Case in point… the labor participation rate just slid once more, dropping to 62.7%, or the lowest print since December 1977. This happened because the number of Americans not in the labor forced soared by 451,000 in December, far outpacing the 111,000 jobs added according to the Household Survey, and is the primary reason why the number of uenmployed Americans dropped by 383,000.

unnamed

(Labor Participation Rate Drops To Fresh 38 Year Low; Record 92.9 Million Americans Not In Labor Force, Zero Hedge)

So, yeah, unemployment looks great until you pick through the data and see it’s all a big fraud. Unemployment is only falling because more and more people are throwing in the towel and giving up entirely.

Finally, there’s the rapidly-expanding mess in the oil patch where the news on layoffs and cut backs gets worse by the day. This is from Wolf Richter at Naked Capitalism:

“Layoffs are cascading through the oil and gas sector. On Tuesday, the Dallas Fed projected that in Texas alone, 140,000 jobs could be eliminated. Halliburton said that it was axing an undisclosed number of people in Houston. Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest oil producer, will dump 1,000 workers in its tar-sands projects. Helmerich & Payne is idling rigs and cutting jobs. Smaller companies are slashing projects and jobs at an even faster pace. And now Slumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield-services company, will cut 9,000 jobs.” (Money dries up for oil and gas, layoffs spread, write-offs start, Wolf Richter, Naked Capitalism)

And then there’s this tidbit from Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade:

“In a December 15 article by Patrick Jenkins in the Financial Times, readers learned that data from Barclays indicated that “energy bonds now make up nearly 16 per cent of the $1.3 trillion junk bond market — more than three times their proportion 10 years ago,” and “Nearly 45 per cent of this year’s non-investment grade syndicated loans have been in oil and gas.” Raising further alarms, AllianceBernstein has released research suggesting that the deals were not fully subscribed by investors with the potential that “as much as half of the outstanding financing from the past couple of years may be stuck on banks’ books.” (The perfect storm for Wall Street banks, Russ and Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade)

How do you like that? So nearly half the toxic energy-related gunk that was bundled up into dodgy junk bonds (and is likely to default in the near future) is sitting on bank balance sheets. Does that sound like a potential trigger for another financial crisis or what?

And, no, I am not trying to ignore the fact that third quarter GDP came in at a whopping 5 percent which vastly exceeded all the analysts estimates. But let’s put that into perspective. According to economist Dean Baker, the growth spurt was mainly “an anomaly” …”driven by extraordinary jump in military spending and a big fall in the size of the trade deficit that is unlikely to be repeated.” Here’s more from Baker:

“As usual, just about everything we’ve heard about the economy is wrong. To start, the 5.0 percent growth number must be understood against a darker backdrop: The economy actually shrank at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter. If we take the first three quarters of the year together, the average growth rate was a more modest 2.5 percent.” (Don’t Believe What You Hear About the US Economy, Dean Baker, CEPR)

So, the economy is growing at a crummy 2.5 percent, but Yellen wants to raise rates. Why? Does she want to shave that number to 2 percent or 1.5 percent? Is that it? She wants to go backwards?

Of course not. The real reason the Fed wants to raise rates, is to attract foreign capital to US markets in order to keep stocks soaring, keep borrowing costs low, and reinforce the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. That’s what’s really going on. The petrodollars are drying up, so US markets need a new source of funding. Direct foreign investment, that’s the ticket, Ducky. All the Fed needs to do is boost rates by, let’s say, 0.5 percent and “Cha-ching”, here comes the capital. Works like a charm every time, just ask former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin whose strong dollar policy sent stock prices into orbit while widening the nation’s current account deficit by many orders of magnitude. (We never said the plan didn’t have its downside.)

The Fed’s sinister plan to raise interest rates (sometime by mid-2015) will push the dollar’s exchange rate higher thus triggering capital flight in the emerging markets which are already struggling with plunging commodities prices and an excruciating slowdown. The investment flows from the EMs to US financial assets and Treasuries will offset the loss of petrodollar revenue while expanding Wall Street’s ginormous stock market bubble. As for the emerging markets, well, they’re going to take it in the shorts bigtime as one would expect. Here’s a clip from an article by Ambrose-Evans Pritchard that lays it out in black and white:

“The US Federal Reserve has pulled the trigger. Emerging markets must now brace for their ordeal by fire. They have collectively borrowed $5.7 trillion in US dollars, a currency they cannot print and do not control. This hard-currency debt has tripled in a decade, split between $3.1 trillion in bank loans and $2.6 trillion in bonds. It is comparable in scale and ratio-terms to any of the biggest cross-border lending sprees of the past two centuries…

Officials from the Bank for International Settlements say privately that developing countries may be just as vulnerable to a dollar shock as they were in the Fed tightening cycle of the late 1990s, which culminated in Russia’s default and the East Asia Crisis. The difference this time is that emerging markets have grown to be half the world economy. Their aggregate debt levels have reached a record 175pc of GDP, up 30 percentage points since 2009…”

This time the threat does not come from insolvent states. They have learned the lesson of the late 1990s. Few have dollar debts. But their companies and banks most certainly do, some 70pc of GDP in Russia, for example. This amounts to much the same thing in macro-economic terms. ” (Fed calls time on $5.7 trillion of emerging market dollar debt, Ambrose-Evans Pritchard, Telegraph)

The Fed has been through this drill so many times before they could do it in their sleep. (” U.S. interest-rate hikes in 1980s and 1990s played a role in financial crises across Latin America and East Asia.” Foreign Policy Magazine) They’ve learned how to profit off every crisis, particularly the one’s that they themselves create, which is just about all of them. In this case, most of the loans to foreign businesses and banks were denominated in dollars. So, now that the dollar is soaring, (“The dollar’s value has risen about 15 percent relative to the euro and the yen just since the summer.” NPR) the debts are going to balloon accordingly (in real terms) which is going to push a lot of businesses off a cliff forcing sovereigns to step in and provide emergency bailouts.

Did someone say “looming financial crisis”?

Indeed. Bernanke’s “easy money” has inflated bubbles across the planet. Now these bubbles are about to burst due to the strong dollar and anticipated higher rates. At the same time, the policy-switch will send hundreds of billions of foreign capital flooding into US markets pushing stocks and bonds through the roof while generating mega-profits for JPM, G-Sax and the rest of the Wall Street gang. All according to plan.

Naturally, the stronger dollar will weigh heavily on employment and exports as foreign imports become cheaper and more attractive to US consumers. That will reduce hiring at home. Also the current account deficit will widen significantly, meaning that the US will again be consuming much more than it produces. (This took place under Rubin, too.) But here’s what’s interesting about that: According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis: “Our current account deficit has narrowed sharply since the crisis…The U.S. current account deficit now stands at 2.5 percent of GDP, down from more than 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005.” (BEA)

Great. In other words, Obama’s obsessive fiscal belt-tightening lowered the deficits enough so that Wall Street can “party on” for the foreseeable future, ignoring the gigantic bubbles they’re inflating or the emerging market economies that are about to be decimated in this latest dollar swindle.

If that doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Murdering Journalists … Them and Us

January 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

NATO bombs radio station B92 Belgrade

After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.

Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?

In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not , leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.

In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.

In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.

And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.

However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!

Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders”. Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.

On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis CharlieNous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.

No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.

Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”

And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage.

I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:

“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?

“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”

Dumb and Dumber

Remember Arseniy Yatsenuk? The Ukrainian whom US State Department officials adopted as one of their own in early 2014 and guided into the position of Prime Minister so he could lead the Ukrainian Forces of Good against Russia in the new Cold War?

In an interview on German television on January 7, 2015 Yatsenuk allowed the following words to cross his lips: “We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. We will not allow that, and nobody has the right to rewrite the results of World War Two”.

The Ukrainian Forces of Good, it should be kept in mind, also include several neo-Nazis in high government positions and many more partaking in the fight against Ukrainian pro-Russians in the south-east of the country. Last June, Yatsenuk referred to these pro-Russians as “sub-humans” , directly equivalent to the Nazi term “untermenschen”.

So the next time you shake your head at some stupid remark made by a member of the US government, try to find some consolation in the thought that high American officials are not necessarily the dumbest, except of course in their choice of who is worthy of being one of the empire’s partners.

The type of rally held in Paris this month to condemn an act of terror by jihadists could as well have been held for the victims of Odessa in Ukraine last May. The same neo-Nazi types referred to above took time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Russians, Communists and Jews, and burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded … Try and find a single American mainstream media entity that has made even a slightly serious attempt to capture the horror. You would have to go to the Russian station in Washington, DC, RT.com, search “Odessa fire” for many stories, images and videos. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the 2 May 2014 Odessa clashes.

If the American people were forced to watch, listen, and read all the stories of neo-Nazi behavior in Ukraine the past few years, I think they – yes, even the American people and their less-than-intellectual Congressional representatives – would start to wonder why their government was so closely allied with such people. The United States may even go to war with Russia on the side of such people.

L’Occident n’est pas Charlie pour Odessa. Il n’y a pas de défilé à Paris pour Odessa.

Some thoughts about this thing called ideology

Norman Finkelstein, the fiery American critic of Israel, was interviewed recently by Paul Jay on The Real News Network. Finkelstein related how he had been a Maoist in his youth and had been devastated by the exposure and downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976 in China. “It came out there was just an awful lot of corruption. The people who we thought were absolutely selfless were very self-absorbed. And it was clear. The overthrow of the Gang of Four had huge popular support.”

Many other Maoists were torn apart by the event. “Everything was overthrown overnight, the whole Maoist system, which we thought [were] new socialist men, they all believed in putting self second, fighting self. And then overnight the whole thing was reversed.”

“You know, many people think it was McCarthy that destroyed the Communist Party,” Finkelstein continued. “That’s absolutely not true. You know, when you were a communist back then, you had the inner strength to withstand McCarthyism, because it was the cause. What destroyed the Communist Party was Khrushchev’s speech,” a reference to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 exposure of the crimes of Joseph Stalin and his dictatorial rule.

Although I was old enough, and interested enough, to be influenced by the Chinese and Russian revolutions, I was not. I remained an admirer of capitalism and a good loyal anti-communist. It was the war in Vietnam that was my Gang of Four and my Nikita Khrushchev. Day after day during 1964 and early 1965 I followed the news carefully, catching up on the day’s statistics of American firepower, bombing sorties, and body counts. I was filled with patriotic pride at our massive power to shape history. Words like those of Winston Churchill, upon America’s entry into the Second World War, came easily to mind again – “England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations would live.” Then, one day – a day like any other day – it suddenly and inexplicably hit me. In those villages with the strange names there were people under those falling bombs, people running in total desperation from that god-awful machine-gun strafing.

This pattern took hold. The news reports would stir in me a self-righteous satisfaction that we were teaching those damn commies that they couldn’t get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. The very next moment I would be struck by a wave of repulsion at the horror of it all. Eventually, the repulsion won out over the patriotic pride, never to go back to where I had been; but dooming me to experience the despair of American foreign policy again and again, decade after decade.

The human brain is an amazing organ. It keeps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, from before you leave the womb, right up until the day you find nationalism. And that day can come very early. Here’s a recent headline from the Washington Post: “In the United States the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”

Oh, my mistake. It actually said “In N. Korea the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”

Let Cuba Live! The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba

On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.

The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)

The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.

However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died. That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.

The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.

Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.

There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.

The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.

To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11.

Notes

  1. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
  2. Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
  3. Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001
  4. The Independent (London), April 24, 1999
  5. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over)
  6. CNN, June 15, 2014
  7. See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3
  8. Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6
  9. William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 30, for a capsule summary of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare against Havana.
  10. For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29


William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire


Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

A Quiet European

January 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Lt. Col. Dr. Mark Obrtel is a 48 year old officer of the army of the Czech Republic who has served with distinction in his country’s missions under NATO command in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. We would never know of him were it not for the fact that on December 30 he returned all his medals awarded for this service, and justified his decision in a letter to the Czech minister of defense that could have been written by Paul Craig Roberts or Patrick Buchanan.

Had a senior officer of an army unsubservient to the Empire (of a major player, such as China or Russia, or a minor one, such as Venezuela, Belarus or Armenia) done something similar, the Western media would have noted it with gusto. Obrtel is a non-person, however, because what he has done and said is equally uncomfortable to Washington and to its European minions. Before considering the implications, here is the text of Lt. Col. Obrtel’s letter to the Minister:

Dear Mr. Minister,

“Due to the reasons I elaborate upon on the attached three-page letter which is an attachment to this document, I urge you to deprive me of the badges of honor from the military operations of the Army of the Czech Republic performed under the NATO umbrella.

I thank you for your understanding and assertively request your endorsement of my application.

Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Marek Obrtel MD, with his own hand.

An open letter to the defense minister and the Czech government

I am returning the war decorations because I am deeply ashamed of having served a criminal organization which the U.S.-led NATO is, and to its malformed interests across the world.

By this gesture, I also want to unambiguously express my complete disagreement with the U.S. policies towards Russia, the EU member states, and all free and sovereign countries in the present as well as the past and especially with the consequences of these policies.??

I also want to demonstrate my disapproval of the attitude of the Czech government and other competent institutions when it comes to the misinformation campaigns and the intentional information embargo on key events that are relevant for the current geopolitical and military situation in the world. In this context, I also blame all the responsible organs for the total inactivity in their task to prevent a global conflict (especially) between the U.S. and Russia on the European territory.??

Last but not least, my act is meant as a sign of my support for the Czech president Miloš Zeman and his effort to objectively analyze crucial internal and international political questions and his struggle “against everybody” to protect the sovereignty and identity of the Czech nation and its global security.

I received a degree from the Military Medical Academy and I became a professional army physician with a diploma from the Charles University in Prague, I am a reserve lieutenant colonel of the Czech army, and during my tenure, I have spent years in some of the highest chairs of the army’s medical services, always in positions listed in tables with the track of becoming a colonel.

The most important occupations included my job as the commanding officer of the Czech Army Contingent in Afghanistan, the superintendent of the 11th field hospital of the Czech Army in Afghanistan, the vice-commander of the operational commandership of the armed forces’ medical service, or important positions within the Section of army’s healthcare of the Military headquarters of the Czech Army.

During my career within the military operations, I would get familiar with the Bosnian and Herzegovinian matters as well as issues of other successor states of former Yugoslavia, with Afghanistan, very shortly with the questions surrounding the Iraq conflict, and especially with Kosovo.

I have always fulfilled my duties as well as I could and as my strengths allowed me, in agreement with my opinion that similar activities can’t be done at a “50% capacity”…

But already at those places, and especially in Kosovo, I was growing suspicious that our path (actions in units of troops organized by NATO) isn’t right…

Whenever I concluded with the feeling that “something isn’t right”, I was trying to comfort myself by the idea that I was working as a doctor and my mission was to help to the sick and injured ones and those members of the local populations that were affected by the activity of our troops. This comfort has prevented me from seeing the problem in its entirety for several years and to understand that what NATO, and especially the U.S., is doing in numerous countries of the whole world must be ranked as the highest degree of perversity and intoxication by power. But even more importantly, all these conflicts were intentionally fabricated while the excuses to launch such conflicts and the American imperialist policy in these conflicts doesn’t seem to have any limits. Everyone who opposes the imperial ambitions of the U.S. in any way, even if he were defending the identity, economy, and sovereignty of his nation, must be “erased off the map of the world”.

I cannot identify myself with the international U.S. policies and once I began to be interested in the roots, essence, development, and consequences of the actions led by the organizations and structures of the U.S. after the war everywhere in the world, I turned into an unequivocal opponent of these policies. I must unambiguously classify it as ruthless, profit-seeking, and insatiable imperialism that won’t be stopped by anyone or anything. The consequences primarily include the “burned down lands” and millions of casualties in the whole world. The causes are the power interests of the world’s hegemony and – more recently – also the desperate attempt to prevent the ultimate collapse of the American empire.

Wherever I served around the world, I have never avoided the contact with the local populaces – both contacts related to my healthcare services, or simple conversations sparked by random encounters with the people or mutual visits. That is why I never depended exclusively on the NATO-related information sources, but I could also analyze and evaluate the situation from all conceivable perspectives. On the former Yugoslav territory, I had the extra advantage of having quickly mastered the local language at a level that has allowed me basic communication. All these events (and others) have allowed me to understand (and convince myself about) the meaninglessness and monstrosity of the NATO and especially U.S. actions in the context of many artificially ignited conflicts whose goal was to destabilize all the countries that did not want to be satisfied with the roles of obedient puppets and vassals of the U.S. Unfortunately, I was becoming a component in this machinery myself.

It has always been a problem for me to respect superiors who are incompetent, uneducated, inconsistent in their opinions, or incapable, if I had to use one word. On the contrary, I greatly respect the “bosses and commanders” who are the “right men on their places”. For the latter men, I would be able to work for them until being spent out, as Czechs figuratively say…

During my professional career as a military and later civilian physician, I have also met a large number of incompetent politicians and superiors who have exchanged their personal profit and careerism, mixed with hypocrisy, ignorance, and populism, with honor, education, and desire to honestly work for the society.

This replacement has always had important, and sometimes fatal, consequences at every level. Our top-tier politics is no exception – politicians hired as puppets of the global exponents have created a big debt, sold and stolen our country by parts, internally undermined it, and buried all the moral values and they threw us to the tentacles of power structures such as the U.S.-led NATO. The politicians are leading, or at least tolerating, a massive misinformation campaign, hide many critical facts that sometimes affect the future of our lives as well, kowtow to the American “bosses”, and silently tolerate their very strange bloody practices. In this way, they are bringing our country towards an abyss. They are also doing so by their inability to perceive the integrity of Europe including Russia as a counterbalance to the American efforts to enslave the world under its power influence in the times when the economic potential of the U.S. is eroding and it is a matter of when, not if, the whole American system collapses or the U.S. will provoke a fatal war conflict that will exploit Europe as the battleground (for the third time in the history).

How diametrically different is then the attitude and phrases of our president, Miloš Zeman, who – despite a massive wave of outrage in the U.S. and Brussels, and indignation by the pro-American sold “fifth column” – formulates the things as they are, uses the right names to call things, and localizes the genuine culprits and causal relationships and who isn’t afraid that Europe also includes Russia but not the U.S… and other facts. I respect Zeman for those reasons and I encourage all those who care about the fate of our country and ourselves to loudly express their lasting support against “the American practices of CIA realized not only by the U.S. Ambassador Andrew Schapiro”, against the red cards of the traitors from the Prague cafés, and against the policies of the “sycophants in Brussels”. He is a directly elected president of ours, so we shouldn’t let anyone take him away from us…

I am not brave enough to go to fight to the East of Ukraine in the new conflict created as a product of the desperate American imperialism – against the self-declared Ukrainian government. Not only do I lack the courage. Such a decision would be meaningless because this conflict is about something completely different than the search and application of the human rights and freedoms, i.e. the values “for which” the U.S. has already devastated so many countries in the world.

But I am able to find enough courage to unambiguously say that in the new cold war and related matters, I am on the side of the current president Russia, a man whom I deeply respect for the detached view, restraint, and balance with which he is responding to the provocations by the West, and for his matter-of-fact, transparent reactions to all the accusations and lies surrounding all the recent events.

One doesn’t have to be a great expert in political science, sociology, military matters, politics, or related issues to figure out who is the aggressor and why he is doing it and who is defending himself. Common sense, a modest amount of intelligence, and the ability to connect the dots is, along with hours of the research of available sources and materials from several sources, enough.

I have reached my own conclusion a long time ago and I insist it is the right conclusion.

And that is why I can’t and I don’t want to wear my medals from the NATO operations anymore because they have been given to me by a criminal organization led by the U.S. As long as the U.S. and similar countries will be leading NATO, there is no room for these medals on the left side of my uniform.

Dear Mr. Defense Minister, I urge you to remove all the awarded NATO medals from me, and I thank you for this act in advance.

Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Marek Obrtel MD

IT IS SIGNIFICANT that, since the publication of this letter, nobody has accused Lt. Col. Obrtel of being a stooge of Putin. Had he been an FSB/GRU asset, it would have been insane to let him blow his cover for no visible benefit. Had he been deemed suspicious or unreliable, Western security services would have produced the goods by now. But because his was a genuine cri de coeur, measured and articulate, the decision was made to ignore it.

The Czechs are right to feel uneasy about Western geopolitical machinations. They were spectacularly stabbed in the back by their “allies” in Munich in September 1938, and they know that NATO security guarantees are not worth much if it comes to risking New York in order to save Prague.


Srdja (Serge) Trifkovic, author, historian, foreign affairs analyst, and foreign affairs editor of “Chronicles.” He has a BA (Hon) in international relations from the University of Sussex (UK), a BA in political science from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), and a PhD in history from the University of Southampton (UK).

www.trifkovic.mysite.com

Dr. Srdja Trifkovic is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Oil Price Blowback

January 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Is Putin Creating A New World Order?

“If undercharging for energy products occurs deliberately, it also effects those who introduce these limitations. Problems will arise and grow, worsening the situation not only for Russia but also for our partners.”Russian President Vladimir Putin

It’s hard to know which country is going to suffer the most from falling oil prices. Up to now, of course, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have taken the biggest hit, but that will probably change as time goes on. What the Obama administration should be worried about is the second-order effects that will eventually show up in terms of higher unemployment, market volatility, and wobbly bank balance sheets. That’s where the real damage is going to crop up because that’s where red ink and bad loans can metastasize into a full-blown financial crisis. Check out this blurb from Nick Cunningham at Oilprice.com and you’ll see what I mean:

“According to an assessment from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, an estimated 250,000 jobs across eight U.S. states could be lost in 2015 if oil prices don’t rise. More than 50 percent of those job losses would occur in Texas, which leads the nation in oil production.

There are some early signs that a slowdown in drilling could spread to the manufacturing sector in Texas… One executive at a metal manufacturing company said in the survey, “the drop in crude oil prices is going to make things ugly… quickly.” Another company that manufactures machinery told the Dallas Fed, “Low oil prices will drive reductions in U.S. drilling rigs, which will in turn reduce the market for our products.”

The sentiment was similar for a chemical manufacturer, who said “lower oil prices will adversely impact margins. Energy volatility will cause our customers to keep inventories tight.”

States like Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have seen their economies boom over the last few years as oil production surged. But the sector is now deflating, leaving gashes in employment rolls and state budgets.” (Low Prices Lead To Layoffs In The Oil Patch, Nick Cunningham, Oilprice.com)

Of course industries lay-off workers all the time and it doesn’t always lead to a financial crisis. But unemployment is just one part of the picture, lower personal consumption is another. Take a look:

“Falling oil prices are a bigger drag on economic growth than the incremental “savings” received by the consumer…..Another way to show this graphically is to look at the annual changes in Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) in aggregate as compared to the subsection of PCE spent on energy and related products. This is shown in the chart below.

Lower Energy Prices To Lower PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures):

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(The Gasoline Price Myth, Lance Roberts, oilprice.com)

See? So despite what you might have read in the MSM, lower gas prices do not translate into greater personal consumption or more robust growth. Quiet the contrary, they tend to intensify deflationary pressures and reduce activity which is a damper on growth.

Then there’s the knock-on effects that crashing prices and layoffs have on other industries like mining, manufacturing and chemical production. Here’s more from Oil Price:

“Oil and gas production makeup a hefty chunk of the “mining and manufacturing” component of the employment rolls. Since 2000, when the oil price boom gained traction, Texas has comprised more than 40% of all jobs in the country according to first quarter data from the Dallas Federal Reserve…

The majority of the jobs “created” since the financial crisis have been lower wage paying jobs in retail, healthcare and other service sectors of the economy. Conversely, the jobs created within the energy space are some of the highest wage paying opportunities available in engineering, technology, accounting, legal, etc. In fact, each job created in energy related areas has had a “ripple effect” of creating 2.8 jobs elsewhere in the economy from piping to coatings, trucking and transportation, restaurants and retail….

The obvious ramification of the plunge in oil prices is that eventually the loss of revenue will lead to cuts in production, declines in capital expenditure plans (which comprise almost 1/4th of all capex expenditures in the S&P 500), freezes and/or reductions in employment, and declines in revenue and profitability…

Simply put, lower oil and gasoline prices may have a bigger detraction on the economy than the “savings” provided to consumers.” (The Gasoline Price Myth, Lance Roberts, oilprice.com)

None of this sounds very reassuring, does it? And yet, all we hear from the media is how the economy is going to reach “escape velocity” on the back of cheap oil. Nonsense. This is just more “green shoots” baloney wrapped in public relations hype. The fact is, the economy needs the good-paying jobs more than it needs low-priced energy. But now that prices are tumbling, those jobs are going to disappear which is going to be a drag on growth. Now check out these headlines I picked up on Google News that help to show what’s going on off the radar:

“Texas is in danger of a recession”, CNN Money.
“Texas Could Be Headed for an Oil-Fueled Recession, JP Morgan Economist Says”, Wall Street Journal “Good Times From Texas to North Dakota May Turn Bad on Oil-Price Drop”, Bloomberg
“Low Oil Prices in the New Year Are Screwing Petrostates”, Vice News
“Top US Oil States Are Taking A Hit From Plunging Crude Prices”, Business Insider

Get the picture? If oil prices continue to fall, unemployment is going to spike, activity is going to slow, and the economy is going tank. And the damage won’t be limited to the US either. Get a load of this from the UK Telegraph:

“A third of Britain’s listed oil and gas companies are in danger of running out of working capital and even going bankrupt amid a slump in the value of crude, according to new research.

Financial risk management group Company Watch believes that 70pc of the UK’s publicly listed oil exploration and production companies are now unprofitable, racking up significant losses in the region of £1.8bn.

Such is the extent of the financial pressure now bearing down on highly leveraged drillers in the UK that Company Watch estimates that a third of the 126 quoted oil and gas companies on AIM and the London Stock Exchange are generating no revenues.

The findings are the latest warning to hit the oil and gas industry since a slump in the price of crude accelerated in November when the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) decided to keep its output levels unchanged. The decision has caused carnage in oil markets with a barrel of Brent crude falling 45pc since June to around $60 per barrel.” (Third of listed UK oil and gas drillers face bankruptcy, Telegraph)

“Carnage in oil markets,” you say?

Indeed. Many of the oil-drilling newcomers set up shop to take advantage of the low rates and easy money available in the bond market. Now that prices have crashed, investors are avoiding energy-related junk bonds like the plague which is making it impossible for the smaller companies to roll over their debt or attract fresh capital. When these companies start to default en masse, as they certainly will if prices don’t rebound, the blowback will be felt on bank balance sheets across the country creating the possibility of another financial meltdown. (Now we ARE talking about a financial crisis.)

The basic problem is that the banks have bundled a lot of their dodgy debt into financially-engineered products like Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that will inevitably fail when borrowers are no longer able to service the loans. The rot can be concealed for a while, but eventually, if prices don’t recover, a significant number of these companies are going to go under which will push the perennially-undercapitalized banking system to the brink once again. That’s why Washington’s plan to push down oil prices (to hurt the Russian economy) might have made sense on a short-term basis (to shock Putin into submission) but as a long-term strategy, it’s nuts. And what’s even crazier, is that Obama has decided to double-down on the same wacky plan even though Putin hasn’t given an inch. Check this out from Reuters on Monday:

“The Obama administration has opened a new front in the global battle for oil market share, effectively clearing the way for the shipment of as much as a million barrels per day of ultra-light U.S. crude to the rest of the world…

The Department of Commerce on Tuesday ended a year-long silence on a contentious, four-decade ban on oil exports, saying it had begun approving a backlog of requests to sell processed light oil abroad.

The action comes at a critical juncture for the global oil market. World prices have halved to less than $60 a barrel since the summer as top exporter Saudi Arabia, once a staunch defender of $100 oil, refused to cut production in the face of surging U.S. shale output and tempered global demand…

With global oil markets in flux, it is far from clear how much U.S. condensate will find a market overseas.”
(Analysis – U.S. opening of oil export tap widens battle for global market, Reuters)

Does that make sense to you, dear reader? Why would Obama suddenly opt to change the rules of the game when he knows it will increase supply and push prices down even further? Why would he do that? Certainly, he doesn’t want to inflict more pain on domestic producers, does he?

Let’s let Obama answer the question for himself. Here’s a clip from an NPR interview with the president just last week. About halfway through the interview, NPR’s Steve Inskeep asks Obama: “Are you just lucky that the price of oil went down and therefore their currency collapsed or …is it something that you did?

Barack Obama: If you’ll recall, their (Russia) economy was already contracting and capital was fleeing even before oil collapsed. And part of our rationale in this process was that the only thing keeping that economy afloat was the price of oil. And if, in fact, we were steady in applying sanction pressure, which we have been, that over time it would make the economy of Russia sufficiently vulnerable that if and when there were disruptions with respect to the price of oil — which, inevitably, there are going to be sometime, if not this year then next year or the year after — that they’d have enormous difficulty managing it.” (Transcript: President Obama’s Full NPR Interview)

Am I mistaken or did Obama just admit that he wanted “disruptions” in the “price of oil” because he figured Putin would have “enormous difficulty managing it”?

Isn’t that the same as saying that it was all part of Washington’s plan; that plunging prices were just the icing on the cake for their asymmetrical attack on the Russian economy? It sure sounds like it. And that would also explain why Obama decided to allow domestic producers to dump more oil on the market even though it’s going to send prices lower. Apparently, none of that matters as long as the policy hurts Russia.

So maybe the US-Saudi oil collusion theory isn’t so far fetched after all. Maybe Salon’s Patrick L. Smith was right when he said:

“Less than a week after the Minsk Protocol was signed, Kerry made a little-noted trip to Jeddah to see King Abdullah at his summer residence. When it was reported at all, this was put across as part of Kerry’s campaign to secure Arab support in the fight against the Islamic State.

Stop right there. That is not all there was to the visit, my trustworthy sources tell me. The other half of the visit had to do with Washington’s unabated desire to ruin the Russian economy. To do this, Kerry told the Saudis 1) to raise production and 2) to cut its crude price. Keep in mind these pertinent numbers: The Saudis produce a barrel of oil for less than $30 as break-even in the national budget; the Russians need $105.

Shortly after Kerry’s visit, the Saudis began increasing production, sure enough — by more than 100,000 barrels daily during the rest of September, more apparently to come…

Think about this. Winter is coming, there are serious production outages now in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, other OPEC members are screaming for relief, and the Saudis make back-to-back moves certain to push falling prices still lower? You do the math, with Kerry’s unreported itinerary in mind, and to help you along I offer this from an extremely well-positioned source in the commodities markets: “There are very big hands pushing oil into global supply now,” this source wrote in an e-mail note the other day.” (“What Really Happened in Beijing: Putin, Obama, Xi And The Back Story The Media Won’t Tell You”, Patrick L. Smith, Salon)

Vladimir Putin: Public Enemy Number 1

Let’s cut to the chase: All these oil shenanigans are really aimed at just one man: Vladimir Putin. There are a number of reasons why Washington wants to get rid of Putin, the first of which is that the Russian president has become an obstacle to US plans to pivot to Asia. That’s the main issue. As long as Putin is calling the shots, there’s going to be growing resistance to NATO’s push eastward and Washington’s military expansion across Central Asia which could undermine US plans to encircle China and remain the world’s only superpower. Here’s an excerpt from Zbigniew Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard which helps to explain the importance Eurasia is in terms of Washington’s global ambitions:

“..how America ‘manages’ Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31) (Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Key Quotes From Zbigniew Brzezinksi’s Seminal Book)

Get it? Prevailing in Asia is the administration’s top priority, which is why the US is rapidly moving its military assets into place. Check this out from the World Socialist Web Site:

“Under Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” the Pacific Command will account for more than 60 percent of all US military forces, up from 50 percent under the Bush administration. This includes new US basing arrangements in the Philippines, Singapore and Australia, as well as renewed close military ties to New Zealand, and ongoing US military exercises in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan….(as well as) large troop deployments in Japan and South Korea, including nuclear-armed units.” (The global scale of US militarism, Patrick Martin, World Socialist Web Site)

The “Big Shift” is already underway, which is why obstacles have to be removed and Putin’s got to go.

Second, Putin has made himself a general nuisance vis a vis US strategic objectives in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. In Syria, Putin has thrown his support behind Assad who the US wants to topple in order to redraw the map of the Middle East and build gas pipelines from Qatar to Turkey to access the lucrative EU market.

Third, Putin has strengthened a number of coalitions and alliances –the BRICS bank, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization–all of which pose a challenge to US dominance in the region as well as a viable alternative to neoliberal financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Going back to Brzezinski’s “chessboard” once again, we see that the US should not feel threatened by any one nation, but should be constantly on-the-lookout for “regional coalitions” which could derail its plans to rule the world. Here’s Brzezinski again:

“…the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)

“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.” (p.55) (Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Key Quotes From Zbigniew Brzezinksi’s Seminal Book)

As a founding member and primary backer of these organizations, (and initiator of giant energy deals with China, India and Turkey) Putin has become Washington’s biggest headache and a logical target for regime change.

Finally, Putin is doing whatever he can to circumvent dollar-denominated business and financial transactions. The move away from the buck is a direct attack on the US’s greatest source of power, the ability to control the de facto international currency and to require that other nation’s stockpile dollars for their energy purchases which are then recycled into US financial assets, stocks bonds and US Treasuries. This petrodollar-recycling scam allows the US to run gigantic current account deficits without raising interest rates or reducing government spending. Putin’s anti-dollar policies could diminish the greenback’s role as reserve currency and put an end to a system that institutionalizes looting.

This is why Putin is Public Enemy Number 1. It’s because he’s blocking the US pivot to Asia, strengthening anti-Washington coalitions, sabotaging US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, creating institutions that rival the IMF and World Bank, transacting massive energy deals with critical US allies, increasing membership in an integrated, single-market Eurasian Economic Union, and attacking the structural foundation upon which the entire US empire rests, the dollar.

Naturally, Washington’s powerbrokers are worried about these developments, just as they are worried about the new world order which is gradually taking shape under Putin’s guidance. But, so far, they haven’t been able to do anything about it. The administration’s regime change schemers and fantasists have shown time-and-again that they’re no match for Bad Vlad who has beaten them at every turn.

Bravo, Putin.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

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