Something almost universally omitted from the discussion about the Ebola crisis in West Africa is the question how the outbreak started. The Establishment speculates that it started with infected bats but admit they have no evidence to support the contention  (somehow the bat took off on its northerly trek out of its terre natal, the Congo, skipped over the five or six countries between there and West Africa, and alighted in eastern Guinea, where it’s deadly hemorrhagic hitchhiker got off and caught another ride!). In the alternative media, the bat theory is echoed briefly in a Counterpunch article entitled “The Origins of the Ebola Crisis” before the article veers off to harp on the many shortcomings of capitalism which have aggravated the situation.
The wayward turn taken in the Counterpunch article is indicative of the silence of the alternative media in general on the subject of how the Ebola outbreak started. Only a few – most notably the curmudgeons at the Canadian site, Global Research – have pursued the issue with any diligence. This is especially surprising as there are plenty of buffs out there who can see a conspiracy in the fact the sun rises in the East every morning and the evidence that the United States war machine is behind the outbreak, while circumstantial, is more substantive than things like pegmatite bits in the Twin Towers’ debris or the starless night sky in photos taken by astronauts supposedly on the moon.
Two months before Ebola appeared in West Africa a Canadian company, Tekmira, began clinical trials on humans of their Ebola vaccine, TKM-Ebola, which they had previously tested on animals. Their self-congratulatory press release announcing the start of the trials, issued on January 14, 2014, failed to mention where the human guinea pigs resided. Nor is it stated in the National Institutes of Health description of the clinical trial (Curiously, the NIH suspended the trials in July, just when the push to come up with a vaccine went viral, so to speak). If the trials were conducted in West Africa anywhere near the place where the virus first appeared, I’d say we have a smoking gun, or, more apropos, a squirting hypodermic needle. Yet I have not heard of anyone in the media – alternative or corporate – who has asked Tekmira where they were performing the tests, which in itself is circumstantial evidence of a sort.
Further evidence lies in the almost total lack of mention of Tekmira and its human trials in the hubbub over the urgency to come up with a treatment for Ebola, including a vaccine. Even such supposedly well informed experts as William Schaffner, a specialist in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine, seems never to have heard of Tekmira, as he told the Voice of America in October there had not been a way to conduct human clinical trials until the current crisis. This despite Reuter’s having reported on Tekmira’s initiation of trials on humans in March. Do fewer people read Reuter’s dispatches than watch my public access TV show, i.e., a handful of fitful insomniacs who fell asleep with the channel on?
The fact that Tekmira was developing its vaccine under a $140 million contract with the Department of Defense does nothing to weaken the case for occult DoD shenanigans. And the contract wasn’t with the Department’s Office of Community Relations and World Peace. It was with the BioDefense Therapeutics (BDTX) Product Manager within the Medical Countermeasure Systems (JPM-MCS) branch of the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. Can you spell “biological warfare”? Are we trying to weaponize Ebola? Have we succeeded? That the West African outbreak is qualitatively different from all previous outbreaks suggests we have.
Prior to the West African case, the greatest number killed in an Ebola epidemic had been 280 (while all eyes have been on West Africa, the Congo suffered an outbreak – now contained – in which 49 people died). The total number of cases in the current outbreak exceeds by far all the cases from 1977 to the present. Remember that we denied weaponizing anthrax until someone sent some through the mail post-9/11. Also consider that the grandfather of the Ebola virus, the Marburg virus, first appeared in the labs of the German pharmaceutical company, Hoechst, an offshoot of the Nazi-era conglomerate, IG Farben, whose managers were prosecuted at Nuremberg for testing drugs on concentration camp inmates.
There are reports (which I have been unable to confirm) that we have biological weapons labs in West Africa, including a biosecurity level 2 bioweapons research lab at the hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone at the center of the outbreak. Is this why we sent troops to West Africa instead of doctors – to protect, or remove all trace of, our bio-warfare labs? Is this why angry mobs attacked a clinic in Guinea? Do the Guineans know better what’s going on than we Americans? Does this explain why the World Health Organization’s had a delayed response to the crisis, hoping it could be contained quietly before too many people knew about it?
More telling evidence: when the outbreak became public knowledge in March, Tekmira’s stock, which had been rising steadily, took a tumble. It plummeted from $30.94 a share in mid-March to $10.59 in mid-May. Why would Tekmira’s stock go down right when the need for their product took on the aspect of a Big Pharmacist’s wet-dream? Is this as much a sign of insiders in the know as those put options placed on American and United Airlines stock immediately prior to 9/11? Were those savvy traders afraid the truth would get out, making Tekmira’s stock worthless?
If we are responsible for the appearance of Ebola in West Africa, we owe the West Africans a lot more than the $6.2 billion Obama has committed to the fight. The blood money (literally) would total in the hundreds of billions, not tens. But the cost to the bio-warriors would, hopefully, be even greater. It might mean the end of their mad science if it provoked the all-too-trusting, kept-in-the-dark, non-bellicose public to demand a real end to all mucking around with biological weapons. The anthrax case and now, perhaps, the Ebola outbreak have made clear that existing conventions and treaties meant to accomplish this end have failed (mimicking the Great Powers ban on the use of poison gas… agreed to a decade before they all used it in World War I).
Speaking of the First World War, during the war and immediately thereafter the Spanish flu killed 3-5% of the world’s population. If Ebola was unleashed on the world by us and it killed a similar number, say, 300 million worldwide including 15 million in the USA, would we ‘fess up to it? History is not reassuring. There have been a number of instances where military-related biologic tests have gone awry without the public being any the wiser for decades. e.g, the army’s spraying of a supposedly harmless aerosol into the San Francisco sky in 1950, which resulted in at least one death and which did not become public knowledge until it was revealed in Senate hearings in 1977.
How the “Spanish” flu got its name is also instructive. The flu appeared in Great Britain, France, and the United States while World War I raged on, but fearful of the impact on public morale, the censors kept a lid on it (national security trumps everything, even the public’s health!). The flu also struck in Spain, which was neutral, so nobody worried about public morale there and the outbreak was freely reported on, forever linking Spain with one of the deadliest epidemics in history.
Whether the current Ebola outbreak can be attributed to the US military or not, so long as our Frankenstein wannabes continue to concoct, in the name of national security, scourges more biblical than anything God ever dreamed up, the possibility of an inadvertent global pandemic horrific in scale exists. That it will happen someday is as great a surety as the certainty that all those nuclear weapons the world has accumulated will someday be used, unless we get rid of them. We’re not making much progress toward nuclear disarmament but can’t we at least get the facts on what our military is up to in West Africa – especially the facts surrounding that curiously-timed human testing by Tekmira. Otherwise, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse, loosed upon the world not by God but by ourselves, may someday ride roughshod over us on his way to Armageddon.
(By the way, I do believe Copernican theory is sufficient to explain the sun’s rising in the East, but if you have a more sinister explanation, do run it by me.)
Global trade relationships and agreements are moving in very different directions. The public relations press releases hide the undercurrents that are driving the formations of alternative economic alliances. While the G 20, markets its all inclusive umbrella policy forums, the mere formation of a BRICS counterweight forecasts deep and fundamental differences. So what is really behind the creation of a different approach to the post WWII dominate U.S. lead model? A clue can be found in an attempt to modify the operations and direction of IMF functions.
Announced in the Russian press, BRICS to propose IMF reform at G20 summit, is a pressure attempt to move the center of power away from current synergism.
“At the G20 summit in the Australian city of Brisbane on November 15-16, Russia and other BRICS countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) will propose alternative solutions concerning the reform of the International Monetary Fund, involving, in particular, gradual implementation of reforms, Russian G20 Sherpa Svetlana Lukash told reporters.
“The most important thing for us is the still unresolved G20 problem of the IMF reform,” Lukash said. She recalled the U.S. Congress has yet to ratify the 2010 resolution. “Not only does it thwart the process of renewing the IMF in accordance with the current reality where we see a big rise in the role of emerging economies. It also prevents the decisions to double the IMF capital from coming into force,” she said.”
The appearance of maintaining a working relationship among opposing interests may present an assuring PR message, but who really believes that the path to a new cold war is paved with mutual cooperation? Impetus for a parallel financial system is certainly based more on political objective than commerce or economic benefits.
The Washington Post describes What the new bank of BRICS is all about in this manner.
“Heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the so-called BRICS countries) agreed to establish a New Development Bank (NDB) at their summit meeting. They will have a president (an Indian for the first six years), a Board of Governors Chair (a Russian), a Board of Directors Chair (a Brazilian), and a headquarters (in Shanghai). What is the purpose of this BRICS bank? Why have these countries created it now? And, what implications does it have for the global development-finance landscape?
The “what” is relatively straightforward. The NDB has been given $50 billion in initial capital. As with similar initiatives in other regions (see below), the BRICS bank appears to work on an equal-share voting basis, with each of the five signatories contributing $10 billion. The capital base is to be used to finance infrastructure and “sustainable development” projects in the BRICS countries initially, but other low and middle-income countries will be able buy in and apply for funding. BRICS countries have also created a $100 billion Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), meant to provide additional liquidity protection to member countries during balance of payments problems. The CRA—unlike the pool of contributed capital to the BRICS bank, which is equally shared—is being funded 41 percent by China, 18 percent from Brazil, India, and Russia, and 5 percent from South Africa.”
China’s motivation to participate in BRICS banking is most interesting and revealing. Since it is not absolutely essential for China to be a member of BRICS, Gudrun Wacker, from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs presents this finding in a report, China’s role in G20 / BRICS and Implications, may shed an insight on their reasoning.
“The future of BRICS depends on the future performance of the G7/8 and G20: If the G20 develops into a real coordination mechanism, there might be less Chinese interest in BRICS. The future prospects of BRICS were presented as less promising than those of the G20, since BRICS will not be able to solve global problems. It is not yet clear whether the main deliverable of BRICS will be directed at cooperation among its members or at third countries. While the idea of BRIC as a group was originally picked up by Russia (the invitation to the first summit, as a move toward “extension” of the strategic triangle Russia, China. India?), its members are now all active in certain fields. For China, it is also an important effort to emerge from its isolation (Copenhagen climate summit). Another factor shaping the future of BRICS might be the development of US-China relations: While all interview partners agreed that BRICS does not aim at creating a new, anti-Western world order, it can be seen as a response to the US-led world order.”
The methodology of Mr. Wacker’s research relied upon comments from interviews. Relying on sentiments that BRICS goal is not bent on developing a counterbalance to Western banking hegemony is poppycock. Geopolitical dimensions in international affairs have Russia as the latest bogyman. Any economic analysis that ignores power brokers desperate attempt to shift the causes of a failing world economy onto the backs of enemy nations is flawed.
Also, the notion that major economic transnational corporatists operate with altruism for third world countries is sheer lunacy. All these trade organizations are attempts to position vying interests to settle for a subservient role to a subordinate structure under a global debt creation banking system.
Attempts to scare the populist into believing that Global Warming inaction raises specter of war over climate change are absurd. “At the G20 summit, other nations overrode host Australia’s attempts to keep climate change off the agenda and agreed to call for strong action with the aim of adopting a binding protocol at the Paris conference.” Such initiatives are pure political “PC” orthodoxy and actually diminish prosperity.
The great schism in trade among nations is that some countries are not willing to lie down with diseased parasites. This should not be construed to favor the emergence of the BRICS union as a shining future. However, what it does purport is that the road to the NWO modeling for globalism by entrenched financial elites has produced opposition.
Conflict is the normal human condition, and especially when money is used as a medium of world control and domination is the goal. The G 20 is useless. Breaking the banking monopoly that fosters endless terror and war is the universal objective for the inhabitants of this planet. Another unsavory photo op for world leaders just produces more nausea.
‘Wag the Dog’ is an expression which denotes, “to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.”
Now, the Dog has been Wagged. Feel better? If you were voting for someone with an R beside their name you probably feel good. If you went for the big D, you are sad. No matter. The present trajectory is not going to change unless or until we take control of our own lives and our own communities.
What you just witnessed was a cast change of no real significance. One team of professional liars ‘D,’ is just giving liars team ‘R’ their turn. This is intended to distract us so we remain passive where it matters, here, where we live.
I understand why it happens. When we are hungry for hope, any hope, elections are very seductive. The fiery speeches and promises make things seem possible. But in the end nothing changes except the names of the rascals who are taking and spending your money and transferring more of your personal life to their direct control. Solving problems in our own community, ourselves, recedes into the distance again.
Several months ago I interviewed the candidate for Ohio’s 14th Congressional District. A classical Conservative was running. He answered every question asked just as President William Howard Taft or Senator Barry Goldwater would have done. He loved Barry’s line on gays in the military. “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.” He and Barry shared the same view on abortion, too, and on preserving the environment.
You had a chance to vote for him last Tuesday. No, it was not the Libertarian. The candidate was Michael Wager. He sounded shocked when I told him.
William Howard Taft, the president who went down to defeat in 1912, would have stopped the FED, nixed the IRS and made sure the Hetch Hetchy was not converted into a water supply for San Francisco. His views were known. He was a Conservative.
Oh. And the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist whose goal was to stop the study of our founding documents in schools.
Direct governance by the people was the original form of government intended by our founders. We still need it.
Little Eli Waller will never grow up to be president. The four-year-old New Jersey boy will never grow up to be anything because enterovirus D68 took his life — quite possibly because a boy who did grow up to be president, but not really a man, invited the virus into our country.
How many American children have to die in deference to the Democrats’ voter-importation, demographic-warfare effort? We often hear that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, but how much Ebola, enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), Chagas Disease, malaria and tuberculosis is an acceptable price to pay to maintain Barack Obama’s open-borders-über-alles policy? These are relevant questions now, especially with a recent report confirming what was always just common sense:
The deadly EV-D68 epidemic in America was likely the result of Obama’s insistence on flooding our country with tens of thousands of illegal-alien minors.
Reports Neil Munro at The Daily Caller, “The evidence includes admissions from top health officials that the epidemic included multiple strains of the virus, and that it appeared simultaneously in multiple independent locations.”
This isn’t something hard to prove or disprove. All you need do is ascertain if the strain prevalent in the US is the same as one found south of the border. This is simple epidemiology, and there’s only one reason we don’t know:
The powers that be don’t want us to know.
Can you imagine the revolutionary uproar that would have ensued if, just when EV-D68 was big in the news, it had been revealed that Obama’s lawless abdication of his responsibility had led to American deaths?
Can you imagine what would be said if it were proven that Obama has blood on his hands?
And let’s consider the EV-D68 toll to this point. As Munro writes:
So far, that virus has been found in nine people — including at least three American kids — who died from illness. It has apparently inflicted unprecedented polio-like paralysis in roughly 50 kids, and it has put hundreds of young American kids into hospital emergency wards and intensive care units throughout more than 40 states. Most of the dead have not been publicly identified.
This, not to mention the toll taken by Ebola and the others diseases brought in by Obama’s strengthening diversifiers.
And how serious is the conspiracy of silence on the EV-D68 issue? Munro reports that a “series of government researchers, health experts and academics refused to comment, or else urged self-censorship, when they were pressed by TheDC for statistical and scientific data that would exonerate Obama and his deputies.” One of these is Columbia University researcher and top EV-D68 expert Rafal Tokarz, who, as he put it, “would really rather not comment.” Another is Professor Lone Simonsen, research director of George Washington University’s Global Epidemiology Program, whose cop-out was, “I would just steer away from that — it is not helpful, so why bring it up?”
Answer: because if Americans know that a given policy allowed EV-D68’s spread, they’ll realize the policy isn’t helpful and needs to be changed.
But this certainly is not helpful to Simonsen. As Munro pointed out, perpetuating the invasion of our country “is a top priority for the Democratic leaders, who have the power to make life difficult for grant-dependent American scientists who discover politically damaging information.”
Money, by the way, is part of the root of today’s scientific evil. As to the significance of this factor, consider that BMJ.com (formerly the British Medical Journal) reported in 2012, “One in seven UK based scientists or doctors has witnessed colleagues intentionally altering or fabricating data during their research or for the purposes of publication….” (In case you were wondering, this is how you get Al Gorleone’s gaggle of greedy global-warming gangsters.)
So we have here a confluence of scientific malpractice and political malpractice. And this brings us to Munro’s quoting of scientist and Enterovirus Foundation board member Nora Chapman: “Epidemics happen when populations mix, or when viruses mutate and combine to overcome peoples’ evolved immune defenses….”
Or when populations are mixed.
As when a president seeds various parts of the country with his carriers and redistributes disease. Hey, why keep the epidemic all in one place?
But don’t expend all your energy worrying about EV-D68 — save some of it for worrying about Ebola, of which scientists now predict there will be approximately 130 US cases by year’s end.
And how many next year?
How much blood will Obama have on his hands then?
If you think the ObamaCare disaster is bad, wait ’til you see the one wrought by ObamaDoesn’tCare.
Conspiracy theorists, those who look for the facts, ignoring the pressure of jeers, flawed appeals to authority, and intimidation, are the sanest among us. The steady migration of investigative journalists, who turn their backs on more lucrative employment, is only one indication of this.
In a recent article, Scientific Study Reveals Conspiracy Theorists The Most Sane Of All, the author, J. D. Hayes, cites a recent study, published July 2013, by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the UK. It was entitled “‘What about Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study of Online Discussion of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.”
Their conclusion is that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events.
Attempts to demonize our perception on conspiracy theorists erects barriers to protect those whose profits are endangered by the truth.
These techniques for manufacturing opinion were outlined by Edward Bernays, whose book, “Propaganda,” asserts those who rule should use the trust accorded them in exactly this way.
Interestingly, Leo Strauss, whose political philosophy is in alignment with Bernays, asserted the same opinion. Strauss’ work was largely adopted by those who call themselves NeoConservatives who are anything but Conservative.
The opinion shared was that those in power are justified to lie, cheat and steal to keep and increase their power. The Kochs use these techniques in business and politically.
The use of the term, “Conspiracy Theory” increased rapidly in the wake of the JFK assassination due to its pejorative use in the MSM. This worked to stifle questions already being raised.
The issue which underlies the article by William Saletan, Conspiracy Theorists Aren’t Really Skeptics attempts to validate intellectual bullying, a logical extension of the philosophies of Bernays and Strauss. You don’t get more MSM than the Washington Post.
In the original formulation of American society those in positions of authority were morally and ethically obligated to explain themselves. The facts were to be available to all. Journalists investigated and reported the truth, as they saw it. This changed.
Saletan raised the issue of human psychology but failed to mention a perplexing issue which has long troubled us. This is the presence of those without conscience. For most of the 20th Century therapists believed these individuals could change, the problem was psychological. Today we know this is a neurological issue.
Advances in neurobiology have brought objective understanding. Now, thousands of criminals have been identified as psychopaths using an fMRI. The scan identified malfunctions in areas of the amygdala, which is now known to be associated with conscience, empathy, and compassion.
According to Dr. Robert Hare, serial murderers and con-men are always psychopaths. But Hare has also noted many who are also psychopathic are not violent and well able to control their impulses to gain far more expansive goals.
These individuals are highly intelligent. At any time there are 20,000 psychopaths with I.Q.s over 180 at large in the United States.
It would be instructive to see test results from MRI scans done on Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and their cadre.
The cost of psychopathy has been calculated at around 360 billion a year – in the US. This does not include the highly intelligent ones which, clearly cost far more, given the impact of Cheney and company on America. Could the people who so desperately wanted torture as a tool be emotionally normal?
Today, experts believe the explanation for the financial meltdown now ongoing can be explained by the concentration of psychopathic individuals in corporations, finance and government.
The characteristics of the condition include calloused unconcern for others. This accounts for the oil companies which routinely externalize their costs, leaving those harmed by the toxic waste they cause, to struggle and die.
Those without conscience, willing to lie for their own profit, have long been with us. But today they can avoid the troublesome issue of having their actions known and understood. They have learned to spin.
To ensure this continues they must continue manufacturing public opinion about their previous actions. This is why they began using the term, “Conspiracy Theory.” They work vigorously to ensure the facts remain hidden.
Refusing to accept the officially mandated opinion on any subject, be in the JFK assassination or whether or not to give your child pharmaceuticals as treatment for ADHD has been used to categorize individuals who refuse to accept predigested conclusions as crazy, stupid or paranoid. When this happens, rest assured, some corporation’s profits could be impacted.
This is a form of control intended to intimidate and inject fear. It also marginalizes vast numbers of people, keeping them in fear so they can be controlled.
To that end they, I call them Greedvilleins, also use our love of each other, country, loyalty, and trust, to manipulate us into wars which profit them and place us in perpetual debt.
If you limit what is acceptable to hold as opinions and deny people full access to the facts you destroy the trust basis of our society. Emotionally normal people are not comfortable when they cannot trust those around them.
These are rational responses to existing conditions.
What is insane is trusting psychopaths. Yet these are now common in finance and government. You can be sure they will routinely act with a sublime lack of conscience, for your freedom, your assets and your very life.
To cope with these conditions many still refuse to think about it, thus avoiding extreme anxiety. Others, for instance those who look for the facts, and are demeaned as “conspiracy theorists.”
The presence of highly intelligent psychopaths among us, who generally avoid being prosecuted, is one of these explanations.
Saladan’s article passes today as investigative journalism. It pays well and explains why so many truly honest journalists left to work in the alternative media.
On Wednesday, stocks were hammered after economic data showed that the US and global economies were headed for a major slowdown. By mid-day, the Dow was down 460 points before clawing its way back to minus 173 points. It looked like the market was set for another triple-digit flogging on Thursday when the Fed stepped in and started talking-up an extension to QE3. That’s all it took to ease investors jitters, stop the meltdown and send equities rocketing back into space. By the end of Friday’s session, all the markets were back in the green with the Dow logging an impressive 263 points on the day. Here’s more background from Wolf Street:
“But just when some profusely sweating souls on Wall Street thought that the bottom was falling out, a savior appears. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard got on Bloomberg TV and pressed the red panic button (and) handed them what they wanted….That was enough.
Using declining inflation expectations as a pretext, he proposed to delay the end of QE. The Fed should continue buying $15 billion in securities a month…. it instantly turned around the markets. The spoiled brats on Wall Street were ecstatic to imagine that the Fed might continue to deliver the goodies they’ve become addicted to, and without which life seems unbearable.” (This Market is Driven by Psychology and Momentum,’ which ‘Works Really Painfully on the Way Down, Wolf Street)
For those readers who still think that the Fed doesn’t meddle in the markets: Think again. Friday’s stock surge had nothing to do with productivity, price, earnings, growth or any of the other so called fundamentals. It was all about manipulation; telling people what they want to hear, so they do exactly what you want them to do. The pundits calls this jawboning, and the Fed has turned it into an art-form. All Bullard did was assure investors that the Fed “has their back”, and , sure enough, another wild spending spree ensued. One can only imagine the backslapping and high-fives that broke out at the Central Bank following this latest flimflam.
As most people now realize, stocks haven’t tripled in the last 5 years because the economy is expanding. Heck, no. The economy is still on all-fours and everyone knows it. The reason stocks have been flying-high is because the Fed added a hefty $4 trillion in red ink to its balance sheet. Naturally, when someone buys $4 trillion in financial assets, the price of financial assets go up.
Who would’ve known?
And here’s something else to chew on: On Thursday I wrote an article titled “Stocks Plunge 460 Points on QE Exit”. Among the 2 or 3 thousand other articles on the topic in the mainstream, not one mentioned the fact that QE was set to end at the end of October. Instead, they pointed to sluggishness in Europe and China, and weaker-than-expected economic data in the US as the proximate causes of the downturn.
So let me ask you this, dear reader, if the end of QE was not the real trigger for the Dow’s 460 point bungee jump, then why did the markets do a quick 180 right after Bullard made his statement on Thursday? In fact, the media even admits that point now. Check out this article on Marketwatch on Friday titled “Bullard’s surprise suggestion of continuing QE lifts markets”:
“A comment from a hawkish Federal Reserve official on Thursday that central-bank bond buying should continue beyond its scheduled end lifted stock markets and surprised many observers.
The Federal Reserve should consider extending its bond-buying program beyond October due to the market selloff to see how the U.S. economic outlook evolves, said James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, on Thursday. …
If the economy is still as robust as I am describing it, then I think we could just end the program in December. But if the market is right, and this is portending something more serious for the U.S. economy, than the committee would have an option of ramping up QE at that point,” he said.
The S&P 500 SPX, +1.65% jumped from its session low of a 0.9% drop after Bullard’s remarks came out.” (Bullard’s surprise suggestion of continuing QE lifts markets, Marketwatch)
How do you like that? Just one word from the Fed and the markets do an immediate about-face. Now that’s power.
It’s too bad the Fed can’t put in a good word for the real economy while they’re at it. But, oh, I forgot that the real economy is stuffed with working stiffs who don’t warrant the same kind of treatment as the esteemed supermen who trade stocks for a living. Besides, the Fed doesn’t give a rip about the real economy. If it did, it would have loaded up on infrastructure bonds instead of funky mortgage backed securities (MBS). The difference between the two is pretty stark: Infrastructure bonds put people to work, circulate money, boost economic activity, and strengthen growth. In contrast, MBS purchases help to fatten the bank accounts of the fraudsters who created the financial crisis while doing bupkis for the economy. Guess who the Fed chose to help out?
Do you really want to know why the Fed isn’t going to end QE? Here’s how Nomura’s chief economist Bob Janjuah summed it up:
“I want to remind readers of a message that may be buried in the past: When QE1 ended, the S&P 500 fell just under 20% in a roughly three-month period before the QE2 recovery.
When the QE2 ended, the S&P 500 fell about 20% in a three-month period before the next Fed-inspired bounce (aided by the ECB). QE3 is ending this month…”
Is that why the Fed started jawboning QE4, to avoid the inevitable 20 percent correction?
You bet it is. But what’s odd is that stocks hadn’t even dropped 10 percent before the Fed hit the panic button. Why is that?
Could it be that they have no confidence in the market? Could it be that they know that their loosy-goosey monetary policies have inflated the biggest bubble of all time which has created a fragile, crisis prone system that can’t even withstand a measly 10 percent drop before bank balance sheets start going up in flames and the whole wobbly financial house of cards comes crashing to earth in a thud?
Of course, it is. They’re scared sh**less, which is why they dispatched bigmouth Bullard to promise investors the moon as long as they keep loading up on equities. Yellen an Co. are going to do everything in their power to keep this runaway train from going off the cliff, even if they kill us all in the process.
Now check out this blurb from Allianz ‘s chief economic adviser, Mohamed A. El-Erian, one of the few analysts who got it right:
“Due to excessive confidence in central banks, investors eagerly decoupled high market valuations from what was warranted by the sluggish fundamentals.”… That disconnect has been undermined over the last few weeks by signs that the global economy’s fundamentals are weaker than they seemed and concern that the European Central Bank will not adequately fight that continent’s economic drift…” (New York Times)
What El Erian is saying, is that, stocks are vastly overpriced given “sluggish fundamentals”. The only reason investors have been buying is because the Fed has been shoving money into the market hand-over-fist. That’s what’s kept equities airborne. But on Wednesday, investors woke up and said to themselves, “Hey, the economy’s circling the plughole, the Fed is bailing out, and I’m left with a boatload of dodgy stocks that might be worth $.30 on the dollar. Maybe I’ll get out now while I still can.” That’s why the market tanked.
So, what’s the lesson here?
The lesson is that the Fed is driving the markets. The whole “free market” trope is baloney. No one is loading up on stocks because they’re a good deal or because they think the economy is going gangbusters. Investors are buying stocks because they still believe in the power of money. They still think the Fed can pump a few more wisps of helium into the equities balloon and keep the rally going for a bit longer. And that’s why stocks surged on Friday, because, at least for now, greed still trumps fear.
But what’s the overall effect of this loony policy on the economy, or is that a fair question to ask after 6 years of falling incomes, flatlining wages, widening inequality and widespread economic stagnation?
The truth is, we already know what the impact is: The rich have gotten richer while the poor have been shunted off to tent cities, food pantries and under freeway off-ramps. Isn’t that what’s happened? Get a load of this brief summary in Friday’s WSWS:
“The richest one percent of the world’s population now controls 48.2 percent of global wealth, up from 46 percent last year, according to the most recent global wealth report issued by Credit Suisse, the Swiss-based financial services company.
Hypothetically, if the growth of inequality were to proceed at last year’s rate, the richest one percent for all intents and purposes would control all the wealth on the planet within 23 years.
The report found that the growth of global inequality has accelerated sharply since the 2008 financial crisis, as the values of financial assets have soared while wages have stagnated and declined…
The study revealed that the richest 8.6 percent of the world’s population—those with a net worth of more than $100,000—control 85 percent of the world’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 70 percent of the world’s population—those with less than $10,000 in net worth—hold a mere 2.9 percent of global wealth.
The growth in inequality is bound up with a worldwide surge in paper wealth, fueled by the trillions of dollars pumped into the financial system by central banks via zero interest rate and “quantitative easing” policies…
As the report noted, “The overall global economy may remain sluggish, but this has not prevented personal wealth from surging ahead during the past year. Driven by … robust equity prices, total wealth grew by 8.3% worldwide … the first time household wealth has passed the $250 trillion threshold.” (Richest one percent controls nearly half of global wealth, Andre Damon)
That says it all, doesn’t it? The widening chasm between rich and poor is traceable to the policies that were adopted in 2008. That’s why things are so fu**ed up, it’s because the “surge in paper wealth, fueled by the trillions of dollars pumped into the financial system by central banks via zero interest rate and “quantitative easing” policies.”
In other words, it’s all deliberate. Robbing the poor and giving to the rich is all part of the plan.
That strikes me as an important point, and one that’s worth mulling over for awhile; that crushing the middle class isn’t an accident. It’s what they want. It’s the policy.
“…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931)
The American Dream has been defined many ways by writers of both poetic and prosaic bent, but its essentials tend to involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property, depending on your source).
The Declaration of Independence, upon which an entire nation was radically brought into existence, asserts that not only are all men created equal but that this is a “self-evident” truth. By this “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” a contract was agreed to, that their union would be founded on this principle. Thus, America was endowed with its dream at the moment of its conception: the freedom to succeed.
The United States has promoted a self-congratulating exceptionalism for decades, waving its Declaration and Constitution in the faces of other sovereign nations as if the latter had never considered such concepts. Our capital F “Freedom” sets us apart from the rest of the world, as the political rhetoric has repeated ad nauseam, no matter the freedoms enjoyed by democracies on almost every continent. And yet our basic freedom, the freedom to succeed, America’s contractual promise, has been shrinking for thirty years.
The freedom to succeed transcends economic systems but it is most potently expressed by capitalist gains. The ability to go “from rags to riches” is ingrained in this nation’s ethos and there is nothing intrinsically immoral about that goal. However, the current state of American inequality reveals a very real and expanding gap between the rich and poor that betrays the foundational endowment of this Union. When the freedom to succeed is denied every citizen, their equality is equally denied.
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a poll on what international citizens consider the greatest threat to the planet. Conducted between March 17 and June 5 of this year, the survey received answers from 48,643 respondents in 44 countries. In the U.S. and Europe, the growing gap between the rich and the poor was overwhelmingly considered the greatest danger to world prosperity. Over a quarter of Americans ranked “Inequality” as number one, above Religious & ethnic hatred, Pollution, Nuclear weapons and Infectious diseases.
This is hardly startling news considering that the median net worth of American households fell by 35 percent ($106,591 to $68,839) between 2005 and 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is, however, disturbing that inequality remains so prevalent five years after the Great Recession.
Capitalism is not the problem. The problem is that we have let inequality advance in this country so gradually that its obviousness is masked by its familiarity. Below, I outline eight facts about inequality in America that every American should know.
1) 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. This ratio has been verified by Politifact and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. To put it into context, last year the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were over 316 million people living in the United States. That means 400 Americans have more money than over 158 million of their fellow citizens. Their net worth is over$2 trillion, which is approximate to the Gross Domestic Product of Russia.
One explanation for the vast discrepancy in wealth is the definition of “worth,” which includes everything a person or household owns. This means savings and property but also mortgages, bills and debt. Poorer households can owe so much in debt that they possess a negative net worth.
2) America has the second-highest level of income inequality, after Chile. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studies thirty-four developed countries and ranks them both before and after taxes and government transfers take effect (government transfers include Social Security, income tax credit and unemployment insurance). Before taxes and government transfers, America ranks tenth in income inequality. After taxes and transfers, it ranks second. Whereas its developed peers reduce inequality through government programs, the United States’ government exacerbates it.
3) The current state of inequality can be traced back to 1979. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the gap between the rich and the poor began to narrow. For fifty years, wages differed between the upper- and working-classes, but a robust middle-class took shape and there remained ample opportunity for working-class individuals to ascend.
In his book, “The Great Divergence,” journalist Timothy Noah traced today’s inequality to the beginning of the 1980s and the widening gap between the middle- and upper-classes. This gap was influenced by the following factors: the failure of American schools to prepare students for new technology; poor immigration policies that favor unskilled workers and drive down the price of already low-income labor; federally-mandated minimum wage that has failed to keep pace with inflation; and the decline of labor unions.
4) Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. The Economic Policy Institute claims that 20 percent of the growth in the wage gap between high-school-educated and college-educated men can be attributed to deunionization.
Between 1978 and 2011, union representation for blue-collar and high-school educated workers declined by more than half. This has also diminished the “union wage effect,” whereby the existence of unions (more than 40 percent of blue-collar workers were union members in 1978) was enough to boost wages in non-union jobs – in high school graduates by as much as 8.2 percent. Not only did unions protect lower- and middle-class workers from unfair wages, they also established norms and practices that were then adopted by non-union employers. Two prime examples are employee pensions and healthcare.
Today, about 13 percent of workers belong to unions, which has reduced their bargaining power and influence.
5) There is less opportunity for intergenerational mobility. In December 2011, President Obama spoke at Osawatomie High School in Kansas. He was very clear about the prospects of the poor in today’s United States:
“[O]ver the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class – 33 percent.”
As refreshing as that honesty is, Obama promised no fix beyond $1 trillion in spending cuts and a need to work toward an “innovation economy.”
In a speech one month later, Obama’s Chairman of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, elaborated on the dire state of America’s shrinking middle-class. The contraction, he stated, could partially be attributed to “skill-biased technical change”: work activities that have become automated over time, reducing the need for unskilled labor and favoring those with analytical training. He also highlighted the 50 year decline in tax rates for the top 0.1 percent, increased competition from overseas workers, and a lack of educational equality for children. Poor children are denied the private tutors, college prep and business network of family and friends available to their wealthier peers, which locks them into the class they are born into.
6) Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs. Krueger also revealed that the tax cuts of the 2000s for top earners did not improve the economy any better than they did in the 1990s (meanwhile, income growth was stronger for lower- and middle-class families in the 1990s than in the last forty years).
Tax rates for the top income earners in America peaked in 1945 at 66.4 percent. Following decades of gradual reductions, they have since been cut in half. During the same time, the payroll tax has increased since the 1950s and individual income tax has bounced between 40-50 percent through the present day. Conversely, corporate tax declined from above 30 percent in the 1950s to under 10 percent in 2011.
All of these tax cuts are made ostensibly to improve the economy and create jobs. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that it is young companies, “regardless of their size,” that are the real job creators in America. Tax cuts to the wealthiest do not create jobs.
7) Incomes for the top 1% have increased (but the top 0.01% make even more). Between 1979 and 2007, the average incomes of the 1 percent increased 241 percent. Compare that to 19 percent growth for the middle fifth of America and 11 percent for the bottom fifth. Put another way, in 1980 the average American CEO earned forty-two times as much as his average worker. In 2001, he earned 531 times as much.
Average income across the 1 percent is actually stratified into widely disparate echelons. Compare the $29,840 average income for the bottom 90 percent to the $161,139 of the top 10 percent. Compare the $1 million average income of the top 1 percent to the $2.8 million of the top 0.1 percent. Yet both still pale beside the $23 million average income of the top 0.01 percent.
If those numbers seem a bit overwhelming, Politizane has created a video that illustrates this staggering inequality:
8) The majority of Congress does not feel your pain. Empowered by the Constitution to represent their constituents, United States Congress members are, for the first time in history, mostly millionaires. The 2012 financial disclosure information of the 534 current Congress men and women reveals that over half of them have a net worth of $1 million or more.
After the past seven facts it is difficult to read this last one and believe that these 268 legislators have the best interests of the remaining 99 percent at heart. But if that is too presumptuous a leap, it is not too bold to say that wealthier donors, lobbyists and special interest groups enjoy greater access to these lawmakers than the average American.
In January, Congress failed to extend emergency benefits for unemployment, leaving 1.3 million people without federal aid. Congress then went on a weeklong recess that kept them from debating the issue until the end of the month. The bill was too divisive for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on, though unemployment was then above 7 percent nationally.
Thankfully, the unemployed have their Congress working for them. And at $174,000 annual pay, those representatives are sure to return from their vacations committed to fresh solutions.
When I saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” during one of my interminably-long plane rides back from Syria, I liked it so much that I actually went out and bought a copy of the 1964 “Mary Poppins” Disney classic it was based on — the one with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke frolicking across the rooftops of London.
And much to my surprise, I discovered that Mary Poppins might have been one of the world’s first hippies. Who woulda thought! And what was even more amazing is that Mary Poppins was one of the first people to warn us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
And fortunately for those of us living here in America one hundred years later, Elizabeth Warren has now become the new Mary Poppins — also warning us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
If only Americans would start paying attention to Elizabeth Warren as much as they paid attention to Julie Andrews!
“Hey, Elizabeth!” I also want to shout on the rooftops like Dick VanDyke, “voters aren’t listening to you!” Maybe if Disney studios made a movie about you too? Then maybe voters would finally start to listen.
According to Warren, the American middle class has been absolutely decimated by the banking and credit-card lobbies.
And yet voters still keep falling for all those glossy ads and happy lies that still keep getting pro-big-bank candidates elected to the White House and Congress even though voters can clearly see that they themselves are losing their jobs, having their homes repossessed, becoming slaves to their student loans and getting ripped off bigtime by credit-card debt. But then I guess that those syrupy ads actually do prove that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” after all.
In the heroic country of Iceland, their well-informed voters have vigorously fought back against bankster greed and have even re-written their constitution in order to make lending-bubbles and bank fraud illegal.
But in America, the opposite happens. Here in America our very own government, the very one that bank lobbyists have chosen for us to elect, is handing over billions of our very own hard-earned dollars to big banks just as fast as it can. And Congress is always writing new bankruptcy laws that favor banksters over the middle class every time. Mary Poppins would be livid, of course, but nobody else seems to even notice these days — except for Elizabeth Warren.
And even the Federal Reserve is dancing over the rooftops in glee as it too gives away our money to the banksters just as fast as it possibly can, singing “Step in Time” as gleefully hands over giant bags of taxpayers’ money to Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank and Goldman Sachs.
Plus the Senate just vetoed a bill that would have given students a break from paying up to 12% interest on their college loans too. According to Warren, “This isn’t complicated. It’s a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?”
Not to mention the hidden (and not-so-hidden) fees that banks gleefully charge us customers for no reason at all.
To try to completely understand how banksters and their toadies in Congress and the Department of Justice are robbing the rest of us blind, you just gotta watch this video of Bill Moyers interviewing bank-fraud expert Thomas K. Black. Seriously. You really should watch this: http://vimeo.com/107916659
In this video, Black describes how Obama was elected by the banking industry and how Obama has totally paid back his debt to the banksters by handing them all “get out of jail free” cards. Is being elected president really worth selling us Americans out to the banksters? Apparently so.
“There’s no threat to capitalism like capitalists,” continues Black. “They are destroying its underpinnings. And when dishonest people gain an advantage in the marketplace, bad ethics drive good ethics out. This is why we need the rule of law.” Doesn’t Thomas K. Black sound just like Dick VanDyke, er, I mean Burt the Chimney Sweep here — as Black proposes that it’s high time to sweep clean our banks.
And now let’s talk about America’s ratings on the so-called “Misery Index”. Apparently America rates higher on the misery charts now than it ever has, even back in the Great Depression — and probably even as high as did Mary Poppins’s 1910 London. Thanks a lot, banksters.
Isn’t it time that American voters finally join up with Elizabeth Warren and Mary Poppins — and tell big banks and banksters to go “fly a kite!”
PS: Speaking of money, look how much of it is being spent in the Middle East — and not here at home where it is needed!
According to a recent blog-post at thehill.com, the first official estimates of the ISIS price tag from the Pentagon showed that, “the costs of intervention between mid-June and late-August was $7.5 million per day. At that rate, the U.S. has spent $850 million on operations against ISIS as of October 8, adding up to about $2.74 billion per year. The Pentagon has since revised the estimate up to as high as $10 million per day, or $3.65 billion per year. In reality, both of those numbers are quite likely to be underestimates of what’s to come.”
Looks like the US military is just as bad as the US banksters when it comes to cleaning out America’s pocketbooks — after they both have put us to sleep with false promises and false news https://www.youtube.com/watch?
What we Americans really need to do these days is to once again take Mary Poppins’s advice and “Stay Awake”! https://www.youtube.com/watch?
“Financial markets are faced with uncertainty that isn’t going away. The slowdown in Europe is probably in the early innings, the Fed hasn’t begun to raise interest rates, and geopolitical crises seem to pop up by the day.” Jeff Cox, Finance editor, CNBC
Six years of zero rates and trillions of dollars of asset purchases couldn’t stop stocks from falling sharply on Wednesday. All three major indices moved deep into the red, with the Dow Jones leading the pack, dropping an eye-watering 460 points before rebounding nearly 300 points by the end of the session. Risk-free assets, particularly US Treasuries, rallied hard on the flight-to-safety move with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield slipping to a Depression era 1.87 percent before climbing back above the 2 percent mark. US financials were the worst hit sector, taking it on the chin for 9 percent by mid-day, while Brent crude was soundly walloped, falling to a 47-month low on oversupply and deflation fears. Stock market gains for the year had nearly been wiped out before a miraculous about-face turned Armageddon into a so-so day with survivable losses. Even so, analysts have already started paring back their estimates for 4th quarter growth while traders stocked up on antacid for Thursday’s opening bell.
The proximate cause of Wednesday’s bloodbath was weaker than expected economic data from Europe–which is sliding towards its third recession in five years– droopy retail sales in the US, and a report from Department of Labor showing that wholesale prices for producers are edging closer towards deflation, the opposite of what the Fed is trying to achieve via its aggressive monetary policy.
But the real trigger for the selloff was not the dismal data, but the policies that have been in place since the Financial Crisis of 2008. While the Obama administration has steadily decreased demand by shaving the deficits which provide vital fiscal stimulus for the economy, (On Wednesday, the USG announced the budget deficit fell to $483 billion, the lowest since 2008) the Federal Reserve has been providing trillions of dollars of cheap money to the banks and brokerages. The result of this one-two combo has not only been the biggest transfer of wealth in human history, but also “a fundamental breakdown in the functioning of the global capitalist economy.” As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in a recent paper on the global recovery: “a pickup in investment has not yet materialized…reflecting concerns about low medium-term growth potential and subdued private consumption.” Demand shortfalls in the advanced countries “could lead to sustained global economic weakness over a five-year period.” (IMF report records global economic breakdown, Nick Beams, World Socialist Web Site)
Simply put: The Fed’s policies have made investors richer, but they haven’t created opportunities for recycling profits, which is a critical part of capitalism’s so called virtuous circle. Anemic investment, means less hiring, less spending, weaker demand and slower growth, all of which are visible in today’s sluggish, underperforming economy. Pumping money into financial assets (QE) can fatten the bank accounts of rich speculators, but it doesn’t do jack for the economy. It just creates bubbles that burst in a flurry of panic selling. Here’s more from Larry Elliot at the Guardian:
“Six years after the global banking system had its near-death experience, interest rates are still at emergency levels. Even attaining the mediocre levels of activity expected by the IMF in the developed countries requires central banks to continue providing large amounts of stimulus. The hope has been that copious amounts of dirt-cheap money will find its way into productive uses, with private investment leading to stronger and better balanced growth.
It hasn’t happened like that. Instead, as the IMF rightly pointed out, the money has not gone into economic risk-taking but into financial risk-taking. Animal spirits of entrepreneurs have remained weak but asset prices have been strong. Tighter controls on banks have been accompanied by the emergence of a powerful and largely unchecked shadow banking system. Investors have been piling into all sorts of dodgy-looking schemes, just as they did pre-2007. Recovery, such as it is, is once again reliant on rising debt levels. Central bankers know this but also know that jacking up interest rates would push their economies back into recession. They cross their fingers and hope for the best.” (World leaders play war games as the next financial crisis looms, Larry Elliot, Guardian)
The policies implemented by the Obama administration and Fed have achieved precisely what they were designed to achieve; they’ve enriched the voracious plutocrats who run the system but left everyone else scraping by on less and less. An article in the Washington Post explains what’s going on in greater detail. Here’s a short excerpt from the piece titled “Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid”:
“Welcome to Austerity U.S.A., where the deficit is back below 3 percent of GDP and growth is still disappointing—which aren’t unrelated facts.
It started when the stimulus ran out. Then state and local governments had to balance their budgets amidst a still-weak economy. And finally, there was the debt ceiling deal with its staggered $2.1 trillion of cuts over the next decade. Add it all up, and there’s been a big fiscal tightening the past few years, something like 4 percent of potential GDP. Indeed, as Paul Krugman points out, real government spending per capita has been falling faster now than any time since the Korean War demobilization. (chart)
Fiscal Impact Measure
Source: Hutchins Center
And, as you can see above, all this austerity has been hurting GDP growth since 2011. It shows the Hutchins Center’s new “fiscal impact measure,” which looks at how much total government tax-and-spending decisions have helped or harmed growth. The dark blue line is what policy has actually done, and the light blue one is what a neutral policy would have done. So, in other words, if the dark blue line is below the light blue one, like it has the last three years, then policy has subtracted from growth.” (Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid. Washington Post)
By cutting the deficits, Obama reduced the blood flow to the real economy and weakened demand. That’s what torpedoed the recovery. In contrast, stocks and bonds have done remarkably well, mainly because the Fed pumped $4 trillion into financial assets which was a taken as a greenlight by risk takers everywhere to load up on everything from overpriced equities to low-yield junk. Now, after more than three years without as much as a 10 percent correction, the momentum has shifted, volatility has returned, earnings are looking wobbly, and the fear is palpable. Stocks appear to be headed for a major repricing event. Here’s how investment guru John Hussman sums it up in his Weekly Market Comment:
“Our concerns at present mirror those that we expressed at the 2000 and 2007 peaks, as we again observe an overvalued, overbought, overbullish extreme that is now coupled with a clear deterioration in market internals, a widening of credit spreads, and a breakdown in our measures of trend uniformity…
…it has become urgent for investors to carefully examine all risk exposures. When extreme valuations on historically reliable measures, lopsided bullishness, and compressed risk premiums are joined by deteriorating market internals, widening credit spreads, and a breakdown in trend uniformity, it’s advisable to make certain that the long position you have is the long position you want over the remainder of the market cycle. As conditions stand, we currently observe the ingredients of a market crash.” (The Ingredients of a Market Crash, John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Hussman Funds)
Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? And Hussman is not alone either. The bearish mood on Wall Street is gaining pace even among those who focus more on geopolitical issues than fundamentals, like the Bank for International Settlements’ Guy Debelle who said in an interview on CNBC on Tuesday that he was concerned about the possibility of a “violent” market drop, particularly in bonds.
“If I had told you that there were heightened tensions in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, uncertainty about the turning point in U.S. monetary policy, a succession of strong U.S. job numbers, uncertainty about the future direction of policy in Europe and Japan, as well as increased concern about the strength of the Chinese economy, you would not be expecting that to make for a benign time in financial markets,” Guy Debelle of the BIS said. “But that is what we have seen for much of this year.” (CNBC)
But stocks aren’t cratering because of tensions in the Middle East or Eastern Europe. That’s baloney. And they’re not falling because of decelerating global growth, plunging oil prices or Ebola. They’re falling because no one knows what the heck is going to happen when QE stops at the end of October. That’s what has everyone in a lather.
Keep in mind, that 20 percent of the current market cap (more than $4 trillion) is stock buybacks, that is, corporations that have bought their own shares to juice prices. Do you really think that corporate bosses are going to play as fast and loose after the Fed stops its liquidity injections?
Not on your life. They’re going to pull in their horns and see what happens next. And if things go sideways, (which they very well could) they’re going to cash in and call it a day. That’s going to drive down stock prices and send markets reeling.
Stocks have nearly tripled since March 2009 when the Fed started this “credit easing” fiasco. So if stocks rode higher on an ocean of Fed liquidity, then how low are they going to go when the spigot is turned off? There are some, like technical strategist Abigail Doolittle, who think the S and P 500 could suffer a major heart attack, dropping as much as 60 percent before equities touch down. Check it out from CNBC:
“(Abigail) Doolittle, founder of Peak Theories Research, has made headlines lately suggesting a market correction worse than anyone thinks is ahead. The long-term possibility, she has said, is a 60 percent collapse for the S&P 500.
In early August, Doolittle was warning both of a looming “super spike” in the CBOE Volatility Index as well as a “death cross” in the 10-year Treasury note.
And so it’s come to pass at least for the VIX, which has jumped 74 percent over the past three months and crossed the 20 threshold that historically has served as a dividing line between complacency and fear. That’s its highest level in nearly two years. From Doolittle’s perspective, the spike represents a bad-news/bad-news scenario … that the near-term selling action is likely to continue and even accelerate…
…she thinks “violent waves of selling action” could send the VIX all the way to 90—even beyond its peak during the financial crisis.” (CNBC)
Now maybe Doolittle is just exaggerating or paranoid, but her conclusions do seem to square with CNN Money. Here’s a clip from yesterday’s article:
“CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index is a good indicator of market momentum. Today it hit zero. That’s a huge red flag and showcases extreme fear in the stock market. The only other time the index ever touched that low point is in August 2011 — shortly after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. debt.
Volatility — or what some are calling “market whiplash” — is clearly back in the market. The VIX, an index that measures volatility and is one of the factors that goes into the Fear & Greed Index — spiked again today. It’s up a whopping 60% in the past week alone.” (Extreme Fear in stock market, CNN Money)
So fear and volatility are back, but liquidity has suddenly gone missing. That sounds like a prescription for disaster to me. So what can we expect in the weeks to come?
Well, more of the same, at least that’s how Pimco’s former chief executive officer Mohamed El Erian sees it. Here’s how he summed it up on Wednesday in a Bloomberg editorial:
“Though unlikely to be as dramatic as today, market volatility can be expected to continue in the days and weeks to come as two forces compete: first, the forced deleveraging of certain investors, particularly overstretched hedge funds registering big October losses; second, central banks scrambling to say all sorts of reassuring things. All of this will serve to reinforce October’s longstanding reputation as a threatening month for investors around the world.” (October’s Wild Ride Isn’t Over Yet, Mohamed A. El-Erian, Bloomberg)
Did he say “forced deleveraging”?
Uh huh. So, after a 6 year bacchanal, the Fed is finally going to take away the punch bowl and force the revelers to pay down their debts, clean up their balance sheets, and take a few less risks. Is that it?
Yep. It sure looks like it. But, that could change in the blink of an eye, after all, the Fed has its friends to think of. Which means that Ms. Yellen could announce QE4 any day now.
The ISIS siege of Kobane continued overnight while cities across Turkey were set ablaze by Kurdish protestors. At least 19 civilians were killed by Turkish riot police who were trying to disperse angry crowds that had gathered to protest the government’s unwillingness to defend the predominantly Kurdish city. According to Hurriyet, “The worst violence was seen in Diyarbakır during a reported gunfight between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) supporters and Hizbullah, a radical Islamist group whose members are mostly Kurdish and who allegedly aided the state in the torture and killing of Kurdish activists in the 1990s.” (Hurriyet)
Although the Turkish Parliament approved a measure to allow the government to carry out cross-border attacks on ISIS, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not yet ordered its tanks and troops into battle. Erdogan has been dragging his feet so that ISIS will prevail over Kobane’s Kurdish fighters thus ending their struggle for autonomy and independence. This is why the reaction among Turkish Kurds has been so ferocious; it’s because Erdogan is using the Sunni radicals as a proxy army to batter the Kurds into submission. A scathing op-ed in last night’s Hurriyet summarized Erdogan’s tacit support for ISIS like this:
“Naturally, one has to ask who fathered, breastfed and nourished these Islamist terrorists in hopes and aspirations of creating a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Khalifat state? Even when Kobane and many Turkish cities were on fire, did not the Turkish prime minister talk in his interview with CNN about his readiness to order land troops into the Syrian quagmire if Washington agreed to also target al-Assad?
This is a dirty game….” (Editorial, “Kobane and Turkey are Burning“, Hurriyet Daily News)
This is true, Turkey has “fathered, breastfed and nourished” Sunni extremism which is what makes the country a particularly untrustworthy ally in a war intended to defeat ISIS. According to author Nafeez Ahmed:
“With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”
(“How the West Created the Islamic State“, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch
Then there’s this from Tuesday’s USA Today:
“Militants have funneled weapons and fighters through Turkey into Syria. The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, have networks in Turkey….
Turkish security and intelligence services may have ties to Islamic State militants. The group released 46 Turkish diplomats it had abducted the day before the United States launched airstrikes against it. Turkey, a NATO member, may have known the airstrikes were about to begin and pressured its contacts in the Islamic State to release its diplomats.
“This implies Turkey has more influence or stronger ties to ISIS than people would think,” Tanir said.”
(“5 reasons Turkey isn’t attacking Islamic State in Syria”, USA Today)
So while the connection between ISIS and Turkish Intelligence remains murky, it’s safe to say there is a connection which makes Turkey an unreliable partner in a prospective war against the same group. So why is Erdogan so eager to lead the charge into Syria?
It’s because Erdogan thinks he can use ISIS as cover for his real objective, which is seize Damascus, topple Assad and replace him with a Sunni stooge who will tilt in Ankara’s direction. This is from a post by Stratfor at Zero Hedge:
“This is why Turkey is placing conditions on its involvement in the battle against the Islamic State: It is trying to convince the United States and its Sunni Arab coalition partners that it will inevitably be the power administering this region. Therefore, according to Ankara, all players must conform to its priorities, beginning with replacing Syria’s Iran-backed Alawite government with a Sunni administration that will look first to Ankara for guidance.” (“Turkey, The Kurds And Iraq – The Prize & Peril Of Kirkuk”, zero hedge)
So this is why Turkey wants to spearhead the invasion into Syria, so it can expand its power in the region?
It appears so, but there’s more to it than just that. As is true with most conflicts in the Middle East, oil is also a major factor. The Turks expect to be big players in the regional energy market after Assad is removed and pipeline corridors are established from the giant South Pars/North Dome gas field off Qatar. The pipeline will run from Qatar, to Iraq, to Syria and on to Turkey, providing vital supplies for the voracious EU market. There are also plans for an Israel to Turkey pipeline accessing gas from the massive Leviathan gas field located off the coast of Gaza. Both of these projects will strengthen Turkey’s flagging economy as well as bolster its stature and influence in the region.
Naturally, the allure of wealth and power has been a decisive factor in shaping Ankara’s Syria policy. But there’s a good chance that Erdogan’s strategy will backfire and Turkey will get bogged down in a protracted conflict in which there are no clear winners and no easy way out. In this respect, Erdogan follows a long line of equally aggressive leaders whose ambitions clouded their judgment precipitating their downfall. Only a fool would think that Syria will be a cakewalk.
Turkey has made it clear that it will not go-it-alone in Syria. According to CNN report on Thursday:
“Turkey’s foreign minister insisted Thursday that it is not “realistic” for the world to expect it alone to launch a ground operation against ISIS, even as a monitoring group said the extremists had seized a chunk of a key battleground town near its border.” (CNN)
Erdogan wants US support although, so far, he has not stipulated whether that means ground troops or not. He has said repeatedly, however, that bombing ISIS from the air won’t achieve their purpose. And even on that score, the US has been AWOL. So far, the US has launched a mere six aerial attacks on ISIS positions on the outskirts of the city, not nearly enough to deter battle-hardened jihadis from pressing deeper into Kurdish territory. Could it be that Obama made a deal with Erdogan to allow Kobane to be overrun in exchange for concessions on the use of Turkish military bases that will be used to carry out attacks on Syria?
It could be, although there’s no way of knowing for sure. What’s clear is that Obama doesn’t really care what happens to the Kurds in Kobane or not. What matters to Obama is toppling Assad and replacing him with a US puppet. The death of innocent civilians at the hands of homicidal maniacs doesn’t even factor into Washington’s calculations. It’s just more grist for the mill. Now check out this excerpt from an article by Patrick Cockburn:
”The leader of the (Kurdish) PYD, Salih Muslim, is reported to have met officials from Turkish military intelligence to plead for aid but was told this would only be available if the Syrian Kurds abandoned their claim for self-determination, gave up their self-governing cantons, and agreed to a Turkish buffer zone inside Syria. Mr Muslim turned down the demands and returned to Kobani.” (ISIS on the Verge of Victory at Kobani”, Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch)
Is this blackmail or what? Doesn’t this explain why Kurds are rioting and setting buildings ablaze across Turkey? How would you react, dear reader, if your people were told to either ‘Give up your dreams of independence or face a violent death at the hands of religious fanatics’? Would you think that was an unreasonable demand?
Erdogan wants to defeat the Kurdish fighters in Kobane and put an end to Kurdish nationalism. And he doesn’t care how he does it.
Keep in mind, that just this week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a CNN interview that the US must agree that Assad will be removed before Turkey will commit ground troops to the war against ISIS. To his credit, Obama has not yet agreed to Erdogan’s terms although pressure in Congress and the media is steadily building. And this is just one of Erdogan’s many demands. He also wants the US to implement a no-fly zone over Syria and to create buffer zone along the Turkish border. In exchange, Turkey will provide boots on the ground and the use of its military bases. The US can expect to pay a heavy price for Turkey’s help in Syria.
OBAMA: “Don’t do stupid shit”
US policy towards Syria is not yet set in stone, in fact, the Obama administration appears to be in a state of turmoil. It could be that Obama’s chief advisors see the potential pitfalls of an invasion of Syria or of persisting with the same lame policy of arming, training and funding Islamic radicals. Or it could it be that the administration doesn’t want to team up with an unreliable ally like Turkey whose Intel agencies have helped create the present crisis? Or it could simply be that Obama has decided to follow his own advice and “Don’t do stupid shit”. Whatever the reason, the administration seems to be vacillating on the way forward.
One can only hope that Obama will grasp the inherent risks of the poring more gas on the Middle East, reject the orders of his deep state handlers, and seek a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. That, of course, would require cooperation with Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, to settle on a way to defeat the jihadis, strengthen Syria’s sovereign control over its own territory, and restore peace across the country. No doubt Assad would be more than willing to make democratic concessions if he believed it would save his country from the destruction of a full-blown war.
The ongoing failures of the Secret Service to provide proper protection for the President have political careerists in a tizzy. Scares that harm could come to the commander-in-chief, also worries the press. Ordinary citizens on principle, accept that the White House should be secure grounds. Rotating blame usually means that the buck does not stop on the oval office desk. Indeed, who could expect any President to be responsible for their own safety? Surely, policy decisions made as a government could not possibly have any bearing on the lunatics that harbor ill will towards our fearless leaders.
Refreshing your memory, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy got whacked. Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan were targets of serious assassination attempts.
With all the Secret Service trial and tribulations experienced in the last years, the popular assessment is that the Praetorian Guard bodyguards have become a dysfunctional band of self-indulgent thrill seekers.
How much money is enough to spend on Presidential security? Some like ousted Secret Service Director Julia Pierson presumably would say a price tag cannot be placed on keeping the leader alive and safe from assassination. Though, Pierson failed to provide fresh start for Secret Service that administration wanted, proves that the culture of political privilege deems their importance to be most costly.
“Homeland Security requested $1.49 billion in operating funds for the Secret Service, a $60 million dip from last fiscal year. But even spending-conscious Republicans said that was too much. So Congress instead agreed to a rare increase over the administration’s request, giving the agency $1.53 billion.”
Such benevolence must come from a motivation to avoid another national tragedy. Absent in budget hearings is a serious debate if the propensity for violently eliminating presidents comes from pragmatic power political expediency as opposed to the usual conclusion that madmen (or women) are acting alone. Well, it is a nice myth if keeping the public living in a dream is the intent. Names like Lawrence, Guiteau, Czolgosz, Fromme and Moore do not carry the same notoriety as icons of assassins like Booth and Oswald, but official accounts paint them all as deranged.
Heads of state are far more cautious and seldom fall into the trap that their greatest danger comes from lone guns. There is good reason for Argentina president claims US plotting to oust her.
“Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her.
“If something should happen to me, don’t look to the Middle East, look to the North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.
Is Ms. Fernández paranoid or just expressing a healthy appreciation of practices that have long been condoned?
When FDR approved Operation Vengeance, the killing of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, it was during WWII. The NDAA Actually Gives Obama the Legal Authority to Kill. Just ponder the perversion in the meaning of the term legal. Examples of killing the king in history usually means the victor won the war. Somehow justifying NDAA methods as acceptable demeans every citizen who pledges their allegiance to a constitutional republic.
The New York Times confirms that the Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will, but that begs the theoretical question what authority endows the right to even accept that a kill list is principled, much less a sensible decree of any government? Just where does the moral imperative enter into the craft of statesmanship?
“Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.”
Those American values in the 21th century have little in common from those practiced at the inception of the country. Covert agencies on missions of foreign intrigue are commonly practiced. The use of “special forces” and ex-military contractors seek to enjoy the cover and exoneration that fighting terrorists is the biggest growth industry on the planet. Delineating war loosely without a declared and defined enemy state provides broad discretion to place any antagonist in the crosshairs.
Truth Lies Deception and Cover-ups argues The Presidents Kill List and State Sponsored Assassination is far more dangerous and frequently employed than publically admitted.
“If the “Kill List” nominally exists in the interest of National Security – it is fair to predict that, particularly in a country that estimates it’s own domestic enemies (who are tracked with their surveillance systems) to be in the order of millions – it would be easy to tack journalists or whistle-blowers on to such a list.
This would not be because journalists and whistleblowers present a risk to National Security – but, they present a risk of embarrassing the ruling elite in the government, government agencies, government contractors and the financial giants (or other cronies that lurk in the shadows and pull the strings of politicians and other officials with influence).”
Recall the evidence surrounding the Suspicions Growing Over Death of Journalist Probing NSA and CIA Abuses. The malicious culture that routinely orders foes neutralized by means once considered abhorrent, now defy restraints of civilized society.
“When the Obama administration was exposed spying on journalists earlier this year, the investigative reporter blasted what he referred to as the president’s “war” on journalism. “The Obama administration has clearly declared war on the press. It has declared war on investigative journalists — our sources,” he said during a recent TV interview, blasting the administration’s lawless behavior, obsession with secrecy, and vicious persecution of whistleblowers. Beyond simple criticism, though, Hastings openly said it was time for journalists to fight back.”
Government cover-ups operate as bait and switch sophistry. Exposing corruption once was the pursuit of the art of refined reporting. Now, serious investigative journalism is a threat to any imperial administration.
Revealing and documenting subversion is viewed as endangering the Oval Office. Threats to authoritarian presidents are not limited to high powered rifles. Without regard to life and limb, earning a place on the enemy list is becoming deadly serious.
If the Secret Service has the charge to protect the life of the President, the entire military-intelligence-security complex functions as a hit squad for the institution of the presidency itself. While conflicting factions within the government vie for their own parochial seats of power on a continuous basis the precarious real national security declines. Blowback against the country is evident in every foreign policy arena. Such resentment unsurprisingly places the President in a self-induced greater risk of retaliation.
However, it must be acknowledged that the successful presidential assassinations (and several of those that failed) aimed their fatal bullet at an office holder who defied the ruling cabal that actually controls the financial and economic establishment.
It is difficult to believe that a truly independent and patriotic warrior could ever campaign through the election process and vote count to become President. The enormous entourage that protects the Chief Executive has grown to become its own cottage industry. Lost in the concern for protecting one man is that the White House Continuity of Government Plan makes the elimination of a President merely a lateral move.
Since responsible citizens value the life and safety of legitimate authority, the task of reversing the State sponsored assassination culture is imperative. When your own government conducts their “Murder Inc.” bureau as part of their survival plan, people need to question the degree of loyalty which that same government deserves.
Clint Eastwood’s latest movie production ‘American Sniper’ about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle will hopefully compliment ‘In Line of Fire’ in which he starred as a secret service agent present at the JFK assassination. The other side of the assassination equation is mostly ignored.
Sorrowfully, government officials are locked into a denial mindset that disassociates any relationship and connection between increased levels of risks to officials and the sanctioned killings approved by their governments. Review 82 pages of a list of assassinated heads of state. It is hard to believe that such a record of terminal violence will end any time soon.
Royal guards have an impossible task, no matter how much their budget allows. Until the power structure “gets religion” and renounces their evil ways, the system will never permit a civilized society. Assassination is wrong and adopting such an approach only invites backfire threats. Keeping the President safe begins in implementing moral conduct and renouncing the killer elite mentality.
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000
“In the implementing of their policies, our western partners– the United States first and foremost – prefer to be guided not by international law, but by force. They believe in their own ‘exceptionalism’, that they are allowed to decide on the fate of the world, and that they are always right.”
– Russian President Vladimir Putin
“What did we do to deserve this? What did we do to deserve being bombed from planes, shot at from tanks, and have phosphorous bombs dropped on us? ….That we wanted to live the way we want, and speak our own language, and make friends with whom we want?”
– Alexander V. Zakharchenko, Chairman of The Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic, The Vineyard of the Saker
There is no way to overstate the significance of what has transpired in Ukraine in the last three weeks. What began as a murderous onslaught on the mainly Russian-speaking population of east Ukraine, has turned into a major triumph against a belligerent and expansionistic empire that has been repulsed by a scrappy, battle-hardened militia engaged in a conventional, land-based war. The conflict in east Ukraine is Obama’s war; launched by Obama’s junta government, executed by Obama’s proxy army, and directed by Obama’s advisors in Kiev. The driving force behind the war is Washington’s ambitious pivot to Asia, a strategy that pits Russia against Europe to prevent further economic integration and to establish NATO forward-operating bases on Russia’s western border. Despite the overheated rhetoric, the talk of a (NATO) “Rapid Reaction Force”, and additional economic sanctions; the US plan to draw Ukraine into the western sphere of influence and weaken Russia in the process, is in tatters. And the reason it is in tatters is because a highly-motivated and adaptable militia has trounced Obama’s troopers at every turn pushing the Ukrainian army to the brink of collapse. Check out this frontline update from The Saker:
“The (Ukrainian Army) is not retreating on one, two or even three directions, it is retreating everywhere (except north of Lugansk). Entire battalions are leaving the front under orders of their battalion commanders and without the approval of the Junta leaders. At least one such battalion commander is already being judged for desertion. The entire Ukie leadership seems to be in a panic mode, especially Iatseniuk and Kolomoiski, while the Nazis are mad as hell at the Poroshenko administration. There are constant rumors of an anti-Poroshenko coup by outraged Nazi nationalists…..
The bottom line is this: Poroshenko promised a victory in a matter of weeks and his forces suffered one of the most total defeats in the history of warfare. ….the most likely thing is that this ridiculous “Banderastan” experiment has seriously begun sinking now and that many rats are leaving the ship.
“The War in Ukraine“, Vineyard of the Saker
The fact that the demoralized Ukrainian army has been defeated by the superior fighting force is of little importance in the big scheme of things, however, the fact that Washington’s global resource war– which began on 9-11 and has reduced numerous sovereign countries into anarchic, failed states– has been stopped in its tracks, is significant. The so called War on Terror–which was recently rebranded under the ISIS moniker–has wreaked holy havoc and death on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria. By routing the Ukrainian army the Novorussian Armed Forces (NAF) has put the kibosh on Obama’s Great Game strategy in Eurasia and torpedoed Washington’s plan to rule the world by force of arms. It could be that the battles of Lugansk and Donetsk are eventually regarded as the turning point, where the lumbering and over-extended empire finally met its match and began its precipitous decline. In any event, there’s no doubt that Friday’s ceasefire agreement is a serious blow to US hegemony.
THE PROBLEM IS NATO
“The defining factor in relations with NATO remains the unacceptability for Russia of plans to move the military infrastructure of the alliance towards our borders, including via enlargement of the bloc,” said Mikhail Popov, deputy head of Putin’s Security Council.
The issue has always been NATO expansion, not the ridiculous claim that Putin wants to rebuild the Russian Empire. The only one interested in in stitching together a global Caliphate is Barack Hussein Obama and his nutcase neocon advisors. Putin is not interested in an empire. Putin just wants to make money like everyone else. He wants to sell gas to Europe, raise living standards and rebuild the country. What’s wrong with that?
Putin’s not a troublemaker. He’s not sticking a freaking first-strike nuclear missile system in Havana just 60 miles from Miami. But that’s what Obama wants to do. Obama want to establish NATO bases on Russia’s doorstep and deploy his fake-named “missile defense system” a couple hundred miles from Moscow. Putin can’t allow that. No one in their right mind would allow that. It’s a direct threat to national security. Here’s how Putin summed it up in a recent press conference:
“Russia is an independent and active participant of international relations. Just like any nation it has national interests that must be taken into consideration and respected…..We stand against having a military organization meddling in our backyard, next to our homeland or in the territories that are historically ours. I just cannot imagine visiting NATO sailors in Sevastopol,” he stressed. “Most of them are fine lads, but I’d rather they visit us in Sevastopol than the other way around.” (Vladimir Putin)
Washington’s harebrained gambit was doomed from the get go. Who made the decision to topple Yanuchovych, install a US-puppet in Kiev, fill-out the security services with neo Nazis, and wage a bloody ethnic cleansing purge on the Russian-speaking people in the east? Who was it? Isn’t there any accountability among the Obama team or is it all a matter of “failing upwards” like the Bush crowd? Here’s Putin again:
“Our western partners created the ‘Kosovo precedent’ with their own hands. In a situation absolutely the same as the one in Crimea they recognized Kosovo’s secession from Serbia legitimate while arguing that no permission from a country’s central authority for a unilateral declaration of independence is necessary….And the UN International Court of Justice agreed with those arguments. That’s what they said; that’s what they trumpeted all over the world and coerced everyone to accept – and now they are complaining about Crimea. Why is that?”
Doesn’t Putin have a point? Isn’t this what we’ve seen over and over again, that there’s one standard for the US and another for everyone else?
Of course it is. But Putin’s not going to stand for it. In fact, just this week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expanded on Putin’s comments in an interview that never appeared in the western media. Here’s what he said:
“The current stage of international relations is marked by a transition to a fundamentally new world order – a polycentric model based on due regard for the appearance of new economic and financial centres. And political weight comes with economic and financial influence. Transition to a polycentric world order reflects an objective trend according to which the world order should be based on the world’s cultural and civilisational diversity. This is objective reality, which no one can deny. …
After a long period of dominance in global economy and politics, these countries are trying to keep their positions by artificial means. They know that their economic positions are not as strong as they were after WWII, when America accounted for over half of global GDP, but they are trying to use all available military and political instruments, social media, regime-change technology and other instruments to keep back the objective process of the development of a democratic world order based on the equality of all sides.
Not everyone has realized yet that it is impossible to move contrary to an objective historical process. We strongly hope that this will happen, because otherwise more illegal unilateral sanctions will be approved against Russia, to which we will respond accordingly, as we have already tried to do. But this, I repeat, is not our choice; we don’t want confrontation.” (Press Conference: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov)
“A new world order based on a polycentric model”? What a great idea. You mean, a world in which other sovereign nations get a say-so in the way the world is run? You mean, a world in which the economic, political, and military decision-making does not emerge from one center of power that is dominated by privately-owned banks, transnational corporations and voracious western elites? You mean, a world in which international law can be applied evenly so that one country cannot unilaterally create off-shore gulags, or incite color coded revolutions, or carry out extra-legal abductions and killings, or order drone attacks on wedding parties or conduct any of the other heinous violations of human rights which imperial Washington engages in without batting an eye?
The NAF’s victory in east Ukraine brings us all one step closer to actualizing the multi-polar world of which Lavrov and Putin speak so glowingly. In fact, just hours ago Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko capitulated and signed a ceasefire agreement with the leaders of the anti-fascist militia, Igor Plotnitsky and Aleksandr Zakharchenko. (Remember: “We never negotiate with terrorists”?) Ukraine’s National Security Council (SNBO) has reported that its troops have halted all military actions. The government’s public statement reads as follows:
“According to the decision of the President of Ukraine and the order of the chief of the General staff of the military units of Ukraine, troops in the area of anti-terrorist operations ceased fire at 15.00 GMT.”
Peace at last?
It sure looks like it.
So while Obama is busy trying to ramp up the violence by rallying NATO to expand the wars around the world, international peacekeepers will begin the thorny task of implementing a seven-point peace plan put forward by none-other-than Vladimir Putin.
The difference between the peacemakers and the warmongers has rarely been as stark as it is today.
Washington’s “Pivot” hits a Brick Wall…
“We are currently witnessing an epic and historic event. The Ukrainian regular army and the punitive battalions are suffering a catastrophic defeat to the south of Donetsk…..It still is not quite clear how the Junta intends to avoid a complete defeat here…. By squandering the most combat-capable brigades in systematic offensive operations, the Junta sustained enormous losses and at the same time suffered a crushing, purely military defeat. The southern front has collapsed.” – The Southern Front Catastrophe – August 27, 2014″, Colonel Cassad, Military Briefing, Novorossiya, Ukraine
“The reports out of Novorussia (New Russia) are nothing short of incredible… sources are reporting that Novorussian forces have bypassed Mariupol from the north and have entered the Zaporozhie region!” – News from the Front, Vineyard of the Saker
Barack Obama has pushed Ukraine to the brink of political, economic and social collapse. Now he wants to blame Russia for the damage he’s done. It’s absurd. Moscow is in no way responsible for Ukraine’s descent into anarchy. That’s all Washington’s doing, just as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria were Washington’s doing. If you want to blame someone, blame Obama.
Ukraine’s troubles began when the US State Department toppled the elected president in February and replaced him with a compliant stooge who agreed to follow Washington’s directives. The new “junta” government quickly launched a full-blown war against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east which split the civilian population and drove the country to ruin. The plan “pacify” the East was concocted in Washington, not Kiev and certainly not Moscow.
Moscow has repeatedly called for an end to the violence and a resumption of negotiations, but each request has been rebuffed by Obama’s puppet in Kiev leading to another round of hostilities. Washington doesn’t want peace. Washington wants the same solution it imposed on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, that is, a chaotic failed state where ethnic and sectarian animosities are kept at a boiling point so forward-operating bases can be established without resistance, so resources can be extracted at will, and so a formally-independent nation can be reduced to a “permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky) That’s the basic gameplan wherever Washington goes. The same rule applies to Ukraine. The only choice the people have is to arm themselves and fight back. Which is what they’ve done.
Donetsk and Lugansk have formed militias and taken the war to the enemy. They’ve engaged Obama’s proxy-army on the battlefield and pounded it into mincemeat. That’s why Obama deployed his propagandists to lie about the fictitious “Russian invasion”. The administration needs a diversion because the Novorussia forces (aka-the “pro Russia separatists”) are kicking the holy crap out of Obama’s legions. That’s why Washington and Kiev are in full panic-mode, because none of this was supposed to happen. Obama figured the army would put down the insurrection, crush the resistance, and move him one step closer to his goal of establishing NATO bases and missile defense systems on Russia’s western flank.
Well, guess what? It’s not playing out that way and it probably never will. The Novorussia fighters are too tough, too smart and too motivated to be one-upped by Obama’s feckless troopers. (Check out this short video and you’ll see why the rebels are winning: Vineyard of the Saker)
Putin hasn’t sent tanks and artillery into Ukraine. He doesn’t need to. The militias are loaded with battle-hardened veterans who know how to fight and who are quite good at it. Just ask Poroshenko whose army has been taking it in the shorts for the last couple of weeks. Check out this blurb in Thursday’s Itar Tass:
“Over the week of August 16-23, the self-defense fighters of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics seized 14 T-64 tanks, 25 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 armored personnel carriers, one armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle, one Uragan multiple launch rocket system, two Gvozdika self-propelled artillery guns, four D-30 howitzers, four mortars, one ZU-23-2 air defense system and 33 vehicles.” (East Ukraine militias seize large amount of Ukrainian armor, Itar Tass)
Get the picture? The Ukrainian army is getting beaten to a pulp, which means that Obama’s glorious “pivot strategy” just slammed into a brick wall.
Bottom line: Russia has not invaded Ukraine. The propagandists in the media are just trying to hide the fact that the Novorussia Army Forces (NAF; aka-the pro Russia separatists) are kicking ass and taking names. That’s what’s really going on. That’s why Obama and his gaggle of miscreant neocons are in a furor. It’s because they don’t know what to do next, so they’ve returned to their default position on every issue; lie like hell until they settle on a plan.
Naturally, they’re going to blame Putin for the mess they’re in. What else can they do? They’re getting their heads handed to them by a superior army. How do you explain that to the folks at home? Check out this excerpt from the New York Times Number One fiction writer, Michael “aluminum tubes” Gordon (who, not surprisingly, co-authored pieces with infamous Judy Miller in the lead up to the Iraq War):
“Determined to preserve the pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine, Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday, sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory.
The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.” (Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times)
“Stealth invasion”? In other words, Gordon has settled on a substitute for WMD. What a surprise.
This isn’t even good fiction; it’s more like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And where are the photos? If you have evidence, Gordon, let’s see it. But, please, make sure it’s better than the last time, you know, those fake photos of Russian soldiers that were supposedly operating in Ukraine. That was another deceit, wasn’t it? (See: Another NYT-Michael Gordon Special?, Robert Parry, Consortium News)
This is like the Malaysia airlines crash, isn’t it? Remember how Kerry went on a five-TV-talk-show blitz the day after the crash, making all kinds of spurious accusations, about surface-to-air missiles and phantom Russian convoys, without a shred of evidence, and then— the very next day– Russian military experts calmly produced hard evidence, from radar and satellite data, that a Ukrainian fighter plane was seen closing in on MH17 just moments before it was downed. (BBC also interviewed eyewitnesses who saw the SU 25 approaching the passenger plane.)
So, who do you believe; Kerry or the facts? And who are you going to believe this time; “Aluminum tubes” Gordie or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitor Andrey Kelin who said yesterday:
“We have said that no Russian involvement has been spotted, there are no soldiers or equipment present.”
“Accusations relating to convoys of armored personnel carriers have been heard during the past week and the week before that. All of them were proven false back then, and are being proven false again now.” (RT)
Repeat: “No Russian involvement”. All the accusations “were proven false.” “False” as in fake, phony, propaganda, bunkum, lies which, by the way, appears to be Gordon’s area of expertise.
Anyone who has been following the conflict knows that the Washington-backed junta in Kiev has waged a war against its own people in the East, and that they’ve been bombing hospitals, schools, libraries, apartments, public buildings, residential areas, etc, all in an effort to drag Putin into a war that will sabotage EU-Moscow economic integration and further US interests in the area. It’s all geopolitics, every bit of it. Remember the pivot to Asia? This is what it looks like in real time. A lot of people get butchered so the big money guys in Washington can maintain their grip on global power for another century or so.
Well, you can put that pipedream to rest now, mainly because a group of scrappy ex-military types in east Ukraine gathered themselves into an effective and lethal militia which has turned things around pronto. If you follow developments on blogs that chronicle the daily events, you’ll know that what I’m saying is true. The disorganized and demoralized rabble they call the Ukrainian Army has been routed in nearly every dust up they have with the Novorussia militia. Here’s how blogger Moon of Alabama summed it up on a post on Thursday:
“Their moral is bad, their equipment old, ammunition is low and the entire aim of their campaign is dubious. Now even a few weak counterattacks, the “counteroffensive”, have them on the run.”
The only thing he could’ve added to the litany is the fact that they are led by the biggest moron to ever hold high office, Petro Poroshenko, the overstuffed buffoon who thinks he’s Heinz Guderian deploying his Panzers through the Ardennes and on to Paris. What a joke!
The Times even admits that the Ukrainian army is badly demoralized. Take a look at this:
“Some of the Ukrainian soldiers appeared unwilling to fight. The commander of their unit, part of the Ninth Brigade from Vinnytsia, in western Ukraine, barked at the men to turn around, to no effect. “All right,” the commander said. “Anybody who refuses to fight, sit apart from the others.” Eleven men did, while the others returned to the city.
Some troops were in full retreat: A city busload of them careened past on the highway headed west, and purple curtains flapped through windows shot out by gunfire.” (New York Times)
Have you ever heard of a commanding officer asking his men whether they want to fight or not? It’s ludicrous. This is a defeated army, that much is clear. And it’s easy to understand how the average grunt feels, too. The average working guy doesn’t have the stomach for killing his own people. That’s not something he’s going to feel good about. He just wants to see the war end and go home, which is why they’re getting whooped so bad. It’s because their hearts aren’t in it. In contrast, the farmers, shopkeepers and miners who make up the militia are highly-motivated, after all, this isn’t some geopolitical game for them. Most of these people have lived in these cities their entire lives. Now they’re watching neighbors get gunned down in the streets or pulling friends out of the wreckage of bombed out buildings. For these people, the war is real and it’s personal. They’re defending their towns, their families, and their way of life. That tends to build resolve and focus the mind. Here’s more from the NY Times:
“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.
Advanced air defenses, including systems not known to be in the Ukrainian arsenal, have also been used to blunt the Ukrainian military’s air power, American officials say. In addition, they said, the Russian military routinely flies drones over Ukraine and shares the intelligence with the separatists.” (Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times)
Photos? What photos? Gordon doesn’t have any photos. Ah, but he has heard about a New York Times reporter who saw a photo.
This is ridiculous, but, then again, isn’t that what you’d expect from a journalist who helped craft the pretext for invading Iraq?
Here’s how Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to the claims of a Russian invasion. He said:
“It’s not the first time we’ve heard wild guesses, though, so far, the facts have never been presented…
There have been reports about satellite imagery exposing Russian troop movements. They turned out to be images from videogames. The latest accusations happen to be much the same quality…
We’ll react by persisting in our effort to reduce the bloodshed and to support negotiations about the future of Ukraine, with participation of all Ukrainian regions and political forces, something that was agreed upon back in April in Geneva, but which is now being deliberately avoided by our Western partners.” (RT)
There you have it; there is no Russian invasion anymore than there were WMD, mobile weapons labs, aluminum tubes, Sarin gas etc, etc, etc. It’s all BS concocted by a servile media pursuing the agenda of a warmongering political establishment that wants to escalate the conflagration in east Ukraine at all cost. Even if it leads to a Third World War.
Standing In Washington’s Way…
The Obama administration is pushing for regime change in Iraq on the basis that current prime minister Nouri al Maliki is too sectarian. The fact is, however, that Maliki’s abusive treatment of Sunnis never factored into Washington’s decision to have him removed. Whether he has been “too sectarian” or not is completely irrelevant. The real reason he’s under attack is because he wouldn’t sign the Status of Forces Agreement in 2011. He refused to grant immunity to the tens of thousands of troops the administration wanted to leave in Iraq following the formal withdrawal. That’s what angered Washington. That’s why the administration wants Maliki replaced.
Check out this White House statement of support for new prime minister-designate Haider al-Ibadi (Maliki’s rival) by Vice President Joe Biden just hours after the change (coup?) was announced. The document is titled “Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi”.
“Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi to congratulate him on his nomination to form a new government and develop a national program pursuant to Iraq’s constitutional process. The Prime Minister-designate expressed his intent to move expeditiously to form a broad-based, inclusive government capable of countering the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and building a better future for Iraqis from all communities. The Vice President relayed President Obama’s congratulations and restated his commitment to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government, particularly in its fight against ISIL. The two leaders also discussed practical steps towards fully activating the bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement in all of its fields, including economic, diplomatic, and security cooperation. Prime Minister-designate Abadi thanked Vice President Biden for the call, and they agreed to stay in regular communication as the government formation process proceeds.” (White House)
Did you catch that part about the “bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement in all of its fields”. That’s the kicker right there. That’s what this is all about. Here’s one small section of that document under the heading of “Defense and Security”:
“…. Iraq Joint Military Committee (JMC),…. addressed issues such as border security, Iraqi military strategy, and engagement of Iraqi Security Forces in regional training exercises. The next JCC likely will be held in Washington this year.
Acting Defense Minister al-Dlimi signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Security Cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. This agreement represents the strong military to military relationship between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.
… The Iraq FMS program is one of the largest in the world and is an important symbol of the long-term security partnership envisioned by both countries. We remain committed to meeting Iraqi equipment needs as quickly as possible.” (US Strategic Framework Agreement, US Department of State)
This is just the camel’s nose under the tent. There’s no doubt that the administration’s ultimate objective is to put US “boots back on the ground” which, by the way, is the reason why Obama is allowing the terrorist militia (ISIS) to seize 30 percent of the Iraqi landmass, capture the nation’s second biggest city, and move to within 50 miles of Baghdad without lifting a finger to help. It’s because Obama wants to create a pretext for boosting troop levels in the country. What better way to redeploy thousands of US combat troops to Iraq, then to scare Iraqi policymakers into submission with visions of bloodthirsty terrorists (ISIS) lopping off heads and slitting throats at every opportunity. It’s all about persuasion. (Note: It’s easy to see that–while ISIS may not be directly under US control–its presence in Iraq certainly serves Washington’s overall strategic aims. )
Independent researcher and journalist, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, appears to be one of the few analysts who’s figured out what’s going on. Check out this clip from Iran’s Press TV from interview with Ulrich:
“America has long-standing plans to be permanently present in Iraq, and in the Persian Gulf region as a whole”, said Ulrich. “Domination of the Persian Gulf is the lynchpin of US strategy…the presence of ISIL helps them in this goal.”
After Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki forced American forces out of Iraq by refusing to sign a Status of Forces Agreement allowing the forces to stay on permanently, US found its way back again, she added.
The government of Maliki refused to grant immunity to thousands of US troops, who were to remain in Iraq beyond 2011 under the pretext of training local forces.
The government had agreed to allow some of the US forces to stay longer for “training” purposes, but refused to shield them from prosecution. As a result, that residual force was never deployed.
According to a 2008 bilateral security accord, known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), all the US troops left the country by December 2011.
Ulrich said, “It’s very interesting that ISIL has captured towns and regions that have been vital for the US policy in the region — one is the oil-rich [region], America’s training and funding of Kurds, and Israel in fact started training of the Kurds in 2005 and the thinking that oil from Iraq would go to Israel, and it’s happening.”….
“I don’t believe for a moment that America has given up the idea of having Iraq and Syria and Iran under its full control,” the independent researcher and writer empathized.” (“‘US raises ISIL specter to stay in Iraq’”, Press TV)
Bingo. The “too sectarian” trope is a fraud. This is all about Washington stationing combat troops where the oil is. It always gets back to oil, doesn’t it? U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel summed it up perfectly in July, 2007, when he said:
“People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.” (Washington’s blog)
So how does Obama’s bombing of ISIS jihadis outside of Ebril (N Iraq) fit with his earlier comments that he wouldn’t help defend Iraq unless their was movement on the political front? (In other words, until Maliki was removed from office.)
He sure changed his tune fast, didn’t he? But, why?
Oil, that’s why. Let’s put it this way: There are 10 reasons why Obama bombed ISIS positions outside of Ebril. They are:
4–Marathon Oil Corporation
5–Hillwood International Energy
So what’s the message here? What is Obama telegraphing to ISIS about US policy?
It’s simple. “You can kill as many Arabs and Christians as you want, but if you lay a finger on even one oil well, we’ll nuke you into oblivion.” Isn’t that the message?
Of course, it is. By the way, the reason the US exited Iraq to begin with wasn’t because Obama wanted to keep his campaign promise. Oh no. That was just public relations hype. The real reason was because Obama handed the Iraq Brief over to lunkhead Biden when he first took office, and Biden flubbed the deal. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Take a look at this blurb from the New Yorker:
“When I was profiling Biden last month, his advisers argued …that they had never favored Maliki, and had backed him because he won the support of a majority in Iraq. But that reading of history underplays Biden’s activism. …. Biden predicted that Maliki would sign on to a Status of Forces Agreement to keep U.S. troops on the ground. “Maliki wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise,” Biden said, according to the account. “I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA.”
Neither of those predictions came true. Maliki did not deliver, and U.S. forces left Iraq in December, 2011. As the crisis deepened this spring, the White House did not openly disparage Maliki, but made it clear that it was ready for a change. By all estimates, that sentiment was long overdue, and this week, America’s protracted divorce from Maliki is nearing completion. Obama has returned American military aircraft to the skies over Iraq, authorizing strikes to protect U.S. diplomatic missions and religious and ethnic minorities, and to prevent Sunni militants from advancing on the Kurdish city of Erbil. On Monday, another political sinkhole opened in Baghdad: the President nominated a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to replace Maliki. But Maliki has refused to give up power; on television, he vowed to use legal action to challenge the decision, while security forces loyal to him were seen taking up positions around the city.” (“Breaking Up: Maliki and Biden“, The New Yorker)
Read that passage over again; that’s the whole ball of wax, right there. Biden botched the SOFA agreement, so Obama decided to get rid of Maliki. Soon after, the plan to replace Maliki with Haider al-Abadi was put into motion.
It’s worth noting, that Obama has been blasted in the media for more than a year for withdrawing the troops from Iraq. A simple Google search of “Maliki Status of Forces agreement” will produce hundreds of articles lambasting Obama as the man “who lost Iraq”, or who “abandoned Iraq”, or the man who organized “the tragic withdrawal”. To America’s right wing pundits, the problem was never the war itself, but the way it ended. They blame Obama for everything that’s gone wrong. That’s why Obama wants to remove Maliki and deploy troops back to Iraq. It’s an attempt to placate the right.
Naturally, the fact that Obama, Biden, Kerry and everyone else in the administration has expressed their support for the nearly-unknown Abadi, has led to suspicions that US Intel agencies (and perhaps the State Department) have been acting behind the scenes to depose Maliki. But Obama vehemently denies any involvement. Check out this article in the Guardian:
“American officials have denied participating in a plot to oust Iraq prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, despite a series of phone calls made by Barack Obama and Joe Biden to support the appointment of his successor…..
The Obama administration had become increasingly strident in its criticism of Maliki in recent weeks, accusing him of the current Islamic uprising by failing to govern in the interest of all Iraqis…..Obama had “instructed his diplomats in Washington and Baghdad to find an alternative” to Maliki. ….(Obama) also dangled the prospect of direct US military support against the Islamic State, the separatists also known as Isis or Isil, if the putative new prime minister Haider al-Abadi succeeds in forming a lasting government.
But officials rejected allegations on Monday that it was encouraging “regime change”, insisting instead that the US was merely supporting a constitutional process rather than favoring individual politicians in Baghdad.” ….(“US denies role in plot to oust Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki”, Guardian)
Obama stepped up his criticism of Maliki in the last few weeks.
Obama blamed Maliki for the “current Islamic uprising” which was nurtured by US Intel agencies that armed, trained and funded the respective wahhabi crackpots who then moved into Iraq.
Obama says the US will not help to defeat the jihadi invasion unless Maliki is replaced.
Obama told” his diplomats in Washington and Baghdad to find an alternative” to Maliki.
At the same time, US “officials rejected allegations on Monday that it was encouraging “regime change”, insisting instead that the US was merely supporting a constitutional process.”
What a joke. If it walks like a coup and quacks like a coup; it’s a coup. It doesn’t matter what Obama says. It doesn’t matter what the media say. It’s painfully obvious that the US is involved.
On top of that, we have this from the New York Times:
“Other senior Obama administration officials said American representatives in Iraq had been increasingly and deeply involved in Baghdad discussions during the last 10 days to settle on an alternative to Mr. Maliki.” (“Iraqis Nominate Maliki Successor, Causing Standoff”, New York Times)
Isn’t that an admission of guilt? If “senior Obama administration officials” had been huddling for the last ten days to decide on a successor to the current Prime Minister, then how is that different than Victoria Nuland plotting the removal of Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych for US-puppet “Yats”? It’s the same thing, isn’t it?
Here’s something else from the NYT that’s worth mulling over:
“It was only during the past week that Mr. Abadi became a candidate. He is a onetime ally of Mr. Maliki’s, and because Mr. Abadi is from the same party his candidacy became attractive, as it recognized the legitimacy of the election victory for Mr. Maliki’s bloc in April’s national elections.
This is what “encouraged them to make a coup against Maliki,” said one of the Shiite negotiators, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss internal deliberations.”
Can you believe what they’re saying? So, it wasn’t Abadi’s position on the issues or his views on sectarianism that made him the “preferred” candidate at all. He was chosen strictly on the basis that his candidacy had the greatest chance of success. That’s it. This isn’t democracy; it’s a “dump Maliki at all cost” campaign orchestrated by the Obama troupe. That’s how desperate these people are.
But maybe Obama is right this time; is that what you are thinking, dear reader? After all, Maliki IS a vicious, iron-fisted tyrant who has fueled sectarian hatred and divisiveness. Maybe it would be better if he WAS gone. Maybe Obama is sincere in wanting (as the New York Times says) “to preserve Iraq’s cohesion while helping to stop ISIS’ avowed goal of creating a monolithic Islamic caliphate that ignores national boundaries.”
If that’s what you are thinking, you’re wrong. Changing the man at the top, will not change the system. Nor does Washington want to change the system. The US wants a savage, remorseless tyrant, (Have you taken a look at Egypt lately?) they just want one that will follow orders, that’s all. Maliki went off the reservation, so now he’s getting his pink slip. That’s all there is to it.
The idea that Abadi will reunify Iraq is ridiculous. The de facto partitioning of Iraq has already taken place. It won’t be reversed. In fact, this is what many in the political establishment (including Joe Biden) wanted from Day 1. A separate Kurdish state that will sell cheap oil to Israel and refuse to pass its oil revenues on to Baghdad, is already a reality, just as the borderless Sunni heartland (that will eventually take shape over the next few years) is a reality. Abadi will not alter these facts on the ground. Iraq is being torn apart by forces too powerful for him to contain or control. His function is merely to sign on the dotted line and allow the US to reopen its bases, redeploy its troops and get on with the business of empire.
The United States does not want a strong, independent Iraq. The US wants oil. The US wants power. The US wants Arabs killing Arabs. The US wants to extinguish Arab identity, culture, pride, literature, science, poetry, etc; anything that could lead to a reemergence of Arab nationalism, anything that could lead to an independent, sovereign state, anything that could impede the looting of Arab countries.
This is just the way that empire’s work. Maliki got in Washington’s way, so now Maliki is going to vanish. End of story.
Whether he was “too sectarian” or not, doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. His fate was sealed the moment he refused to sign the SOFA agreement.
My Money’s On Putin…
“History shows that the United States has benefited politically and economically from wars in Europe. The huge outflow of capital from Europe following the First and Second World Wars, transformed the U.S. into a superpower … Today, faced with economic decline, the US is trying to precipitate another European war to achieve the same objective.”… Sergey Glazyev, Russian politician and economist
“The discovery of the world’s largest, known gas reserves in the Persian Gulf, shared by Qatar and Iran, and new assessments which found 70 percent more gas in the Levantine in 2007, are key to understanding the dynamics of the conflicts we see today. After a completion of the PARS pipeline, from Iran, through Iraq and Syria to the Eastern Mediterranean coast, the European Union would receive more than an estimated 45 percent of the gas it consumes over the next 100 – 120 years from Russian and Iranian sources. Under non-conflict circumstances, this would warrant an increased integration of the European, Russian and Iranian energy sectors and national economies.” Christof Lehmann,Interview with Route Magazine
The United States failed operation in Syria, has led to an intensification of Washington’s proxy war in Ukraine. What the Obama administration hoped to achieve in Syria through its support of so called “moderate” Islamic militants was to topple the regime of Bashar al Assad, replace him with a US-backed puppet, and prevent the construction of the critical Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That plan hasn’t succeeded nor will it in the near future, which means that the plan for the prospective pipeline will eventually go forward.
Why is that a problem?
It’s a problem because–according to Dr. Lehmann–”Together with the Russian gas… the EU would be able to cover some 50 percent of its requirements for natural gas via Iranian and Russian sources.” As the primary suppliers of critical resources to Europe, Moscow and Tehran would grow stronger both economically and politically which would significantly undermine the influence of the US and its allies in the region, particularly Qatar and Israel. This is why opponents of the pipeline developed a plan to sabotage the project by fomenting a civil war in Syria. Here’s Lehmann again:
“In 2007, Qatar sent USD 10 billion to Turkey´s Foreign Minister Davotoglu to prepare Turkey´s and Syria´s Muslim Brotherhood for the subversion of Syria. As we recently learned from former French Foreign Minister Dumas, it was also about that time, that actors in the United Kingdom began planning the subversion of Syria with the help of “rebels”’ (Christof Lehmann, Interview with Route Magazine)
In other words, the idea to arm, train and fund an army of jihadi militants, to oust al Assad and open up Syria to western interests, had its origins in an evolving energy picture that clearly tilted in the favor of US rivals in the region. (Note: We’re not sure why Lehmann leaves out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or the other Gulf States that have also been implicated.)
Lehmann’s thesis is supported by other analysts including the Guardian’s Nafeez Ahmed who explains what was going on behind the scenes of the fake civil uprising in Syria. Here’s a clip from an article by Ahmed titled “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern”:
“In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria”…
According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business”, he told French television:
“I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”
… Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”
So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.”
(“Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern“, The Guardian)
Apparently, Assad was approached by Qatar on the pipeline issue in 2009, but he refused to cooperate in order “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally.” Had Assad fallen in line and agreed to Qatar’s offer, then the effort to remove him from office probably would have been called off. In any event, it was the developments in Syria that triggered the frenzied reaction in Ukraine. According to Lehmann:
“The war in Ukraine became predictable (unavoidable?) when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. …In June and July 2012 some 20,000 NATO mercenaries who had been recruited and trained in Libya and then staged in the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, launched two massive campaigns aimed at seizing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Both campaigns failed and the ”Libyan Brigade” was literally wiped out by the Syrian Arab Army.
It was after this decisive defeat that Saudi Arabia began a massive campaign for the recruitment of jihadi fighters via the network of the Muslim Brotherhoods evil twin sister Al-Qaeda.
The International Crisis Group responded by publishing its report ”Tentative Jihad”. Washington had to make an attempt to distance itself ”politically” from the ”extremists”. Plan B, the chemical weapons plan was hedged but it became obvious that the war on Syria was not winnable anymore.” (“The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine“, New eastern Outlook)
There were other factors that pushed the US towards a conflagration with Moscow in Ukraine, but the driving force was the fact that US rivals (Russia and Iran) stood to be the dominant players in an energy war that would increasingly erode Washington’s power. Further economic integration between Europe and Russia poses a direct threat to US plans to pivot to Asia, deploy NATO to Russia’s borders, and to continue to denominate global energy supplies in US dollars.
Lehmann notes that he had a conversation with “a top-NATO admiral from a northern European country” who clarified the situation in a terse, two-sentence summary of US foreign policy. He said:
“American colleagues at the Pentagon told me, unequivocally, that the US and UK never would allow European – Soviet relations to develop to such a degree that they would challenge the US/UK’s political, economic or military primacy and hegemony on the European continent. Such a development will be prevented by all necessary means, if necessary by provoking a war in central Europe”.
This is the crux of the issue. The United States is not going to allow any state or combination of states to challenge its dominance. Washington doesn’t want rivals. It wants to be the undisputed, global superpower, which is the point that Paul Wolfowitz articulated in an early draft of the US National Defense Strategy:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
So the Obama administration is going to do whatever it thinks is necessary to stop further EU-Russia economic integration and to preserve the petrodollar system. That system originated in 1974 when President Richard Nixon persuaded OPEC members to denominate their oil exclusively in dollars, and to recycle their surplus oil proceeds into U.S. Treasuries. The arrangement turned out to be a huge windfall for the US, which rakes in more than $1 billion per day via the process. This, in turn, allows the US to over-consume and run hefty deficits. Other nations must stockpile dollars to purchase the energy that runs their machinery, heats their homes and fuels their vehicles. Meanwhile, the US can breezily exchange paper currency, which it can print at no-expense to itself, for valuable imported goods that cost dearly in terms of labor and materials. These dollars then go into purchasing oil or natural gas, the profits of which are then recycled back into USTs or other dollar-denominated assets such as U.S. stocks, bonds, real estate, or ETFs. This is the virtuous circle that keeps the US in the top spot.
As one critic put it: “World trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy.”
The petrodollar system helps to maintain the dollar’s monopoly pricing which, in turn, sustains the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It creates excessive demand for dollars which allows the Fed to expand the nation’s credit by dramatically reducing the cost of financing. If oil and natural gas were no longer denominated in USDs, the value of the dollar would fall sharply, the bond market would collapse, and the US economy would slip into a long-term slump.
This is one of the reasons why the US invaded Iraq shortly after Saddam had switched over to the euro; because it considers any challenge to the petrodollar looting scam as a direct threat to US national security.
Moscow is aware of Washington’s Achilles’s heel and is making every effort to exploit that weakness by reducing its use of the dollar in its trade agreements. So far, Moscow has persuaded China and Iran to drop the dollar in their bilateral dealings, and they have found that other trading partners are eager to do the same. Recently, Russian economic ministers conducted a “de-dollarization” meeting in which a “currency switch executive order” was issued stating that “the government has the legal power to force Russian companies to trade a percentage of certain goods in rubles.”
Last week, according to RT:
“The Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “The draft document between the Central Bank of Russia and the People’s Bank of China on national currency swaps has been agreed by the parties…..The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.
Currently, over 75 percent of payments in Russia-China trade settlements are made in US dollars, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.” (“De-Dollarization Accelerates – China/Russia Complete Currency Swap Agreement“, Zero Hedge)
The attack on the petrodollar recycling system is one of many asymmetrical strategies Moscow is presently employing to discourage US aggression, to defend its sovereignty, and to promote a multi-polar world order where the rule of law prevails. The Kremlin is also pushing for institutional changes that will help to level the playing field instead of creating an unfair advantage for the richer countries like the US. Naturally, replacing the IMF, whose exploitative loans and punitive policies, topped the list for most of the emerging market nations, particularly the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) who, in July, agreed to create a $100 billion Development Bank that will “will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size.
According to RT:
“The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within…
“This mechanism creates the foundation for an effective protection of our national economies from a crisis in financial markets,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.”
(“BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency pool to cut out Western dominance“, RT)
It’s clear that Washington’s aggression in Ukraine has focused Moscow’s attention on retaliation. But rather than confront the US militarily, as Obama and Co. would prefer, Putin is taking aim at the vulnerabilities within the system. A BRICS Development Bank challenges the IMF’s dominant role as lender of last resort, a role that has enhanced the power of the wealthy countries and their industries. The new bank creates the basis for real institutional change, albeit, still within the pervasive capitalist framework.
Russian politician and economist, Sergei Glazyev, summarized Moscow’s approach to the US-Russia conflagration in an essay titled “US is militarizing Ukraine to invade Russia.” Here’s an excerpt:
“To stop the war, you need to terminate its driving forces. At this stage, the war unfolds mainly in the planes of economic, public relations and politics. All the power of US economic superiority is based on the financial pyramid of debt, and this has gone long beyond sustainability. Its major lenders are collapsing enough to deprive the US market of accumulated US dollars and Treasury bonds. Of course, the collapse of the US financial system will cause serious losses to all holders of US currency and securities. But first, these losses for Russia, Europe and China will be less than the losses caused by American geopolitics unleashing another world war. Secondly, the sooner the exit from the financial obligations of this American pyramid, the less will be the losses. Third, the collapse of the dollar Ponzi scheme gives an opportunity, finally, to reform the global financial system on the basis of equity and mutual benefit.”
Washington thinks “modern warfare” involves covert support for proxy armies comprised of Neo Nazis and Islamic extremists. Moscow thinks modern warfare means undermining the enemy’s ability to wage war through sustained attacks on it’s currency, its institutions, its bond market, and its ability to convince its allies that it is a responsible steward of the global economic system.
I’ll put my money on Russia.