The March of Folly

I’ve come to believe that our leaders are insane.

What the latest developments on and off the battlefield make undoubtedly clear is that the US and NATO are willing to use Ukraine for as long as it takes to achieve the stated aim of leaving Russia “weakened” or even achieving regime change, no matter the damage knowingly inflicted on Ukrainians, Russians, the Global South, and their own citizens.

Starting a land war with Russia is never a good idea as a certain Mr. Hitler and General Napoleon could attest but neither is invading Iraq or attempting to occupy Afghanistan.

Of course historians have written enormous volumes on the folly of elites. Barbara Tuchman addressed the kind of situation the world faces in Ukraine in her book The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. If she were still alive, she surely would have updated it to take Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine into account.

“They were deaf to disaffection, blind to the alternative ideas it gave rise to, blandly impervious to challenge, unconcerned by the dismay at their misconduct and the rising wrath at their misgovernment, fixed in refusal to change, almost stupidly stubborn in maintaining a corrupt existing system. They could not change it because they were part of it, grew out of it, depended on it.”

Here we are headed into winter with the threat of nuclear war a real possibility, doubling down on support for a corrupt regime in a bankrupt failed state infested with Nazis, running out of weapons, facing economic decline, collapse even, a cold winter, rising inflation. Does that sound like something designed by smart or sane people? And it didn’t just suddenly happen–it’s been building for years.

In truth it goes back to the first Cold War. C. Wright Mills wrote of a “crackpot realism”, where US foreign policy mandarins evoked national security to build a military/industrial/complex bent on nuclear supremacy and to disguise the operations of the corporate and financial deep state. “For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an ’emergency’ without foreseeable end.”

And just like the first Cold War, the corporate media is a large part of the problem. All the cool kids love war. I mean check out this editorial. The New York Times, which consistently supports every American war, has published an op-ed by a neoconservative think-tanker titled “Biden’s Cautious Foreign Policy Imperils Us“.

This would be Joe Biden, who has never met a war he didn’t back and who has been consistently vowing to go to war with the People’s Republic of China if it attacks Taiwan, and whose administration has been pouring billions of dollars into a world-threatening proxy war in Ukraine which it knowingly provoked and from which it has no exit strategy. With this administration’s acceleration toward global conflict on two different fronts, one could easily argue that Biden actually has the most bellicose foreign policy of any president in history.

You know you are living in a profoundly sick society when the world’s most influential newspaper runs propaganda for World War Three while voices pushing for truth, transparency and peace are marginalized, silenced, shunned, and imprisoned. Absent a miraculous appearance of diplomacy, historians who survive to record the imminent nuclear war will describe it as the result of hubris and stupidity run amok.

It’s “crackpot realism” once again, where the conventional wisdom is that the US needs more war and any leader–like Trump–who calls for ending NATO, is portrayed as an authoritarian madman. It’s also the idea among elites and the chattering-class that endless war for empire is the norm and anyone who suggests otherwise is either a Russian sympathizer or a kook.

The neocons who are running amok have never known anything but American hegemony. The Wolfowitz Doctrine, set up after the fall of the USSR, made it US policy to ensure no other superpower develops which can rival US supremacy. It is part of a long term neoconservative plan for continued U.S. supremacy over the world. These same small group of neocons rotate in and out of power, parked in places like the Council on Foreign Relations or Brookings or the AEI, before being called back into government. They have been as welcome in the Obama or Biden White House, as the Bush White House. The Cold War, for them, never ended, and the world remains binary – ‘us and them, good and evil’.

And now the plot thickens:

“Three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system have sustained unprecedented damage in one day,” Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday in what one German official has suggested is a “targeted attack”. Nord Stream 2 suffered a gas leak which was then followed by a drop of pressure on Nord Stream 1. The company also said that “it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.” As both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 both suddenly lost pressure last Monday, Swedish seismologists registered multiple explosions. The pipeline director reports unprecedented damage. Clearly this is deliberate sabotage.

Gee, I wonder who done it?

US official statements offer a clue. Here’s Victoria Nuland in January. “One way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward”. And Biden in February. “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” Reporter: “But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany’s control?” Biden: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”

And now US Secretary of State Blinken has said the pipeline damage presents a “significant opportunity” for Western Europe to abandon Russian natural gas in favor of liquified natural gas from the US.

This fits a pattern. As empires come to the end of their life cycle desperation sets in. The Big Picture reveals the US in absolute panic, with“elites” willing to resort to anything – outrageous lies, assassinations, terrorism, sabotage, all out financial war, support to neo-Nazis – to prevent their descent into a geopolitical and geo-economic abyss. Disabling NS and NS2 represents the definitive closure of any possibility of a German-Russia deal on gas supplies, with the added benefit of relegating Germany to the lowly status of absolute US vassal. If we’re going down then so are you.

Meanwhile, no one is pointing out that the present moment is more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis and we seem to be sleepwalking towards Armageddon.

Sorry, marching towards Armageddon.

Update: US officials keep warning that Russia will use nukes but this is projection. It’s the US that would be forced to use atomic weapons because they lack the requisite conventional ones. Russia, because of it’s advanced conventional weapons, such as hypersonic missiles, has escalation dominance.

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The Jackpot

Author William Gibson came up with the formulation of a massive societal die-off that he called the “Jackpot” in his novel the Peripheral.

Gibson is also famous for his quote–“The Future is Already Here, it’s Just Not Very Evenly Distributed.”

Putting the two together, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Jackpot is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.

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Waiting for the Flood

The US corporate media have transformed into empire cheerleaders, abandoning any pretext of being a Forth Estate holding power accountable. This dynamic took hold after 9/11 and the War on Terror era but the US proxy-war against Russia in Ukraine has only solidified it. Nothing can contradict the narrative that the US is a noble force for good while our enemies are the personification of evil. Indeed, the neocons who are engaged in the inexorable march by the US and its allies to turn the Ukraine crisis into World War III surely have learned the lesson that managing the narrative of what is taking place is the greatest weapon that they have in their possession.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the non-coverage of the explosive charge that Covid 19 was a US bio-weapon unleashed on China and Iran by rouge elements of the Trump administration. Ron Unz, the brilliant writer and editor of the Unz Review has put forth a well argued series of articles making the case that Covid was American made, a product of the US bio-warfare laboratories that was unleashed on foreign enemies, but now his case is bolstered by Jeffrey Sachs, chairman of the Covid Commission, recent pronouncements about the origins of the virus.

“Over the last couple of years a fierce debate regarding my Covid hypothesis has raged on the discussion-threads of our own website, encompassing over 18,000 comments totaling more than 2.6 million words. During these lengthy exchanges, I have encountered few strong arguments against this scenario, other than the claim that even rogue elements of the Trump Administration could not have possibly done anything so reckless and foolish, having such disastrous consequences.

But I think the most plausible reason a casual reader might have for disregarding my analysis has been the argument from silence. If my case were actually as strong as I claimed, surely it would not have been totally ignored for so long by virtually every mainstream and alternative journalist in America. Only obviously fatal flaws in logic could explain such a lack of coverage.

However, the utter silence that has similarly greeted the public revelations of Jeffrey Sachs and the accusations of top Russian generals suggests otherwise. If almost every media outlet in the West can ignore the headline-worthy public statements of the chairman of the Covid Commission, it is easy to understand why they would have done the same to my own far more controversial and far less solidly-established analysis.

But I’d like to believe that once there is a major breach in the dam, an enormous flood of long-avoided information will soon flow outward. In effect, the American public has been bamboozled into supporting a costly and risky proxy war against Russia. Then, it was actively led to believe that Ukraine was winning the fight, despite later reports that the U.S. intelligence community has lacked an accurate portrayal of the war on the ground from its very onset.”

Unz is spot on about the state of the US corporate media but I’m not holding my breath on there being a flood of information. The US corporate media would make Pravda and Izvestia envious with their serial lying and omissions. Their coverage of the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is a case in point. I continue to wonder what the plan is when said facts can no longer be obscured, when cheerleading no longer does it, when it proves no longer enough simply to repeat falsified accounts and judgments as if by dint of repetition they will come true. 

Before the latest barrage of relentless propaganda there was Russia-gate. Russia-gate was a massive psy-op against American liberals, who because of their antipathy towards Trump were primed to support the US proxy-war against Russia in Ukraine. I’ve also come to believe that Russia-gate inoculated the deep state against any suggestion that they were responsible for Covid since liberals came to love them some deep state while many conservatives will never believe that their sacred America would willingly release Covid.

Meanwhile the total information warfare that the corporate media has committed to is unprecedented and, remarkably, it tells you everything you need to know about the weakness of the system where the only thing they know how to do is double down on the mendacity.

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Democracy also dies in the daylight

On Thursday night, Joe Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia about how Donald Trump supporters are violent extremists, and then claimed once again that election fraud is impossible, and that anyone who disagrees is a violent threat to democracy.

It echoed the Washington Post’s concerns about the fragile state of American democracy with their masthead since Trump’s election–“Democracy Dies in Darkness”.

Democracy also dies in the daylight, by which I mean that since at least the Powell Memo both political parties and the corporate media have played no small part in drowning it in the bathtub.

Biden claimed that the Republican party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans and that is a threat to this country… MAGA Republicans do not respect the constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law.

This warning comes from a Democratic administration in thrall to a national security state that used Russia-gate as a slow motion coup against a sitting president and covered up blatant evidence of Biden’s son’s criminal and deviant behavior in the run up to the 2020 election using their Big Tech partners.  Late last month, the world was treated to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg confessing on Joe Rogan’s podcast that, yes, the FBI did in fact put pressure on the social media giant to bury news about Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell”—news that very likely would have changed the results of the 2020 election had it been allowed to circulate.

And they’re warning about threats to democracy.

Man, the projection, it burns.

Of course, the Democratic Party are not the only ones pulling our legs. The Republicans want to blame America’s malaise on socialism or gasp–communism, but this is intended to obscure their role in the descent. In truth, our problems are bipartisan with both parties turbo-charging the looting of our country for the benefit of their campaign supporters. The result is that the US is ruled by billionaires, it’s an oligarchy, not a democracy.

What’s truly ironic about all this wailing about fascism is that the Democratic Party, starting with Hillary in the 2016 election, actively pushed for Trump, the most extreme candidate, to be the candidate on the Republican ballot because they thought that they could beat Trump like a gong. Of course, it also allowed the Democratic Party to move further to the right to balance out the extreme policies of the Trump Republicans, so there’s that. The Democrats have been doing this shuck and jive since Carter but it finally bit them in the ass. You’d think they would have learned their lesson after the election of Trump but while warning about fascism, the Democrats are still actively attempting to get the most extreme Republican candidates on the ballot with the calculation that they will be easier to beat while the Democrats can move even further to the right.

How’s that for cynical and hypocritical? Not to mention self-defeating?

Who am I kidding? This strategy works very well for the billionaire donors that run the show.

The Democrats can pose as the lesser of two evils to their PMC stalwarts, even as they serve Wall Street and the national security state, while the billionaires are down with fascism as long as it keeps the rubes distracted and focused on the other party. The only difference between the red propaganda and blue is that the ongoing disasters are always the other teams fault. It’s either the fascists or the socialists that done it, never in a million years is it the wizard behind the curtain.

However, fear works well as a means to divide and rule. As H.L. Mencken noted, “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

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Public Diplomacy

The US doesn’t do diplomacy. Diplomacy is seen as a sign of weakness. Understanding your enemy is viewed as treasonous. Moreover, American foreign policy relies on force, either economic or military to achieve its aims. Because of this reality much of the rest of the world has come to view the US as not agreement capable.

The US proxy war in Ukraine against Russia has brought all of this into focus. The US refused to negotiate with Russia to alleviate Moscow’s justifiable security concerns about Ukrainian membership in NATO and since then has actively sabotaged any and all negotiations to end the fighting. Indeed, the US provoked this war and sabotaged peace at every opportunity

Instead, the US engages in “public diplomacy” aka–propaganda, to sell the proxy war against Russia to the American public, chiefly liberals, who were already primed to despise Russia thanks the national security state depicting Trump as a Russian spy the entirety of his presidency.

Public diplomacy was developed during the Reagan Administration to sell a skeptical public on war with Nicaragua. It was first exposed during the Iran-Contra hearings but received very little attention.
As the Washington media grew bored with the Iran-contra story, articles focused on the celebrity of Lt. Col. Oliver North and narrow questions, such as who authorized a diversion of Iran arms sales profits to the Nicaraguan contra rebels. Yet, the “public diplomacy” campaign was a dramatic tale, too. It was the story of how the top level of the CIA had circumvented law and manipulated U.S. public opinion in support of CIA covert operations in Central America.

Public diplomacy is basically perception management, with the perception of war being the product that needs to be managed. Remember when Andrew Card, George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff admitted that war was a product that you don’t introduce in August?

Good times.

Public diplomacy exists to influence the opinions of the American people as well citizens of foreign countries, as we can see since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Europe, in particular has been targeted by a vast public diplomacy campaign by outfits like the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). The Atlantic Council is a NATO narrative management firm that is funded by NATO, the US government, the UK government, various other US-aligned states, the arms industry, and numerous billionaires. CEPA’s donor list looks similar to the Atlantic Council’s and includes US arms manufacturers and the US government through both the US State Department and the CIA cutout National Endowment for Democracy. Both are used to promote the information interests of the US-centralized power alliance in Europe and North America.

And now the US Congress is toying with the idea of declaring Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” when it is Washington-ally Ukraine that is in fact using terror and the US has a long history of employing terrorists to carry out its foreign policies.

But this brings us back to the depressing reality of US foreign policy. Being diplomatic, realist and or conciliatory are problems when every issue is framed through the lens of domestic politics. Moreover, the strongest domestic actor for bellicose foreign policies are the weapons industries, shilled for by the neocons, who have a financial interest in endless war. And when it comes to Russia, the neocon hawks are both bipartisan and firmly in control.

Ambassadors are nominated by incoming administrations for their fundraising prowess, while the State Department and  the CIA cutout National Endowment for Democracy spend their waking hours fomenting coups and whipping up “public diplomacy”. That “public diplomacy” is predicted on American exceptionalism where we are noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous. We must believe we are the Good Guys because to think otherwise–when we elect our rulers–would make us directly responsible for the suffering of others. It is an attempt to manipulate public opinion, not to deal with very real and pressing diplomacy. 

US security strategy is not the work of any single US president but of an continuous national security state, which is largely autonomous, and operates behind a wall of secrecy. 

And, it’s not just Russia but China that the US seems bound and determined to enter into conflict with. Lately we’ve had a Congressional trifecta of hubris-laced ignorance, which saw the dispatch of three consecutive delegations that threaten to propel China down the path toward a war with Taiwan it doesn’t want to wage, climaxed by the visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

At the core of all of this is the US attempt to remain the world’s hegemonic power, by augmenting military alliances around the world to contain or defeat China and Russia.  It’s crazy dangerous with the district possibility of ending life on earth. However, the neocons, since Reagan Administration, when the term “public diplomacy” came into being, have understood the need to salve the public’s conscience, and the apparent willingness of the citizenry to collude in the deception. Indeed, it’s only because of this ongoing “public diplomacy’ that the American people are not demanding that the US cease its provocations that have the potential for life ending nuclear war and engage in diplomacy, de-escalation and detente with Russia and China.

Instead, our rulers tell us they have our interests at heart at home, and that they are protecting us from terrorists or communists or the Chinese and or Russians. Domestic politics both reassures us of the establishment’s benevolence or encourages us to become bickering partisans, pitted against each. Meanwhile, we are kept in a state of constant alarm over scary attacks on US interests in foreign lands. And if we want change, we are told, we can always vote for team blue or team red, even if in practice nothing fundamentally alters whichever party is in power.

Meanwhile, the US remains the world’s dominant power. No other country maintains hundreds of military bases scattered throughout the world. The US has spent the 21st century killing people by the millions in wars of aggression. Presently the US is starving entire populations with economic sanctionsmilitary blockades and brazen theft. No other country has been interfering in foreign elections anywhere near as often, while terrorizing populations around the world with wars, covert ops, drone strikes, proxy conflicts, and staged coups and uprisings.

But, thanks to decades of “public diplomacy”, this state of affairs is depicted as mainstream or centrist, not extremist like the icky Trump and his band of MAGA marauders and both political parties are down with it. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that massive amounts of narrative management have gone into creating that consensus. The fact that the social engineers of the oligarchic empire have poured vast fortunes into making sure Americans consent to capitalism, corruption, militarism and murder is the only reason those perspectives are so mainstream that they can be labeled “moderate” or “centrist”.

Unfortunately, all of this lack of real diplomacy and emphasis on “public diplomacy” was manageable when the US was a unipolar power. But the times, as they say, are changing with Russia and China creating a multipolar world that opposes US hegemony.

Reality, to paraphrase Game of Thrones, is coming and promises to be just as brutal as the coldest winter.

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Here We Go Again

I hate the fact that I end up defending an asshole like Donald Trump in my efforts to illuminate the machinations of the deep state, but it’s crucial to understand that the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago is the continuation of Russia-gate.

Indeed, whatever your views on Trump, it is undeniable that the permanent military-intelligence bureaucracy in Washington does not see him as one of their own, and has gone to extraordinary lengths to target him when it sees fit. The FBI investigated Trump as a suspected Russian conspirator and asset, not just once, but twice. First as a presidential candidate, and then months after he took office. To undertake this, they relied on the Hillary Clinton-funded Steele dossier’s conspiracy theories as source material. They repeatedly lied to a FISA court and, despite the full knowledge that they had come up empty, prolonged their investigation with media leaks and court filings that falsely suggested that Trump had initiated a Russian collusion.

The hostility continued throughout Trump’s presidency resulting in two impeachments by the Democrat-controlled House. For the entire four years, there was an atmosphere of crisis surrounding Trump’s presidency, and this has continued with the January 6 Committee hearings. And now the desperate attack on Trump with the Mar-a-Lago raid to make sure he can not run again. Even more suspicious is that all of the actors from the FBI counterintelligence division that carried out Russia-gate were present when agents broke into the estate and ransacked the rooms looking for documents Trump possessed that demonstrated the coup against him.

To recap: The FBI lied on FISA warrants to spy on Donald Trump in 2016, they fabricated the Russia hoax, they worked with Facebook (and probably Twitter) to censor a damaging true story about his opponent in 2020 while they had the laptop the whole time, and they raided his home in 2022.

What drives the deep state and their corporate media lackeys wild is that Trump was somewhat beyond their control. Indeed, Trump owes his success to popular mistrust of the national security state that’s embroiled the country in endless wars and the corporate media that cheers them on. In the past, whenever the media attacked a politician, that politician was never heard from again. But Trump, like a horror movie zombie, just keeps lurching across the political landscape, and even worse, the more the corporate media attacks him the more the MAGA crowd supports him.

Those nostalgists who yearn to reconstitute the good old days when corporate media could dictate reality and force people to believe it are becoming ever more hysterical in their censorship and propaganda campaigns. They are now openly deeming conspiracy theorists “enemies of the state.” Black Americans who oppose the war in Ukraine are getting their doors kicked in by the FBI. CIA whistleblowers who provide proof of Agency crimes to Wikileaks face up to 80 years in prison. Assange awaits death-by-extradition, while Snowden claims asylum in Moscow.

Meanwhile liberals are cheering on the odious Espionage Act because it’s being used against their bête noire–Trump. Ironically, by pursuing him under this provision, the Justice Department just did Trump the mother of all favors, adding his name to a list of some of the most famous political martyrs in our history. “Ellsberg, Hale, Winner, Snowden, Assange, and now Trump. It’s mind-blowing.

With the release of the Trump Mar-a-Lago affidavit pundits are proclaiming the search was validated by the contents of documents found but why would the Justice Department pick an Epstein-complicit Trump-hating judge to sign off on the search warrant? The choice of going to federal magistrate Bruce Reinhart for the Mar-a-Lago warrant sure looks crude and desperate. Only weeks ago, he was presiding over the Trump v Clinton lawsuit. How did that even happen, given Mr. Reinhart’s role defending Jeffrey Epstein’s associates — many of them Clinton-connected — in the 2007 sex-trafficking case? And only after the spectacularly weird act of switching sides from the federal prosecution team to Epstein’s defense team. Not to mention Mr. Reinhart’s record of public statements denouncing Mr. Trump. There are twenty-five other magistrates who rotate their duties in the Southern District of Florida, why pick him?

Inquiring minds want some answers and not the usual handwaving about Trump’s dangerous fascist tendencies.

The raid on Mar-a-Lago should be viewed as part of a larger pattern. Namely the collapse of US hegemony. This is why nearly all foreign policy types in Washington, the heads of international institutions and thinktanks are going apoplectic right now. Their order is collapsing, and their decisions and actions appear to be done in desperation. Unfortunately, there is no sign that these policy makers are willing to change course. They are living examples of Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” 

They seem wholly unable to extricate themselves from a mindset that, in terms of foreign policy, has already run its course. If they don’t change their policies, then the American people will change their politicians.

The charge against Trump is that he represents a crude sort of American fascism but what is the national security state that uses right-wing death squads, al Qaeda terrorists and Neo-Nazi’s as surrogates except fascist? What’s become apparent is that there are two types of fascism in present day America: The right-wing, populist type epitomized by Trump, who has taken full advantage of the 40 odd year decline in living standards for the majority of Americans. And the fascism represented by the national security state–deep state–cheered on by liberals because of its antipathy towards the Donald.

We are caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of all-American fascism. Chose your monster–right-wing populism, Trump style. Or the national security state, cheered on by liberals.

Everyone is a winner.

Meanwhile, the left in America is dead. They didn’t just sabotage and destroy the left, they burnt it to the ground then burnt the blueprints for how to rebuild it. The deep state’s propaganda campaign against the left has been so successful that people don’t even know where “the left” is anymore. Most have it confused with identity politics like having pink hair and saying your pronouns, or outright right-wing like the Democratic Party.

Historically, when the left fails to articulate an answer to working-class suffering, there is a corresponding rise in right-wing populism. To the extent that there is anything left involved with the Democratic Party or the class-blind identitarianism it wholeheartedly embraces, the visible left’s contemporary answer to working class suffering is to say that the white workers just need to “check our privilege” and get on with the belt-tightening.

I’m not sure that’s a winning political issue to run on.

Update: The deep state must not possess incriminating pictures of Trump on Epstein’s pedophile island or else would they go to all the trouble?

Update II: Like minds think alike. Lambert at Naked Capitalism has come to the same conclusions I have. “Speculating freely, let me put an alternative thesis: Trump kept documents — some of them, at least — that implicated the operatives of RussiaGate 1.0. First, it would enable Trump to take revenge on the “Deep State” factions who attempted to destroy his first presidency. Second, it provides a natural issue to campaign on if and when he runs for his second.”

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The neocons are sure to lose their shit but what did they expect with their inept machinations and insane war mongering? Instead of a glorious neoliberal market utopia undergirded by American “full spectrum dominance” the rest of the world is headed to a multipolar future.

End of history my ass.

The financialized neocolonialism overseen by Wall Street is coming to a screeching halt, thanks to a large part due to Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine that is really a proxy war against the US/NATO. The opening was quickly exploited. In quick succession, we have had a number of potentially strategy re-defining summits: The Caspian, the Tehran and Russia-Turkey reset conferences. These are all examples of the new political dynamics beginning to manifest. These confabs, nonetheless, are buttressed by solid economic interest, centered around the advent of new trade and economic connections, in ways to mitigate the US’s barrage of sanctions, whilst at the same time, generating new commercial initiatives to lift these regions out from their economic servitude.

Taken together, this represents a strategic move to take commerce, its transportation corridors and all payment systems out of the control of Wall Street financiers. A multipolar world order is taking shape. Instead of a “rules based order” directed by the US an increasing number of countries are choosing a different path of sovereign development based on their own distinct identities, traditions and values.

Meanwhile the neocon infestation of both Republican and Democratic parties has resulted in an increasingly unhinged foreign policy. This has become so dangerous that even Hague fugitive Henry Kissinger has felt the need to issue a warning. “We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to.”

The defining event that may tie all these Russian initiatives together took place thousands of miles from the Ukraine–the Pelosi visit to Taiwan that so infuriated Beijing. Thanks to Pelosi’s stunt China now realizes, like Russia has come to, that the US is not agreement capable, and they are girding for a new stage of conflict. Indeed, the pace and intensity of US-China tension is set to go up–changing that relationship forever.

Thanks to the deluge of propaganda most Americans conflate the US empire with America the country and therefore support US imperialism. But the unipolar US empire is detrimental to the vast majority of citizens and only serves the elite. Paradoxically, during the Cold War the USSR, by providing an alternative to capitalism, kept our feral elite somewhat concerned with our well being, if only for the optics in the competition between operating systems. But once the Soviets quit there was, as Margaret Thatcher warned, no alternative to the savagery of the neoliberal market. And now the malign effects of the unipolar period of American hegemony are on full display: The manufacturing offshoring that has left many formerly vibrant communities abandoned husks as our feral elite embraced the neoliberal way of outsourcing to low wage nations to destroy labour. The diversion of wealth from middle -class Americans to the billionaires. The ongoing opioid epidemic and deaths of despair. The decaying infrastructure. The trillions squandered on weapons as millions of Americans lack healthcare–the total national security state budget for early 2019 was over $1.25 trillion, and it has grown exponentially since that time.

It is, of course, unpopular in any instance to be an apostate, to be the child suggesting the emperor has no clothes, and to challenge the corporate media narrative that has been broadly accepted by a trusting public.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that the era of the United States as the supreme military and economic power in the world is over so we can prepare accordingly.

Moreover, we should celebrate rather than mourn.

The real patriotic response is to advocate for the end of empire and a restoration of our republican values.

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Confessions of an economic imperialist

The US uses finance and debt to maintain its empire, working through its minions the IMF and World Bank to immiserate developing countries so they can be plundered. What is evangelized as U.S.-style democracy is really a financial oligarchy privatizing basic infrastructure, health and education.

Instead of increasing the ability of borrowers to pay off their debts US economic imperialism has made developing countries more dependent on their creditors, worsened their terms of trade by promoting raw materials exports and food dependency, and forestalled needed social modernization such as land reform and progressive taxation. Washington is guided by the economic imperialism of American financial interests and it becomes belligerent in an attempt to make other countries just as equally paralyzed by making these countries pay tribute to the U.S. by means of financial engineering, by means of debt service, by means of selling their mineral resources, their public utilities, their land, their roads all to foreign investors. America’s international diplomacy aims to dictate financial, trade and military policies that will lock other countries into dollar debt and trade dependency by preventing them from developing alternatives.

Going further, the reason that the “too big to fail” banks and their criminal CEO’s were bailed out in the aftermath of the 2008 Wall Street Crash is that they are deemed to be essential to the US’s financialized foreign policies.

While US capital markets are perceived as the most open and liquid and the US has long been a bastion of economic stability, the “exorbitant privilege” enjoyed by America is backed up by the Pentagon. Globalization fan-boy, Thomas Friedman wasn’t wrong when he wrote–“The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” US financial imperialism threatens to destabilize countries and perhaps bomb them until they agree to adopt neoliberal policies and privatize their public domain. Military coups, like the one in Ukraine in 2014 are described as democratic if they are sponsored by the United States in the hope of promoting financial imperialism.

The “exorbitant privilege” of maintaining the worlds reserve currency allows the US to issue paper for raw materials, resources and finished products, flooding the world with dollars to absorbing foreign countries material output, increasing US domestic consumption levels and appropriation of foreign assets. Since dollar convertibility into gold ended in August 1971, dollarization of the world’s trade and investment has created a need for other countries to hold most of their new international monetary reserves in U.S. Treasury securities and bank deposits. The US also spends an enormous amount of money on military spending but since the it went off gold in 1971 America now had a cost-free means. Meanwhile, that huge foreign debt that deficit scolds are always warning about will be paid back with more paper.

As the author of Super Imperialism, Michael Hudson puts it–“Suppose you were to go to the grocery store and just pay in IOUs. You could just keep spending if you could convince the owner, the grocer to use the IOU to pay the farmers and the dairy people for their products. What if everybody else used these IOUs as money? You would continue to get your groceries for free.”

This “Washington Consensus” would not be so problematic if America used the advantages of its reserve currency to invest in productive capitalism that supported rising living standards and environmental balance. Instead, the dollars in which foreign central banks hold their savings have financed an imperial military and financial superstructure that imposes dependency rather than self-sufficiency on its client countries.

Indeed, the tendency of US economic imperialism is to retard world development, loading down Third World countries with dollar-denominated debt while requiring America’s own dollar debts as the medium to settle payment imbalances in every region. At the most basic level this involves extending its own financialized economy to the entire world. This distorts the economies of other countries because the aim of finance capital is not to hire labor to make profits from tangible capital investments raising productivity and living standards. Rather, it is to extract economic rent from land, natural resources and monopolies. That is why the IMF and World Bank, US economic actors, sponsor privatization of rent-yielding assets away from the public domain throughout the world.

This is what led China, Russia, Iran and other countries to say that they are done giving America a free ride. They claim that these dollarized IOUs are being used to surround them of military bases, to overthrow them and to threaten to bomb them if we don’t do what American diplomats tell them to do and it’s hard to argue contrary.

This paradigm is the key to understanding recent US foreign policy machinations from the proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, to the never ending economic sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Venezeala, etc, to the continuation of the Trump tariffs against China, to Nancy Pelosi’s provocative junket to Taiwan.

What’s darkly amusing is that US provocations are achieving just the opposite of America’s aim of preventing China, Russia and their allies from acting independently of U.S. control over their trade and investment policy. What’s depressing is to see so much arrogance and evil combined with so much incompetence from our leaders.

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We’re constantly told that mass defaults would destroy the economy, but this is more of the great lie promulgated by the corporate media. Mass defaults would destroy much of the wealth of the financial elite which has been greatly enriched by the global expansion of debt, while freeing the debtors of their obligations.

Going further, this insistence on creditors uber alles is historically false. Debt jubilees, land distribution, proclamations cancelling debts, liberating bond-servants were what kept liberty for citizens in ancient times. Modern economists wedded to neoliberal shibboleths have distorted this history to favor creditors, ie the bankers who control our society. But facts matter little when it comes to dishing out propaganda to a largely clueless American public. 

David Graeber’s book, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years, summarized how royal debt cancellation in the ancient Near East to show that interest-bearing debt originally was adopted with checks and balances to prevent it from polarizing society between creditors and debtors. In fact, all ancient societies had a mistrust of wealth, above all monetary and financial wealth in creditor hands, because it generally tended to be accumulated at the expense of society at large. 

Sound familiar?

Heterodox economist Michael Hudson also writes about debt, from antiquity to the present. “As I have sought to emphasize, oligarchic control of government has been the distinguishing feature of Western civilization ever since classical antiquity. And the key to this control has been opposition to strong government – that is, civil government strong enough to prevent a creditor oligarchy from emerging and monopolizing control of land and wealth, making itself into a hereditary aristocracy, a rentier-class living off land rents, interest and monopoly privileges that reduce the population at large to austerity.”

The US economy is based on financial capitalism. Financial capitalism, especially since 1980, is the nationalistic doctrine of American banks and the American 1%, and the American financial sector that is sort of merged into a symbiotic unit with the insurance and real estate industries (FIRE). Unfortunately financial capitalism is ultimately extractive rather than productive. The US has been essentially cannibalizing its productive economy for decades while loading Americans up with debt to make up for their diminished salaries. Instead of subsidizing essential infrastructure–education, health care, transportation–to enable a low cost economy the US has, under the influence of neoliberal ideologues, privatized it’s infrastructure so that everything is too expensive.

The reason the neoliberal financial engineers have been able to cannibalize the tremendous source of wealth is that the US developed through productive, industrial capitalism. Industrial capitalism in the nineteenth century was all in favor of strong government infrastructure. The ideal of industrial capitalism was to keep the wage costs of production down not by reducing wages but having government provide a basic infrastructure to cover the basic needs of employees. The governments would provide free education so that employers didn’t have to pay for it. The governments would provide medical care so that employees didn’t have to pay for it and employers wouldn’t have to pay employees enough money to cover the education costs and to cover the medical care costs. The government would build roads and infrastructure and everything to facilitate the overall cost of doing business by industrial capital.

Financial capitalism is just the opposite. Finance capitalism wants to privatize and take education, medical care, and roads and erect tool booths across these vital parts of the nations infrastructure. That way they can pay out their economic rent to the bondholders and the stockholders and this economic rent adds to the cost of education, health care, internet and everything else that workers need to live on so the result is to make it a high cost economy, that’s up to its eyeballs in debt.

As you might have noticed from Obama’s time in office when he bailed out the bankers and kept the debts in place, the government has become the protector of the wealthy, and so defaults that actually impact the wealthy are off limits. The wealthy will demand the state absorb their losses (recall that profits are private while losses are socialized). However, and this is the ultimate explosive political question, the only equitable solution is to force the losses on those who have profited so handsomely off of the mountains of debt.

We need a debt jubilee.

Update: I’ve come to believe that a right-wing populist campaigning on a debt jubilee could capture the presidency.

Just saying.

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