Leftless in America

 

In The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump, political scientist, Corey Robin says that conservatism draws its power and purpose from opposition to the left. “From the French Revolution through civil rights and women’s lib, struggles for collective liberation through revolution or reform have forced the right to think harder and better, to act smarter and with greater discipline and intentionality — not out of any Millian desire to get the better of the argument, but out of a desperate need to defend power and privilege against a movement that seeks their elimination.”

What if there’s no left in the US?

According to Robin: “Without a genuine enemy to tutor it, the right has allowed the long-standing fissures of the conservative movement to deepen and expand. That absent tutelage is most visibly embodied in Trump, whose whims are as unlettered as his mind is untaught. Trump is a window onto the dissolution of the conservative whole, a whole that can allow itself to collapse because it has achieved so much. Battling its way to hegemony in the second half of the 20th century, the American right would never have chosen a Trump — not because it was more intelligent and virtuous or less racist and violent, but because it was disciplined by its task of destroying the left. With that left now destroyed, the foot soldiers of the right wing think to themselves: We’ve had conservative Republican presidents. We have a conservative Republican Congress. Why haven’t they delivered on the promises they’ve made for so long? Why haven’t they made us great again? Why not Trump?”

Robin doesn’t say it but one of the chief reasons that conservatism became ascendant is that its erstwhile foe —the Democratic Party (who posed as the left)–abandoned the fight and actively aided conservatives.

For example, it wasn’t just the conservatives who sold us a bill of goods on the wonders of globalization, it was neoliberal Democrats as well. If you export millions of jobs to Mexico and Asia, take workers’ negotiating powers away and push them into crappy jobs with no benefits, while massively aiding banks and corporations, the result will be the sorts of extreme inequality presently plaguing our country.

This kind of analysis is not rocket science and it used to be part of every left-wing intellectual’s toolbox. The left made a serious mistake by ceding the economics sphere to bankers and finance, while focusing their energies on identity politics and cultural issues. In fact, the American left has gone two generations without understanding economics and finance, or even caring to understand. According to writer Mark Ames, “it was the hippies who decided half a century ago that finance was beneath them, so they happily ceded the entire field—finance, business, economics, money—otherwise known as “political power”—to the other side.”

Right now the so-called Resistance is focused on Trump, as if he were the cause of all our problems. But, like I’ve said before and will repeat–Trump is not the cause, he’s just one of the more ghastly symptoms of a failed economic system and dysfunctional democracy.

Since the Red Scares of the 1920’s, when President Woodrow Wilson and his Attorney General Palmer, virtually destroyed the labor movement and radical press, the destruction of the left in America has been a long running goal of conservative business culture.

The Great Depression and New Deal revitalized a labor movement that was energized by socialists and communists. Following World War II, however, the corporate state struck back, with the Taft-Hartley Act, that limited strikes and while fragmenting labor-power with right-to-work statutes, and the McCarthy witch-hunts during the early Cold War years, where the threat of the Soviet Union was used as a cudgel to attack left intellectuals.

The United States is nominally a representative democracy, however corporate interests have an outsized influence on the policies we enact. These corporations spend enormous amounts of money to get the American people to identify free enterprise (meaning state subsidized private power with no infringement of managerial prerogatives) as the American way. In addition to the day in and day out pro-business advertising and PR, corporations have waged intensified propaganda campaigns, deploying the term free enterprise as a means of gaining support for corporate policies.

This long running program to defeat the left has been a one-sided class war where the wealthy and corporations they control have routed their foe and are busy shooting the survivors.

So, I have a question. What are we going to do about it?

If we want a left that can help balance out our world and provide workers some needed power, we need to redevelop an vibrant economic critique of the present ruling ideology–neoliberalism.

In retrospect it seems obvious, but Bernie Sanders did so well in the 2016 presidential election because he’s the first Democrat in forever to offer a trenchant political analysis of the US economy, focusing on class and state power.

The ironic aspect of the rebirth of the left in America is that this development could be the best thing that’s happened to conservatives since Ronald Reagan. Conservatives, as Corey Robin, convincingly argues, absolutely requires a vibrant left to revitalize it as a political movement, lest it end up with Donald Trump as its standard bearer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Because Markets

 

Once again, there was a mass-shooting in America. This time in Las Vegas, where a 64 year old man sprayed bullets down onto concert-goers, killing 58 people and wounding 489.

The statistics paint a horrible picture of gun violence in the U.S. There is now one mass shooting, with more than four victims, per day:

First 9 months of 2017:
-11,572 gun deaths
-23,365 gun injuries
-271 mass shootings
-1,508 unintentional shootings
-2,971 kids/teens shot

Coincidentally, the Federal Reserve just released the 2016 version of the Survey of Consumer Finances. Overall, the new data presents a bleak reality. Wealth inequality is higher than ever. The overwhelming majority of Americans have less wealth now than they did one decade ago.

Maybe there’s a relationship?

Since the imposition of neoliberalism in the late 1970’s these two trends have moved together–more inequality results in more mass murder.

Neoliberalism has played a central role in reshaping the American economy and what it means to be a worker in the United States. Marrying a long tradition of individualism in American political thought to a policy program of deregulation and a globalizing world economy, these ideas have played a substantial role in stagnating wages, degrading working conditions, and cuts in the sorts of New Deal programs that made for a vibrant American community and culture.

After 40 years of neoliberalism the results are not pretty. Many of our cities are in ruins. Our public transportation system is a shambles. Our educational system is in steep decline and being privatized. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, depression and morbid obesity plague a population that has fallen into profound despairHalf of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Ever-rising medical costs and loophole-filled insurance policies mean a costly medical problem will also lead to stressed finances and potentially a bankruptcy. Job tenures are short and if it takes more than 6 months to land a new job, you may be permanently unemployed. Most of the jobs created since the Wall Street crash were part-time. And those in part-time jobs are subject to depression at a 50% higher rate than those in full-time jobs.

Going further, neoliberalism has led to atomization in America; a sort of Randian hyper-individualism where everyone is responsible for their outcome in life and there is no such thing as a community. Shit! Everyone is walking around staring at their cell-phones. It’s no wonder that Americans view each other with suspicion and fear. High levels of inequality in and of themselves impair health and longevity, even for wealthy people. Indeed, highly stratified societies have weak social ties, which is a negative for health.

Add all this together with high rates of gun ownership and an American culture soaked in violence and it’s a recipe for disaster.

In, Going Postal, Mark Ames says that mass shootings are a recent phenomenon. According to Ames, these sorts of massacres have only been occurring since the Reagan administration and the adoption of neoliberal economic policies. These economic policies have hit white working-class males especially hard. Unsurprisingly, white males are the ones pulling the trigger in these, all too frequent, mass murders.

This being America, there is a historical amnesia about the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms. Conservatives, in thrall to the NRA, go so far as to claim that the Founders, as revolutionaries themselves, wanted an armed population so the people could rebel against the Republic, when, in fact, the goal of the 2nd Amendment was to establish state militias to maintain order in the time of armed uprisings, like Shay’s Rebellion, and potential slave revolts.

On the other side of the political spectrum there has been the predicable response. Since the shooting, there has been plea after plea for gun control as a way of putting an end to violence in America. While these sorts of appeals are certainly reasonable, there is something else at work here in America–a kind of dark sickness–that I believe is related to how we organize our society.

Humans have used markets to organize economic activity for thousands of years. It’s only been in the last 40 years, under the auspices of neoliberalism, that we’ve subsumed our whole world to markets. The corporate state, that’s been created and nurtured during this period, celebrates the loss of community brought about by this development. After all, it’s not possible to have both massive inequality, and a caring community.

Lambert at Naked Capitalism came up with 2 rules to describe neoliberalism–Rule #1: Because markets, Rule #2: Go die!

Unpacking Lambert’s rules: Neoliberals insist that the market is the most rational and efficient way to organize society. Social welfare programs designed to ameliorate the savagery of the market are immoral and distort the magical information processor that is the market. Therefore, if you are unable to parlay your human capital into a winning hand at the market/casino–go die. Of course, these rules do not apply to neoliberals or the banks and corporations they advise.

It should not be a surprise that in an angry, heavily armed country, where market forces have replaced community, there will be some individuals who refuse to go-die when they can go-kill.

 

 

 

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The Axis of Stupid

 

Between Trump’s UN speech and the new Committee to Investigate Russia, I don’t know who’s dumber–Trump, or the disparate faction that seems determined to take him down.

The Committee to Investigate Russia is sponsored by Hollywood director Rob Reiner, who played Meathead, on the 70’s sitcom–All in the Family.

I know, sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

Reiner explained the purpose as–“We’re trying to break through and explain to people why this is important and that there is a serious problem here that people don’t seem to really grasp.”

Maybe the purpose of the new committee is to propagandize Americans who seem to have lost interest in the story?

Recent polls have demonstrated that the American electorate could care less about it. As they continue to lose their jobs and homes and fall into medical debt and struggle with opioid addictions, they want our leaders and the corporate media to focus on important things like the economy and the fact that they face an increasingly precarious future.

While average Americans are tired of the story, liberal intellectuals, whose hatred of Trump seems to have overpowered their cognitive facilities, have embraced the Russia hacking story with a fervor. (I’m looking at you–New York Times) The last time this happened in 2003, after a year of such propaganda, the U.S. attacked Iraq on fraudulent – not “mistaken” – intelligence.

Perhaps the new effort by the Committee to Investigate Russia is due to the fact that the Russians have successfully deterred the US’s regime change foreign policies in Syria and Ukraine?

Most Americans never heard his speech, but at the UN General Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin described American foreign policies thusly–“An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life. I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you’ve done?”

Putin was referring to the US efforts to overthrow the Syrian regime by employing al-Qaeda as proxies. The entirely legal military intervention by Russia at the request of the sovereign government of Syria — a member in good standing at the UN – reversed the nation’s descent into U.S.-backed jihadist terror. History may decree that Putin saved the international legal order from complete destruction by the US.

This effort to blame Russia for hacking our precious democracy has been ongoing since before the presidential election, but it became super-charged in the wake of Trump’s win when Hillary Clinton needed an excuse for losing to an orange-haired freak.

Despite the Sturm und Drang many knowledgable independent journalist and insiders doubt the story. For example, U.S. intelligence veterans–ex-NSA official William Binney, and ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern–are skeptical that Russia “hacked” the DNC’s computers, pointing instead to a download of emails by an insider.

The Committee to Investigate Russia did receive lots of corporate media attention. Not only has the corporate media been pushing the hacking story relentlessly but now it involves one of their favorite Beltway tropes–bi-partisanship. Reiner is a Democrat, while Frum, Boot, and Clapper are neoconservative Republicans.

David Frum, if you’ll remember from the way-back-machine, was George W. Bush’s speechwriter, who is credited with inventing the expression “axis of evil“, which Bush introduced in his 2002 State of the Union address.

Frum is on to his new gig as part of an axis of stupid, where instead of actual Russian experts the committee is made up of the following leading lights:

  • a neocon blogger
  • a perjurer
  • wonk with no Russia background
  • the director of When Harry Met Sally, and Meathead
  • right-wing talk radio guy

Like I say–you can’t make this shit up.

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Race and Class

 

How, in a nation based on slavery and genocide, did a black man like Obama get elected president?

That’s the question I’m left with after reading Ta-Nehisi-Coates masterful essay on race entitled–The First White President.

Coates central assertion is that the foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the repudiation of Barack Obama’s legacy. He goes on to assemble a powerful argument that, contrary to many post election class-based analysis, race was the central factor that led to the election of Trump.

There is much that is true in Coates essay about the pernicious role that race plays in America.

However, the whole race/class thing in America is incredibly complicated, and trying to understand where one ends and the other begins seems to be a fools errand.

Let’s say that both contributed to the election of Trump.

I’m more interested in who is allowed to be president by the elite that control our country, and what they are expected to do once in office.

In my opinion, after the colossal fuck-up of the privileged, white Bush and his administration of arrogant neoconservatives, our elite needed something totally different. The misadventures in the Middle-East, followed by the Wall Street crash had deeply discredited the traditional powers that be.

Enter Obama, who was elected at this critical junction of American history.

Since the early 1970s corporate elites have abandoned the postwar class compromise and sought to radically restrict the scope of economic fairness. Essentially, what capitalists grudgingly accepted during an exceptional period of postwar growth and rising profits, they would no longer.

The past forty years have witnessed an ideological and political war against the labor movements and the welfare state they helped build. This bipartisan class-war advocated for the tenets of neoliberalism: deregulating the economy, decreasing progressive taxation; decreasing the scope of public goods; and decreasing the power of organized labor.

Obama’s mission, which he gladly signed up for, was to maintain this neoliberal status quo. He continued the foreign policies of Bush, while bailing out the bankers who caused the crash, leaving millions of American homeowners impoverished in the process. Indeed, the whole thrust of policy by the entire political class, Obama included, was devoted to preserving the financial sector. Obama’s real skill was to co-opt left-wing policies and maintain the power of the elite political and economic class that rules America.

Coates wants to blame persistent racism and the obstructionist Republicans who simply wouldn’t work with a black president, but this seriously distorts the historical record. We know from Ron Suskind’s, book–Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, that Obama, having ridden into office partly on a wave of popular anger at Wall Street and the bankers, called a meeting of the nations top 13 financial executives in March of 2009. Instead of siding with those who’d been most harmed by the crisis–workers, minorities, and the poor–Obama sided unequivocally with the bankers.

“My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” Obama said. “You guys have an acute public relations problem that’s turning into a political problem. And I want to help…I’m not here to go after you. I’m protecting you…I’m going to shield you from congressional and public anger.” For the banking elite, who had destroyed untold millions of jobs, there was, as Suskind puts it, “Nothing to worry about. Whereas FDR had, during the Great Depression, pushed for tough, viciously opposed reforms of Wall Street and famously said “I welcome their hate”, Obama was asking “How can I help?” As one leading banker told Suskind, “The sense of everyone after the meeting was relief. The president had us at a moment of real vulnerability. At that point, he could have ordered us to do just about anything and we would have rolled over. But he didn’t – he mostly wanted to help us out, to quell the mob.”

The real tragedy of Barak Obama is that he had the opportunity to be a transformational president, and advance race relations on a monumental scale. Imagine how Americans of all races, minus the 1%, of course, would have viewed him had he taken on Wall Street and advanced economic policies that began to reverse the inequalities brought on by 40 years of neoliberalism. Imagine if he would have put forth Medicare-for-All, healthcare reform  instead of the neoliberal Affordable-Care-Act.

But, that was always out of the question for Obama. His values are that of meritocracy. He saw people like Jaimie Dimon not as criminals who’d wrecked the country but as the smartest guys in the room that he went to Harvard with and socialized alongside.

Update: This sums up our recent presidential succession perfectly.

“America was spoonfed a boatload of lies in order to force the election of what the US oligarchs perceived as a more reliable pro-establishment candidate to protect their assets. Anyone who’s looking at the situation clearly can see that Trump isn’t extremely awful because of the few ways he’s differed from other recent presidents, he’s extremely awful because of the things he’s got in common with them. By far the most evil things that he has done haven’t been new horrors unique to his administration, but continuations of Bush and Obama’s neoconservative civilian-slaughtering foreign policy, oppressive neoliberal domestic policy, and Orwellian surveillance policy. After all the fearmongering and freakouts, we’ve seen conclusively that Trump is essentially a Republican Obama, who was himself essentially a Democratic George W. Bush. If anything, Trump is just more personally obnoxious about doing the things his predecessors did.”

 

 

 

 

 

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5 feet high and rising

 

Much of the Sturm und Drang over President Trump has got to do with the ongoing crisis in the legitimacy of the neoliberal dispensation. Let’s face it, our elite have made a hash of things and they can’t seem to cope with the cascading failures.

Just to add insult to injury, Hurricane Harvey has submerged their neoliberal ethos under 5 feet of fetid water.

Neoliberal hero Margaret Thatcher righteously proclaimed that– “…there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” While, Ronald Reagan denounced government in no uncertain terms, saying–“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help …”

If it wasn’t so tragic it would be quite hilarious to point and snicker at their cognitive dissonance as neoliberals attempt to obscure their cold and uncaring world-view behind lofty rhetoric of concern for the survivors of the massive storm.

As always, they will be aided by the corporate media, who will cynically use images of flooding and stories of heroic rescue to sell their favored narrative of disaster capitalism.

The real action will happen in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Neoliberals operate according to the maxim that–“you never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  After Hurricane Katrina, neoliberals rushed into New Orleans and began privatizing public schools and constructing new charter schools, while firing unionized teachers. Public housing was bulldozed with new upscale condos springing up in their place as working-class people who’d lived in New Orleans for generations were pushed out to make room for hip new professionals.

Naomi Klein describes this process in her book The Shock Doctrine, calling the erasure of the New Orleans public school system an educational land grab.

“In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid was brought back online, the auctioning off of New Orleans’ school system took place with military speed and precision. Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.”

I’m certain that neoliberals are already plotting the reforms they’ll make in Houston when the waters recede.

 

 

 

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I don’t miss W.

 

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said: I Miss W. The car was festooned with other stickers that led me to believe that the owner was a liberal.

Oh, great, another liberal who mistakes Trump for the cause of our disease when he’s just  one of the more ghastly symptoms.

In my opinion, we have a buffoon like Trump as President precisely because we never held W. and all the neoconservative minions who made up his administration responsible for the war crimes and torture they committed.

We also have a buffoon for a President because Obama and his neoliberal minions bailed out the bankers who were responsible for the Wall Street crash instead of the millions of Americans who were thrown out of their houses.

Indeed, the neoconservatives and the neoliberals of the last two administrations have demonstrated not only their intellectual bankruptcy, but their raw savagery.

For example, in the wake of Charlottesville, the entire political class is united in decrying neo-Nazis, but under Obama, the neoconservatives, led by Victoria Nuland, used neo-Nazi’s as stormtroopers to overthrow the Ukraine government and wage a savage civil war, all in an epic campaign to jump-start a second Cold War against Russia.

It should be obvious but crimes committed on the periphery of the empire always return to sender.

Then there’s the economic system-neoliberalism-that’s impoverished the vast majority of Americans while enriching the 1% and their professional hangers-on. Although, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

In the Supermanagerial Reich, Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Raphaële Chappe examine the political/economy of Germany under Hitler and the Nazis and connect the violence of Charlottesville with neoliberalism.

“The parallel between the Nazi “revolution” in the 1930s and the neoliberal “revolution” in the 1980s and ’90s goes much further. The Nazis were also pioneers in what was then the uncharted economic waters of “privatization.” In the face of the Great Depression, states across the world — including the Social Democratic led Weimar Republic — nationalized key industries and, in some cases, like Germany, nearly the entirety of the financial sector. The Nazis — despite early propaganda indicating otherwise — were the unique exception. Not only did they avoid further nationalization but they innovated a process so idiosyncratic at the time that it required coining a German neologism: Reprivatisierung.”

Much of the problems we face as a country can be traced to these economic policies pursued by both political parties. We wonder why Americans are turning to violence or opioids, when it should be obvious that neoliberalism has created a vast underclass of precarious Americans.

Unfortunately, neoliberalism has come to regiment our lives to a startling degree with the idea that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity. Neoliberalism, despite misperceptions, doesn’t actually seek to abolish the state and create an organic market. Rather, it captures and transforms the state by reducing its power to regulate the wealthy and corporations they control, while radically expanding its co-ersive powers over American citizens.

In the process we’ve created our very own all-American, Supermanagerial Reich.

“While there is much gnashing of teeth over our own, cartoonish Hitler wannabe, too many political actors seem more than willing to turn their heads away from our own Supermanagerial Reich. Like mid-1930s Germans, too many are quite simply comfortable with the rolling slow-motion horror that has been neoliberalism. They view the Trumps and the Le Pens and the Erdoğans, and so forth as a new crisis, a sudden shock to the system. Many in the United States fear a Trump election because there might be an explosion of state repression against the vulnerable, particularly against specific racial and ethnic minorities. And yet, the neoliberal state has already created a penal system to rival the world’s most authoritarian dictatorships. The United States imprisons more citizens (total and per capita) than any other country on Earth, and African Americans and Latinos at a vastly over-represented rate. Many fear Trump would bring massive deportations of undocumented immigrants. And yet, the neoliberal state already engages in mass deportations, at the level of millions during the current administration, with countless more waiting in dire conditions in the world’s largest network of immigrant detention camps. Many fear a Trump election would bring mass persecution, surveillance, and restrictions for American Muslims. And yet, the neoliberal state already spies on Muslims, administers religious tests at borders, and polices Muslims for nothing more than their religious practices. Many fear a Trump election might bring economic ruin, and yet, for most Americans, wealth is vanishing, wages stagnant, real unemployment steady.”

As political philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, noted–“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

Presently, we are living through a variety of morbid symptoms.

Update: As someone who grew up in the south, with many southern relatives and friends, I sympathize with the idea of the Lost Cause, that animates many of these folks, while accepting the reality that the Confederates rebelled against the Union as a way to preserve slavery.

The US history of slavery is incredibly complicated and ultimately tragic. Many northerners, especially the ship owners and bankers, created vast fortunes from the slave trade. Our hero’s, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners. To be perfectly honest, our country was founded on slavery and genocide. If you want to discuss this history it’s well past time.

That being said, while I respect the freedom of speech of even the most loathsome neo-Nazis, showing up heavily armed with assault weapons  is hardly freedom of speech. As a thought experiment imagine the response from the NYPD if Occupy Wall Street activists had brandished weapons.

 

 

 

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Pipeline-Istan

 

The Russian sanctions bill has got to be one of the most perverse pieces of legislation that I’ve ever seen.

Since WWII the presidency has increased its power vis-a-vis congress in relation to foreign policy and the ability to declare war, resulting in the imperial presidency that most of us have grown up with. One of the overlooked positives of the Trump presidency is that through his sheer ineptness he’s diminishing these imperial powers. However, Trump  called for better relations with Russia, resulting in a  bi-partisan attack led by the neoconservatives in both parties.

With the sanctions congress is effectively taking back its war powers to stop Trump from making peace with Russia.

What’s even more darkly amusing is that the sanctions are based on Russian meddling in our precious democracy, when recent studies have confirmed that the US is officially a plutocracy.

Maybe they should meddle.

That the sanctions passed both chambers of congress so overwhelmingly got me thinking that maybe the sanctions are about something else?

Perhaps they’re related to the wellspring of US foreign policy–oil and gas?

Asian Times, reporter Pepe Escobar coined the phrase Pipeline-Istan, to describe the New-Great-Game, a struggle for control over the oil and natural gas resources that are critical to our industrial world. Escobar says that nothing of significance happen with US foreign policy without an energy angle.

In a new article, Escobar argues that the new sanctions are all about the  energy wars against Russia.

“Even without considering the stellar historical record of Washington not only meddling but bombing and regime-changing vast swathes of the planet — from Iraq and Libya to the current threats against Iran, Venezuela and North Korea — the Russia-gate hysteria about meddling in the 2016 US presidential election is a non-story, by now thoroughly debunked.

The heart of the matter is, once again, energy wars.”

Escobar says that by imposing such harsh sanctions congress is also declaring economic war against Europe, especially Germany.

“According to a Middle East-based US energy source not hostage to the Beltway consensus, the message in these sanctions is the EU has no future unless it buys US natural gas to cut out Russia. To deny Russia the natural gas market of the EU was the goal behind the just lost war in Syria to put the Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Syria-Turkey-EU pipeline in and the opening to Iran for an Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey-EU pipeline. None of these plans worked.

The source adds as evidence the 2014 oil price war against Russia, orchestrated by “the dumping of Gulf States’ surplus oil or reserve capacity on the world market. Since this has failed to bring Russia to its knees, the destruction of the Russian natural gas market in the EU has become a national priority for the United States.”

Escobar has been following the energy wars that constitute the New-Great-Game since the 1990’s when President Clinton, with the advice of Zbignew Bresinski, plotted the initial moves. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, control of the energy-rich former Soviet republics in the region was quickly seen as essential to future U.S. global power. It would be there, as the neocons imagined it, that the War on Terror would intersect with control over energy flows in a way that would allow the US to remain the dominant hegemon.

You’d never know any of this from reading the Washington Post or New York Times, where they describe US foreign policies as a never ending crusade to spread democracy and establish order in a chaotic world. If they criticize US foreign policy it’s–mistakes were made but the goals were noble.

Escobar asks the questions that our media dare not, and then connects the dots.

“How could Russia not interpret the war in Kosovo, then the invasion of Afghanistan (where Washington had previously tried to pair with the Taliban and encourage the building of another of those avoid-Iran, avoid-Russia pipelines), followed by the invasion of Iraq (that country of vast oil reserves), and finally the recent clash in Georgia (that crucial energy transportation junction) as straightforward wars for Pipelineistan? Though seldom imagined this way in our mainstream media, the Russian and Chinese leaderships saw a stark “continuity” of policy stretching from Bill Clinton’s humanitarian imperialism to Bush’s Global War on Terror.”

Many educated Americans dismiss this type of analysis. They point out that the US doesn’t need to go to all the trouble to get oil and gas when we can buy it cheaply on the open market, and now with fracking technology we have our very own American sources. But that misses the point. It’s not about access, but control of energy flows.

US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has been about controlling energy flows and making sure Russia is cut out.

If you want to understand what it is that the US does in the world–follow the pipelines.

 

 

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