Not your fathers empire

 

I believe that the bipartisan freak-out over a Congresswoman’s criticism of AIPAC provides a window into the true nature of the American empire.

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has published an apology for making self-evident observations about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC spends enormous amounts of time and energy in seeking to influence US foreign policy in favor of Israel, and is one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington.

It all started when GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened punishment for and over their criticisms of Israel, and alt-jouralist Glenn Greenwald tweeted “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Things escalated quickly when representative Omar retweeted Greenwalds comments and added “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

And, that’s when the entire political and corporate media class lost their shit due to Omar’s equation of money and Jews, or something.

Batya Ungar-Sargon tweeted “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.” Omar tweeted back “AIPAC!”, to which Ungar-Sarson responded, “Please learn how to talk about Jews in a non-anti-Semitic way. Sincerely, American Jews.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Party leaders condemned Omar in unison.

What this tweet storm demonstrates beyond the fact that Twitter is the equivalence of junior-high school, is that there are some things you can’t talk about. Indeed, an example has been made. Who among those in Congress or the media will criticize AIPAC now?

Going further, I believe that this whole affair illustrates an unstated truth about the modern American empire, and that’s why the attack against Omar was so savage.

Contrary to the myth of Israel as a plucky little democracy alone in a sea of hostile Arab powers, the Jewish state is an integral part of the transnational corporate empire nominally headed by the US. Israel is a western imperialist military operation that was created in the heart of the most strategically crucial location on earth in 1948. It should hardly be a surprise that there is a transnational political-media campaign to keep that operation going, especially as pertains to the US, the country that maintains the worlds reserve currency along with the most powerful military force in history. In reality our world is dominated not by sovereign nations and governments, but by a transnational alliance of influential plutocrats who have no loyalty but rather use governments as tools to advance their agendas.

During the Cold War many of the benefits of the American empire accrued to US workers, which was one of the key reasons the leading trade unions supported the multi-generational conflict against the USSR. However, like everything else in our neoliberal dystopia, the US empire has gone transnational. As a result, average Americans no longer receive the benefits from the American empire. I’ve come to believe that Trump was elected in part due to Americans desire to have their fathers empire back. But, for whatever reason, whether Russia-gate, or the intense media hostility, or that he always wanted to do these things and the rest was just bull-shit he said to get elected, it certainly appears that Trump has surrendered to the transnational power structure.

We can observe this in the way that the corporate media has responded to Trump’s aggression towards Venezuela. After spending the last couple years breathlessly painting Trump as a pawn of Putin, if not an actual Russia intelligence asset, the corporate media turned on a dime and started spewing out blatant propaganda supporting his effort to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela.

However, this behavior is not what Trump supporters wanted. Overthrowing the governments of sovereign countries, destroying their economies, stealing their oil, and otherwise bringing them into the fold of the global capitalist transnational cabal is not exactly what the Americans who voted for Trump meant by “Make America Great Again.”

Unfortunately, there is no more nationalist American empire. There is nothing to make great again. The American empire of MAGA is a fiction, a fantasy, a nostalgia that Donald Trump used to sell his presidency. What there is, in reality, instead of America, is a supranational global capitalist empire, a decentralized, interdependent network of global corporations, financial institutions, national governments, intelligence agencies, supranational governmental entities, military forces, media, and so on.

If all of this sounds far-fetched or conspiratorial, pay attention to what is going on in Venezuela.

 

 

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Empire Wreckers

 

The Trump administration has segued from tragedy to comedy while unintentionally wrecking the US empire.

Didn’t know we were an empire?

You’re not alone. Most Americans believe the myth of American exceptionalism, where the USA is depicted as the benevolent Republic busy spreading peace and democracy.

Under the able guidance of the Trump administration, (snark), this original ideology is getting harder and harder to perpetuate.

Instead, Trump has ripped the mask of altruism off the U.S.-led liberal international order and revealed its true nature. And, he’s managed to do that despite the best efforts of the liberal international establishment and corporate media courtiers, who are desperate to maintain appearances. In the process, Trump has been useful for flushing-out the bi-partisan, always-war, Beltway crowd, that some refer to as the deep state. He’s been such a lightning rod that he’s exposed for all to see what truly animates this political and media establishment.

What’s humorous, and quite predictable, is that much of the empire wrecking has come from the neocon advisors that Trump has surrounded himself with.

In his latest article, heterodox economist Michael Hudson says that, “Through their serial incompetency, the neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together – the great nightm1are of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit, the Heartland nightmare of Halford Mackinder a century ago.”

The objectives were to prevent collusion and maintain security among the EU-NATO vassals; keep tributaries pliant; keep the barbarians (Russians and allies) from coming together; most of all prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition–Russia-China alliance capable of challenging U.S. hegemony.

Hudson says that in addition to its military, the US uses its financial assets to maintain its hegemony. “Today, international finance and foreign investment have become the key flashpoint.” 

Perversely, the neocons, through their use of sanctions, are driving countries to abandon the dollar as a means of trade, that is facilitated electronically.

The major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium. Russia and China have already moved to create a shadow bank-transfer system in case the United States unplugs them from SWIFT. And now, European countries have come to realize that threats by Bolton and Pompeo may lead to heavy fines and asset grabs if they seek to continue trading with Iran as called for in the treaties they have negotiated. 

On January 31 the European Union moved to create its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even Britain joined to create INSTEX — Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. 

The US effort to maintain its dollar hegemony helps explain events in Venezuela. Caracas has committed the cardinal sin–oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges. In 2017 Maduro, like Hussein and Gaddafi before him, stopped selling Venezuelan oil in dollars.

In order to shore up the petrodollar system amid its own looming economic recession, the United States needs a government in Venezuela that will denominate the sale of its oil in dollars to maintain its global hegemony.

As with Washington’s aggression on so many other fronts–towards Russia, China, Iran, Europe–the American coup against Venezuela is helping to bring about its worst fear: a multipolar world where US hegemony no longer prevails.

For all his talk on the campaign trail about changing US foreign policies and MAGA, Trump has turned out to be just like his predecessors in offering little besides austerity and endless war. Trump, who ran on promises to expand health care and raise taxes on the rich, as well as ending US regime change policies, began betraying his working-class supporters the moment he took office, pushing through big tax cuts for the rich and attempting to take health coverage away from millions, while staffing his administration with neocons who pushed for the same policies of empire.

It appears that in this context our best hope is the serial incompetence of the Trump administration, which through their bungling is hastening the end of the US empire.

 

Update: If only there was a principled #Resistance to Trump’s policies, whose fury at foreign meddling in the sacred tenets of American democracy, would apply universally.

Oh, wait.

“On January 24, less than 24 hours after Juan Guaido declared himself Venezuelan President, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff (House Intelligence Committee Chair) blamed Maduro’s “dictatorial” rule for devastating Venezuela’s economy, then recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s “rightful leader.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Democrat-IL) piped in calling Venezuela’s 2018 election a sham before endorsing Guaido’s presidency.”

Of the 280 Democratic Senators and Representatives only 3 dissented from this gross meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, that many would rightfully condemn as a coup.

Maybe the Venezuelans can start calling this latest state of affairs–America-gate.

 

 

 

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Pity the Billionaire

 

If the billionaires that are presently building hidey-holes in New Zealand want to help their cause they should bring back Noblesse oblige.

Seriously, they could save a lot of money, which seems to be the raison d’être for billionaires.

Notice how I’m using a lot of French words? There’s a reason for that in that the French Revolution is the kind of historical perspective the billionaires could use right about now. Marie Antoinette’s, “let them eat cake,” comment comes to mind, as well as the guillotine, the tumbrel, and Bastille Day.

It’s not just the French Revolution that should give them pause. History demonstrates again and again that when income and wealth inequality become widely disparate, the forces of populism rise, revolutions sweep away the old order, and lots of rich people die. Meanwhile, inequality in the US and in the Western world is at levels not seen in a century, largely caused by runaway financial capitalism, resulting in the new Great Depression.

It’s not just populism and revolution that should concern the billionaires. There’s a proven health risk that comes from living in grossly unequal societies. Put simply–people in unequal societies live shorter lives, even the rich. It’s stressful hoarding and guarding your possessions and property. If everyone else around you is poor and you’re rich, you need some security, in a hurry. Anyone who’s traveled to the Third World is surely aware of this dynamic?

The situation has gotten so bad that this year at Davos some of the billionaires are starting to acknowledge it.

It’s pretty ironic that the “masters of the universe” who gathered in Davos this week claim to be puzzled that people who are frustrated by stagnating standards of living are falling prey to nationalists and populists. They could have saved the trip to Switzerland on their private jets and taken a long, hard look in the mirror instead.

It’s really not complicated: Our economy was redesigned to reward corporations and a few individuals which has resulted in their amassing huge piles of money while leaving behind just about everybody else. We watched as the absolute prioritising of individual greed has sanctioned a pathological self-absorption, a selfishness that has provided fertile ground not only for capitalism, materialism and consumerism but for the fusing of all of them into a turbo-charged neoliberalism. That has entitled a tiny elite to amass and hide away most of the planet’s wealth out of reach of the rest of humanity.

Populism from the left or right may be anathema to the billionaire class, but they helped create it. For decades, they inflicted insecurity on the rest of us and told us it was for our own good. They have rigged an economic system so that it paid them bonanzas and stiffed others. They have lobbied and funded politicians to give them everything.

And worst of all, the neoliberal intellectuals who created this world, insisted at the top of their lungs that there was no alternative, and crushed any opposing sentiment as irrational, as uncivilised, as primitive.

But now, the bill is coming due.

As we look ahead to the 2020 presidential election, I think what scares the billionaires, their bought and paid for political lakeys, and their corporate media handmaidens, is an alliance across political boundries between Sanders and Trump supporters. These are the Americans who are protesting the bi-partisan policies in favor of capital, finance and the ultra rich, but especially their own decline in living standards. They’re also protesting an increasingly aggressive financial capitalism, the dismantling of the welfare state, and deindustrialization have eroded standards of living for forty years.

Here’s a comment thread from Tucker Carlson’s show that gets to this left/right convergence. “I think despite my voting for Trump and you for Bernie, if you made a venn diagram of our positions, we’d overlap quite a bit.”

What this demonstrates is the hunger out there for a new political party, one that harnesses the desires of progressives and conservatives, that rightfully identifies and blames the real culprits in America’s decline–America’s billionaires–for the serious problems in America.

The reason that Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the US and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has caught on like a house on fire is that they have put economic inequality and injustice at the center of their agendas, and American are hungry for the types of change they are advocating.

The problem for the billionaires is that they have invested too much into their greedy-ideology to embrace Noblesse oblige. They’ve told us since forever that they’re the makers, while we’re the takers, and they can’t very well come out and admit that it was all projection and that their very success was based on extraction rather than production.

So expect them to double-down on the lies and to attack anyone who dares suggest an alternative.

Indeed, every day, the narrative and language being used by the establishment is becoming more unhinged and desperate. They’ve become openly irrational and more brazen in the way in which they project their wrongs on to their opponents. Projection is about shifting blame. Broadly, psychological projection is a defence mechanism in which an individual attributes characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to others.

Pity the billionaire.

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Dark Horse

 

Of all the Democratic presidential hopefuls, I’m most exited about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat of Hawaii, because she has the potential to blow open the debate on US foreign policy and empire.

“There’s one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace”, said Gabbard, appearing on CNN on January 12, where she declared for the presidency.

Gabbard is one of the few Democrats in the 2020 mix who has experience as a combatant in war. In 2004, she volunteered for duty with the Hawaii National Guard as it was deployed to Iraq.

However, Gabbard is different than the type of military, and intelligence veterans that the DNC ran in 2018, in that she has been an outspoken critic of US foreign policies of regime-change and use of terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIS. She has even introduced HR 608, Stop Arming Terrorists, bill in Congress, in an effort to force the issue.

In 2018, Gabbard delivered a courageous speech on the House floor just two days after the nation memorialized 9/11, where she slammed Washington’s longtime support to anti-Assad jihadists in Syria, while also sounding the alarm over the current build-up of tensions between the US and Russia in the Middle-East.

Two days ago, President Trump and Vice President Pence delivered solemn speeches about the attacks on 9/11, talking about how much they care about the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on our country. But, they are now standing up to protect the 20,000 to 40,000 al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces in Syria, and threatening Russia, Syria, and Iran, with military force if they dare attack these terrorists.

This is a betrayal of the American people, especially the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and their families, first responders, and my brothers and sisters in uniform who have been killed or wounded in action and their families. For the President, who is Commander in Chief, to act as the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists must be condemned by every Member of Congress.”

Not only is Gabbard a dark horse candidate for president but she’s an outlier in a Democratic Party that’s become increasingly belligerent since the election of Donald Trump.

Writing in The Intercept on January 11, Glenn Greenwald summed up the new tendency in the Democratic Party: “What’s happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using longstanding Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the far right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he’s willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers.”

It’s hard to say if average Democrats are pro-war or if it’s just knee-jerk opposition to Trump. If Trump says he wants to get out of Syria and to draw down in Afghanistan, well, that’s the cue for Democrats to take the opposite position. Such is the team Red vs team Blue, kayfabe that passes for political discourse here in the homeland.

That and the fact that the Democratic Party and corporate media has been shrieking about Russia for more than two years.

For all his faults, Trump came into office promising to dial back tensions with Russia, while severely criticizing US regime-change policies. Now, thanks to the constant drum-beat of Russia-gate, led by erstwhile liberals like Rachel Maddow, Trump has turned out to be just like Obama, who turned out to be just like Bush. Apparently, it doesn’t matter much who sits in the White House or which political party controls Congress, the same political forces are dominant and the same neocon inspired foreign policy is implemented.

I’ve been warning since the beginnings of Russia-gate that it would end up devouring progressive policies and create a dangerous new Cold War, but here we are. And now, even as America’s 2020 presidential race is barely in its infancy, we’re already beginning to see Russiagate used to smear anyone to the left of Hillary Clinton as Russian dupes.

The first example is from the Twitter account for the Russiagate documentary Active Measures, and it received thousands of shares: “Bernie was the one Democrat not to vote to keep sanctions on Deripaska (he also voted against Russia sanctions and Magnitsky),” the post reads. “@SenSanders won’t stand up to billionaires in Russia and he wants you to to believe he’ll stand up to them in America. #fraud”

The second comes from professional linguist and engineer John Rehling, who has over 50 thousand Twitter followers, and it received hundreds of shares: “Kamala Harris is immediately the front runner for the Democratic nomination, and if Russia is predictable, they will create armies of bots attacking her from the *left*,”  reads Rehling’s (now deleted) tweet. “If you’re left of Kamala Harris, I’m sure you are honestly, but you’ll be doing Putin’s work, like it or not.”

I’m a Russian-bot?

I guess that’s why I’ve developed a raging thirst for vodka.

Seriously, if Gabbard’s candidacy catches on enough for her to become a threat to the national security consensus in Washington, expect to see more of this. Gabbard is one of the very few politicians to not only acknowledge but criticize US foreign policies of regime change, where we employ Sunni or Nazi terrorists to overthrow governments that our plutocratic owners oppose.

You can also expect to hear more about how Gabbard is an Assad sympathizer, the “butcher of Syria,” and also, of course, under the spell of Vladimir Putin, the devil incarnate in the eyes not just of Clintonite liberals, but also of the anti-Trump “conservatives” who have overrun CNN, MSNBC and FOX, and all of the national security state “experts” that are on all day on these increasingly unwatchable cable networks.

Update: This is your bi-partisan foreign policy America.

Savor it.

“The establishment as a whole, from left to right, are joined at the hip with Trump in their rank hypocrisy and subservience to the war by any and all means caucus. Every fraud who has been droning on and on about Russia interfering in US’s elections should crawl back under the rock they crawled out from given that the same neoliberal mob are currently waving pompoms while Trump and the permanent-state bureaucracy meddle in the affairs of Venezuela. We can’t say that we were not warned, these are the same perils that Eisenhower spoke about during his farewell address.”

Update #2: This is your democracy America.

“Tulsi Gabbard should be awarded zero opportunity to participate in a DNC debate. Absolutely none. I’m sure she has this in the back of her mind, so let’s just get that out of the way.”

 

 

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PayGo

 

PayGo is bad economics and bad politics, but naturally it was the first order of business for the newly elected Democratic Speaker of the House–Nancy Pelosi.

Despite resistance from progressive Democrats, the House rules package for the 116th Congress will include the PayGo provision, requiring all new spending to be offset with either budget cuts or tax increases, a conservative policy aimed at tying the hands of government.

We’ll get to the bad economics in a moment but in terms of politics, the rule would make it more difficult for Democrats to pass a host of progressive policies popular with the American public, like: Medicare for All; a Green-New-Deal; or tuition-free public college. Meanwhile PayGo creates an unlevel political playing field, where Republicans get to blow giant holes in the tax code, as they did with the 2017 tax cuts, while Democrats must pay fealty to the deficit.

Going further, PayGo symbolizes the Democratic role in the kayfabe we call politics here in America. I’ve come to believe that the modern Democrat’s role is to stymie progressive change by posing as the “liberal” political party arrayed against the “conservative” party role played by the Republicans. And, of course, Trump, who’s a member of the World Wrestling Hall of Fame, is the master of ceremonies.

You can observe this with Hillary Clinton and now Nancy Pelosi admonishing progressives like Bernie and AOC that we can’t possibly afford a Green New Deal, or Medicare for All, or free college education. We saw it when progressive hero, Barak Obama, lied about government spending when he stated that–“small businesses and families are tightening their belts. Their government should, too.” in response to the Wall Street crash. That this scolding was subsequent to his providing the banks with a trillion dollar bail-out only added to the irony.

I used to refer to the Democrats as the Washington Generals, but now, with PayGo, I believe a crude sexual metaphor is infinitely more appropriate. Laugh all you want, but it’s clear that the Democrats are cock-blocking progressive policies.

Once you understand the Democratic role, American politics makes a lot more sense. It’s all a big-fucking morality play with the actors playing his or her assigned role, while the media breathlessly provides a thrilling narrative of strife and drama. In the meantime, the real power in America–the interlocking financial corporations, trusts, and hedge funds–laugh all the way to the bank.

As far as the economics, it’s imperative to understand that PayGo is an artificial constraint on US spending. The US maintains a fiat currency, where we are able to spend money into existence. The US Treasury could spend this money into existence, but allows the banks to maintain this privilege. (You, dear reader, probably have never been made aware of such arrangement.)

This financial slight-of-hand demonstrates the power of Wall Street bankers, in that we have changed our financial dependency from being self-reliant and printing our own debt-free money to being indentured to international bankers who charge us as they print money out of thin air and charge future generations for it. Indeed, for the financial sector, the most important privatization is that of money creation. The aim is for economies to become dependent on bank credit rather than government spending to provide the money and credit to grow the economy. As Amschell Rothschild is claimed to have declared–“Give me control of a nations money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws.”

To make sense of all of this it’s imperative to understand a bit of economic history. Classical political/economists such as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, made a distinction between earned and unearned income and attempted to tax unearned income to provide a low-cost, free-market, where small businesses could flourish. The aim of classical economics was to tax unearned income, not wages and profits. The tax burden was to fall on the landlord class first and foremost, then on monopolists and bankers. The result was to be a circular flow in which taxes would be paid mainly out of rent and other unearned income. The government would spend this revenue on infrastructure, schools and other productive investment to help make the economy more competitive.

As you might imagine, banks and other financial interests were not amused by such developments and an epic struggle ensued. In his book, Killing the Host, heterodox economist Michael Hudson says that “an economic fight ensued and the parasites won. The first thing rentiers – the financial class and monopolists, a.k.a. the 1% – did was to say, ‘We’ve got to stop teaching the history of economic thought so that people don’t even have a memory that there is any such a thing as economic rent as unearned income or the various policies proposed to minimize it.” 

Indeed, neoliberals, most notoriously the University of Chicago’s Milton Friedman, insist that there’s no distinction between earned and unearned income. And, since most of the wealth and income of the richest 1% and the banks and interlocking financial corporations  they own is unearned income or rent, guess which version of accounting won out?

We have the opposite of a free market. Instead, we confront a new form of capitalist order: the merger between the finciancial interests and the state. Financialization is the major dynamic polarizing the US economy. It’s aim is to appropriate the means of production and rent-extracting privileges for a creditor class to load labor, industry, agriculture and governments down with debt.

The same power operates on the global stage through international institutions and regulatory bodies that do not even pretend to be democratic such as WTO, IMF, and World Bank.

The surge in populism that resulted in Brexit, the Yellow Vests, the election of Hungarian president Viktor Orbán, and US president Donald Trump are all in response to this financial take-over.

Make no mistake, PayGo represents another variant of the response our leaders have for such rebellion–There is no Alternative.

 

 

 

 

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A crisis of ideologies

 

I find it darkly amusing that neoliberalism and neoconservatism are losing legitimacy by the day, while political leaders and the corporate media warn of the disintegration of the “western-liberal-order.” That these two ruling ideologies are imploding says a lot about short-sightedness of our ruling elite, who are panicking as the damage becomes harder to ignore.

The best example of this serial failure is Trump’s trade war with China.

Neoliberals imagined that they could outsource American manufacturing to China and take full advantage of this labor-arbitrage scheme to maximize their stock portfolios while American workers could pound sand.

Didn’t work out that way, did it?

Trump’s election seems to be in part due to the blow-back from these neglected workers, who’ve watched as both parties encouraged the corporate off-shoring of their middle-class jobs and accompanying destruction of their town and cities.

And Apple betting the store on China for their supply chain and for sales, and then having both bets explode at the same time, seems like a well-deserved fuck-you to forty years of deindustrialization and neoliberal triumphalism.

Meanwhile, neoconservatives thought that they could create a cadre of comprador millionaires they could control, never imagining that the Chinese had other ideas. And, recently their non-stop hostility towards Russia, perversely, drove Russia and China into an anti-US alliance, violating centuries of realpolitik guidelines about keeping enemies divided.

Since the end of the Cold War the neocons have squandered all the good will that the US enjoyed with their never-ending series of conflicts. Despite a nearly sixfold increase in the frequency of its use of force, the US has clinched few, if any, decisive military victories in recent decades. Instead, US neocon instituted regime-change operations have aggravated the pathology of broken, corrupt, and dysfunctional politics across the region, from Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Libya, to Syria, where successive Republican and Democratic administrations have created ongoing quagmires.

Trump’s election seemed to signify a defeat for neoconservatism, as he rebuked decades of Republican foreign policy orthodoxy with his criticism of the invasion of Iraq. The neocons were exposed as charlatans, who lacked a clear constituency outside the rarified world of right-wing think-tanks.

However, the neocons are anything if not resilient, with a corporate media fan-club that has allowed them to remain relevant in the face of Trump’s foreign policy apostasy, as the latest flip-flopping on US troop withdrawal from Syria demonstrates.

This poses an interesting question. Why would Republican politicians respond by once again seeking out the neocons’ counsel? Why, far less, would Democrats? And why would much of the news media, grappling with historic levels of public distrust, accept neoconservatives and neoconservatism as the baseline for foreign policy analysis?

Why indeed?

Back in March 2016, as Hillary Clinton’s campaign geared up to woo Republicans, one observer raised doubts: “Now that the neocons [have] been revealed as having no real grassroots to deliver, and that their actual constituency consists almost entirely of a handful of donors subsidizing a few dozen think tankers, journalists, and letterheads, why would Democrats want them back?” This insight might have benefitted the Clinton campaign, which lost the pivotal states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin where communities suffered high casualties in Middle East wars criticized by Trump.

I firmly believe that the reason the neocon enjoy such oversized influence, despite a long track record of failure, is because both parties and the corporate media are always pro-war.

Thus, the Washington Post admonishes Trump not to listen to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and warns that–“In the run-up to 2020, Trump should realize that most Republicans—and most Americans—favor a robust U.S. foreign policy.”

Yeah, right. That’s why Trump was elected. Because Americans want more forever wars.

What’s the definition of insanity?

It won’t surprise you to learn that our elite have a response to their crisis of legitimacy.

The Russians did it.

Don’t laugh, there’s a method to the madness–to get us all scared about Russia–to deflect from real issues that the same elites who are sounding the alarm about Russia are responsible for. That goes double for the Democratic elites who lost an election to Donald Trump, got totally discredited and embarrassed, and had their agenda rejected by a sizeable amount of voters in the Rust Belt which has suffered from neoliberal policies.

Unfortunately, we can expect our elite to cling stubbornly to their ruling ideologies of neoliberalism and neoconservatism even as they stand in tatters. The problem is that this is the behavior of elites in fading empires, where societies schism into two unequal parts: a dominant minority that monopolizes the political system and its payoffs; and an internal “proletariat” that carries most of the costs of the existing order of things and is denied access to most of its benefits.

Unless something drastic happens in 2019, I expect both parties to offer the same policies that have devastated the country: more government largesse for the corporations and the rich, more austerity for everyone else, more malign neglect for the US infrastructure and our environment, more wars in the Middle-East, and more of a dangerous new Cold War against Russia.

 

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Hard men with guns

 

President Trump announced recently that US troops would be leaving Syria, setting off a firestorm of criticism across the political spectrum and echoed by the corporate media.

In the middle of this barrage of negative publicity it’s useful to examine the history of the Syrian conflict, where the facts of the US involvement are slowly coming to light.

That the US and its regional partners, including Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, utilized Al Qaeda and ISIS to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar Assad is not something the bi-partisan political establishment and their corporate media handmaidens want to discuss. As a result, the American people remain largely ignorant of this dirty foreign policy secret.

In fact, the progressive hero Barak Obama signed a presidential finding (Operation Timber Sycamore) calling on the CIA to work with Saudi Arabia (the paymasters) to overthrow Assad. Obama, seeking to avoid strong US public opposition to yet another Middle-Eastern conflict with US troops on the ground, chose to back jihadists instead.

In a little noticed foreign policy speech, then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made the case for arming the anti-Assad opposition in Syria. “In a conflict like this,” she said, “the hard men with the guns are going to be the more likely actors in any political transition than those on the outside just talking.”

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is largely because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, where Assad is blamed for every atrocity. However, the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm the so-called moderate rebels.

A classified Defense Intelligence Agency memo distributed across Obama administration channels in August of 2012 warned that jihadist forces emanating from Iraq aimed to exploit the security vacuum opened up by the US-backed proxy war to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” — an “Islamic State,” in the exact words of the memo.

Referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s Syrian affiliate by its name, al-Nusra, before Western media ever had, the DIA emphasized the close ties the group had fostered with Syria’s  so-called moderate rebels: “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition to Assad’s regime from the beginning because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

The memo was authored under the watch of then-Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was convicted this year of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey (not Russia). Predictably, the document was ignored across the board by the political establishment and corporate media. Meanwhile, heavy weapons were flowing out of the U.S. Incirlik air base in Turkey and into the hands of Sunni terrorists across the Syrian border.

For anyone paying attention, the story of the US support for Al-Qaeda and ISIS as a means to overthrow the government of Bashar Assad was always hiding in plain sight. Think about it. How did ISIS gain such power and presence in a world where an all-powerful U.S. military and surveillance system which can read license plates from space but couldn’t find convoys of Toyota pickup trucks moving terrorists into Syria?

In my opinion, Syria was the neocons response to the failure of the invasion of Iraq that perversely strengthened their arch-enemy Iran. It was to be their masterstroke regime change operation that would advance every major U.S., Israeli and Saudi objective while thoroughly destabilizing the Levant and setting the stage for wiping out Iran and eventually Russia.

But, of course, they fucked it up leaving a destroyed country and a pile of corpses. However, thanks to the Russian intervention, Syrian forces have largely prevailed and the country is slowly returning to normalcy, with Christmas being celebrated in many parts of the country for the first time since the start of the civil war.

Back in the USA, the irony of the establishment criticism of Trump’s foreign policy apostasy is that the very same people who are now criticizing the president were responsible for the invasion of Iraq, which all of the disasters in the Middle-East stem from. Neoconservatism, it seems, never dies. It just mutates constantly to find new ways to intervene, to perpetuate forever wars, and to utilize monsters to carry out barbaric policies.

As we contemplate this latest US effort to utilize the “hard men with guns” we would do well to reread Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where the creature Dr. Frankenstein created eventually broke free from his control and began acting like the monster he was.

 

 

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