WHEN RHETORIC COLLIDES WITH REALITY
There's a quiet debate going on behind-the-scenes in Washington: the gap between President Obama's rhetoric and reality has grown so large that some think he's out of touch with reality; others think he just views the world through rose color glasses.
For an excellent article addressing this question - surprisingly, from The New York Times - please click on the link below:
Haunted by Words Past
THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST
Her Majesty's Government is alarmed. There are now more British Muslims fighting with the ISIS in the Middle East than there are serving in the British armed forces. Worse yet, most of the radicalized Brits intend to return home one day, and bring their Jihad with them.
Following hard on the heels of the Trojan Horse Conspiracy in Birmingham, in which a clique of Muslims tried and nearly succeeded in hijacking the public school system in order to impose an "Islamic-compliant" curriculum and code of conduct, the emergent threat posed by British Jihadists has rattled the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Just days after raising Britain's terrorist alert level from "Substantial" to "Severe" - meaning a major terrorist attack is deemed likely - Cameron authorized sweeping new counterterrorist measures which include authorizing the police to arrest returning Jihadists and seize their passports, and to impose temporary travel restrictions on suspected terrorist sympathizers. More stringent measures, including a mandatory "deprogramming" process for returning Jihadists, have been shelved for now.
According to Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party - the upstart fourth party now surging in the polls - that's all well and fine, but beside the larger point. The real problem is the British Establishment's foolhardy commitment to "Multiculturalism," which has divided Britons and pushed their country apart. In the process, it has given rise to a dangerous Fifth Column of Muslims in Britain who are British in name only. They are neither capable nor willing to assimilate to a democratic society.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is often characterized as the British Tea Party, as it seeks to "take Britain back" from the unresponsive British Political Establishment, in much the same way that the Tea Party seeks to "take America back" from the equally unresponsive Political Establishment on this side of the Atlantic. Ending their respective establishment's failed policies of "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity," and limiting massive and essentially unrestrained immigration from culturally distant lands, are major goals of both movements.
Largely for these reasons, the UKIP is fast emerging as a major political party in Britain: once considered part of the radical fringe, and limited geographically to London and its immediate environs, the UKIP has in the past year emerged as a truly national party with an increasingly broad and respectable base of support. An appropriate slogan might be, "The UKIP: Not Just for Nutters Anymore."
The rise of the UKIP matters on this side of the pond, because British political developments tend to precede American political developments by about five years. Although few Americans or Brits are aware of the fact, the British and American Financial Elites effectively merged with the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 - and the Political Establishments on either side of the Atlantic, beholden to the bi-national Elite, have acted in tandem to support its interests since the 1930's. The success of the UKIP's grass roots rebellion and its emergence as both a competitive and respectable political force, one able and willing to challenge the British Political Establishment - and the Financial Elite that pulls its strings - therefore suggests the Tea Party may soon achieve comparable success in the United States as well.
Though not quite a revolution, that would be revolutionary nonetheless.
Editor's Note: For those interested in the rise of the Anglo-American Financial Elite, and the Political Establishment it spawned on both sides of the Atlantic, we highly recommend Georgetown Professor of History Carroll Quigley's majestic tome, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time.
At the end of August, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned that terrorists dispatched by the ISIS would reach Europe in a month, and the United States in two, and urged the governments of each to take all due precautions. According to the Saudi monarch,
These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street...
By implication, King Abdullah believes the ISIS will commit similar atrocities in Europe and the US.
The Saudi monarch went on to state that he was so concerned by the prospect of an ISIS terrorist attacks against the United States and Europe that he had ordered his ambassadors to relay his warning directly to the governments they are accredited to. But for whatever reason, the Obama Administration has apparently disregarded the Saudi king. Shortly after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described ISIS as an "imminent threat" to the United States, the White House began backpedaling by publicly claiming ISIS terrorists do not pose an immediate danger to the US.
For the Obama Administration, much is at stake - most immediately, the President's de facto policy of open borders and unrestricted immigration. If the Administration were to publicly acknowledge the threat of a cross-border attack from Mexico by ISIS terrorists, he would be compelled to secure the frontier - something he is utterly opposed to doing. Halting unrestricted immigration into the US would contradict the Political Establishment's unstated but nonetheless real policy of upending the demographic balance of the United States and, ultimately, force an acknowledgement that "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity" are dangerous failures.
The Administration's stubborn refusal to accept the painfully obvious reality that these policy precepts have failed the test of experience is difficult to understand. By any reasonable analysis, leaving the border open and essentially undefended is a high risk, low reward policy gamble - one which threatens both the President and his legacy: should the ISIS or any other terrorist organization succeed in mounting a successful cross-border attack, Obama's presidency will be effectively ended, and his legacy forever tarnished.
THE AMERICAN POLICE STATE
The seemingly endless civil unrest that rocked the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson following the fatal shooting of the unarmed, 18-year old Michael Brown by a local police officer did more than provoke widespread outrage at the seemingly unjustified use of deadly force. It also brought millions of TV viewers face to face with the reality of police militarization, as they watched a small, local police department deploy armored fighting vehicles, machine guns and assault rifles. For the better part of two weeks, Ferguson looked more like a Third World dictatorship than suburban America.
Ferguson's militarized police police force is the result of a well-intended federal program initiated in 1990, known as the 1033 Program, to upgrade local and state police departments so they could better cope with increasingly well-armed drug dealers. The 1033 Program established a form of domestic lend-lease, in which the Pentagon would transfer military surplus to civilian police agencies and departments, with the proviso that the police properly maintain them. At the time, a great many police departments needed at least one bullet-resistant vehicle. After a deadly shootout in Los Angeles, in which a team of bank robbers engaged the police with automatic weapons, many police departments decided to add assault rifles to their inventory as well. Since 1997 the dollar value of the military-to-police transfers amounted to some five billion dollars; in Wisconsin alone, 219 police agencies have received some 67,000 military items from the Pentagon.
The 1033 Program, which has gone through successive incarnations, received a major boost after 9-11. Terrorist attacks could happen at any time and any place, and police departments throughout the United States began "heavying up" to deal with the possibility. All-terrain armored fighting vehicles that could move through streets clogged by rubble and debris were at the top of their lists, followed helicopters, grenade launchers, night vision equipment, sniper rifles and heavy machine guns. More recently, police departments have been requesting aerial surveillance drones.
Apparently unaware of the full range of transfers, members of Congress have reacted to the Ferguson Police Department's deployment of armored fighting vehicles, automatic weapons and - apparently - a heavy caliber machine gun. Congressional veterans assert that wasn't what they had in mind when they set up the program, and several congressional offices are reportedly scrambling to produce a revised bill to limit Freguson-style deployments.
Despite their good intentions, the legislation governing Pentagon-to-Police transfers will probably stand. The reason for this is President Obama's 2008 campaign pledge to create "A domestic security force as large and as capable as our military." After a public backlash, Obama soft-peddled the idea, but never abandoned it. Hence the massive ammunition purchases by federal law enforcement agencies, a new and heavy emphasis on federal inter-agency police training and co-ordination, and the establishment of regional command centers by the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate local police departments. For all practical purposes, we now have a de facto, bi-level national police force, composed of federal police, augmented by local departments coordinated by Homeland Security.
Given the threat posed by foreign terrorists, there is no question that local police departments need some military arms to hold the line until the national guard or military can arrive. But these should be carefully calculated minimums, and held in strict reserve.
The fact that America's local police have morphed into para-military formations and tied together in a national network without fanfare or public debate is chilling - and all the more so, given the tremendous erosion of civil liberties over the past decade. Surveillance cameras are now ubiquitous; every telephone call, text message and e-mail is now intercepted, recorded and logged; and new surveillance equipment so sophisticated that they might have been inspired by science fiction dystopias have combined to effectively nullify the Fourth Amendment. Privacy has been abolished.
When you add to that distressing fact the Administration's effort to gut the First Amendment by proposing "legitimate journalists" be licensed, and its ongoing effort to undermine the Second Amendment, it is difficult to argue that America remains a "free country." American citizens are now more heavily surveilled than the subjects of the former Soviet Union and, almost certainly, contemporary North Korea.
The Grand Irony here is that most of this is unnecessary. Security could be achieved as well, or better, by sealing the border, limiting immigration, and subjecting foreign ships and cargo aircraft to simple security measures.
But that would reduce business profits, and contradict the US Government’s real but never publicly stated policy of Global Integration...
AN ISLAMIC CIVIL WAR
Since storming out of their haven in northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq to overrun much of the latter, the Islamic State in the Levant - now known as the Islamic State, or IS - has won a well-deserved reputation for savagery. At a minimum, it has slaughtered at least 10,000 Iraqi civilians and unknown thousands of captured Iraqi soldiers. Most recently, it brutally beheaded American journalist James Foley.
Composed exclusively of Sunni Muslims, the IS has also called for the extermination of Muslim Shiites, whom it regards as Infidels, as well as Christians, Jews and anyone else who might object to its newly proclaimed Caliphate and its exceptionally severe brand of Islamic law. It has also threatened to "drown the United States in blood" and to attack the White House.
The astonishing battlefield successes of IS forces has placed President Obama in a difficult situation. Having authored what is now seen as a precipitous American military withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011, Mr. Obama has been forced to reintroduce American combat forces into that country to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and, likely, genocide on a scale not witnessed since World War II.
It has also forced Muslims to confront the reality of Islamic Extremism for the first time. For so long as Muslims were fighting against Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was easy to justify atrocities committed in the name of Allah - especially when they were directed against Americans, Britons, and Europeans. These Infidels were, after all, waging war on Islam - or so Muslims persuaded themselves.
But now that Muslims are the primary target of Islamic terror, that rationalization is no longer possible. As a result, several heads of Arab states have condemned the IS, including the King of Saudi Arabia, and opprobrium is spreading throughout the Islamic World. Most recently, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim-majority country - has condemned IS-initiated violence as "shocking" and "out of control," and called on world leaders to act in concert to suppress it.
Perhaps more important than its effect on Muslim leaders, is the long-term impact of IS barbarism on ordinary Muslims world-wide. Now that Muslims are slaughtering other Muslims, they have been forced to critically examine themselves, and their faith, for the first time. Based upon the Christian experience of the Religious Wars in Europe, this will likely be a shattering experience which will reverberate across centuries. It will force Muslims - especially those residing in Western lands - to choose between a literal adherence to their faith, or a sort of "Smorgasbord Islam" reminiscent of the "Smorgasbord Christianity" that eventually emerged from the European catastrophe.
This is important, because it was the Smorgasbord Approach that made it possible for Catholics to shrug and say to their Protestant and Jewish neighbors, "Yes, I'm Catholic, but I don't pay much attention to doctrine;" and for Protestants and Jews to say much the same in reply. Despite its obvious theological failings, the Smorgasbord Approach was and remains an essential precondition for religious tolerance and the practice of democracy.
Although the theo-political ferment occasioned by IS atrocities in the Islamic World is a welcome development, it may take a very long time for it to bear fruit - and as Lord Keynes once quipped, long-term developments are of small concern, because "In the long run, we're all dead anyway."
Simply put, we have to live in the here and now, and for that reason it is critically important for the United States and its allies to develop an appropriate and effective response to the threat posed by the IS.
HOLD, CUT AND KILL
From a military standpoint, the IS is wildly over-extended.
Having conquered an estimated 40 per cent of Iraq's total territory and subjugated perhaps 35 per cent of the population with a combat force built around an estimated 4000 hardened fighters, augmented by tribal allies and remnants of Saddam Hussein's army, the IS is dangerously vulnerable to counterattack.
The obvious strategy for defeating the IS can be summarized as HOLD, CUT and KILL: for the Iraqi army and their Kurdish allies to hold what they have, then cut the IS's lines of communications with airstrikes and commando raids, and then destroy the IS positions they've isolated, one by one. The strategy is simple in concept, and with complete command of the air it should be comparatively easy to execute in practice.
Having decided that the United States cannot allow the IS to overrun Iraq - and seize the Mid East's second largest oil reserves - President Obama must now decide on the proper level of American military involvement. Since opposition to the reintroduction of US ground forces is nearly universal, it follows that the American intervention should be limited to the provision of intelligence, strategic bombing, aerial interdiction operations, air support for Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, logistical support, training - especially for the Kurds - and advice. Two to three thousand American military personnel "in country" is a plausible figure, with another 15-20,000 outside the country engaged in air operations and support.
This time, however, American assistance should not come cheap. During the first phase of America's involvement in Iraq, the United States picked up the multi-trillion dollar tab to secure the country and establish a democratic government. This time, the US and participating allies should insist that the Iraqi government pay some or all of their costs. To do otherwise would encourage Iraqi irresponsibility.
The time has come for the Iraqi political class to accept responsibility for their own survival - and for the survival of their country - and in this, financial sacrifice looms large.
THE BRITS WERE RIGHT
Shortly after 9-11, senior American generals concluded it would take 15 years to suppress Islamic terrorism. Across the Atlantic, their British counterparts were less sanguine. Far more experienced in counter-terrorism than the Americans, British generals are reported to have come to the conclusion that it would take a half-century. In their view, we were in for a very long war.
The reasons for their less-optimistic estimates were rooted in Arab society. The post-war Baby Boom struck the Arab lands late, and Arab governments had failed to address core problems associated with a rapidly expanding population, especially employment: Arab lands had a minimal manufacturing capability - the entire Mid East produced fewer manufactured goods than Ohio; Arab political leaders were corrupt and incompetent, and the governments they led were brutally oppressive. Most of the Arab states were failed states in all but name.
Why this was and remains so is fiercely debated, both in the West and in the Arab lands as well. Some blame it on Islam itself, which they depict as a pre-modern religion which failed to adapt to changing times; others, such as the present Islamists who have declared holy war upon the West, claim it's due to a failure to abide by Islamic teachings.
It's an old argument, one which began in 1683 and has never been resolved. In that year, a motley group of Christian's crushed an overwhelmingly superior Muslim force at the gates of Vienna, halting Islam's advance into Europe that had begun almost a thousand years before. In the process, they sent shock waves through the Muslim World.
Muslims had lost other battles to Christians before. In addition to the many defeats inflicted on Muslim armies during the Crusades, Muslims had been driven from Spain in 1492, and a Turkish fleet had been crushed at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Even though all were significant defeats, they caused barely a ripple in the Islamic World. But Vienna was different - given their superior numbers, and technological equality in weaponry, that was a battle they should easily have won. But they lost decisively, and the ignominy split the Muslim World in two.
At issue was the structure of Islamic society. The Christian defenders of Vienna had won because European society had undergone an early democratic transformation, in which the aristocratic hierarchy recognized and accommodated merit. This was was reflected in the European military organization, and it produced an unbreakable chain-of-command: when a Christian general fell, the senior colonel stepped forward to take his place; when the colonel fell, the senior lieutenant colonel stepped forward, and so on down the ranks to the senior private. In practice, this meant Christian military formations were never leaderless. In contrast, when a Muslim general fell, his troops typically withdrew from battle to await a replacement.
Clearly, Christian society had hit upon a superior form of organization. The question for Muslims, then, was what to do about it. One group argued that Islam and Islamic society had to modernize, by emulating the Christian enemy; the other, that Islam and Islamic society had to return to the past to redeem their
greatness. Modern Turkey is a successful example of where the first group prevailed; most of the other Arab lands are failed examples of the second. The Al Qaeda terrorist organization and its present successor, the ISIS - now known as the IS - can be seen as more virulent and more militarily effective examples of the latter.
It is important to understand that both factions are present in every Arab society That being the case, the most plausible strategy for the United States and its allies is to align itself with the first faction against the second, presently represented by the ISIS (now the IS). But it will not be enough to grind the IS down militarily. Eventual success depends on achieving a broad consensus in favor of the social-modernizing faction throughout the Arab World - which, in turn, depends on avoiding the mistakes made by military modernizers such Saddam Hussein in Iraq, or Assad in Syria, who tried and failed to impose an authoritarian, top-down social revolution by force. To succeed, the social modernizers have to grasp the necessity of a limited form of democratization, one which necessarily includes Islamic-agnostic or even non-Islamic practices such increased public participation in government; access to capital through interest-rate finance, or some workable alternative; legal systems that protect private property and favor individual initiative and free enterprise; a greater willingness to accommodate religious and ethnic minorities; and a greater role for women.
The Turks got it more or less right; the monarchical states of Jordan and Morocco are following close behind them; and with proper support and encouragement, it is possible that the Iraqis may eventually achieve some limited success.
CRISIS ON THE BORDER:
A WARNING FROM THE ASSOCIATION
OF FORMER BORDER PATROL OFFICERS
The United States Government is coddling trained, under-aged assassins and knowingly placing the lives of American children at risk.
For more on this shocking revelation, please click on the link below:
AN URGENT MESSAGE
MASS IMMIGRATION AS A STRATEGIC WEAPON
General Ion Pacepa, former chief of Communist Romania's foreign intelligence service, has published an important article describing the current border crisis as "manufactured" by the Obama Administration and explaining how the KGB used "refugees" and immigration flows to undermine European governments and societies during the Cold War.
Simply put, massive and essentially unlimited immigration is a tool for remaking societies.
For Gen. Pacepa's article, please click on the link below:
A WARNING FROM A FORMER COMMUNIST SPY CHIEF
THE NEW COLD WAR
After denying or glossing over repeated Russian affronts for the first five years of his presidency - including Russia's 2008 attack on Georgia - President Obama was reluctantly forced to confront that country after it annexed the Crimea in March of this year, by imposing mild sanctions. Although America's European allies went along reluctantly, they clearly had little appetite for another Cold War.
All that changed on July 17th, when Ukrainian separatists supported by Russia shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with a Russian manufactured surface to air missile that killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. Russia was indirectly responsible for the atrocity on two counts: first, it has been fomenting the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine; and second, it apparently transferred the sophisticated Buk missile system to the Ukrainian separatists. As a result, the White House has imposed harsh new economic sanctions, and British Prime Minister David Cameron has been independently lining up European support. Genuine and widespread outrage in Europe guarantees strong support for Anglo-American efforts to isolate Russia.
In the West, the Putin regime appears bent on aggression. But in Russia, many see it quite differently. Russia is almost unique in that it has no natural defenses, save for the Caucasus Mountains in the South, where no real threats exist; and distinguished by the fact that it has at one time or another been invaded by almost all its neighbors. Historically, Russia's only real defenses have been its geographic extent and its climate: in the course of one invasion after another, the Russians have traded space for time until "General Winter" arrived.
In response to repeated and devastating invasions, Russia has sought to push back its frontiers by establishing buffer states on its frontiers, regardless of the government momentarily in power: the Tsars were as aggressive in this regard as the Communists that followed them, and Putin is as aggressive as they were. The Russians see their efforts to subjugate the frontier states as profoundly defensive; their neighbors, now more content than in centuries past, see them as acts of aggression. The problem is structural - short of moving the Alps and the Himalayas from their present locations to Russia's borders, there's nothing to be done about it except using the threat of armed force to blunt Russia's expansionist impulse.
This is immediately relevant to the Ukrainian crisis: the best solution would be for the Kiev government to declare armed neutrality, like Switzerland, and adopt a 360 degree defense posture. If the Ukrainian government were to do that, the prospect of stability would be well worth the cost of lavishing arms and equipment upon that country.
MICE AND THE PRESIDENTIAL CHARACTER
Every intelligence officer is trained in assessing prospective agents. They look for weaknesses of character, the most important of which are known by the acronym of M-I-C-E - Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego. These are the fatal flaws from which spies are made.
It was for this reason that American security officials blanched when they learned President Clinton was carrying on an affair with Monica Lewinski, then a 22-year old White House Intern. An added wrinkle that would later prove vexing was the fact that Ms. Lewinski is Jewish.
Aside from their illicit physical liaisons, President Clinton and Ms. Lewinski also engaged in racy phone conversations, which were intercepted by the British, the Russians and the Israelis. Given the fact that the President was married, these intercepts made President Clinton vulnerable to blackmail. British intelligence tipped off their American counterparts and the KGB apparently filed them for future reference. But according to a new book by Daniel Harper entitled, Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attempted to use the intercepts to blackmail President Clinton into releasing convicted Israeli spy Jonathan J. Pollard.
Clinton apparently knuckled under, but according to Harper, the deal was scuttled by then CIA Director George Tenent. But questions lingered: was Monica Lewinski a plant controlled by Israeli intelligence? Although it seemed unlikely given Ms. Lewinski's naivety, the fact that the East Germans had succeeded in planting a glamorous agent in JFK's bed meant the possibility could not be lightly dismissed. And never far from mind was the Wallis Simpson case, said to have been a White House operation orchestrated by FDR himself, which succeeded in taking down Britain's simple-minded and pro-Nazi King Edward VIII.
If historical precedents caused imaginations ran wild in response to President Clinton's indiscretions, there were other reasons as well: at the time, the FBI was in hot pursuit of a highly-placed Israeli mole thought to be a member of Clinton's inner circle, codenamed MEGA. The FBI and other intelligence agencies were certain MEGA existed, and there were rumors that Clinton's national security advisor, Sandy Berger, was the chief suspect. But no arrest was ever made, and when Mr. Berger - who is also Jewish - was later caught stealing documents from the National Archives pertaining to 9-11, he received only a slap on the wrist. In some circles, at least, suspicions linger that the United States allowed Berger to slide in order to prevent embarrassing stories concerning President Clinton's philandering from suddenly appearing in the Washington Post - stories which would, incidentally, make the US intelligence community look foolish indeed.
GOVERNOR PERRY TAKES ACTION
Following a face to face meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry on July 9, President Obama went to great lengths to publicly stress that he and Gov. Perry were in general agreement with regard to the border crisis. But as is so often the case with this Administration, the President's rhetoric was not supported by action. After repeated efforts to persuade President Obama to send National Guard troops to the border, Perry acted alone on July 21st, by sending 1000 members of the Texas National Guard to the border to support Texas Department of Public Safety officers already there. The problem, according to Perry, is that Mexican gangs and drug cartels are exploiting the border collapse for criminal purposes. Drugs are reportedly flooding across the frontier because up to 70 per cent of Border Patrol's agents have been withdrawn from their normal duty stations to provide services for the tens of thousands of underage border crashers that began arriving this spring. Border Patrol agents are said to be changing diapers, fixing meals, supervising showers and laundry and carrying out medical examinations they are unqualified to conduct.
According to Perry, he was compelled to act after receiving nothing but "lip service" from Washington.
The situation is serious indeed. Border Patrol agents have recently came under fire from a .50 caliber heavy machine gun emplaced on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, and Mexican soldiers - presumably in the pay of the drug cartels - have mounted heliborne forays into the United States. Worse yet, the leader of the newly proclaimed Islamic Caliphate carved out of Syria and Iraq has publicly stated his intention to infiltrate "martyrs" across the Mexican border to attack American schools, public buildings and shopping malls. For these reasons, the Texas Guardsmen will be carrying live ammunition.
Despite President Obama's rhetorical commitment to border security, he apparently remains unconcerned. By refusing to accede to Gov. Perry's request for a federal order to send the Guard to the Border, he is forcing Texas to shoulder the entire cost of the operation - estimated to run about $12,000,000 per month - on top of the extra $5,750,000 already allocated to the Texas Department of Public Safety to ramp up civilian law enforcement operations.
A White House spokesman has publicly ridiculed Governor Perry's action as symbolic, and suggested a far better way to deal with the border crisis would be to pass President Obama's proposed legislation that would fund an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents - and, by astounding coincidence, also grant amnesty to illegal aliens residing in the US. Much like the budget crisis, when Pres. Obama closed the World War II Memorial to veterans for lack of funds while feting illegal aliens at the White House, he is clearly intent on using the border crisis to strong-arm the GOP to accept his legislative agenda.
In doing so, he has abdicated his responsibility for ensuring the security of the nation, abrogated the federal government's contract with the states to guarantee their territorial integrity, and made himself appear petty, mean spirited and far less than Presidential.
AND GOVERNMENT INTEGRITY
According to a Bloomberg Global Poll of Wall Street investors, analysts and traders, two years of uninterrupted gains have made them nervous. Sixty per cent believe stocks are overvalued, or soon will be. In other words, we have or soon shall have yet another "bubble."
The problem with bubbles is they inevitably burst - and when they do, financial catastrophes follow as vast sums of "paper wealth" vanish overnight. When that happens millionaires take a pasting, middle class investors are pauperized, and the economy grinds to a halt as banks - no longer certain of their assets - stop lending. This sort of financial calamity can happen overnight, like a house of cards collapsing, or like dominoes over a period of months, as it did in 2007.
Economists tend to shrug off bubbles, noting that there have been bubbles for as long as there have been banks. Although the observation is accurate, it obscures an uncomfortable truth: historically, bubbles only occurred when massive new deposits of silver or gold destabilized economies; but in the modern world, bubbles are inherent to systems that employ paper currency not backed by gold, silver, or other fungible assets.
Modern economies employ versions of fiat money, i.e., paper currency, and most fiat money is based upon government debt. The government in question exchanges interest bearing bonds of actual value for non-interest bearing notes of no inherent value, issued by its central bank, and calls the central bank notes "money." It is a form of modern alchemy, and in theory at least, all one need do to create additional currency to fuel economic expansion is to increase the size and cost of government. As long as the increase in the size and cost of government is proportional to currency requirements, the system works.
The problem is that politicians have powerful incentives to increase the size and scope of government, and none at all to keep the system in balance. The result is too often greater debt and more currency than the economy can absorb. When that happens, one of two things result: either the excess currency sets in motion an inflationary spiral, as too much money chases too few goods and services, or the excess currency finds its way into various types of investments, such as stocks or real estate, creating a bubble by inflating their market price far above their actual value. That can continue for a very long time, as it did with real estate prices for most of the last decade. But at some point, investors recognize the disconnect between price and value and scramble to dump their over-valued assets.
When that happens, the economy tanks and the government and its central bank typically intervenes - by taking on more debt and printing more currency, and revaluing asset prices upward by debasing the value of the currency downward with inflation. If, for example, a residence is over-valued at $400,000 during a bubble, and its market price falls by half after the bubble bursts, the simple solution is to reduce the value of the currency by 50 per cent, by doubling the amount in circulation. The real value of the house remains unchanged, but is priced back up to $400,000 in debased currency dollars. No harm, no foul, the books balance and the government can pay off its previous debts with the "cheap dollars" it created through inflation.
This is precisely the strategy that the Obama Administration and the Federal Reserve Bank have followed for the past five years. But there are three problems, two of which are economic, the third political. First, inflation is for all practical purposes a hidden tax that falls most heavily on the poor and on those with fixed incomes. Second, because it is impossible to accurately calibrate the debasement effort, the massive infusion of currency into the economy sets the stage for an inflationary spiral, another bubble, or both. And third, currency debasement is "Grand Theft, Government" - and when the general public realizes it is being systematically looted, the government, the bank, and the currency itself can lose their legitimacy. Riots, insurrections, and even revolutions commonly follow.
Now in the fifth year of the Obama Presidency and the sixth year of the Federal Reserve Bank's "Quantitative Easing," increasing numbers of Americans are coming to fear and distrust the federal government - because it has dealt with them dishonestly, has deliberately embraced a policy intended to surreptitiously seize what little wealth they may have acquired through inflation, and blighted their futures with a staggering level of debt that they, as citizens, are expected to pay.
As many an observer has remarked, sound money and honest government go hand in hand. So, too, does fiat money and dishonest government.
STRUCTURE, POLICY, POLITICS
AND A GENERATIONAL DISASTER
American citizens are increasingly outraged by the federal government's refusal to deal with the immigration crisis. Permitting an (officially) estimated 11-13 million illegal immigrants to reside within the United States during an Age of Terrorism is an obviously foolish idea; permitting tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors, many of whom are carrying deadly diseases, to crash the border is equally idiotic; distributing them throughout the country is even more so. Previously rare or unheard of diseases are now being commonly reported, including drug-resistant pneumonia and tuberculosis, and pneumonic plague.
For many Americans, it is inconceivable that Washington refuses to respond to what is, for all practical purposes, an invasion that threatens the national security. Plausible reports that the Mexican drug cartels have exploited the border collapse to push drugs and drug distributors across the frontier have been published by the allegedly reputable mainstream media, and ISIS terrorists have publicly proclaimed their intent to infiltrate jihadists into the US from Mexico.
The American people are perplexed, because they don't understand the actual structure of power in this country, or how it functions. Put simply, the United States is an oligarchy tempered by a democratic process.
In terms of structure, it can be compared with the solar system: at the center of the solar system is the sun, and revolving around it at various distances are the planets. By way of comparison, the Financial Elite - that is, the people that own the banks that own the Federal Reserve System - are the sun, and the Establishment - that is, the people and institutions that depend on or profit from the Federal Reserve System and the Debt-Based Currency System it manages - are the planets.
The placement of the individuals, institutions and interests that comprise the Establishment reflects their degree of dependence of the Financial Elite: those most dependent orbit more closely, those less dependent orbit more distantly. And much like gravity in the solar system, money holds it all together. Indeed, when queried on the role of the privately-owned Federal Reserve, American politicians often shrug and dismiss the question by saying, "That's our system" - as though the Constitution doesn't exist, or doesn't matter.
As a practical matter, the Financial Elite determines its preferred policies - sometimes through secretive conclaves like the Bilderberger meetings, and sometimes in more public venues such as semi-public conferences and also specialized financial publications. Once a consensus has been reached, the various front groups the Financial Elite has established over the past century turn their policy preferences into position papers or draft legislation. The Council on Foreign Relations for foreign policy, generally; the Trilateral Commission for Asian affairs, especially; the Rockefeller and Ford foundations for domestic policy and education; and the Carnegie Institute for disarmament and global political integration. Then after the position papers have been circulated on Capitol Hill and through the relevant federal agencies, and legislative proposals through the House and Senate, those parts of the Establishment most immediately interested begin lobbying, often with heavy press support. The New York Times and The Washington Post are considered authoritative mouthpieces for the Financial Elite and the Establishment, respectively.
The Financial Elite - and thus the Establishment beholden to it - favor massive and essentially unrestrained immigration for a variety of reasons. Most fundamentally, for changing the ethnic, religious and racial composition of America to better reflect the world's non-white, non-Christian majority. For it is a simple fact that people prefer to be ruled by those they resemble, and for that reason the present largely white and mostly Christian Elite must diversify if it is to achieve global dominion.
But there are more immediate reasons as well. Chief amongst them was the belief, which took hold in the 1980's, that America's standard of living had to be suppressed in order to remain competitive as China, India, Brazil and other countries emerging as economic powers. Massive and essentially unrestricted immigration was seen as the best mechanism for this: endless waves of immigrants both depressed wages and increased demand, thereby filling corporate coffers. For this reason, American business - led by the Chamber of Commerce - has pressed for ever greater numbers of legal immigrants and fought ferociously against closing the border and deporting illegal aliens. So, too, has Bill Gates, who argues that there's a desperate shortage of skilled, high-tech workers, even though his company, Microsoft, has just announced plans to lay off 18,000 employees.
Whatever merit these arguments once had seem increasingly bizarre in light of the rapidly shifting economy. New technical developments including 3-D Printing and, especially, robotics, are dramatically changing labor needs. 3-D Printing promises to revolutionize manufacturing within a decade, and robotics may revolutionize unskilled and semi-skilled labor even sooner. Here the current debate over raising the minimum wage above $10 is instructive: most of the low skilled, low wage jobs that would be covered by the new minimum wage can be performed by robots, the sophistication of which are increasing almost daily as the costs drop in similar measure. If the minimum wage rises to $10.10 an hour it will be cheaper to install robots to flip burgers, wait tables, vacuum carpets, dry cars, wash dishes, and bell hop, etc. Robots capable of performing these simple and repetitive tasks already exist, and they have gained a toehold. So, too, have robots which can pick fruit, cotton, and lettuce.
Simply put, the day of unskilled and semi-skilled labor is rapidly coming to a close - which raises the vexing question of what the masses of unskilled and largely illiterate illegal immigrants will do when the jobs they came for disappear. Unless due care is taken, and major social expenditures are made, we are liable to be stuck with millions of unemployed and unemployable foreign workers - who are, incidentally, residing in America illegally. To ask American tax-payers to subsidize them for life is too much - especially when the standard of living for native born citizens continues the decline that began in 1967, or 1969, depending on which economist you choose to believe.
Our current immigration policy - which consists, largely, of the non-enforcement of immigration law - is setting the stage for serious unrest downstream. Yet despite powerful public pressure from the electorate, both the White House and the Congress have little interest in addressing the issue. They are responding to Establishment pressures, ultimately traceable to the Financial Elite, both of which still cling to the notions of Multiculturalism, Diversity and Open Borders.
THE MID EAST: A WATERSHED?
Contrary to American high school civics texts, modern democracy is not an inheritance from Ancient Greece. It arose from Civil Wars of Exhaustion in England (the episodic chaos that ran from 1455 to the Glorious Revolution of 1688) and Holland (from 1568 to 1648). From the bloody chaos these countries experienced a consensus arose: far better to vote than fight. Pragmatic self-interest triumphed over dynastic claims, religious hatreds, and extremist ideologies.
That may be happening in the Middle East, as the staggering atrocities committed by the ISIL in Syria and Iraq sink into the region's collective psyche and the bloody folly of Hamas unfolds in Gaza. For the first time in history, prominent Arabs are publicly praising Israel for hammering other Arabs.
This is new, and it is unprecedented. And it may signify an historical turning point, where the Arab peoples become so fed up with the bloodshed perpetrated by extremists in the name of God that a pragmatic new consensus emerges, not unlike that which took root in England and Holland.
For more on this startling turn of events, please click on the link below:
SECOND THOUGHTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
IRAQ: WHAT WENT WRONG?
After seizing the Iraqi city of Ramadi in late December of 2013, and then Fallujah the first week of January, 2014, the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) launched a sudden attack against Iraqi government forces in June. Despite the fact that the ISIS had no more than 5000 fighters, the American trained and equipped Iraqi army crumbled before them. In less than two weeks, they swept across northern Iraq. They now control a third of the country, and the capital of Baghdad is now under threat.
Three years after President Barack Obama proclaimed success in the Iraq war, the US sponsored democratic government in Iraq is teetering on the verge of collapse and the country itself is in danger of disintegration. Hence the heated debate in Washington as to what went wrong, and who is to blame.
Many wish to hold Obama responsible for the fiasco, citing his precipitous withdrawal of US troops after failing to secure a Status of Forces (SOF) agreement with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. SOF agreements provide for American soldiers to be tried before American tribunals in the event they are accused of a crime by their host country, and are considered a necessary precondition for the presence of American troops. President Obama and his supporters maintain they had no choice but to withdraw American forces in the absence of the SOF agreement, but his critics assert that Obama is to blame for the failed negotiations: Having initially pledged to leave approximately 10,000 US advisors and military specialists in Iraq, Obama suddenly reduced that number to 3000 - too small to have made a significant difference, and too few to justify a politically costly agreement for Maliki.
Others argue the Iraq failure is due to entirely to Prime Minister Maliki, a Shiite Muslim with dictatorial tendencies. Aside from his refusal to sign the SOF agreement, he has since the US withdrawal concentrated key ministerial portfolios in his own hands and given Sunni Muslims - who make up 40 percent of the population - short shift in terms of political access, power, and government resources. Smoldering Sunni resentments made it possible for the ISIS to recruit Sunni militias to their cause, including the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Sunni dominated army.
But there are larger questions here which have thus far been miscast or entirely overlooked. One is the overall wisdom of America's 2003 invasion; the other is the manner in which the war was fought.
Iraq is an artificial state, created by the British Empire in 1920 to block Iran's westward expansion - a role that it played, imperfectly but well, until the US invasion in 2003. From a geopolitical standpoint, then, the US attack was stupid beyond measure. By shattering the one country that effectively checked Iranian expansion into the Levant, the United States guaranteed Iran would emerge as the dominant regional power.
But if invading Iraq was a bad move, the manner in which the subsequent war was waged was equally foolish: It could have been fought and won with little cost in American blood and treasure.
Iraq is a tribal society - and if you wish to topple the government of a tribal society, all you need do is figure out which tribes hate the tribe or coalition of tribes in power, and provide them with money, arms, intelligence support and perhaps some training. Given the stark divisions and raw hatreds that characterize these types of societies, the "Outs" are always willing to wage war upon the "Ins."
Had the Bush Administration the wit to have recognized this basic fact and cut a deal with the "Outs," the initial American thrust into Iraq would have been enough to shatter Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and provide the opening dissident tribes needed to revolt. A bloody civil war would have inevitably ensued, but that happened anyway - with American troops in the midst. Far better to kick the props out from under Saddam, and let the Iraqi's sort out the resultant mess in their own way.
But unfortunately, the Bush Administration didn't even consider this possibility. This was due in part to the Neo Cons who dominated the Bush White House - a genuinely bizarre group of ideological fanatics, only loosely attached to reality - and in part because of the long-standing American tradition of ideologically-based foreign policy, which enabled the Neo Cons to translate their nuttiness into policy. When the United States takes down a foreign government, it is universally assumed that we should replace it with a Western-style democracy.
But foreign policy is not about ideology. It is about national interests, and in this dictators - even brutal dictators - are often the lesser of evils. And some, such as Franco in Spain, occasionally come in handy.
There ARE worse things than tyrants, and we would do well to keep that in mind as the United States completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan. A tribal society like Iraq, it is likely to follow a similar path after American troops are withdrawn. In this case, as in so many others, who will be in charge of Afghanistan is far more important than how they achieve power.
A DELIBERATE DECEPTION?
For more than a century, economics students have been taught that banks solicit deposits from customers with excess cash in order to make loans to entrepreneurs to grow the economy, thereby contributing to the greater good.
The problem with that, of course, is that it's just not true. In a financial system dominated by central banks and fiat currency, banks create their own money through a form of lawful legerdemain: monies lent out are entered on one side of the ledger as a liability, and on the other as an asset. And because banks can borrow essentially unlimited amounts of cash from the central banks, they never run out.
In this sense, fiat money is nothing more than a bank-created IOU, given value by the fact that governments have declared them legal tender and demand them in payment for taxes. This turns almost everything economic students have been taught on its head, and casts grave doubt upon the theoretical basis for government fiscal policies throughout the world. Yet according to a paper entitled Money Creation in the Modern Economy, authored by three top economists from the Bank of England's Monetary Analysis Directorate, it is nonetheless true.
Published under the Bank's imprimatur, this follows a "white paper" the Bank released earlier in response to a student strike in the UK, demanding "honest instruction" in economics. According to the Bank, the students' criticisms of economic theory are right, their textbooks are wrong, and their professors are full of hot air.
The Bank of England's astonishing endorsement of the students' critique has profound implications. First, it means economic theory has been not merely wrong, but wildly so, for generations. Second, it means that government policies based upon those theories are also wrong, and to the same extent. And third, it portends a revolution in both government and banking.
If the Bank of England is correct - and there is certainly no reason to believe otherwise - the most basic assumption of modern economic life is wrong: Fiat money is not a scarce commodity limited by supply; it is in fact an inexhaustible resource, limited only by demand. From this, it logically follows that government spending, based upon borrowing from the central bank, should be limitless as well.
But when viewed from the perspective of Political Economy - that is, when viewed in terms of the political consequences of government taxation and spending - it all looks quite different. As a shocked character in CFIS Chairman Charles S. Viar's recent novel, Just before Midnight, observed, the fiat money generated by the Debt-Based Currency System is "a backdoor to socialism."
Indeed, it is. As many allegedly paranoid Conservatives have argued, the Federal Reserve System and the Debt-Based Currency it imposed on the United States resulted from a conspiracy hatched by bankers to create a quasi-socialist system which they would rule as the New Currency Barons.
They're almost there - which is precisely why the Bank of England's public statements are so puzzling. Why let the cat out of the bag now?
One plausible reason for the Bank of England's unexpected candor is that the Debt-Based Currency System, managed by central banks throughout the world, is approaching its outer limits.
It may be true that fiat money is not a scarce commodity limited by supply, but its value depends entirely upon public confidence. After decades of blundering and mismanagement, confidence in government is at a low ebb throughout the world, and could be destroyed entirely by any number of plausible events: A nuclear exchange, an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, or an unprecedented environmental or climatic catastrophe. In any of these cases, paper money would become worthless overnight.
Worse yet, a comparatively mundane crisis could have the same effect. When inflation spun out of control in Weimar Germany, the value of the German currency dropped so far, so fast, that at one point a loaf of bread coast more than a billion marks. Currency had to carried about in wheel barrows, and restaurants required their customers to pay in advance to avoid being ruined by a currency that lost value with each passing hour.
Like the Weimar Republic before it, the Federal Reserve Bank has resorted to "monetizing the debt" in order to cope with the present fiscal crisis - it has adopted a strategy of paying it off through inflation, which is a polite term for currency debasement. As a practical matter, inflation/debasement is a hidden tax levied on the poor and those with fixed incomes and, according to modern economics theory, it is socially and economically beneficial when kept within low bounds. But when inflation takes hold, it's almost impossible to stop: A debasement effort designed to devalue the currency by two per cent can easily turn into 20, 20 into 40, and 40 into 4000 or more. When that happens, people lose faith in the currency, and attempt to protect themselves by buying gold, silver and other stores of value such as diamonds.
The fiat currency generated by the present Debt-Based Currency System thus depends on mass psychology, which is notoriously unpredictable. The system could collapse at any time, and more than a few astute observers believe the collapse may not be far off. One of them is James Rickards, who is an economist, an attorney, a Wall Street banker, an acknowledged authority on national security and a best-selling author. In two recent books, Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis and The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System, Rickards explains in clear and simple terms why the present system cannot long continue, why and how it will likely collapse, and what individuals can do to protect themselves. He also predicts the most likely political outcome is form of "Friendly Fascism," imposed as an emergency measure to stabilize an economy - and a country - in free fall.
Former Republican presidential candidate and (almost) billionaire Steve Forbes is not as pessimistic, but in a just published book entitled Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy, he argues that present system of Debt-Based fiat currency is not merely unsustainable, but a threat to the economic security of America. Like Rickards, Forbes believes the only solution is to abandon printing press money and return to the gold standard.
Unfortunately, neither Rickards nor Forbes delves deeply into the systemic corruption caused by the present currency system. For that we highly recommend Charles S. Viar's recent fictionalized account of a second assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan, entitled Just Before Midnight: A Tale of Love, Romance, Treachery and Treason.
Just Before Midnight is available from Amazon in quality paperback or e-book formats.
Just Before Midnight: A Tale of Love, Romance, Treachery and Treason.
THE SECRET WAR
Following the Russian seizure of Crimea in March, there was much talk of a New Cold War. That may yet occur, but a far more consequential war between the United States and Russia is already raging behind the scenes.
Sergey Glazyev, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's senior economic advisers, provided a rare glimpse of that war in a recent article published by Argumenty Nedeli. According to Glazyev, the United States is engaged in a sophisticated, three-part maneuver designed to secure American hegemony over Europe by crippling Russian businesses. The ultimate objective is to impose on Europe the American-preferred version of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which, Glazyev claims, will reduce Europe to an American economic colony. To counter the United States, Glazyev argues that Russia should launch an attack on the US dollar.
Why Glazyev went public at this time is unclear, as he directed the opening assault against the United States last May, with a new $400 billion Russian-Chinese trade agreement that, among other things, provides for the use of national currencies, rather than the dollar, in bi-national trade.
Within that general framework is also an agreement to jointly construct least one pipeline from Russia to China, and probably another downstream, to accommodate China's burgeoning purchases of oil and natural gas from that country. In 2009, for example, Russian oil giant Rosneft signed a contract with China to provide $25 billion worth of oil to China; last year, they signed another valued at $270 billion. For the next 25 years, the Russians will be sending at least 600,000 barrels of oil a day to the Chinese.
Because the terms of the agreement are heavily weighted in favor of China, Moscow clearly intended the trade pact to serve a larger geopolitical objective. Now that the United States has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's largest natural gas producer, the Russians believe it's only a matter of time before the United States shuts the Russians out of the European market, either through an orchestrated campaign of sanctions or price wars. The dramatic expansion of Russian trade with China, then, provides Russia with a form of strategic depth.
But there is a deeper motive, specifically, the destruction of the US dollar as the international reserve currency of choice. Since Henry Kissinger's 1974/75 deals with Saudi Arabia, in which the United States extended unlimited and open-ended military protection to the Saudi regime in exchange for a Saudi requirement in OPEC that all international oil purchases be paid for in US dollars, American money has been effectively backed by Saudi oil. Given the ever-increasing demand for oil - and US dollars to pay for them - the US government has been able to run the printing presses day and night, without regard for fiscal reality. Thus the "credit card wars" in Iran and Afghanistan, and the $17 trillion national debt.
Dollar Hegemony, as it is called, has dramatically increased America's relative power within the international system, and permitted it to engage in activities that would be otherwise fiscally impossible. But as Glazyev has publicly argued, the "Printing Press Dollar" is America's Achilles' Heel. Crash the dollar, and you crash the Pax Americana.
This was the real reason for America's 2003 attack on Iraq - Saddam Hussein had not only called for abandoning the dollar requirement for oil sales, but had quietly offered to accept Euros in their stead. Similarly, American hostility toward Venezuela was provoked by Hugo Chavez's roughly contemporaneous threat to "go Euro."
The Grand Irony here is the American people would probably benefit from the displacement of the dollar, as foreign imports would become suddenly more costly and American exports suddenly less expensive - and therefore more attractive to customers abroad. Without question, millions of new jobs would be created in the US to cope with the sudden demand for cheaper, American-made products.
The political implications might be even more profound. The end of Dollar Hegemony would spell the end of Credit Card Government, and with it, much of what passes for "Liberalism" today. Forced to live within its means for the first time in generations, the Federal Government would be compelled to raise taxes dramatically, slash the size and cost of government programs, or both. In that eventuality, many current social welfare programs, such as those that provide free cell phones to welfare recipients, tax dodges for the rich, or lavish benefits for illegal immigrants, would suddenly become fiscally impossible. A new era of financial responsibility would dawn.
THE TWO FACES OF ISLAM
Since the attacks of 9-11, US policymakers have incessantly proclaimed Islam to be a religion of piece. And yet, Muslims routinely engage in unspeakable atrocities - most recently in Iraq, where the al Qaeda offshoot, ISIS, has murdered thousands of prisoners, often by beheading or crucifixion.
IN BRITAIN: THE TROJAN HORSE CONSPIRACY
According to Raymond Ibrihim, there is a reason for that. Although all religious scriptures are contradictory in part, none are more so than the Koran. Indeed, it contains so many glaring contradictions that Islam is the only religion that has ever developed a specific doctrine to account for them.
Following the death of Mohammed, Islamic leaders were at a loss as to how to apply his revelations. Were they to obey the early injunction that there was to be no coercion in religion, or the later command for Muslims to fight all non-believers until they converted, or at least accepted Islamic dominion?
To escape the difficulty, Islamic scholars developed the Doctrine of Abrogation, which asserts that where passages in the Koran contradict one another, the passage revealed in the latter part of Mohammed's mission takes precedence over the passage earlier revealed. The reasons for that, Muslims say, are two: First, in the early days of Mohammed's mission, Muslims were weak and for that reason God determined they should present an inoffensive face - the non-threatening face of peace and humility, lest the pagans they lived among see them as a threat, and kill them. The second is that the requirements of the Islamic faith are so demanding that God chose to reveal them slowly, over a 22- year period, so as not to alienate potential converts.
Perhaps so, but the reasoning is amazingly convenient. A cynic could be excused for suspecting that the evolution of Islam had more to do with battlefield success and the accumulation of power than progressive revelation. Certainly, this appears to be the case with the Jews: During the early part of his mission, when Mohammed still hoped to convert them, he preached generosity, understanding and conciliation towards them. But when the Jews failed to respond, Mohammed's message became increasingly hostile. Much the same applied to Christians, who were also recognized as "People of the Book."
The "Two Faces of Islam" presents a serious problem for Western societies, which generally practice the tolerance they preach. Where communities of Muslim immigrants are small, Muslims give the appearance of model citizens. But as their numbers and political influence increases, a more militant Islam asserts itself. Demands for special rights and privileges come first, then "Muslim self-government" and finally, the imposition of Sharia Law and the persecution of non-Muslims.
This pattern is visible in the Scandinavian countries - especially Norway - where large numbers of Muslims have settled. There they have carved out "no go" areas for the Norwegian police, and established illegal Sharia courts, replete with enforcers, to rule their communities. Any objections to their creation of a state-within-a-state is met with cries of racism and persecution, and threats of violence.
A similar situation is in fact developing in Britain, where Muslim extremists apparently conspired to take over the tax-supported schools in Birmingham, and a similar situation appears to be emerging in Michigan, where public schools have caved in to Muslim parents and created "prayer rooms" for Muslim students, even though religion is, supposedly, banned from tax-supported can schools.
The question is where will it end? The answer is that it probably won't. Islam claims to be the One True Faith, and asserts that all the world must one day be subject to it - including Sharia Law.
Some critics maintain that Islam isn't a religion at all, but rather an early form of totalitarianism; others assert that it is simply a strategy for conquest. But whatever the actual case, American policymakers cling to the notion that Islam is a "religion of peace" because that interpretation supports their larger goal of Global Integration. For that reason they cannot - and will not - acknowledge the possibility that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western beliefs and values and, indeed, with democracy itself.
Last November, the city council in Birmingham received an anonymous letter warning them of a Muslim plot to hijack the public school system, and detailing a series of alleged abuses that included unlawful gender segregation in the class room; cancelling athletic programs that interfered with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan; the harassment of non-Muslim teachers; packing the employment rolls with unqualified Muslims; the use of religion classes to promote Islamic propaganda; the use of school funds to sponsor student trips to Saudi Arabia; an overly strict dress code; and severe punishments for typical teenaged behaviors, such as couples holding hands in the hallways.
The letter itself was almost certainly fraudulent, but the charges were not. Following a storm of controversy after copies of it were circulated throughout the British press, an official investigation concluded that while the claims of Muslim misconduct may have been overstated, the substance of the allegations were largely true. As a result, five public schools have been placed under "special measures" - in effect, receivership by the British government.
Snap inspections at 21 schools revealed varying degrees of problems. The Oldknow school, which is more than 99% Muslim and which had previously been rated as outstanding, was particularly troubling: There the Governors (i.e., the local school board) actively promoted "a particular and narrow faith based ideology;" cancelled a regular Christian prayer and the Christmas assembly, even though Britain is by law a Christian country; censored science instruction that conflicted with Islamic teachings; banned raffles and Tombolas as "Un-Islamic;" appended an unsanctioned Islamic Studies course to a "personal, health and social education" curriculum; and sponsored student trips to Saudi Arabia. In other schools, according to inspector Michael Wilshaw, from the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), Muslim Governors had established a "culture of fear and intimidation" that undermined non-Muslim teachers and staff.
Although the investigation has received some criticism - mostly from the British Left - as "racist," a great many Muslim parents seem to support its conclusions and the actions taken. According to one quoted by the British press, "I am Muslim, but I am concerned...It's not the teachers that are the problem, it's the Governors. They've got too involved in teaching. It's not extremism as such, but they shouldn't ignore other religions." Another was quoted as saying "I'm happy with the school, but I do think it should appoint governors who have an idea of the national curriculum."
The problem is these are sentiments from an older Muslim generation, who grew up at a time when Muslims were a distinct minority, even in Birmingham. They reflect the passive face of Islam; the generation coming to the fore, which hijacked the schools, is far more militant. They now have a local majority, and for that reason they believe they have the right - indeed, the duty - to impose Islam wherever and whenever they can. The fact that Britain is a constitutional democracy is of no matter; the British constitution is secular law, Sharia is God's Law.
That the British Government appointed a former high ranking counterterrorism official to head the Ofsted investigation into the Birmingham schools speaks volumes. Britain has a problem with Muslim assimilation - and after decades of ill-conceived and ill-considered immigration policies, the British Government is finally being forced to admit it.
BRITAIN: THE LEADING EDGE
The late May local elections in Great Britain have left that country's Political Establishment in shock. With most Councils (local governments) reported, the Labour Party won 31 per cent, the Conservatives won 29 per cent, the populist upstart United Kingdom Independence Party won 17 per cent and the Conservative Party's coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats won 13 per cent.
Superficially, the election went to Labour but as the leadership of all three mainstream parties quickly realized, the real winner was the UKIP which is opposed to British membership in the European Union and mass immigration. Even though the UKIP's share of the vote actually declined from four years ago, they managed to extend their geographic range of support throughout Britain. Having placed first in the follow-on elections for the European Parliament, the party is now a major contender for power.
This matters for Americans, because British politics tends to lead American politics by three to five years. And given the basic similarities between the UKIP and the Tea Party insurrection in the United States, the electoral tsunami that struck Britain will probably strike the United States as well - most likely in 2016, but possibly this November. Certainly, the political stars are aligning in that direction...
The UKIP and the American Tea Party share a common origin: Popular frustration with political establishments pursuing a Elite agenda at the expense of the voters that placed them in power. Simply put, democratic elections over the past 20 years have not produced democratic outcomes - and the electorates on both sides of the Atlantic are fed up.
In both cases, the cause of popular outrage is the same: The Financial Elite, which in Britain consists of what are termed "second tier banks' associated with the Bank of England, and in the United States the banks that own the Federal Reserve System, are committed to a policy of Globalism that presumes the eventual abolition of national states; and the Establishment, consisting of those individuals, institutions, and corporations that depend on or profit from the Financial Elite, are pursuing an agenda against the will and, indeed, the interests of the British and American peoples.
The split between the Elite/Establishment and a significant portion of their electorates is a classic case of "Friction," as first described by the great German military scholar Carl von Clausewitz. In his majestic tome entitled On War, he argued that the principle reason for battlefield defeat was "Friction," that is, conflict between the enlisted ranks and the NCOs, conflict between the NCOs and the junior officers, conflict between the junior officers and the field rank officers, conflict between the field rank officers and the colonels, conflict between the colonels and the generals, conflict between line and staff general officers and, finally, conflict between the military and the policymakers it serves.
Precisely the same logic applies to conflict between the public and the politicians: As long as the political leadership is promoting policies that serve the general interest, the political system works well; but when the political leadership falls under the sway of special interests - specifically, the Financial Elite/Economic Establishment - it slowly slides into dysfunction.
Historically, there are several ways to restore a democratic political system to functionality: A major party may break ranks with the Elite, and side with the people; a populist insurgency may capture the leadership of a major party - as the Tea Party is attempting to do here in the United States - or the electorate may rise up and sweep the existing Political Establishment from power. In Britain, with its system of proportional, parliamentary elections, the most likely outcome is the UKIP will force itself upon the Conservatives as a coalition partner. In the United States, pressure from the Tea Party is more likely to force an unwilling GOP to practice the principles it has long professed. In both countries, the insurgents will attempt to limit massive and essentially unrestrained immigration, and slow or stop altogether the process of "Globalism."
But there is a fourth and chilling option: Under the pretext of counterterrorism, the Political Establishment will suppress its populist challengers, and limit democratic "choice" to approved parties.
Well, at least according to Congressman Joe Garcia (D-FL).
Pointing to the fact that the two safest cities in America are on the Mexican border, Rep. Garcia claims the reason for that is "We've proved Communism works. If you give everyone a good government job, there's no crime."
Unfortunately, the Congressman did not elaborate on who would pay for all those good government jobs. Apparently, he's unaware that the wealth the government consumes is produced by the private sector.
This kind of ignorance was first described by Jose Ortega y Gasset's 1929 book, The Revolt of the Masses, which assessed in part the growing disconnect between consumption and the knowledge of production. To cite but one example, the average shopper in the (then) modern world hasn't the slightest idea of how the produce he or she buys made its way to market, or the painstaking, often backbreaking labor, that went into growing and transporting it. Still less do they understand how an automobile is built, or the centuries of engineering, or the organization of capital and labor that made it possible, and only the haziest understanding that the vehicle - somehow - came from a "factory."
Individuals afflicted by this extraordinary degree of ignorance can come from any social class, but they most often arise from privileged backgrounds and possess a "liberal" education. They are a threat, because the "Mass-man" isn't the next step in progress but the "negation of civilization."
On the basis of his comments, Rep. Garcia would seem to personify Gasset's concerns. For more on the Congressman's strange claims, please click on the link below:
INTELLIGENCE IN THE INFORMATION AGE
Intelligence is classically defined as "evaluated information." The sources of the information evaluated is unimportant - it can be from open sources, such as newspapers, radio broadcasts or TV; bank research departments; corporate profit and loss sheets; stockholder reports; marketing surveys; government publications; purloined documents; photographs taken by spy planes or reports from scouts; intercepted telephone or radio communications, or any of a myriad of other sources.
Secret intelligence is a more rarefied, and has traditionally been the province of specialized organizations such as intelligence services, specifically created and designed for the purpose of ferreting out information hidden by foreign states and hostile, non-state actors such as terrorist organizations or drug cartels. Because secret information is so difficult to obtain, it has often - and wrongly - been considered the Gold Standard.
But in a digitalized world, astonishing amounts of detailed information may be collected and analyzed by private groups and organizations that now rival the world's best intelligence services in terms of scope and capability. According to Richard J. Aldrich, Professor of International Security at Warwick University in Britain, in the post-privacy world created by computers the largest intelligence gatherers (and analysts) are not the national intelligence services but private companies: airlines, banks, internet providers and TESCO.
"These organizations are becoming cleverer and cleverer. Cleverer than the CIA, cleverer than the KGB." Aldrich went on to note that by analyzing his non-cash purchases over the past five years, any of them could predict who he will support in the upcoming European Parliament elections with 90 per cent accuracy - even though he himself has not yet made up his mind on how he will vote!
Individuals are getting into the intelligence gathering/analysis act as well: private citizens studying the social media after the Boston terrorist bombing made the same mistaken deduction concerning the residence of the suspects, and a mob gathered outside. The important point is not that scores of people evaluated the information incorrectly - what matters is that so many evaluated the information, for the same reasons and at roughly the same time.
An espionage society is now emerging, driven by technology. As that technology becomes ubiquitous, the few remaining shards of privacy we still possess will evaporate along with the few remaining secrets we still hold. The ultimate impact will be difficult for individuals - akin, in important ways, to living in a nudist colony - and devastating for corporations and governments, which will be unable to hide legitimate secrets such as proprietary techniques and technologies or military defense plans.
Of particular concern to Professor Aldrich is the increasing level of public knowledge regarding the design and deployment of computer viruses - a development which can only encourage malicious individuals to make and unleash viruses of their own. In his view, the day is fast approaching when it will be possible for a single individual to successfully attack every power station in Europe simultaneously.
In the past, the Twilight War of the Intelligence Services has been limited by the certain promise of tit-for-tat retaliation: "Kill one of our people, and we'll kill one of yours; blow up one of our pipelines, and we'll blow up one of yours," etc., etc. But since this sort of institutionalized deterrence has already failed with terrorist groups and drug cartels, there's no reason to believe it will work in this new world of self-selected / self-directed spies and saboteurs.
Hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. We're in for a heck of a ride.
A NEW FACE OF WAR
If nuclear weapons made unrestricted warfare unthinkable, the ability of modern weapons to deliver localized destruction with pinpoint accuracy has made warfare so enormously costly that an appeal to force has truly become the last resort of nations. Far better to resolve conflicts by fighting it out on a less physical level. For this reason, as James Rickards has observed, "Currency Wars" have become the Wars of Choice.
Rickards is one of the most interesting individuals of our time. Although he can and sometimes does come across as an "Oh, shucks" kind of guy, he is a lawyer, an economist, a long-time Wall Street banker and an acknowledged expert on national security. As evidenced by his two recent books, Currency Wars and The Death of Money, he possesses one of the finest minds of our era.
According to Rickards, there have been three currency wars in recent history. The first from 1921-1936, the second from 1967-1987 and now a third that began in 2010. In a currency war, the objective is to improve your nation's power and position within the international system by manipulating the value of your currency relative to others. At stake is not only one's power and position, but a slight but politically consequential increase or decrease in production and employment.
Currency War III began as a contest between the United States, the European Union and China, but it looks as though Russian President Vladimir Putin has led his country into the fray and allied with China against the United States, in retaliation for American sanctions levied Moscow following the seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. According to a Sino-Russian announcement made in Shanghai on May 20, the two countries intend to increase the volume of bi-lateral trade paid for in their own national currencies rather than US dollars.
Although this will probably benefit the United States in the short run by boosting American exports - made suddenly more affordable by a cheapened dollar - it is widely seen as an opening gambit to undercut the dollar's role as an international reserve currency, to ultimately force a revision of the present international currency system. Should they succeed, they will deal a devastating blow to the United States.
Since the Kissinger-Saudi deal of 1974-75, in which the United States agreed to provide unlimited military support for the Saudi government in exchange for a Saudi-imposed OPEC requirement that all international oil sales be paid for in US dollars, the United States has had the ability to create globally accepted "printing press money" that is entirely disconnected from financial and economic reality. For Washington, this was very much like having a credit card with no upper limit and no requirement to ever repay the principal. Thus the utter abandonment of fiscal sanity by American politicians, the "credit card wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the $17 trillion dollar national debt.
The problem is that the present system of "printing press money" depends upon international confidence in the dollar, which, in turn, depends on America's ability to 1) service the interest on the debt and 2) international confidence that the dollar will maintain its pride-of-place as the reserve currency of choice. By agreeing to conduct bi-lateral trade in their own currencies - in effect, cutting the dollar out of the loop - the Russians and the Chinese have struck a blow against confidence in the dollar, and with it, America's ability and willingness to influence the world.
The simple truth is that America's taxpayers would have never tolerated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan if they had been forced to accept massive tax increases to pay for them. Nor will they be willing to tolerate similar misadventures if the Russians and the Chinese manage to shut down - or at least impose restraints upon - Uncle Sam's Marvelous Money Machine.
MAY IT REST IN PEACE
The rise of Julius Caesar is conveniently used to mark the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. But Roman consuls and other high officials continued to be elected for another five centuries. Indeed, the Republic outlasted the Empire by more than a generation: The last consuls were elected in 509 AD, 33 years after the Western Empire was formally abolished.
But after Caesar, the Rome was a Republic of Form rather than Substance. The persistence of Roman democracy can be viewed as an old habit that underwent an unusually long death. Today, many would argue that American democracy is following a similar trajectory.
In a stunning exchange on Capitol Hill during the month of May, Vermont's socialist senator Bernie Sanders asked Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen if the United States was still a capitalist democracy, or if it had morphed into an oligarchy. Yellen dodged the question, saying that while she preferred not to "give labels" there was no question that the dramatic trend toward income inequality "is a worrisome trend that deserves the attention of policymakers." Put less diplomatically, Yellen was acknowledging that the rise of a "Super Elite" was distorting the political process in disturbing ways.
The unstated subtext to the debate, referenced indirectly by both Sen. Sanders and Ms. Yellen, was a recent study authored by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University, which employed a data set of 1779 policy issues from 1981 through 2002, to compare actual policy outcomes to outcome preferences of the bottom tenth of American earners, median income earners, and the fortunate few who reap 90 per cent of payroll dollars. Not surprisingly, the policy preferences of the "90 Percenters," i.e., those earning $146,000 a year or more, were most likely to become enacted into law. Their legislative preferences had a 46 per cent likelihood of being passed on Capitol Hill; proposals they opposed had a stunning 82 per cent chance of being defeated, even when a majority of voters supported it.
More chilling is the fact that the data set used in this study cut off in 2002, several years before the income gap sharply widened with the 2007-2008 crash. Although positive proof has yet to be presented, no one doubts that the political clout of the "90 Percenters" has since grown even greater, especially since the Supreme Court redefined political contributions as protected speech.
Studiously avoided by both Sen. Sanders and Ms. Yellen were the reasons for the ever-increasing gap between the highest and the lowest earners, and the ongoing extinction of the American Middle Class - topics they sidestepped, and for good reason. If the American people understood the true origins of their pauperization, wide scale violence might easily result. At the very least, an electoral rebellion would sweep the existing Political Establishment from power.
Simply put, the death of the American Dream is reducible to two core factors.
The first is the Debt-Based Currency System and the accompanying federal income tax, which stripped voters of the "Power of the Purse" - traditionally, the only effective check on government - while at the same time making it possible for both the Federal Reserve Bank and the federal government to manipulate the economy. The corrupted transformation of free enterprise into Crony Capitalism was one inevitable result; the rise of Rentier Government was another.
The second is globalism, which involved the deliberate (and government subsidized) export of American manufacturing abroad; massive and sustained immigration, legal or otherwise; and the 1967 corruption of American National Policy and its supporting Grand Strategy, away from the defensive NP and supporting GS that arose in the 1870's and toward Mid East Oil Control/Dollar Hegemony - the latter being an add on, negotiated by Henry Kissinger and Saudi Arabia in 1974-75. All this was for the benefit of American corporations seeking to free themselves from their national base, and reposition into a wider world for larger profits. They made trillions; honest American wage-earners were beggared, and the once-proud Middle Class began slowly evaporating.
This is a good news/bad news story.
The good news is it cannot last. As James Rickards has forcefully argued in his two recent books, Currency Wars and The Death of Money, the fiat money system built upon government debt is bumping up against its outermost limits. Unless it is soon replaced, it will collapse. The bad news is that if the currency crisis - that is, the flip side of the sovereign debt crisis - is not handled adroitly, the collapse could sweep all before it. Rickards has explicitly warned that the destruction set in motion by such a collapse could rival that which followed the fall of Rome.
The great problem is that America has not morphed into a traditional oligarchy - which often to act responsibly out of self-interest - but rather into a Plutocracy, that is, a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. Unfortunately, Plutocrats have an historically poor track record for governing: Since their profits and power are derived from the status quo, they have little incentive to change - even in the face of impending disaster.
The most likely outcome, in the short term, is that America will follow Rome's trajectory with a make-believe democracy, controlled by a self-interested elite dedicated to policies that are ruinously destructive to the American people. The long term outcome is even less appealing...
THE END OF AN ERA
Although the mainstream media will not discuss it, and credentialed historians try to avoid it, international conflict over the past century has been powerfully shaped by the struggle for oil. Although World War I was unquestionably fought for control of Continental Europe, the prominent subtext was Mid East Oil. Given the Ottoman Empire's advanced state of decay, by the turn of the 20th Century it was clearly only a matter of time before one or another European Power seized effective control of the area. Thus Germany's dreams of a Berlin-to-Baghdad railway, and Britain's naval encroachments upon the region. Viewed from this perspective, the Second World War was a continuation of the First, with the unique twist provided by Hitler, and a wider geographic range extended to Asia and the rich oil fields of Indonesia.
The struggle for oil also dictated America's disastrous strategic re-positioning of 1967, which abandoned the profoundly defensive and naval-oriented National Policy and supporting Grand Strategy adopted a century before, in favor of a new National Policy of Deliberate Energy Dependence supported by the Grand Strategy of Oil Control/Armed Mid East Intervention that produced the calamitous failures of Iraq and Afghanistan.
New and unexpected advances in oil extraction technologies and the discovery of vast new oil fields in North America and elsewhere have substantially reduced America's dependence on foreign oil, a fact that has both permitted and encouraged the new National Policy and Grand Strategy, characterized by the White House as, variously, the "Asian Tilt" or the "Asian Pivot." Regardless of the appellation, the new NP/GS involves a sharp reduction in America's involvement in and commitment to the Middle East. Thus the rush to resolve outstanding issues there, including Iran's nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian standoff. From a geopolitical standpoint, it is the end of an era.
It seems increasingly likely that a related economic era may soon come to an end as well. Although economic, financial and policy interests combined to limit America's pursuit of alternative energies to a desultory and erratic effort that sometimes bordered on the comical, decades of research and development have begun to pay off. One just announced development in ethanol production may be revolutionary.
Ethanol is simply alcohol, and may be distilled into spirits, cleaning fluid, or fuel. Its great value as a gasoline supplement and/or replacement is that it can be burned in standard internal combustion engines with little or no modification. Many vehicles in Brazil run exclusively on ethanol, and most can be easily switched back and forth between gasoline, ethanol-gasoline blends, and pure ethanol. Although it subsequently fell into disfavor, ethanol has a long history in the United States as well: Henry Ford's Model T was designed to run on ethanol or gas, whichever was available.
Ethanol can be manufactured in many ways, using many techniques. But the most common form is made from sugar cane, in Brazil, and corn in the United States. As a result, ethanol production requires vast amounts of farmland, fertilizer, and water, and is therefore arguably more polluting than standard gasoline. Many critics regard ethanol as an obscenity, as it increases prices in a world chronically short on food.
But in May, scientists at Stanford University announced a new and efficient process for producing ethanol from carbon monoxide, without the need for corn, sugar cane or biomass of any sort. According to Professor Matthew Kanan, the new process involves running an electric current through two electrodes placed in water saturated by carbon monoxide gas, which converts the carbon monoxide onto ethanol. The game plan is to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and then use electricity from renewable energy sources - such as wind turbines - to power the ethanol production process.
Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - a major "greenhouse gas" - is a plus for the environment, while the simple and inexpensive ethanol production process should be a boon for consumers in terms of lower food and fuel prices. And because of its versatility as a fuel, the ability to produce essentially unlimited amounts of inexpensive ethanol will contribute substantially to the national security.
DROSS TO GOLD, SEAWATER TO OIL...
Ethanol from CO2 isn't the only breakthrough technology that is revolutionizing fuel: In April, the US Naval Research Laboratory's Materials Science and Technology Division announced it had developed a technique for converting seawater to aviation fuel. According to Dr. Heather Willauer, the NRL has developed a "game changing" technology that makes it possible to simultaneously extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater. Once liberated from the water, the gasses are then converted into a liquid hydrocarbon through a catalytic process. A chemically complex but operationally simple and economical second step produces hydrocarbon molecules that can then be converted into jet and other types of fuels. In a stunning proof of concept, the NRL used a test batch of "designer gas" to power an off-the-shelf, remote controlled scale model replica of a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft in actual flight.
When commercialized in seven to ten years, the new process of fuel from seawater is expected to produce aviation fuel for an estimated $3-6 per gallon.
But aside from limitless and relatively inexpensive fuel, the new process will, when properly scaled, revolutionize naval operations. Save for nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines, the US Navy's fleet is powered by conventional fuels - meaning that ships must either return to port to refuel at frequent intervals or engage in the difficult and dangerous process of refueling from tankers at sea. Fuel, then, is the Achilles Heel of the Fleet - shore stations are vulnerable to aerial and ground attacks, and sabotage, and the Navy's 15 tankers are primary targets for enemy submarines. Compounding the problem, refueling at sea means warships must sail side by side with tankers for hours on end, making themselves - and the tankers - sitting ducks.
The Navy's long-term game plan is to scale down the technology so that each and every ship can produce its own fuel at sea. By doing so, the Navy will remove one of the most serious constraints on naval operations: With no need to refuel, the only real limit on how long a ship can remain at sea will be its supplies of food and munitions, and the psychological endurance of the crews.
In terms of naval warfare, at least, this is revolution...
PRAVDA ON OBAMA:
A STRANGE, SOULLESS MAN
Pravda is a curious vestige of the Cold War: Once the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it fell on hard times after the USSR collapsed. After a change of ownership, it eventually reappeared as a Communist-affiliated publication.
Oddly critical of Communism, but invariably supportive of president, then prime minister, and now president-again- Vladimir Putin, Pravda has also been a savage if sometimes insightful critic of Barack Obama. Most recently, it has described him as "a strange, soulless" man and a failed president. Judging by his poll numbers, many Americans would agree.
For the full text of this intriguing article, click on the link below:
THE SOULLESS MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE
A recent televised report by Tucson's News 4 has exposed a secret the Federal Government preferred to keep hidden: Over the past 18 years - a time frame that corresponds, roughly, with the NAFTA trade agreement - armed Mexican soldiers have illegally crossed into American territory on at least 300 separate occasions.
More worrisome still is the fact that Mexican soldiers have engaged in confrontations with US Border Patrol agents, and shot at least one unarmed American citizen on American soil. According to Border Patrol officials, the Mexican incursions are a prescription for disaster, as most of the confrontations have occurred at night and in areas favored by drug smugglers. They feel it's only a matter of time before an unintended firefight erupts between US Border Patrol officers and the Mexican intruders.
Why the Mexican military has been crossing the border on an almost routine basis remains, officially, a mystery. But along the border, it's an open secret that elements of the Mexican army have been assisting drug smugglers and human traffickers. When confronted by Border Patrol agents, Mexican soldiers typically claim they got lost while pursuing criminal suspects. How they manage to cross the Rio Grande River without knowing it, or get lost in an era of GPS navigation, is unclear.
Nonetheless, few in Washington have been willing to acknowledge the problem. After a Mexican Army helicopter landed heavily armed masked commandos on his rural property in 2006, Ronald Ayers reported the incident and was interviewed by both the FBI and Customs and Border Protection. But neither agency followed up on the incursion, and as far as Mr. Ayers has been able to ascertain, no action was ever taken by the US Government.
The News 4 report referenced above may have changed that. Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK) has sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding information on the Mexican Army incursions, with a requirement that DHS provide his office with answers no later than February of 2015.
According to The Economist, America's allies are nervous: At every stop during his recent Asian tour, foreign leaders peppered President Obama with questions about his foreign and defense policies. All anxiously wanted to know if his Administration was prepared to honor America's security commitments, and if so, under what conditions.
President Obama's willingness to use force in the international arena matters because, as The Economist noted, "Rogue states will behave more roguishly if they doubt America's will to stop them."
It is here that perceptions are vital, because deterrence depends upon them - and to a large extent, the post-War Order the United States so diligently worked to create and sustain, depends on the credibility of American arms.
No one doubts their capability. American military technology is 15 to 50 years ahead of any conceivable enemy, and capable of inflicting crushing blows. But whether President Obama retains the will to use American military power is another question altogether. Over the course of the past year, many have come to doubt it.
There are three problems here...
The first is Mr. Obama's habit of talking big, and backing down when challenged. After declaring multiple "red lines" in the Syrian civil war and then doing nothing when crossed by a tin pot dictator, Obama's threats are now heavily discounted - especially in the Middle East, where formerly staunch American allies are scrambling to "heavy up" their military capabilities and diversify their sources of weaponry. The fact that billions of dollars of arms purchases that would have gone to the United States are now being received by Britain, France, China, Russia and Italy represents a resounding vote of "no confidence" in Obama's leadership.
The second problem is the President's habit of musing aloud. In international affairs, the "Mind of the State" and the "State's State of Mind" are the most closely held of secrets - but in what can only be described as incredible naivety, Obama openly discusses both. To the utter amazement of sophisticated observers, Obama has publicly expressed skepticism about the efficacy of his own policy toward Russia, and even more publicly doubted the utility of armed force. Music to the ears of adversaries, such statements have sent chills down the spines of America's allies.
The thirsd problem is that Obama is neither interested in nor able at foreign affairs, and this is especially true with regard to those conditioned by force or threats of force. Obama is interested in domestic policies; foreign affairs are, in his mind, an intrusive nuisance.
Lately, perhaps, the President seems to have awakened to his role in fomenting global instability and, indeed, his Asian tour can be interpreted as a belated effort to correct that. In Tokyo, he assured the Japanese that the defense treaty between the US and Japan covers all Japanese-controlled territory, including islands claimed by China; in S. Korea, he vowed that his Administration would not hesitate to use "military might to defend our allies"; in the Philippines he signed a new, 10-year agreement permitting American forces access to bases there; and along the way, he announced additional sanctions against Russia.
Although perhaps impressive when measured against his past performance, it is not clear that Obama's Asian tour succeeded in its unstated objective of reversing the growing perception abroad that he is a weak and indecisive leader.
This is of vital importance, for in the international arena weakness - even the perception of weakness - is provocative. For Great Powers, they are Cardinal Sins.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...
Despite the endless protestations of politicians in both countries, the relationship between the United States and Israel has never been the alliance of democracies as commonly claimed. It has instead been a deeply cynical partnership of convenience based upon mutual exploitation.
Until 1967, Britain had been the dominant power in the Middle East. But in that year, the British closed their massive base in Aden (now Yemen) and withdrew "from East of Suez," thereby creating a regional vacuum of power which the United States moved to fill. One reason for increasing America's presence in the area was realpolitik; the other, less laudable.
In order to prevent the Soviet Union from gaining hegemony over the Mid East oil fields, the United States needed two things. First, an entry point into the region which possessed at least one major port with a developed infrastructure; and second, a means of keeping the newly independent Arab governments weak and dependent on outside assistance in order to ensure the free flow of reasonably priced oil to its allies in Europe and, increasingly, to the United States itself. At war with the Arab states and possessed of multiple Mediterranean harbors, Israel fit the bill to perfection.
By strengthening Israel's military to the point that it could not be defeated militarily, the United States made it impossible for Arab governments to satisfy the demands of their peoples to destroy the widely hated "Zionist Entity" - thereby fracturing Arab societies by pitting the Arab peoples against their governments. To maintain their grip on power, the weakened governments were forced to obtain external support from either the Soviets, or the US. Machiavelli would have been proud...
The other less praiseworthy motive for America's Mid East intervention was the deliberate decision of the US Financial Elite to adopt a policy of deliberate energy dependence after "peak oil" was passed in America, probably, and not coincidentally, in 1967. This was a choice driven by profits rather than necessity: Synthetic oil had been discovered in 1927, and synthetic gasoline in the late 1930's, and the technologies for both were proven, tested, and well-understood. During the Second World War, almost half of Germany's total oil production came from synthetic oil factories. During the war, Britain also built two synfuel facilities; and after the war, the United States built the same number as test projects. But until ground oil passed the $50 a barrel mark, synthetic fuels were more expensive and less profitable; and did not offer the international banks the vast profits that would accrue from recycling "petrodollars." Nor would they contribute to the process of global economic integration by providing a global common-denominator the United States could control.
Recent breakthroughs in ground oil discovery and recovery in the United States and elsewhere have drastically changed the energy equation, and with it, the geopolitical calculus. The United States is now the world's largest producer of natural gas and is on target to become the world's largest oil producer by 2025 at the latest. America's recoverable reserves are now larger than Saudi Arabia's, and new fields are still being discovered. As a result, the Middle East no longer looms large in American policy - and for precisely the same reason, neither does Israel. The task at hand is disentangling the United States from what is now seen - almost literally - as a strategic tar baby.
Never more than marginally compatible, American and Israeli interests are coming into increasing conflict. Indeed, in 2010, Israel's ambassador to the United States publicly stated that an irreparable "tectonic rift" had opened between the two countries. No surprise, then, that long-simmering anger and resentments are coming to the fore. One example was the Israeli government's deliberate snub of Vice President Biden during a visit to that country in 2010; another is the more recent break-down in US sponsored peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which many in Washington attribute to Israeli sabotage; and now the sudden and public re-emergence of Israeli espionage as a major disruptive factor in US-Israeli relations.
Israel has long been ranked among the top four espionage threats to America. Although S. Korea, China, and Russia are included in the list, Israeli espionage has long been regarded as especially galling because the Israelis are widely believed to peddle American secrets to our enemies. To cite two glaring examples, the avionics of America's F-16 fighter aircraft and the Patriot anti-missile system both ended up in Chinese hands by way of a third party. A third, which remains far more murky, is the fact that in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, the United States expelled a reported 200 Israeli NOC's (spies operating without official cover) before moving against the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, which had actually carried out the attacks against New York and Washington.
A veil of secrecy has long surrounded Israeli espionage against the United States, but as the relationship has changed, so too has the officially-mandated silence. The extent of Israeli intelligence operations against America are now being leaked, apparently deliberately. According to a recent story published by Newsweek and summarized by The Times of Israel, the Israelis have infuriated Official Washington by crossing "red lines" that, supposedly, limit "friendly espionage." Said a former Congressional staff member who attended a recent, top secret briefing: "There are no other countries taking advantage of our security relationship the way the Israelis are for espionage purposes...It is quite shocking."
Immediately at stake is Israel's application for acceptance into the US visa waiver program, which would allow Israeli citizens to travel to the United States with far greater ease. As it stands today, an unusually high number of Israeli citizens requesting visas to travel to the United States are rejected - for the most part young Israelis, who are military reservists or who retain close ties to the Israeli military. Although not publicly discussed, US counterintelligence officials suspect that a great many of them are NOC's.
To date, the ostensible reasons for denying Israel access to the visa waiver program is the stated fear that the Israelis who come here will overstay their visas and work illegally, and Israeli discrimination against Arab Americans. But according to the Congressional aide quoted above, the real reason is the fear that Israeli espionage operations against the US will spiral out of control. "They're incredibly aggressive. They're aggressive in all aspects of their relationship with the United States. If we give them a free rein to send people over here, how are we going to stop that?"
THE NEW STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE
By George Freidman
I will be leaving this week to visit a string of countries that are now on the front line between Russia and the European Peninsula: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan. A tour like that allows you to look at the details of history. But it is impossible to understand those details out of context. The more I think about recent events, the more I realize that what has happened in Ukraine can only be understood by considering European geopolitics since 1914 -- a hundred years ago and the beginning of World War I.
In The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman wrote a superb and accurate story about how World War I began. For her it was a confluence of perception, misperception, personality and decisions. It was about the leaders, and implicit in her story was the idea that World War I was the result of miscalculation and misunderstanding. I suppose that if you focus on the details, then the war might seem unfortunate and avoidable. I take a different view: It was inevitable from the moment Germany united in 1871. When it happened and exactly how it happened was perhaps up to decision-makers. That it would happen was a geopolitical necessity. And understanding that geopolitical necessity gives us a framework for understanding what is happening in Ukraine, and what is likely to happen next.
The German Problem
The unification of Germany created a nation-state that was extraordinarily dynamic. By the turn of the 20th century, Germany had matched the British economy. However, the British economy pivoted on an empire that was enclosed and built around British interests. Germany had no such empire. It had achieved parity through internal growth and exports on a competitive basis. This was just one of the problems Germany had. The international economic system was based on a system of imperial holdings coupled with European industrialism. Germany lacked those holdings and had no politico-military control over its markets. While its economy was equal to Britain's, its risks were much higher.
Economic risk was compounded by strategic risk. Germany was on the North European Plain, relatively flat, with only a few north-south rivers as barriers. The Germans had the Russians to the east and the French to the west. Moscow and Paris had become allies. If they were to simultaneously attack Germany at a time of their choosing, Germany would be hard-pressed to resist. The Germans did not know Russo-French intentions, but they did know their capabilities. If there was to be war, the Germans had to strike first in one direction, achieve victory there and then mass their forces on the other side.
When that war would be fought, which strategy the Germans chose and ultimately whether it would succeed were uncertainties. But unlike Tuchman's view of the war, a war that began with a German strike was inevitable. The war was not the result of a misunderstanding. Rather, it was the result of economic and strategic realities.
The Germans struck against the French first but failed to defeat them. They were therefore trapped in the two-front war that they had dreaded, but they were at least fully mobilized and could resist. A second opportunity to implement their strategy occurred in the winter of 1917, when an uprising took place against the Russian czar, who abdicated on March 15, 1917. (Germany actually set the revolution in motion in March by repatriating Lenin back to Russia via the infamous sealed train car.) There was serious concern that the Russians might pull out of the war, and in any case, their military had deteriorated massively. A German victory there seemed not only possible, but likely. If that happened, and if German forces in Russia were transferred to France, it was likely that they could mass an offensive that would defeat the British and French.
In April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. There were multiple reasons, including the threat that German submarines might close the Atlantic to American shipping, but also the fear that events in Russia might defeat the allies. The United States had a deep interest in making certain that the Eurasian landmass would not fall under the control of any single nation. The manpower, resources and technology under the control of the Germans would more than outmatch the United States. It could not live with a German victory, and therefore within a year it had sent more than a million men to Europe and helped counter the German offensive after the October 1917 Russian Revolution pulled Russia from the war. The peace treaty ceded Ukraine to the Germans, placing Russia in danger if the Germans defeated the Anglo-French alliance. Ultimately, the American intervention defeated the Germans, and the Russians regained Ukraine.
The American intervention was decisive and defined American strategy in Eurasia for a century. It would maintain the balance of power. As the balance shifted, Washington would increase aid and, if absolutely necessary, intervene decisively in the context of an existing and effective military alliance.
World War II was fought similarly. The Germans, again in a dangerous position, made an alliance with the Soviets, assuring a single-front war, and this time defeated France. In due course, Germany turned on Russia and attempted to dominate Eurasia decisively. The United States was first neutral, then provided aid to the British and Russians, and even after entering the war in December 1941 withheld its main thrust until the last possible moment. The United States did invade North Africa, Sicily and the rest of Italy, but these were marginal operations on the periphery of German power. The decisive strike did not occur until June 1944, after the German military had been significantly weakened by a Soviet army heavily supplied by the United States. The decisive campaign in northern Europe lasted less than a year, and was won with limited U.S. losses compared to the other combatants. It was an intervention in the context of a powerful military alliance.
In the Cold War, the Soviet Union positioned itself by creating deep buffers. It held the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine as its first line of defense. Its second defensive tier consisted of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In addition, the Soviet buffer moved to the center of Germany on the North German Plain. Given history, the Soviets needed to create as deep a buffer as possible, and this line effectively precluded an attack on the Soviet Union.
The American response was more active than in the first two wars, but not as decisive. The United States positioned forces in West Germany in the context of a strong military alliance. This alliance was likely insufficient to block a Soviet attack. The United States promised the delivery of additional troops in the event of war and also guaranteed that if needed, it was prepared to use nuclear weapons to stop a Soviet attack.
The model was in that sense similar. The hope was to maintain the balance of power with minimal American exposure. In the event the balance broke, the United States was prepared to send substantially more troops. In the worst case, the United States claimed to be prepared to use decisive force. The important thing to note was that the United States retained the option to reinforce and go nuclear. The Soviets never attacked, in part because they didn't need to -- they were not at risk -- and in part because the risk associated with an attack was too high.
Thus, the United States followed a consistent strategy in all three wars. First, it avoided overexposure, limiting its presence to the minimum needed. The United States wasn't present in World War I until very late. In World War II, America's presence consisted of peripheral operations at relatively low cost. In the Cold War, it positioned a force sufficient to convince the Soviets of American intent, but always under its control and always poised for full intervention at the latest opportune time, with minimal losses, in the context of an effective military alliance.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the revolutions of 1989 stripped away the buffers that the Soviets had captured in World War II. Their strategic position was worse than it was before the world wars or even since the 17th century. If the inner buffer, the Baltics, Belarus or Ukraine, were to become hostile and part of a Western alliance system, the threat to Russia would be overwhelming. The Baltics were admitted to NATO and the alliance was now less than 100 miles from St. Petersburg. If Ukraine and Belarus went the same route, then the city of Smolensk, once deep in the Soviet Union and the Russian empire, would be a border town, and the distance to Moscow from NATO territory would be 250 miles.
The mitigating factor was that NATO was weak and fragmented. This was not much of a consolation for the Russians, who had seen Germany transform from a weak and fragmented country in 1932 to a massive power by 1938. Where there is an industrial base, military capability can be rapidly generated and intentions can change overnight. Therefore, for Russia, preventing the Western alliance system from absorbing Ukraine was critical, as the events of previous months have shown.
The U.S. Approach
The American strategy in Europe remains the same as it was in 1914: to allow the European balance of power to manage itself. Public statements aside, the United States was comfortable with the weakness of European powers so long as the Russians were also weak. There was no threat of a hegemon emerging. The American strategy was, as always, to let the balance maintain itself, intervene with any aid needed to maintain the balance and intervene militarily in the context of a robust alliance at the decisive moment and not before.
It follows from this that the United States is not prepared to do more than engage in symbolic efforts right now. The Russian military may be able to capture Ukraine, although the logistical challenges are serious. But the United States is not in a position to deploy a decisive defensive force in Ukraine. The shift in the European balance of power is far from decisive, and the United States has time to watch the situation develop.
At this point, the United States is likely prepared to increase the availability of weapons to the countries I will visit, along with Bulgaria and the Baltics. But the United States' problem is that its historical strategy relies on the existence of a significant military force, and where multiple countries are involved, a working alliance. It is pointless for the United States to provide weapons to countries that will not cooperate with each other and are incapable of fielding sufficient force to use these weapons.
Since the events in Ukraine, many European countries have discussed increased defense spending and cooperation. It is not clear that NATO is a vehicle for this cooperation. As we saw during the meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany's willingness to engage in assertive action is limited. In southern Europe, the economic crisis still rages. The appetite of the British and French or the Iberians to become involved is limited. It is hard to see NATO playing an effective military role.
The United States looks at this as a situation where the exposed countries must take decisive steps. For the United States, there is no emergency. For Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan, along with the other countries along the buffer line, there is not yet an emergency. But one could materialize with surprising speed. The Russians are not intrinsically powerful, but they are more powerful than any of these countries alone, or even together. Given American strategy, the United States would be prepared to begin providing aid, but substantial aid requires substantial action on the part of the buffer countries.
The first and second world wars were about the status of Germany in Europe. That was what the Cold War was about as well, although framed in a different way. We are once again discussing the status of Germany. Today it has no western threat. The eastern threat is weak, far away and potentially more of an ally than a threat. The force that drove Germany in two world wars is not there now. Logically, it has little reason to take risks.
The American fear of a Eurasian hegemon is also a distant one. Russia is far from being able to pose that kind of threat. It is still struggling to regain its buffers. Just as Germany is not prepared to engage in aggressive actions, the United States will continue its century-old strategy of limiting its exposure for as long as possible. At the same time, the buffer countries face a potential threat that prudence requires they prepare for.
However, it is not clear that the Russian threat will materialize, and it is not clear that, rhetoric aside, the Russians have the political will to act decisively. The buffer states' optimal solution would be a massive NATO intervention. That won't happen. The second best would be a massive American intervention. That won't happen either. The buffer states want to shift the cost of their defense to others -- a rational strategy if they can achieve it.
The impersonal forces of geopolitics are driving Russia to try to retake its critical borderland. Having done that, the nations bordering Russian power will not know how far the Russians will try to go. For Russia, the deeper the buffer, the better. But the deeper the buffer, the higher the cost of maintaining it. The Russians are not ready for any such move. But over time, as their strength and confidence grow, their actions become less predictable. When facing a potential existential threat, the prudent action is to overreact.
The buffer states need to arm and ally. The United States will provide a degree of support, regardless of what the Germans, and therefore NATO, do. But the basic decision is in the hands of the Poles, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians, Serbians and Azerbaijanis, along with those in the other buffer states. Some, like Azerbaijan, have already made the decision to arm and are looking for an alliance. Some, like Hungary, are watching and waiting. Mark Twain is supposed to have said, "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." There is a rhyme that we can hear. It is in its early stages and few are yet locked into a course as Germany was in 1914. The forces are beginning to gather, and if they do, they will not be controlled by good will.
I will be listening for that rhyme on this trip. I need to see if it is there. And if it is, I need to see if those most at risk to its verses hear it too. I will let you know what I hear.
Republished by permission from Stratfor, in accordance with their policies. Please visit their website at Stratfor
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A recent study funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) concluded that civilizations collapse for two core reasons: The first is environmental stress caused by societies exceeding the carrying capacity of their ecologies; the second is social stratification into Elites and Masses, and the economic and political polarization that ensues. The study further argued that that the Elites invariably grow too large and consume too much, beggaring the Masses and eventually causing catastrophic famines. By implication, the only way to avert social catastrophe is by redistributing wealth - presumably, through government programs.
This simplistic approach is standard fare among Leftist academics, but poorly supported by historical evidence. Not surprisingly, a firestorm of criticism forced NASA to retract the study.
In actual fact, civilizational collapse is a poorly understood phenomenon. Here the Western Roman Empire is a case in point: Historians have studied Rome's failure for centuries, and at least a half-dozen plausible theories have been put forth to date. In The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon attributed Rome's collapse to the subversive effects of Christianity; Oswald Spengler attributed it to the natural "exhaustion of possibilities" inherent in civilizational life-cycles; and Arnold Toynbee attributed it to the decline of the "creative minority" that permits civilizations to over come society-threatening challenges. More recently, military historians have argued that Rome's collapse was due to the failure of Roman Grand Strategy - the Roman political elite simply could not accept the advice of senior military commanders to abandon Italy and concentrate their remaining forces in what is today France. Had they done so, the military historians argue, the Romans might have held out for centuries.
More recently, James F. Rickards has advanced an entirely new theory of civilizational collapse based on a meld of behaviorial (i.e., real world) economics, complexity theory, and physics. Interestingly, Mr. Rickards is not an historian - he is an attorney, an economist and an investment banker who rose to public prominence after winning a Pentagon-sponsored war game without employing or even threatening force, by simply manipulating currencies and gold reserves.
According to Rickards, aspects of the three disciplines listed above account for Rome's failure. Behaviorial economics played a critical role because Roman policymakers simply didn't understand the implications of their fiscal and economic policies - most specifically, the adulteration of Roman coinage, which dropped from a rate of 97% silver under Augustus to a mere 3% toward the end of the Empire. The result was rampant inflation, followed by price controls, and eventually by stifling regulations. The result was a form of (military) socialism that strangled the Roman economy.
Complexity Theory, which was first applied to the problem by Dr. Joseph A. Tainter in a 1988 volume entitled The Collapse of Complex Societies. played a major role as well. In an analysis of 27 failed civilizations over a 4500 year period,
Tainter found the core problem was scale: Societies grow larger and more
complex in an additive fashion, but the resources required to sustain them increase exponentially.
Compounding an already bad situation, the larger a society becomes, the
lower the return on resources invested. A simple way of understanding
this is to imagine a group of cavemen just banded together, with no
initial defense capability at all. In that case a very small investment
in clubs and spears provides a huge increase in their ability to defend against wild animals and human marauders – but over
extended periods of time, the returns from each additional investment in
spears and clubs grows smaller and smaller. Barring a game-changing technological breakthrough which would create a new investment curve, such as the invention of bows and arrows, the cavemen of this example will eventually bankrupt themselves.
This is an example of the Law of Diminishing Returns in practice. As a society becomes more complex, its return on government expenditures for defense, infrastructure, education, social welfare, etc., first levels off and then turns negative. At that point, further spending weakens the society by sapping the economy - and unless it adopts a radical change of approach, it is doomed to collapse. Apply Tainter’s thesis of Additive Scale and Exponential Costs to the militarized and bureaucratized Western Empire, and it becomes obvious why the Rome eventually collapsed. Apply it to the US Government today, and it becomes equally obvious that we are careening toward a comparable disaster.
That leaves one question still unanswered: Having successfully muddled trough one crisis after another for more than 200 years, why did Rome collapse so suddenly, in the short span of eight years, between 468 and 476 AD?
According to Rickards, the answer is revealed by modern physics. Complex Systems, natural or otherwise, arise spontaneously, behave unpredictably, exhaust resources with abandon, and collapse catastrophically – with little or no warning. A good example is an avalanche: A normal snowfall accumulated on a mountainside will remain there, more or less unchanging, until a single snowflake begins to slide against the others. At point the slide will sometimes halt on its own, and sometimes increase to avalanche proportions. The key variable is not the last snowflake, but the underlying state of the accumulated snow. If the snowflakes are assembled in such a way that they are only marginally interactive, the slide is arrested. But if they are arranged in a critical state, i.e., one in which they are highly interactive, an avalanche results. Physicists call this a phase shift, and it applies to manmade systems as well. It was a phase shift that caused the sudden collapse of the Western Empire: The totality of Roman power happened to be arranged in such a way that a single military defeat in 468 AD caused the entire system to unravel.
The similarities between Rome Before the Fall and the United States today are obvious, or at least they should be. This is implicitly recognized by the NASA study referenced above, but their proposed solution - in essence, government-mandated redistribution - won't solve the problem. It will merely substitute a Bureaucratic Elite for the present Financial Elite.
A far better solution, apparently developed independently by Rickards and CFIS Chairman Charles S. Viar, is to radically descale and decentralize American society and governance. Both also argue in favor of restoring sound money, as the financial system, based on fiat money of no inherent value, is most vulnerable to an initial, sudden and catastrophic collapse. Rickards argues in favor of returning to the gold standard; Viar advocates a "basket currency," which would include gold, coupled to a deliberate effort to return to a society that resembles, as closely as possible, Early Republican America - or in the jargon of modern business theorists, a "flat society" characterized by decentralized and distributed decision-making, based on emergent technologies like 3-D printing and ubiquitous, small-scale "green energy" production.
As far as environmental damage is concerned, due caution is in order. But resource depletion is a phantasm: Economists agree that there are substitutes for everything; and in any event, high tech society is trending away from resource-intensive production toward resource-conserving manufacture.
SOCIETY KILLING ATTACKS
The great British historian Arnold Toynbee once remarked that civilizations perish from either suicide or murder. Having rejected the beliefs and values that first brought it into being and then propelled it to greatness, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Western Civilization is bent on self-destruction. Still, the possibility of murder cannot be ruled out.
Unfortunately, the Congress has never been inclined to seriously address this possibility. During the 1980's, President Reagan fought valiantly for his Strategic Defense Initiative, which was intended to protect the United States against a Soviet missile attack, but Congress was only willing to fund a limited research program. In the end, the Pentagon was able to end-run Capitol Hill's resistance by persuading Israel to request funding for the development of short and medium altitude interceptor systems. The fact that Congress was willing to defend Israel, but not the United States, speakes volumes about Congressional dereliction, Israel's lobbying skills, or both. It was not until 9-11 that a limited anti-missile system was approved.
But a missile attack is only one of several "society killers." Far more likely, and almost as devastating, would be an attack against America' electrical grid. If this were successfully assaulted, parts of the country could be thrown back into the 19th century. Depending on the type of attack, it could take weeks, months, years or even decades to fully restore power.
An attack against the electrical grid could take any of three forms: A cyber attack, capable of dropping the system for days or even weeks; physical attacks on substations, transformers, and generation facilities, capable of knocking out power for counties or even states; or an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, accomplished by detonating a nuclear device at high altitude. The electromagnetic pulse from even a tiny nuke could destroy the electric grid covering a third of the country or more, by re-arranging the molecular structure of any copper and/or aluminum wires carrying a current at the time; frying transistors; and - likely - burning out any computer chips within range. The damage would be catastrophic, and it could take a decade or more to repair.
But after two shocking incidents, Congress has at long last awakened to the danger. Last year, a person or persons unknown almost succeeded in shutting off electrical power for Silicon Valley by knocking out transformers at a remote, unmanned substation with long-range rifle fire; and more recently, the owner of a small high tech firm in North Carolina succeeded in staging mock cyber attacks against major power providers. After realizing how simple it was to penetrate their computer networks - and drop their systems - Adam Crain contacted the companies he had targeted and the Department of Homeland Security. A veritable firestorm followed - the utility companies went off on a mad scramble to fix the vulnerabilities Crain identified and, according to one Washington insider, Homeland Security went "bonkers."
Protecting "The Grid" is has now emerged as the Number One domestic security priority, and Congress has fast tracked legislation mandating major security upgrades. The problem, however, is that the system is inherently vulnerable to attacks - and those vulnerabilities will only increase as the new "Smart Grid" technology takes root.
Although the proposed security upgrades will help, they will not and can not solve the problem of systemic vulnerability, which is inherent to centralized power systems. As with so many other problems that confront us today, the only real solution is to descale and decentralize - ideally, by moving toward an electrical production system in which each house, apartment block, and commercial building generates its own power. Although the technology does not yet exist for this type of individualized power generation, a major research and development effort should be mounted to achieve it.
Discrete power generation has many virtues, chief amongst them being the fact that they could be more easily shielded from EMP attacks, and the statistical impossibility that a physical attack that could knock out more than a handful of power generation units at a time. Should this approach be successfully developed and widely employed, it would remove the present, "society-killing" vulnerability that terrorists will sooner or later exploit.
THE DEBT-BASED ECONOMY
Every now and then, the Left gets someting right. This article about the Debt-Based Economy is a stunning example. In the words of Lord Stamp, "If you want to be slaves of the bankers, and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the banks create money..."
For the full article, please click on the link below:
THE DEBT SCAM
Einstein is often quoted as saying "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result."
America's southern border is a case in point: 13 years after 9-11, the larger part of the 1951-mile long frontier remains open and undefended. The much vaunted border fence, authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which provided for a 700 mile physical barrier, has never been completed and probably never will be. Apologists claim the reason is cost, but a more realistic explanation is the across-the-board foot-dragging by the Federal Government: Congress passed the law as an election-year gimick to defuse border control as a political issue; it was never intended as a serious measure.
Although neither party wants to deal with the border problem, both want the public to believe they are serious about securing the southern frontier. Hence the appeal of the "Virtual Fence," and its many incarnations. Never mind that it doesn't work, as long as it gives the appearance of doing so.
The concept of a Virtual Fence has a long an undistinguished history. The first experimental effort appears to have been made by the French during the Algerian War, in a failed effort to seal the border with Morocco. The United States made a more comprehensive and sophisticated attempt with the ill-fated "McNamara Line" in Vietnam between 1966 and 1968, by placing chemical "sniffer units" and electronic sensors along the Demilitarized Zone from the South China Sea to the Laotian border, backed by mines and manned, fortified positions. The effort was a miserable failure: North Vietnamese troops destroyed many of the sensors, and Vietnamese farmers stole some of the rest. As one wit remarked at the time, "Every pawn shop from Danang to Hue had two or three [sensors] sitting in their windows."
Undaunted by history, the United States launched a pilot program to secure the southern border 2005, intended to develop and test technology for a comprehensive electronic barrier known as SBInet. After squandering more than a billion dollars, the Department of Homeland Security finally conceded defeat in 2011 and halted the program. Part of the problem was the effort was overly ambitious in seeking to create a single, integrated border control system with new and untested technology. But another part of the problem was the concept itself: Cameras and electronic sensors are weather-dependent, and easily fooled. More to the point, as one senior Border Patrol officer remarked, is the fact that "Cameras don't climb down off the poles and grab people by the ankles..."
Despite its unbroken record of failure, the Obama Administration is attempting to bring the Virtual Fence back once again, in an effort to rally congressional support for its "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" plan. This time, Administration officials claim it will work because it will use proven, off-the-shelf technology and be designed with local weather, geographic, and environmental conditions in mind. Rather than an integrated system running the length of the border, it will be zoned.
As an additional selling point, the Administration is highlighting the fact that it will be modeled on a similar and more successful effort in Israel, and will be buttressed by two additional unmanned drones and an extra 1500 Border Patrol agents. Conveniently overlooked is the fact that the Israeli border-control system relies heavily on physical barriers...
The odds of success? The plan will probably pass in Congress and fail in the field. But this time, the Administration is only going to spend $700 million - so as far as Washington is concerned, what the heck?
It's only money...
Two days after the disputed referendum in which the Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin and the self-proclaimed leaders of that peninsula signed a treaty formally incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation.
The annexation provoked howls of criticism in Kiev, capital of the Ukraine, and dark criticism of the United States in Europe. Although barely mentioned in the press, Russia's successful invasion of the Crimea has shaken the confidence of America's NATO allies in the ability of US intelligence to accurately forecast threats to their security.
They have good reason: This is the fourth time Moscow has surprised the West with "Cold Start" invasions. The first was the 1956 invasion of Hungary; the second was the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia; the third was the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. As with the most recent invasion of Crimea, US intelligence failed in each case to either detect or to anticipate the Soviet/Russian moves.
There are two problems here. The first is the Red Army's "Operational Art," which places heavy emphasis on "cold start" attacks covered by what they call Maskirovka, or military deception. The second is the US intelligence community's failure to learn from past mistakes. Have been repeatedly burned by Soviet/Russian "cold start" attacks, one would think that US intelligence would have addressed the problem by now. But as yet, they have even to acknowledge it.
A big part of the problem is America's over-reliance upon high-tech intelligence gathering, especially satellite imagery and electronic intercepts. But Soviet - and now the Russian - Operational Art take both into account when planning an attack. In Afghanistan, for example, the Soviet's relied upon an overnight call-up of local reservists along the Afghan border to conduct the initial thrust. Massed troop formations didn't show up on satellites images for the simple reason that they weren't there, and electronic intercepts failed to reveal Soviet intentions because the attack plan was hand-carried by couriers to the reserve commanders, and their troops were called up by telephone and by local police loudspeakers.
There is a lesson here that American intelligence seems unwilling or unable to grasp: Satellites cannot substitute for a "Spook on the Street," and electronic intercepts are no substitute for a mole burrowed deep within an enemy's decision-making apparatus.
Assuming that the US government is serious about correcting its intelligence shortcomings - a dubious assumption, given the history - it will take a change of mind-set at the highest levels of the US intelligence community, and a sea change in the institutional culture.
The place to start is with a rigorous analysis of Russian Operational Art, and an honest assessment of our demonstrable inability to cope with Russian Maskirovka.
MR. PUTIN'S NEW ARMY
When Peter the Great assumed sole power in 1696, Russia was mired in feudalism. By the time he died in 1725, that country had assumed the trappings of a modern European Power. Chief among them was the new Russian army.
Likened to a steamroller for centuries, the Russian army Peter built was slow to mobilize but enormous in size. Once set in motion, its forward momentum was almost impossible to stop.
The basic organizational structure of the Russian army remained largely unchanged throughout the Russian Empire, the Soviet Era, and into post-Soviet times, until Vladimir Putin rose to power in the late 1990's. First appointed by then-President Boris Yeltsyn to oversea Russia's national security in 1999, Putin actively pursued military reform first as Yeltsyn's prime minister, then as president, then as prime minister to Dimity Medvedev, and now as president again.
Focusing on readiness, special operations forces and mobility, Putin abandoned the division organizational structure the Russian military had inherited from the Soviet Union in favor of more nimble, heavily armed brigades, slashing the total number of all-service military units from 1890 to 192 today. And since 2008, he has spent heavily on advanced, Western high-tech weapons and communications gear.
The Russian army today is smaller, leaner and far more mobile than at any time in the past. Under Putin, it has become a rapid-intervention force capable of projecting overwhelming force into the adjacent, former Soviet republics that line Russia's periphery with little or no warning.
The downside is that Mr. Putin's new army has little staying power: it is neither designed nor equipped to conduct sustained, high-intensity combat operations - and therein lies the danger. If the Russian army gets into trouble, current doctrine provides for the first use of nuclear weapons.
Given that doctrine, it is easy to imagine a situation like the Crimea invasion spiraling out of control. But it also provides the United States and its NATO allies with strategic leverage. With the Russian economy sputtering, the once planned and since cancelled deployment of anti-missile defenses in Eastern Europe would impale Russia on the horns of a dilemma: They would be forced to either divert an enormous amount of scarce resources to developing a sustained combat capability, or adopt a new and far more cautious approach to armed interventions along their periphery. Either way, the Kremlin would lose.
The question, then, is whether the present Administration has the wit and the will to play missile defense card. Given the President's pronounced lack of affinity for international affairs, that seems unlikely at present. But if Mr. Putin increases pressure on the Baltic states, as expected, Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Russia could change with the blink of an eye. The Baltic states are, after all, NATO member-states, and America is obliged by treaty to defend them.
What better way to do so than by deploying an anti-missile screen in Eastern Europe? As the Chinese military scholar Sun Tzu counseled 4000 years ago, "What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy."
Put differently, why fight when you can win by maneuver?
CRIMEA: REFLECTIONS OF A COLD WARRIOR
For a superbly well-argued analysis of Russia's seizure of the Crimea, and the Administration's colossally stupid response, please click on the link below:
The West's Ukranian Folly
SHOCK IN WASHINGTON
Aside from the fact that US intelligence is unable to detect Russian "Cold Start" invasions, another more serious problem lurks in the background: American analysts have consistently erred in assessing Russian intentions.
Despite the fact that there was ample reason to suspect the Russian attack on Georgia in 2008, and even more to suspect the invasion of the Crimea, American intelligence analysts dismissed both possibilities out of hand. The core problem, according to Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA under President Bush, is the [Globalist] mindset that has taken hold in Washington.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, American policymakers and intelligence analysts alike persuaded themselves that a new era of international cooperation had aborned. But that view was not shared in Moscow, which saw the implosion of the Soviet Empire as heralding a return to traditional geopolitical rivalry.
Put differently by another senior intelligence official, Washington is suffering from the "Self-licking Ice Cream Cone" syndrome - ain't no such thing, but despite all evidence to the contrary, those inside the Beltway insist on believing there is.
There are three core problems here.
One is cultural: As Oswald Spengler famously argued, cultures are self-contained and therefore virtually impenetrable to outsiders. Only rarely can a foreigner come to grips with an alien culture, and then only after a lifetime of immersion. Although Russia seems superficially "Western," it is not - it is a hybrid culture formed from Mediaeval Russia (Kiev) in the crucible of the Mongol Conquest. As such, it has an "Inner Logic" all its own.
The second problem is that many and perhaps most of America's intelligence analysts have been imbued by the belief in "rational actors" by the social sciences. But there are many kinds of rationality; and in any event, the pressure of events, political constraints, and the limited information available to policymakers means they are only rarely able to calculate their best course of action. Only recently have social scientists addressed the problem by modifying the presumption of rational behavior with the concept of "bounded rationality," i.e., rational decision-making within the context of the specific situation and taking into account the decision-maker's personal, political and institutional limitations.
The third problem is that in an effort to integrate Russia into the post-Cold War international order, the United States has entered into a series of agreements with the Russian Federation that sharply limit its ability to respond to Russian provocations. The thus-far successful nuclear arms reduction treaties with Russia, American reliance on Russia's heavy-lift capabilities to supply the International Space Station, and America's desire for Russian diplomatic support in dealing with Iran, N. Korea and Syria have made American policymakers reluctant to take the Russians to the woodshed. The lack of penalties attached to Russian provocations has encouraged the Kremlin to believe that it can act with impunity within its self-proclaimed sphere of influence.
In the wake of the Crimean invasion, a new approach must be found for dealing with Russia - and in this, two reassessments are key.
The first is that Russia is not a country in any traditional sense of the term. It is a strategic artifact, deliberately created in the frozen north by Russian refugees from Kiev, in a desperate effort to preserve what freedom and independence they could after their country and culture were crushed by Mongol invaders.
The second, which flows from the first, is that power and position are central to the Russian psyche. To understand, one need only reflect this old Russian proverb: A fool deserves to be beaten, even in Church...
The one thing we can be sure of in dealing with Russia is they will beat us as long as we insist on playing the fool.
THE PUTIN DOCTRINE
The infiltration of Russian combat troops into the Crimean Peninsula during the first days of March has become a de facto military occupation, providing armed support for the pro-Russian faction there. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783, Crimea remained a part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev transferred territorial jurisdiction from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as a political reward to his Ukrainian political base. Sixty years later, approximately 33 percent of the Crimea’s population is linguistically and/or culturally Russian; Ukrainians make up slightly less than 12 percent, and Crimean Tartars the rest.
The Russian intervention was motivated by two compelling interests. The first was to guarantee Russia continuing access to Sevastopol – a warm water port – and the naval base it retains there by treaty with Ukraine. The second was to support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing effort to cobble back together Russia’s historic buffer zones that lay astride the major invasion routes that lead to the Russian heartland. It was Putin’s effort to secure the Ukraine as a southwestern buffer by coercing that country into his planned Eurasian Union that sparked February’s revolution.
As of this writing, the pro-Russian faction that has seized control of the Crimean government with Putin’s support has scheduled a referendum for March 16, to decide whether the peninsula will remain under Ukrainian control or rejoin Russia. The pro-Russian faction is expected to prevail.
The real significance of the Russian invasion extends far beyond sovereign jurisdiction, however. First, the Russian invasion has struck at the heart of America’s post-World War II policy of stabilizing Europe and Asia, based in part upon setting national boundaries in stone. And second, Putin’s asserted right to intervene on behalf of Russian-speakers in the Crimea has implicitly cast a chilling, carte blanche claim over the territories of the Former Soviet Union, as all 14 of the former Soviet Republics have large, Russian-speaking minorities.
REVERTING TO FORM?
The leading American authority on Japan, former Harvard professor and US Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer, once observed that Japanese culture was almost unfathomable to outsiders because it is unique. Although influenced by both China and Korea, Japan developed independently, and for the most part alone. Perhaps as a result, Japan has never come to grips with the rest of the world, and its attitude toward outsiders can change in the blink of an eye.
According to many historians, the West's failure to comprehend Japan made the Pacific War all but inevitable. Negotiations preceding the war were a dialogue of the deaf: The United States simply could not believe the Japanese would launch a suicidal war of aggression; the Japanese could not believe that a rich and satisfied country like the United States would wage total war to preserve its position in the Pacific.
Following its comprehensive victory over Japan in World War II, the United States reinvigorated the democratic political system that had failed in the mid-1930's; and through a multi-generational military occupation, forcibly re-opened Japan to Western ideas and influences. After more than a half-century of quiescence, most Americans assume Japan has become a stable, peaceful democracy.
Perhaps so, but Japan's neighbors are unconvinced - and the recently resumed debate over Japan's war time history has hardened their suspicions. Japanese public opinion has been drifting right - which in context, roughly translates as Fascist - for decades, and over the past several years it has become increasingly common for ordinary Japanese to challenge the official orthodoxy, established in a 1995 statement by then-Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, that Japan had waged an illegitimate war of aggression. Most recently, current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's partial repudiation of his predecessor's statement has raised alarm bells.
Perhaps more ominous still is a growing public movement led, or at least symbolized, by Japanese fashion model Junko Amo who, in 2002, led some 180 people on a pilgrimage to the Yasukini Shrine that memorializes Japan's war dead - and, perhaps coincidentally, denies Japan's responsibility for the war. Ms. Amo's movement has grown with each passing year, and the number of ordinary Japanese making annual pilgrimages to the shrine now numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
Japan's most abused neighbors, S Korea and China, are understandably alarmed. Japan has never fully come to grips with its role in starting the Pacific War, and has consistently denied or glossed over the atrocities the Japanese armed forces committed in the course of the conflict. Japanese textbooks, for example, minimize, deny or omit altogether the 1937 Rape of Nanking, where Japanese forces slaughtered somewhere between 40,000 and 300,000 innocent and unarmed Chinese civilians, even though the massacre was documented by German military observers attached to the Japanese army, who desperately tried to stop the horror. Similarly, the Japanese mistreatment of Allied Prisoners of War is downplayed and excused. The Bataan Death March, for example, is routinely attributed to the Japanese Army's lack of trucks; the massive die-off of British Commonwealth and Empire POWs forced to labor on the Burma railroad, immortalized in film The Bridge on the River Kwai, is generally glossed over in favor of commentary describing the railroad as a brilliant example of Japanese engineering.
Given Japan's unwillingness or inability to come to grips with its war time history, it should come as no surprise that China, particularly, is reportedly developing contingency plans for a "short, sharp naval war" with Japan.
Growing tensions in East Asia and the China Sea has put the United States in an uncomfortable and precarious position. As a member of the war time alliance against Japan, China was a signatory to the peace treaty that ended the war and established the present status quo. That treaty, unfortunately, left a number of loose ends, including the status of rocky outcrops in the Sea of Japan and the South China Sea, claimed by both China and Japan. As a war time ally, the United States should support China, but more than a half-century of history has placed America's interests with Japan's.
Compounding the problem is the fact that North East Asia is a geopolitical tinderbox, which could ignite at any moment. Russia, China, and N. Korea share land borders there; S. Korea borders on the North; and S. Korea, Japan, the United States, and Canada share sea borders with all of the above. For that reason, a "short, sharp naval war" between China and Japan is unlikely to be either short or geographically limited. One shot fired in anger could set off a regional conflagration that would inevitably involve the United States and, perhaps, set in motion yet another world war.
SOUNDING RETREAT - OR STRATEGIC REPOSITIONING?
On Monday, February 24th, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced major cuts in ships, aircraft, and troops as part of a large-scale reduction of America's armed forces. These cuts will reduce the Army to its lowest level since the run up to World War II, and will include major reductions in the Navy's shipbuilding program and the purchase of combat aircraft by the Air Force. In addition, several new weapons systems will be reduced and older systems retired.
According to former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, President Obama views defense cuts as a means of freeing revenues for domestic social programs. Secretary Hagel has acknowledged that the cuts are so severe that the United States faces the prospect of losing its position as the world's dominant military power. According to Hagel, the cuts pose some risks in a world where the diffusion of advanced technologies and weapons means the US can no longer take for granted its "dominance on the seas, in the air, and in space." Cuts planned for 2016 are even more severe.
The underlying assumption is that having blundered and been burned in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States will avoid major ground combat for the foreseeable future. The problem with that is the US made the same assumption after World War II, then again after Korea, and again after Viet Nam - yet despite a clear consensus in Washington to avoid major ground conflicts, the US got sucked into them anyway. Why should this time be any different?
Harvard historian Naill Ferguson has described the defense cuts as part of a "fundamental shift" in US national security policy, a "geopolitical taper" that he attributes to President Obama's lack of strategic competence. But as usual, Professor Ferguson's analysis is superficial, at best.
The fundamental shift is real, but it has little to do Obama's competence or lack thereof. It is a recognition that the United States is badly overextended abroad; it is a repudiation of the fantastical notion long held in Washington and on Wall Street that the US is "the indispensable nation;" and it is an implicit acknowledgement that the US blundered catastrophically when it abandoned, in 1967, the post-1870 National Policy of Eurasian Denial and the profoundly defensive Grand Strategy that supported it. In a nutshell, the post-1870 National Policy was intended to safeguard the United States by preventing "Any single Power, or any single group of Powers, from achieving hegemony over the Eurasian Landmass." In practice, that meant keeping the littorals on either side of Eurasia, from which we could be subjected to commerce raiding, naval blockade, or invasion, in friendly hands.
But that deeply defensive strategy was abandoned in 1967, in favor of a new National Policy of Deliberate Energy Dependence/Global Oil Control, and the supporting Grand Strategy of Armed Mid East Intervention. It was not a coincidence that Arab terrorist attacks against the West began only months after the new National Policy/Grand Strategy was adopted; nor was it a coincidence that we became ensnared in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both fiascoes followed logically, almost inevitably, from the 1967 revision.
Although President Obama's execution of foreign policy has been truly miserable, the basic concept guiding his foreign policy is inspired: Having recognized a catastrophic failure, he is attempting to instate a revised and updated version of the defensive and geopolitically sound post-1870 National Policy and its supporting Grand Strategy. If Obama succeeds, we will fight only when necessary, and then only in areas of the world that actually matter.
The Mid East is at best a strategic side-show, a region that matters only because of the oil beneath its sands; the Eurasian littorals are essential to our national survival.
Following the successful popular revolt that toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, protests continue in Venezuela. Although separated by half a world, the two uprisings reflect popular discontent at the rise of "Authoritarian Democracies."
After a failed 2004 bid for Ukraine's presidency, Yanukovych finally won the office in 2010 in a close and hotly disputed election, after twice serving as Prime Minister. He was impeached by the Ukrainian Parliament on February 22nd, after three months of increasingly bloody protests that brought the country to the brink of civil war. The protests were sparked by Yanukovych's decision to reject a political and trade deal with the European Union in favor of Russia's Eurasian Customs Union; looming in the background were widespread challenges to Yanukovych's personal and political integrity. Since his removal from office, Yanukovych has disappeared and is presumed to be on the run from criminal charges since filed against him.
As Vice President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro assumed the post of Acting President following the death of President Hugo Chevaz on March 5th. Narrowly elected in a special election on April 14th, 2013 Maduro vowed to continue the socialist policies of his predecessor. Those policies have dislocated the economy, resulting in widespread shortages, skyrocketing inflation, and an upsurge in violent crime. University students and middle class Venezuelans have been engaged in large-scale public protests since January, which have claimed the lives of 13 victims thus far. According to Maduro, Venezuela's problems are caused by "capitalism" and "speculators," and the protestors are "Fascists."
Although the differences between the revolt in the Ukraine and the uprising in Venezuela are great - especially in terms of the numbers killed - they share a common denominator: In both cases, ordinary citizens have rebelled against elected governments wedded to deeply unpopular policies. In the Ukraine, rejection of the EU and alignment with Russia; in Venezuela, economic measures that are financially ruinous to the young and to the established Middle Class. And rather than back down when challenged, the governments of both Ukraine and Venezuela resorted to violent repression instead.
There are parallels with the United States. On a wide range of issues, the Obama Administration is pursuing deeply unpopular policies, ranging from "ObamaCare" - which was, apparently, sold to the American people through deliberate fraud - to the Administration's arguably illegal domestic surveillance programs, to its ongoing efforts to undermine or at least limit the Constitutional protections provided by the First, Second and Fourth Amendments; to President Obama's openly declared intention to bypass the Congress with Executive Orders of questionable legality; and to the most recent effort by Attorney General Eric Holder to override the 10th Amendment reservation of powers by imposing federal gay marriage policies on the states. Looming in the background is the Obama Administration's policy of militarizing America's local and state police forces by equipping them with military weapons of war, and the ongoing build up of federal police, under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security - also equipped with military-grade weapons, billions of rounds of hollow point ammunition, aerial surveillance drones, and at least 3000 armored fighting vehicles.
Why federal police agencies need 50 caliber machine guns, armored fighting vehicles, drones, and a larger stockpile of ammunition than the US Army's war reserve, is a mystery. But on the basis of the publicly available evidence, the Obama Administration seems bent on joining the ranks of the Authoritarian Democracies - and for that reason, equally intent on acquiring the capability to violently suppress public dissent as well.
AUTISM AND ELECTRONIC INTELLIGENCE
Autism is a neural development disorder characterized by impaired social skills, impaired verbal and non-verbal communications, and repetitive, stereotypical behaviors. Although poorly understood, autism effects information processing in the brain. There is no cure, but intensive support and interaction sometimes produces marked improvement. About 12 per cent of autistic children become self-sufficient adults; about 19 per cent achieve some level of independence; and about 46 per cent require residential programs with a high level of supervision and care. The rest require permanent hospitalization. Somewhere between 3 and 25 per cent of autism victims seem to recover.
As devastating as autism may be, the disorder sometimes confers special abilities. Some, such as the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rainman, are savants who display astonishing but limited skills such memorizing long columns of numbers or, as with Hoffman's character, "counting cards" in Las Vegas. Others, amazingly, have special abilities that make them ideal for specialized military intelligence units.
According to The Algemeiner, a Jewish newspaper published in the United States, Israel's Intelligence Unit 9900 - an electronic intelligence group - has successfully employed autistic Israelis to monitor real-time satellite and drone imagery. The autistic analysts can reportedly sit in front of monitors for hours on end, picking up on subtle changes that slip past their non-afflicted counterparts.
According to Israeli sources, military service is a "Two Fer" for the autistic soldiers: They are engaged in important (and paid work), and they benefit from being placed within the highly structured military environment. They are also provided with extra training in their off-duty hours to acquire additional life skills, such as how to read a bus schedule, in order to enhance their independence and mobility.
THE ARCHITECTS OF FREE TRADE REALLY DID
WANT A WORLD GOVERNMENT OF CORPORATIONS
By Matthew Stoller
It’s amazing what you find in the Congressional Record. For example, you find American political officials (liberal ones, actually) engaged in an actual campaign to get rid of countries with their pesky parochial interests, and have the whole world managed by global corporations. Yup, this actually was explicit in the 1960s, as opposed to today’s passive aggressive arguments which amount to the same thing.
Here’s the backstory.
As I wrote in part of this series on the origins of modern American trade policy, the first real mention of NAFTA in the Congressional record that I could find came from a hearing in 1967. This was a Joint Economic Committee hearing conducted just after a major series of global trade talks known as the “Kennedy round”, from 1964-1967. The Kennedy round went quite far in reducing explicit tariffs, and was a capstone to the trading regime of tariff reductions that FDR and Cordell Hull put in place in 1934 after the Smoot-Hawley tariffs.
After the Kennedy round ended, liberal internationalists, including people like Chase CEO David Rockefeller and former Undersecretary of State George Ball, began pressing for reductions in non-tariff barriers, which they perceived as the next set of trade impediments to pull down. Ball was an architect of 1960s U.S. trade policy - he helped write the Trade Act of 1962, which set the stage for what eventually became the World Trade Organization.
But Ball’s idea behind getting rid of these barriers wasn’t about free trade, it was about reorganizing the world so that corporations could manage resources for “the benefit of mankind”. It was a weird utopian vision that you can hear today in the current United States Trade Representative Michael Froman’s speeches. I’ve spoken with Froman about this history, and Froman himself does not seem to know much about it. But he is captive of these ideas, nonetheless, as is much of the elite class. They do not know the original ideology behind what is now just bureaucratic true believer-ism, they just know that free trade is good and right and true.
But back to the 1967 hearing. In the opening statement, before a legion of impressive Senators and Congressmen, Ball attacks the very notion of sovereignty. He goes after the idea that “business decisions” could be “frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations,” and lauds the multinational corporation as the most perfect structure devised for the benefit of mankind. He also foreshadows our modern world by suggesting that commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies should just be and will inevitably be handled by supranational organizations.
Here’s just some of that statement. It really is worth reading, I’ve bolded the surprising parts.
For the widespread development of the multinational corporation is one of our major accomplishments in the years since the war, though its meaning and importance have not been generally understood. For the first time in history man has at his command an instrument that enables him to employ resource flexibility to meet the needs of peoples all over the world. Today a corporate management in Detroit or New York or London or Dusseldorf may decide that it can best serve the market of country Z by combining the resources of country X with labor and plan facilities in country Y - and it may alter that decision 6 months from now if changes occur in costs or price or transport. It is the ability to look out over the world and freely survey all possible sources of production… that is enabling man to employ the world’s finite stock of resources with a new degree of efficiency for the benefit of all mankind.
But to fulfill its full potential the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries - or, in other words, for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.
To achieve such a free trading environment we must do far more than merely reduce or eliminate tariffs. We must move in the direction of common fiscal concepts, a common monetary policy, and common ideas of commercial responsibility.
Already the economically advanced nations have made some progress in all of these areas through such agencies as the OECD and the committees it has sponsored, the Group of Ten, and the IMF, but we still have a long way to go. In my view, we could steer a faster and more direct course… by agreeing that what we seek at the end of the voyage is the full realization of the benefits of a world economy.
Implied in this, of course, is a considerable erosion of the rigid concepts of national sovereignty, but that erosion is taking place every day as national economies grow increasingly interdependent, and I think it desirable that this process be consciously continued. What I am recommending is nothing so unreal and idealistic as a world government, since I have spent too many years in the guerrilla warfare of practical diplomacy to be bemused by utopian visions. But it seems beyond question that modern business - sustained and reinforced by modern technology - has outgrown the constrictive limits of the antiquated political structures in which most of the world is organized, and that itself is a political fact which cannot be ignored. For the explosion of business beyond national borders will tend to create needs and pressures that can help alter political structures to fit the requirements of modern man far more adequately than the present crazy quilt of small national states. And meanwhile, commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies - and even the domiciliary supervision of earth-straddling corporations - will have to be increasingly entrusted to supranational institutions….
We will never be able to put the world’s resources to use with full efficiency so long as business decisions are frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations, reflect no common philosophy, and are keyed to no common goal.”
I’m doing this series on the origin of the modern trading regime because of the current controversies over trade policies, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s striking how, when you look into these efforts, these agreements are not and never have been about trade. You simply cannot disentangle colonialism, the American effort to create the European Union, and American trade efforts. After their opening statements, Ball and Rockefeller go on on to talk about how European states need to be wedged into a common monetary union with our trade efforts and that Latin America needs to be managed into prosperity by the US and Africa by Europe. Through such efforts, they thought that the US could put together a global economy over the next thirty years. Thirty years later was 1997, which was exactly when NAFTA was being implemented and China was nearing its entry into the WTO. Impeccable predictions, gents.
In previous research efforts, I’ve found that there was a serious elite liberal effort called “Atlanticism” to create an explicit world government, and that this effort really did influence how our current leaders think about international policy-making. By 1967, Ball wasn’t an Atlanticist, he dropped his illusions about the ability to combine the globe into one polity. But he was still a utopianist - he didn’t seek an explicit world government, he wanted to build a set of supranational institutions that could manage all the important economic questions, while national leaders got to argue about symbols.
I guess it turns out that the conspiracy theorists who believe in UN-controlled black helicopters aren’t as wrong as you might think about trade policy, and not just because United Technologies, which actually makes black helicopters, has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Oh sure they’re wrong, but so are the people who deny that our trade agreements are just about trade. They aren’t. These agreements are about getting rid of national sovereignty, and the people who first pressed for NAFTA were explicit about it. They really did want a global government for corporations. At the time, of course, multinationals didn’t treat American workers like disposable objects, this was the era of the “Treaty of Detroit.” So Ball wasn’t as naive as he would sound today if he used these same words; it wasn’t totally crazy then to assume that global multinationals might operate in good faith. Moreover, given that there had just been two world wars because of nationalism, it also wasn’t crazy to hope that corporations would “wash away national boundaries”.
But what’s interesting is more the why than the what. Ball in particular expressed his idea of a government by the corporations, for the corporations, in order to benefit all mankind.
Editor's Note: The Editors of website gratefully acknowledge the author, Matthew Stoller, for his permission to reprint this stunning essay.
Keep that in mind when you think you’re being paranoid.
AL QAEDA AND GRAND STRATEGY
Terrorist organizations can have a Grand Strategy, too. For an informative essay on Al Qaeda's Grand Strategy to defeat the West, please click on the link below:
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICAL FRAUD
Several weeks ago, in an article addressing the Obama Administration's "Rosy Scenario" interpretation of the US economic recovery, the influential and prestigious Economist magazine urged caution. Yes, the numbers have improved, but the United States isn't out of the woods just yet.
As restrained as The Economist's reportage may have been, it now seems to have been unduly optimistic. According to Nobel prize laureate Robert Wiedemer, the stark discrepancy between soaring corporate profits and persistent high unemployment bodes ill. In Wiedemer's opinion, the US economy is a "bubble economy" fueled not by tangible growth but rather by the Federal Reserve Bank's strategy of "Quantitative Easing" - financial-speak for flooding the streets with printing-press money.
As for the predicted recovery, Wiedemer said, "Don't count on it" and predicted an historically anemic rate of growth of no more than 2 1/2 percent for 2014 - assuming the reported rate of inflation is accurate.
But according to Wall Street investment counselor David John Marotta, president of Marotta Wealth Management, the White House, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have been cooking the books to hide the dismal state of the US economy. After re-crunching the official numbers and adjusting for statistical sleights of hand, Marotta has concluded the actual actual inflation rate is 4.5 percent rather than the officially claimed 1.24 per cent; the actual unemployment rate is a shocking 37.2 per cent; and the "Misery Index" - found by adding the official unemployment rate to the official inflation rate - is over 14, rather than the 7.54 per cent claimed by government officials.
The funny numbers being bandied about by the Administration and the Fed have been generated by the misuse of technical economics measures, and deliberate legerdemain: The "unemployment rate" employed by economists only counts those actively seeking work, and not the long-term unemployed; and the Consumer Price Index used to calculate the cost of living has been tweaked to exclude the rising costs of food and fuel, despite the fact that these are major budget items. By dropping these expense categories from their calculations, the Administration and the Fed have been able to dramatically understate the real rate of inflation.
The present economy is clearly not sustainable - and in the opinion of CFIS Chairman Charles S. Viar, it is "eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union in the years leading up to that country's economic implosion."
Marotta apparently agrees - although he believes a long, drawn out economic decline is more likely than a sudden collapse, he has advised his clients to prepare a "bug out bag" and stock up on guns and ammunition.
Editor's Note: For those less sanguine than Mr. Marotta, a "Bug Out Bag" is available from Amazon.com. For details, click on the link below:
GRAB AND GO EMERGENCY KIT
FAITH IN GOVERNMENT
Given President Obama's propensity for dissimulation, it's hardly surprising that that the American people are losing faith in their government. The President either deliberately lied or is so poorly informed as to repeatedly misstate the facts on a host of major issues.
In the run up to the 2012 election, he falsely claimed that unemployment had dropped sharply and blamed the Al Qaeda terrorist attack on America's diplomatic mission in Benghazi on an obscure, low budget film that depicted the Prophet Mohammed in a poor light. Following his re-election, he repeatedly claimed the cost of medical care and insurance would drop with his Affordable Care Act, and that Americans could keep their existing health care plan (and their doctor) if they liked it (him). Adding insult to injury, he more recently has made public statements defending his domestic security and surveillance programs that have proved false. Indeed, President Obama's misstatements of fact have been so many and so egregious that it has become difficult to escape the conclusion that he is either a habitual liar, or that he is so poorly informed as to be unfit for office.
To paraphrase former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, President Obama lies, then lies about his lies, then apologizes for lies he claims were never lies, and then lies about his apologies. Though the Speaker's criticism is perhaps a bit overstated, the unfortunate fact is that President Obama has given the American people cause to doubt both his veracity and his character. No surprise, then, that according to Reuters News Service, the Edelman Trust Barometer (of government) reveals a massive shift in attitudes among young Americans: Just 37 per cent now say they trust the US Government, down a shocking 16 points from just one year ago, and seven points below the global average.
But the real shocker is that collapsing trust in government isn't limited to the United States - it's tanking all over the world.
As surprising as all this may be, the reason is simple: Government qua government cannot deliver as promised. They cannot adequately defend their countries, they cannot manage their economies, and they cannot efficiently provide promised social services. And with few exceptions, they cannot live within their means.
Simply put, modern governments have turned sharply dysfunctional. They are too big, too maladroit, and too expensive. As James Rickards has argued in his seminal work, Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, they will collapse under their own weight absent a radical effort to descale and decentralize.
For the past three years, the National Geographic Channel has been running a series called "Doomsday Preppers," documenting the lives and activities of ordinary Americans who, having lost faith in the US Government's ability to protect them, are preparing for Doomsday.
Now there are increasing rumors that former national security officials are doing the same, and for precisely the same reasons. According to a report from Dave Hodges, host of the Common Sense Show, scores of recently retired intelligence and domestic security officials have relocated their families to remote locations, where they have established a series of self-sufficient security enclaves built around defensible bunkers stocked with large quantities of emergency rations, medical supplies, arms, ammunition, solar panels and generators, and communications gear, and equipped with air and water filtration systems.
Noting that a large portion of these enclaves are located near a federal facility in Colorado, rumored to be an alternative government command post, Hodges suggests the effort has been prompted by insider information pertaining to a New World Order conspiracy that involves the deliberate and total disruption of American society as a preface to imposing a global dictatorship. This, presumably, ties into reports that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased more than 3000 armored fighting vehicles and approximately one billion of rounds hollow-point ammunition
The actual reality may be a great deal less sinister than Mr. Hodges believes - but nonetheless, just as frightening. Every reasonably well-trained intelligence and/or security analyst is aware of how vulnerable America is to cataclysmic disruption - an open though unsettling fact that has long been ignored by the Establishment Media: In her farewell address, former Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano stated it was only a matter of time before terrorists took down America's electrical grid.
In this new era of asymmetric warfare, the United Sates and other advanced societies are at a profound disadvantage as their critical infrastructures were designed with economics rather than security in mind. Poisoning the water supply of a major metropolis could inflict massive civilian casualties and inflict incalculable damage on the national economy, while a cyber attack disrupting the communications net could inflict even greater economic harm. One that dropped the electrical grid would be catastrophic.
Most threatening of all is an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, carried out by detonating a nuclear warhead at very high altitudes over the United States. The pulse from even a small nuclear explosive would "fry" any electronic device then in use and re-arrange the molecular structure of any wiring then carrying an electronic current in such a way that they would no longer be able to do so. Even though physically undamaged by the blast, the electrical grid and everything connected to it would be reduced to scrap.
If that were to happen, at least half the United States - and likely more - would be thrust back into the 1870's. Electric lights, refrigerators, water pumps, TVs, radios, and cars, trucks, buses, planes and computers would cease to function for many hundreds of miles in all directions. Society would collapse within a matter of days, urban dwellers would starve, and martial law would inevitably result.
Given the astonishing vulnerability of the United States and other advances societies to these sorts of "society-killing attacks," it should come as no surprise that former public officials who have spent a lifetime thinking about, planning for, and attempting to guard against them would be headed for the hills - especially given the fact that neither the Executive Branch nor the Congress has seen fit to address these clear and present dangers.
SPECIAL INTERESTS, AND POLITICAL INERTIA
The unwillingness of the governments of the United States and other advanced countries to take even basic defensive measures to guard against "society-killing attacks" may seem puzzling to those citizens that have taken the time to puzzle out the threats. But there are reasons, although none of them are good.
One is the commercial orientation of advanced societies: Even after 9-11, the Bush Administration refused to take even rudimentary precautions to safeguard America's 300-plus ports and harbors, which are the most likely and most vulnerable targets for an improvised nuclear explosive device. That would inconvenience business and commerce, reduce profits, and cost money - far better, in that Administration's view, to let the problem slide. It probably wouldn't happen on their watch...
Another is the reactive nature of (formally) democratic political systems. By their very nature, they respond to threats and challenges after they have already happened, or been made.
A third, and in this case, determinative reason is the ability of Special Interests to block obvious and necessary change. At the end of the day, the vulnerability of the United States to "society-killing attacks" is rooted in the deliberate, 1967 decision to maintain an oil-based economy and a centralized power grid rather than follow the dictates of common-sense and national security by converting to alternative energies and creating a decentralized power system. Enshrined in the real but never publicly stated National Policy of Deliberate Energy Dependence and the supporting Grand Strategy of Global Oil Control/Armed Mid East Intervention, this decision was imposed by a political coalition comprised of the international oil companies, the international banks that "recycled" the petrodollars they generated, and domestic utility companies; and set in stone by Henry Kissinger's 1974/75 agreement with Saudi Arabia to impose global dollar hegemony through a Saudi-sponsored OPEC requirement that all international oil sales be paid for in US dollars.
The result has been the half-century long rolling catastrophe in the Mid East, the needless expenditure of American blood and treasure, a ruined economy and a society that remains extraordinarily vulnerable to asymmetrical, society-killing attacks.
It didn't have to be that way. Windmills had been used to generate electricity since the early 1900's; synthetic oil was discovered in the late 1920's, and synthetic gasoline developed in the late 1930's; and from the late 1950's onward, new energy generation-technologies made it increasingly possible to descale and decentralize energy production and distribution systems.
When viewed from this perspective, Special Interests emerge as a major but poorly appreciated threat to national security, as they use their political influence to block society's innate adaptive response to threats, challenges, and changing circumstances - so much so that economists Glen Hubbard and Tim Kane have identified it as the central factor in the decline - and sometimes, collapse - of countries and empires.
Their recent book entitled, Balance: The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America should be required reading for all politicians. But it won't be - for in contemporary America, the Special Interests trump the National Interest.
Since the year 2000, Great Britain has increased welfare spending faster than almost any other country in Europe. But the big surprise is the United States has increased welfare spending even faster thaN the UK.
The major reason? Aside from the incompetence of successive American administrations, the US has held corporate taxes steady for decades even as other developed countries have reduced their rates. Simply put. US tax policy has created an incentive for major corporations to relocate abroad - and to take the jobs they provide with them.
For more on this story, please click on the link below:
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL...
VLADIMIR THE GREAT
Russian President Vladimir Putin once called the breakup of the Soviet Union the "greatest geopolitical disaster of the last century." Although Westerners find the former KGB officer's statement incomprehensible, his sentiment is widely shared in Russia: The collapse of the USSR resulted in the loss of hard won strategic buffers, exposing Russia once again to foreign invasion.
Russian geography provides no natural defenses. The rolling plain that stretches from Germany to the Pacific Ocean is ideal tank country, and while it is cut by many large rivers, all are easily crossed. The Ural Mountains are for the most part mountains in name only, and in many areas easily traversable by jeep or other four-wheel drive vehicles. Russia's only real defenses are spatial and climatic: The huge expanse of that country permits defenders to trade territory for time, until "General Winter" arrives.
Given Russia's geopolitical reality, it should come as no surprise that cobbling back together a strategic resemblance of the old Soviet Union has been Putin's major preoccupation since he first assumed Russia's presidency in 1999. For all practical purposes, he discarded the Commonwealth of Independent States - the loose political association that superseded the USSR - in favor of geopolitically inspired regional alliances: To the East, the Shanghai Pact, which is now the world's largest military alliance, and to the South and Northwest the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union, scheduled to go into effect in 2015, which includes Belarus and Kazakhstan and now - almost certainly - the Ukraine, which Putin last month pried from the grasp of the European Union with a combination of threats and a $15 billion bribe.
Thus without firing a shot, Putin has effectively restored most of the Soviet-era buffers, which now defend Mother Russia from attacks along the most likely axes from the West, South, and East. Although Russia still remains vulnerable to attack from Scandinavia, it is a nonetheless stunning achievement - one reminiscent of Peter the Great.
But these were not Putin's only foreign policy successes. In 2013, Putin forestalled an American attack on allied Syria by floating a diplomatic solution to the crisis occasioned by the use of chemical arms in that country's civil war, thereby all by guaranteeing the survival of the Assad regime and, by extension, virtually precluding an American and/or Israel attack on Iran. Perhaps more important in the long-run, Putin re-opened channels of communications with the Egyptian military junta, who were outraged by President Obama's decision to reduce military aid to that country, and laid the groundwork for Russia's return to that pivotal country. Thus by adroit diplomacy alone did Putin turn NATO's Southern Flank, exposing Greece, Turkey, and Italy to Russian military pressure. In the process, he made an utter fool of Obama.
The fact that Putin was able to accomplish all this with a country in the grips of economic crisis and demographic decline is astounding - and for that, future historians may remember him as Vladimir the Great.
SHIFTING SANDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
If Barack Obama can claim any credit in the field of foreign policy / national security, it is in his decision to abandon the fatally flawed 1967 National Policy of Deliberate Energy Dependence/Global Oil Control and the supporting Grand Strategy of Armed Mid East Intervention, in favor of a strategic re-positioning to the Far East.
Made possible by the discoveries of vast new oil deposits in the United States, and the development of new extraction technologies, Obama's "Asian Tilt" has set off a scramble for power and influence throughout the Mid East as old alliances erode and new relationships are formed. Russia is attempting a return to Egypt, from which the Soviet Union was expelled in 1972; Britain is trying to revive its mid-20th Century relationships with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, and China is eager to enter the region to ensure favorable consideration for its oil purchases.
At stake are trillions of dollars worth of defense contracts that were once monopolized by the United States - and the smart money is on China. Britain is too closely tied to the United States and Russia is too close for comfort geographically, but China is just right - half a world away, ruled by an authoritarian regime that won't raise troubling human rights questions, and now possessed with modern, first-rate export quality weapons.
27 December 2013
A BELATED REALIZATION
Earlier this month, in a stunning reversal of his predecessor's stated position, British Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted as saying, in effect, that Britain should accommodate Muslims rather than expect them to assimilate to British society. The volte-face was clearly intended to support his government's efforts to reassert British influence in the Middle East, and to support British commercial interests there - presently at stake are billions of dollars worth of defense contracts, coupled to a Saudi assurance of "preferred customer" status for British oil purchases.
Mr. Cameron's statement may be good foreign policy, but it was not well received in Britain, a country that has been oft-victimized by home-grown terrorism, and is currently enduring a high-profile effort by Muslim vigilantes to impose Islamic law on their neighborhoods. No surprise, then, that it drew an indirect but nonetheless stinging rebuke from the Labour Party's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander.
According to Mr. Alexander, political figures have allowed political correctness to prevent them from talking about the role of faith in public life, and particularly the mounting persecution of Christians in the Middle East - a region of the world where ethnic cleansing is moving forward with full force. With the sole exception of Prince Charles, British and other Western leaders have ignored the plight of Arab Christians, for whom attending church is an act of "life risking bravery."
Although Alexander was explicitly addressing the growing horror in the Mid East, it took little wit to read between the lines and apply his remarks to Britain itself, where a similar "ethnic cleansing" is in progress, conducted by Islamicist thugs intent upon driving non-Muslims from "their neighborhoods."
But Mr. Cameron wasn't Mr. Alexander's only target - in a slap at the government of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, which famously declared "We don't do God," Mr. Alexander was quoted as saying "We must."
AN INK DROP STRATEGY FOR MUSLIM SUBVERSION
During the early stages of the Vietnam War, a raging debate pitted the US Army against the Marine Corps: The Army favored a strategy of "search and destroy," based on the successful British counterinsurgency in East Africa (now Kenya) while the Marines argued in favor of an "Ink Drop" strategy - that is, to position American troops in and about major population centers along the S. Vietnamese coastline, and gradually expand the area of Allied control after they had been secured. In time, the "ink drops" would connect, and spread over the entire populated area, in much the same way that ink drops into a pail of water would.
In retrospect, the Marines had it right - and while it is unlikely that Islamic extremists in the United Kingdom have studied the strategic debate that shaped the war in Vietnam, they have adopted a strategy of subversion that is strikingly reminiscent of the Marines' Ink Drop approach: Islamic thugs in Britain are engaged in a determined effort to drive Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Hindu from "Muslim neighborhoods" and impose Islamic law within their confines. Thus far, they have specifically targeted shopkeepers who lawfully sell alcohol; pubs and restaurants that serve beer, wine and other spirits; have threatened and sometimes beaten non-Muslims for possessing alcohol in the vicinity of mosques; and their organized foot patrols have come down particularly hard on Muslim women who wear Western dress: In an effort to shame Westernized Muslim women, they are routinely followed, mocked, and jeered as "sluts" and "whores."
The Islamic game plan is to create a series of Muslim "islands" within Britain, and gradually connect them into an "Islamic Archipelago" in much the same manner that the Marines hoped to do with the S. Vietnamese population centers.
The threat is serious, for the simple reason that a sound strategy is difficult to counter. But so far, the British Government has done next to nothing to address what is, clearly, an insurgency in the making.
After the bloody, sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, one would think they would know better...
MR. OBAMA'S ANNUS HORRIBILIS
For Barack Obama, 2013 was an annus horribilis - a Latin phrase popularized by Queen Elizabeth II that means "horrible year." It started badly after Obama threatened to attack Syria after the government of Bashar al Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against rebel forces supported by the United States. After having been forced to back down by a Republican-led coalition on Capitol Hill, it turned out that Obama's intelligence had not only been wrong, but likely distorted for political purposes, and that Al Qaeda terrorists were probably responsible for the attacks, rather than Assad's government.
Obama's humiliating retreat gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a golden opportunity to reassert Russian influence in the region - from which the Soviet Union had been effectively expelled in 1977 - by negotiating a deal to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. Having made Obama the fool in Syria, Putin went on to successfully court the Egyptian generals who had deposed Egypt's first and only elected President, Mohammed Morsi - who was also the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. By doing so, Putin demonstrated the bankruptcy of Obama's Mid East policy, which placed its bet on the Brotherhood as the least onerous of the available (and unquestionably poor) alternatives to a military dictatorship.
Thus in a series of deft maneuvers did Putin turn NATO's Southern Flank, and expose Greece, Turkey, and even Italy to Russian military pressure for the first time since the late 1970's.
If that weren't enough, former CIA and NSA contract employee Edward Snowden skipped the country with four laptop computers containing at least a million and a half classified documents, many of which pertained to the unprecedented and arguably illegal US government domestic surveillance program - which targeted innocuous US citizens, rather than obvious security risks, such as Muslim immigrants. True or not, Snowden's revelations gave the impression that the US government is far more afraid of Quakers and Congregationalists than it is of Islamic extremists.
Next came the ObamaCare fiasco, which not only revealed a breathtaking degree of high-level incompetence, but gave the lie to President Obama's endless assurances that Americans who "like their doctor can keep their doctor," and that his signature legislation would lower the cost of medical insurance. Neither promise was true - and the fact Mr. Obama made them means he is either out of touch with the task of governing, or that he deliberately lied to the American people for political advantage. Either interpretation is damning...
And last but not least, Putin outmaneuvered Obama in the Ukraine - a territory that has, since the end of the Cold war, emerged as critical geopolitical "pivot point." The combination of Obama's foreign policy incompetence and Putin's masterful skill has thus resulted in the sort of foreign policy rout not seen since the days of Jimmy Carter.
25 December 2013
THE PATRIOT'S DILEMMA:
MY COUNTRY OR MY GOVERNMENT?
German-born Carl Christian Schurz is famously remembered for having said "My country, right or wrong."
Not exactly. The one time US Army general, Secretary of the Interior, US Senator and American minister to Spain actually said "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right."
Schurz statement points to the increasingly difficult quandary of patriots: In theory, a democratically elected government should pursue policies in accord with the will of their people; but in recent practice, that has become ever more rare. More often than not, elected governments have in the past half-century pursued their own agendas, often in opposition to the best interests of those that elected them to office.
Thus the Patriot's Dilemma: My country or my government?
If Edward Snowden is to be believed, it was that conflict of conscience that led him to defect from the US government to "the American people."
Says the Washington Post:
Leaks of the NSA's surveillance programs by Snowden, which the Obama administration has at times portrayed as traitorous, were actually, in Snowden's telling, acts of patriotic loyalty -- something that he suggests administration officials can't see because they themselves have lost that sense of loyalty.
He said of his nondisclosure agreement with the NSA: "The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy.... That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that [NSA chief] Keith Alexander and [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper did not."
For a nationalist, loyalty to the abstract ideal of the nation -- personified by "the people" or "the public," or in the U.S. context by the Constitution -- transcends all else. Snowden's worldview seems to fit this idea perfectly. In working against U.S. government programs, he seems to argue, he is both serving a higher fealty to the nation and helping its government to return to the path from which it's strayed.
“I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” he told Gellman. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”
In the nationalist's worldview, when a government strays from its primary duty of serving the nation, it becomes not just justifiable but near compulsory to challenge that government on behalf of the nation. Working against the government, in this view, isn't an act of treachery, but is in fact the highest level of patriotism, for it demonstrates an allegiance to the nation itself and calls attention to the enemies within...
For the complete text of this thoughtful article, please click on the link below:
AN AMERICAN NATIONALIST
2 December 2013
PRAVDA CALLS OBAMA A COMMUNIST
In a case of the pot calling the kettle black, Pravda has accused President Obama of being a Communist. Long the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Pravda is now owned by and affiliated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Somewhat perversely, Pravda is a routine critic of the Old Soviet Union, and frequently blasts Communists and Communism while praising President Vladimir Putin - a former KGB officer and one time CPSU member.
President Vladimir Putin could never have imagined anyone so ignorant or so willing to destroy their people like Obama much less seeing millions vote for someone like Obama. They read history in America don't they? Alas, the schools in the U.S. were conquered by the Communists long ago and history was revised thus paving the way for their Communist presidents. Obama has bailed out those businesses that voted for him and increased the debt to over 16 trillion with an ever increasing unemployment rate especially among blacks and other minorities. All the while promoting his agenda
The red, white and blue still flies happily but only in Russia. Russia still has St George defeating the Dragon with the symbol of the cross on its' flag. The ACLU and other atheist groups in America would never allow the US flag with such religious symbols. Lawsuits a plenty against religious freedom and expression in the land of the free. Christianity in the U.S. is under attack as it was during the early period of the Soviet Union when religious symbols were against the law...
Let's give American voters the benefit of the doubt and say it was all voter fraud and not ignorance or stupidity in electing a man who does not even know what to do and refuses help from Russia when there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead we'll say it's true that the Communists usage of electronic voting was just a plan to manipulate the vote. Soros and his ownership of the company that counts the US votes in Spain helped put their puppet in power in the White House. According to the Huffington Post, residents in all 50 states have filed petitions to secede from the Unites States. We'll say that these Americans are hostages to the Communists in power. How long will their government reign tyranny upon them?
Russia lost its' civil war with the Reds and millions suffered torture and death for almost 75 years under the tyranny of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. Russians survived with a new and stronger faith in God and ever growing Christian Church. The question is how long will the once "Land of the Free" remain the United Socialist States of America? Their suffering has only begun. Bye bye Miss American Pie! You know the song you hippies. Sing it! Don't you remember?
For the full text of this extraordinary story, please click on the link below:
THE POT AND THE KETTLE
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Center for Intelligence Studies strongly suspects Russian President Putin has revived the old Soviet Disinformation apparatus, as evidenced by the Chinese water-torture approach employed by Wikileaks, the organization allegedly responsible for releasing Edward Snowden's revelations about US domestic spying, and other highly classified programs. Given the fact that Russia has granted Snowden political asylum, there can be no doubt that the KGB is playing him - and Wikileaks - for all they're worth.
The revival of the Disinformation apparatus would also account for Pravda's curious habit of criticizing the Old Soviet Union and the current Communist Party - which, we believe, is no more than a public front for the KGB. This article, and others, is clearly directed at the American Right and intended to pour fuel on the fire of grass roots revolt against President Obama.
The downside to all this is that "good" Disinformation has a very high truth content - usually, about 90 per cent...
FAR FROM A SELLOUT:
THE IRAN DEAL INCREASES ISRAEL'S SECURITY
Far from the sellout Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claims, the recent 6 Power Accord with Iran has provided Israel with an astonishing opportunity to guarantee its survival.
The Arab states on and about the Arabian Peninsula are far more afraid of Iran than they are of Israel - which with an arsenal of at least 200 nuclear weapons is the region's dominant nuclear power. For that reason, simple logic dictates the Arabs make common -if temporarily clandestine - cause with Israel against Iran.
The Saudis are clearly thinking along these lines. Still technically at war with Israel, the Saudis are reportedly engaged in secret talks with the Jewish state concerning their shared military concerns. Saudi Arabia has long stated that it is prepared to extend full diplomatic recognition to Israel, once the Palestinian issue is resolved - and just recently, ruled out a military alliance until then.
The gratuitous rejection of an overt military alliance now speaks volumes - when read between the lines, it is a clear indication that a secret alliance may be in the works.
Israel's long-term survival depends on the acceptance of its neighbors, and that depends in turn on resolving the Palestinian issue - the resolution of which, apparently, is anathema to Mr. Netanyahu. Based on his government's observed policy, the Israeli Prime Minister seems to prefer further encroachments on Palestinian land, by way of Israeli settlements, to lasting peace - a policy preference that depends, ultimately, upon engineering an American attack on Iran.
Mr. Netanyahu's ongoing efforts to maneuver America into war with Iran has cost him what few friends he once had in the Obama White House. Now it seems that it is also costing him the support of Israel's military and intelligence leadership, which sees the Iran agreement as - potentially - a net plus for Israel.
For almost a decade now, Israel's intelligence and security chiefs have opposed the notion that the Iranian nuclear threat could be dealt with militarily, and have argued - often publicly - that diplomacy was the only possible solution. More recently, a former head of Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security service, described the US policy of negotiations as a "policy of wisdom."
Although still publicly unstated, it seems Israel's national security leadership believes Israel's way forward is obvious: Cut a deal with the Palestinians NOW, and use the diplomatic credit that accrues to them to forge an entente with the anti-Iranian Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf monarchies.
THE ISRAELI MILITARY ON IRAN
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THE PUTIN DOCTRINE
The infiltration of Russian combat troops into the Crimean Peninsula during the first days of March has become a de facto military occupation, providing armed support for the pro-Russian faction there. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783, Crimea remained a part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev transferred territorial jurisdiction from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as a political reward to his Ukrainian political base. Sixty years later, approximately 33 percent of the Crimea’s population is linguistically and/or culturally Russian; Ukrainians make up slightly less than 12 percent, and Crimean Tartars the rest.
The Russian intervention was motivated by two compelling interests. The first was to guarantee Russia continuing access to Sevastopol – a warm water port – and the naval base it retains there by treaty with Ukraine. The second was to support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing effort to cobble back together Russia’s historic buffer zones that lay astride the major invasion routes that lead to the Russian heartland. It was Putin’s effort to secure the Ukraine as a southwestern buffer by coercing that country into his planned Eurasian Union that sparked February’s revolution.
As of this writing, the pro-Russian faction that has seized control of the Crimean government with Putin’s support has scheduled a referendum for March 16, to decide whether the peninsula will remain under Ukrainian control or rejoin Russia. The pro-Russian faction is expected to prevail.
The real significance of the Russian invasion extends far beyond sovereign jurisdiction, however. First, the Russian invasion has struck at the heart of America’s post-World War II policy of stabilizing Europe and Asia, based in part upon setting national boundaries in stone. And second, Putin’s asserted right to intervene on behalf of Russian-speakers in the Crimea has implicitly cast a chilling, carte blanche claim over the territories of the Former Soviet Union, as all 14 of the former Soviet Republics have large, Russian-speaking minorities.