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[The Blog] Dem Senator to Mueller: Don’t release findings around the midterms

Fantasies.

The post Dem Senator to Mueller: Don’t release findings around the midterms appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/19/2018 4:43:18 PM
[Politics] ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Running for Congress in New York

Diane Neal, who played assistant district attorney Casey Novak on NBC's hit show "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," announced Tuesday that she is running for Congress in New York's 19th congressional district.

The post ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Running for Congress in New York appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/8/2018 11:21:05 AM
[Markets] Death Of Democracy? - Part I

Authored by Denis MacEoin via The Gatestone Institute,

For many complex reasons, Europe is in an advanced state of decline. In recent years, several important studies of this condition have appeared, advancing a variety of reasons for it: Douglas Murray's The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, James Kirchik's The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age, as well as Christopher Caldwell's ground-breaking 2010 study, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. Soeren Kern at Gatestone Institute has also been detailing the steady impact of immigration from Muslim regions on countries such as Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

It is clear that something serious is happening on the continent in which I live.

The threat is not restricted to Europe, but has a global dimension. Michael J. Abramowitz, President of Freedom House, writes in his introduction to the organization's 2018 report:

A quarter-century ago, at the end of the Cold War, it appeared that totalitarianism had at last been vanquished and liberal democracy had won the great ideological battle of the 20th century.

Today, it is democracy that finds itself battered and weakened. For the 12th consecutive year, according to Freedom in the World, countries that suffered democratic setbacks outnumbered those that registered gains. States that a decade ago seemed like promising success stories—Turkey and Hungary, for example—are sliding into authoritarian rule.

For Douglas Murray, immigration and the problems it is throwing up are the key topic. He is uncompromising in his negative response to the social change that has been brought about by the excessive and barely controlled immigration of people who, for the most part, do not share the most basic values of the countries in which they now live.

Certainly, Europe's current state of decline owes much to the widely recognized fact that Muslims are the first newcomers to Europe who, over several generations, are resistant to integrating into the societies of which they now form a part. This rejection of Europe's humanitarian, Judeo-Christian values applies, not just to the successive waves of refugees and economic migrants who have washed up on the shores of Greece, Italy and Spain since the start of the Syrian civil war, but to generations of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the UK, North Africans in France, and Turkish "guest workers" in Germany.

A former Muslim extremist, Ed Husain, writes in his book, The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, what I Saw Inside and why I Left:

The result of 25 years of multiculturalism has not been multicultural communities. It has been mono-cultural communities.... Islamic communities are segregated. Many Muslims want to live apart from mainstream British society; official government policy has helped them do so. I grew up without any white friends. My school was almost entirely Muslim. I had almost no direct experience of 'British life' or 'British institutions'. So it was easy for the extremists to say to me: 'You see? You're not part of British society. You never will be. You can only be part of an Islamic society.' The first part of what they said was true. I wasn't part of British society: nothing in my life overlapped with it.

According to Ed Husain (right), a former Muslim extremist, "The result of 25 years of multiculturalism has not been multicultural communities. It has been mono-cultural communities... Islamic communities are segregated." (Image source: CNN video screenshot)

In July 2015, arguing for an anti-extremism bill in parliament, Britain's prime minister at the time, David Cameron, admitted:

"For all our successes as a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, we have to confront a tragic truth that there are people born and raised in this country who don't really identify with Britain – and who feel little or no attachment to other people here. Indeed, there is a danger in some of our communities that you can go your whole life and have little to do with people from other faiths and backgrounds."

Countless polls and investigations reveal that refusal to integrate is no figment of the supposedly "Islamophobic" political "right". A 2006 poll carried out by ICM Research on behalf of the Sunday Telegraph, for example, presented worrying findings: 40% of British Muslims polled said they backed introducing shari'a law in parts of Britain, and only 41% opposed it, leaving another 20% unclear. Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July 2005 attacks, said the findings were "alarming". Since then, similar findings have shown that the younger generation of Muslims is more conservative, even radical, than their parents or grandparents:

Commenting on a major 2016 ICM poll of Muslim opinion, Trevor Phillips, who had been Britain's foremost advocate of multiculturalism, said that, with respect to the Muslim community, he had made a 180° turn:

"for a long time, I too thought that Europe's Muslims would become like previous waves of migrants, gradually abandoning their ancestral ways, wearing their religious and cultural baggage lightly, and gradually blending into Britain's diverse identity landscape. I should have known better."

Another major 2016 review on social equality carried out on behalf of the British government by Dame Louise Casey, found Muslims the least well integrated community. In summarizing her work for the National Secular Society, Benjamin Jones wrote:

"Despite decades of failures, it is worth noting that problems integrating Muslim minorities are hardly rare around the world, and this is not a problem unique to the United Kingdom. That brings us to the final unsayable thing – well known to most British people but unmentionable to officials and politicians: Islam is a special case."

Polls carried out in other countries across Europe showed similar or worse results.

Those are only one half of a more complicated and disturbing picture. While Muslims find it hard to abandon the prejudices, doctrines, and outright hatreds (for Jews, for example) that they have imported from their home countries -- or developed as young men and women while living in European states where they were born and raised -- vast numbers of non-Muslims, including politicians, church leaders, civil servants, policemen and women, and many well-meaning people bend over backwards to accommodate them and the demands they make on their host societies.

It would take a book to summarize all the episodes in which Western officialdom, notably in Europe, has abandoned its own historical values in order to protect Islam and radical Muslims from criticism and rebuke. We are not speaking of the proper interventions of the police, courts, and social agencies to safeguard ordinary Muslims from physical attacks, vituperative insults, assaults on mosques, or basic denials of the rights they are entitled to enjoy as citizens of Western countries – much as we expect them to protect Jews, ethnic minorities, or vulnerable women from similar expressions of physical and verbal bigotry. Providing such support for the victims of prejudice should be applauded as an essential expression of post-Enlightenment liberal democratic values. Legislating and acting against outright discrimination is, perhaps, best exemplified in the way post-World War II German governments have criminalized anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Ironically, what anti-Semitism there is today in Germany comes increasingly from Muslims.

According to Manfred Gerstenfeld:

  • Jens Spahn, a board member of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrat Union (CDU), and a possible successor to Merkel, remarked that the immigration from Muslim countries is the reason for the recent demonstrations [about immigrants] in Germany.
  • Stephan Harbarth, deputy chairman of the CDU/ CSU faction in the Bundestag — the German parliament — said, "We have to strongly confront the antisemitism of migrants with an Arab background and those from African countries."
  • The CDU interior minister of the federal state of Hessen, Peter Beuth, remarked, "We have to avoid an immigration of antisemitism." He said this after a study on behalf of the state's security service concluded that antisemitism among Muslims "both quantitatively and qualitatively has at least as high relevance as the traditional antisemitism of the extreme right."

Despite this moral response, European countries, including Germany, have shown genuine weakness when face-to-face with radical Islamic ideology, hate preachers, and basic Muslim values regarding women, non-Muslims, LGBT people, and obedience to Western laws.

Before looking at some of the reasons, motivations, and outcomes of this deeply pervasive weakness, here are a handful of examples of pusillanimity from the UK alone.

Last October, it was reported that Queen's Counsel Max Hill, who acts as the British government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, argued that British fighters for Islamic State, who had returned or planned to return to the UK, should not be prosecuted but reintegrated into society on the grounds that they had acted "naively". This lenience extended to hate preachers who had given sermons and lectures exhorting Muslims to take direct action that has in the past led to actual terrorist attacks.

Before that, Prime Minister David Cameron and then Home Secretary Theresa May had "proposed measures including banning orders, extremism disruption orders and closure orders, which would allow premises used by extremists to be shut, and make it easier to restrict the activities of individuals and organisations."

In 2015, May had proposed a counter-extremism strategy which said laws would be introduced to "ban extremist organisations that promote hatred and draw people into extremism" and "restrict the harmful activities of the most dangerous extremist individuals". Mrs May also vowed to use the law to "restrict access to premises which are repeatedly used to support extremism". Yet Max Hill QC, the man in charge of British terrorist legislation wants none of that. And May's counter-terrorism measures, proposed again since she became Prime Minister, remain unlegislated.

The same month (October 2017) that Hill undertook the rehabilitation of jihadists and hate preachers, it was reported that the British Home Office (formerly run by Theresa May, now by Amber Rudd MP) was "looking at a new strategy to reintegrate extremists that could even see them propelled to the top of council house waiting lists if needed".

Extremists who had nowhere suitable to live could be put in social housing by the local council and could have their rent paid if necessary, according to reports.

They could also be given priority on waiting lists and helped into education and training or found a job with public bodies or charities.

This proposal would include returnees from the Islamic State in Syria, and overall would include some 20,000 individuals known to the security services. Around 850 British subjects have gone to Syria to fight or support fighters, and 350 of them have come back home, with only a tiny handful so far prosecuted.

This approach, giving social services, is based on the belief -- oft-refuted -- that Muslim extremists (both Muslims-by-birth and converts) have suffered from deprivation. It also greatly rests on the naïve assumption that rewarding them with benefits -- for which genuinely deprived citizens generally need to wait in line -- will turn them into grateful patriots, prepared to stand for the national anthem and hold hands with Christians and Jews.

We now therefore use double standards: one for Muslims and one for the rest of our population. On January 16, 2018, in England, Daniel Grundy, was jailed for six months on a charge of bigamy. However, Muslim men in polygamous marriages are rewarded by the state:

Husbands living in a "harem" with multiple wives have been cleared to claim state benefits for all their different partners.

A Muslim man with four spouses - which is permitted under Islamic law - could receive £10,000 a year in income support alone.

He could also be entitled to more generous housing and council tax benefit, to reflect the fact his household needs a bigger property.

Ministers have decided that, even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, polygamous marriages can be recognised formally by the state - provided they took place overseas, in countries where they are legal.

Actually, British Muslim men do not even have to go abroad to find wives. At least one Muslim dating site run from the UK offers contact with Muslim women who are eager to enter into polygamous marriages. It has not been closed down. The British government has shown itself incapable of enforcing its own laws when it comes to its Muslim citizens or new immigrants.

In a similar vein are official attitudes to a common Muslim practice of female genital mutilation, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Politico reported last year:

"Medical staff working in England's National Health Service recorded close to 5,500 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2016, but no one has been successfully prosecuted since the practice was banned over 30 years ago."

Meanwhile, the practice is rising. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service are too frightened of seeming racist or "Islamophobic" to apply the law.

Max Hill's notion that departing fighters have been naïve is itself a staggering misconception on the part of a man educated at Newcastle's prestigious Royal Grammar School and Oxford University. No one heading for Syria will have been blithely unaware of the multitude of videos broadcast by the mainstream media and all the social media, showing the beheading of hostages, the executions of homosexuals, the lashing of women, the heads spiked on fences, the use of children to shoot victims or cut their throats, and all the other excesses committed by the terrorist group.

Rather than stand up to our enemies, both external and internal, are we now so afraid of being called "Islamophobes" that we will sacrifice even our own cultural, political, and religious strengths and aspirations? The next part of this article will examine just how major this betrayal has been and how much greater it will become.

Published:2/8/2018 3:11:46 AM
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[Markets] Army Major: Wrong On 'Nam, Wrong On Terror

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com,

Vietnam: it’s always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.

 

A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command.  And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it and blaming others for doing so. 

Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it’s well that they did.  The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country’s artificial border.  In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong. 

More than two decades of involvement and, at the war’s peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon.  Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam’s military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975.

There’s just one thing.  Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the “orthodox” school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not.  Instead, they’re still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

The Big Re-Write

In 1986, future general, Iraq-Afghan War commander, and CIA director David Petraeus penned an article for the military journal Parameters that summarized his Princeton doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War.  It was a piece commensurate with then-Major Petraeus’s impressive intellect, except for its disastrous conclusions on the lessons of that war.  Though he did observe that Vietnam had “cost the military dearly” and that “the frustrations of Vietnam are deeply etched in the minds of those who lead the services,” his real fear was that the war had left the military unprepared to wage what were then called “low-intensity conflicts” and are now known as counterinsurgencies.  His takeaway: what the country needed wasn’t less Vietnams but better-fought ones.  The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.

Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror.  The names of some of them -- H.R. McMaster and James Mattis, for instance -- should ring a bell or two these days. In Iraq and later in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his acolytes would get their chance to translate theory into practice.  Americans -- and much of the rest of the planet -- still live with the results.

Like Petraeus, an entire generation of senior military leaders, commissioned in the years after the Vietnam War and now atop the defense behemoth, remain fixated on that ancient conflict.  After all these decades, such “thinking” generals and “soldier-scholars” continue to draw all the wrong lessons from what, thanks in part to them, has now become America’s second longest war. 

Rival Schools

Historian Gary Hess identifies two main schools of revisionist thinking. 

There are the “Clausewitzians” (named after the nineteenth century Prussian military theorist) who insist that Washington never sufficiently attacked the enemy's true center of gravity in North Vietnam.  Beneath the academic language, they essentially agree on one key thing: the U.S. military should have bombed the North into a parking lot.

The second school, including Petraeus, Hess labeled the “hearts-and-minders.”  As COINdinistas, they felt the war effort never focused clearly enough on isolating the Vietcong, protecting local villages in the South, building schools, and handing out candy -- everything, in short, that might have won (in the phrase of that era) Vietnamese hearts and minds.

Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam. 

The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century.  Senior commanders, some now serving in key national security positions, fixated on Vietnam, have translated that conflict’s supposed lessons into what now passes for military strategy in Washington.  The result has been an ever-expanding war on terror campaign waged ceaselessly from South Asia to West Africa, which has essentially turned out to be perpetual war based on the can-do belief that counterinsurgency and advise-and-assist missions should have worked in Vietnam and can work now. 

The Go-Big Option

The leading voice of the Clausewitzian school was U.S. Army Colonel and Korean War/Vietnam War vet Harry Summers, whose 1982 book, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, became an instant classic within the military.  It’s easy enough to understand why.  Summers argued that civilian policymakers -- not the military rank-and-file -- had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.  More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.

Summers had a deep emotional investment in his topic.  Later, he would argue that the source of post-war pessimistic analyses of the conflict lay in “draft dodgers and war evaders still [struggling] with their consciences.”  In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn’t even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States. 

Perhaps he would have done well to reconsider a famous post-war encounter he had with a North Vietnamese officer, a Colonel Tu, whom he assured that “you know you never beat us on the battlefield.”

“That may be so,” replied his former enemy, “but it is also irrelevant.”

Whatever its limitations, his work remains influential in military circles to this day. (I was assigned the book as a West Point cadet!) 

A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty.  He argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in failing to give President Lyndon Johnson an honest appraisal of what it would take to win, which meant that “the nation went to war without the benefit of effective military advice.”  He concluded that the war was lost not in the field or by the media or even on antiwar college campuses, but in Washington, D.C., through a failure of nerve by the Pentagon’s generals, which led civilian officials to opt for a deficient strategy. 

McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country.  In this sense, he was just another “go-big” Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that “the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war.”

COIN: A Small (Forever) War

Another Vietnam veteran, retired Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, fired the opening salvo for the hearts-and-minders.  In The Army and Vietnam, published in 1986, he argued that the NLF, not the North Vietnamese Army, was the enemy’s chief center of gravity and that the American military’s failure to emphasize counterinsurgency principles over conventional concepts of war sealed its fate.  While such arguments were, in reality, no more impressive than those of the Clausewitzians, they have remained popular with military audiences, as historian Dale Andrade points out, because they offer a “simple explanation for the defeat in Vietnam.” 

Krepinevich would write an influential 2005 Foreign Affairs piece, “How to Win in Iraq,” in which he applied his Vietnam conclusions to a new strategy of prolonged counterinsurgency in the Middle East, quickly winning over the New York Times’s resident conservative columnist, David Brooks, and generating “discussion in the Pentagon, CIA, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the office of the vice president.” 

In 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam.  Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, “the fighting wasn’t over, but the war was won.”  According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the “big-war” strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley’s knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner. 

Critics noted that Sorley overemphasized the marginal differences between the two generals’ strategies and produced a remarkably counterfactual work.  It didn’t matter, however.  By 2005, just as the situation in Iraq, a country then locked in a sectarian civil war amid an American occupation, went from bad to worse, Sorley’s book found its way into the hands of the head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, and State Department counselor Philip Zelikow.  By then, according to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, it could also “be found on the bookshelves of senior military officers in Baghdad.”

Another influential hearts-and-minds devotee was Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl.  (He even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.) His Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam followed Krepinevich in claiming that “if [Creighton] Abrams had gotten the call to lead the American effort at the start of the war, America might very well have won it.”  In 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker “so liked [Nagl’s] book that he made it required reading for all four-star generals,” while the Iraq War commander of that moment, General George Casey, gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a copy during a visit to Baghdad.

David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first (New York Times-reviewed) military field manual for counterinsurgency since Vietnam, must also be considered among the pantheon of hearts-and-minders.  Nagl wrote a foreword for their manual, while Krepinevich provided a glowing back-cover endorsement.

Such revisionist interpretations would prove tragic in Iraq and Afghanistan, once they had filtered down to the entire officer corps. 

Reading All the Wrong Books 

In 2009, when former West Point history professor Colonel Gregory Daddis was deployed to Iraq as the command historian for the Multinational Corps -- the military’s primary tactical headquarters -- he noted that corps commander Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby had assigned a professional reading list to his principal subordinates.  To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley’s A Better War.  This should have surprised no one, since his argument -- that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors -- was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire.  It wasn’t the military’s fault!

Officers have long distributed professional reading lists for subordinates, intellectual guideposts to the complex challenges ahead.  Indeed, there’s much to be admired in the concept, but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders.  In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious.  The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.

Just after 9/11, for instance, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers -- who spoke at my West Point graduation -- included Summers’s On Strategy on his list.  A few years later, then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker added McMaster’s Dereliction of Duty.  The trend continues today.  Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has kept McMaster and added Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger (he of the illegal bombing of both Laos and Cambodia and war criminal fame).  Current Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley kept Kissinger and added good old Lewis Sorley.  To top it all off, Secretary of Defense Mattis has included yet another Kissinger book and, in a different list, Krepinevich’s The Army and Vietnam.

Just as important as which books made the lists is what’s missing from them: none of these senior commanders include newer scholarship, novels, or journalistic accounts which might raise thorny, uncomfortable questions about whether the Vietnam War was winnable, necessary, or advisable, or incorporate local voices that might highlight the limits of American influence and power. 

Serving in the Shadow of Vietnam 

Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War.  They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974, future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976, and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984.  Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971, while Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976.

In other words, the generation of officers now overseeing the still-spreading war on terror entered military service at the end of or after the tragic war in Southeast Asia.  That meant they narrowly escaped combat duty in the bloodiest American conflict since World War II and so the professional credibility that went with it.  They were mentored and taught by academy tactical officers, ROTC instructors, and commanders who had cut their teeth on that conflict.  Vietnam literally dominated the discourse of their era -- and it’s never ended.

Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding.  And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation’s streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam’s shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters.   

From Vietnam to the War on Terror to Generational War

All of this misremembering, all of those Vietnam “lessons” inform the U.S. military’s ongoing “surges” and “advise-and-assist” approaches to its wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Representatives of both Vietnam revisionist schools now guide the development of the Trump administration’s version of global strategy. President Trump’s in-house Clausewitzians clamor for -- and receive -- ever more delegated authority to do their damnedest and what retired General (and Vietnam vet) Edward Meyer called for back in 1983: “a freer hand in waging war than they had in Vietnam.” In other words, more bombs, more troops, and carte blanche to escalate such conflicts to their hearts’ content.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world’s nations.  Furthermore, they’ve recently fought for and been granted a new “mini-surge” in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- “break the deadlock,” “reverse the decline,” and “end the stalemate” there.  Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, “stabilize” Afghanistan.  The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones, planes, and other equipment) will do the trick.  This represents tragedy bordering on farce. 

The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting.  None of today’s acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn’t have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, “we were fighting on the wrong side.”

Today’s leaders don’t even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end.  In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as “generational.”  Eerily enough, to cite a Vietnam-era precedent, General Creighton Abrams predicted something similar. speaking to the White House as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down.  Even as President Richard Nixon slowly withdrew U.S. forces, handing over their duties to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) -- a process known then as “Vietnamization” -- the general warned that, despite ARVN improvements, continued U.S. support “would be required indefinitely to maintain an effective force.”  Vietnam, too, had its “generational” side (until, of course, it didn’t). 

That war and its ill-fated lessons will undoubtedly continue to influence U.S. commanders until a new set of myths, explaining away a new set of failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, take over, possibly thanks to books by veterans of these conflicts about how Washington could have won the war on terror.  

It’s not that our generals don’t read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.

In 1986, General Petraeus ended his influential Parameters article with a quote from historian George Herring: “Each historical situation is unique and the use of analogy is at best misleading, at worst, dangerous.”  When it comes to Vietnam and a cohort of officers shaped in its shadow (and even now convinced it could have been won), "dangerous" hardly describes the results. They’ve helped bring us generational war and, for today’s young soldiers, ceaseless tragedy.

Published:1/29/2018 11:49:22 PM
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Published:1/25/2018 8:08:29 PM
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Published:1/25/2018 3:37:19 PM
[c87ab381-7cd6-4a65-a04f-28ebf9e442b6] Debacle at CNN as $20 million digital star Casey Neistat abruptly leaves company YouTube star Casey Neistat abruptly walked away from CNN less than two years after the Jeff Zucker’s news organization reportedly paid over $20 million for his video-sharing startup Beme. Published:1/25/2018 11:37:54 AM
[f048f5e7-1347-479a-8a43-0f07f247ceca] Armie Hammer apologizes for comments about Casey Affleck, sexual assault Armie Hammer apologized on Friday for commenting on Casey Affleck’s sexual harassment cases while attempting to call out Hollywood’s double standard in an interview last month. Published:12/10/2017 11:27:15 AM
[Al Franken] Al Franken To Make An Announcement Tomorrow After 11 Democratic Senators Demand Resignation

Update: 11 Senate Democrats and DNC Chair Tom Perez have now demanded Franken's resignation and his office says in a brief e-mailed statement, Sen. Al Franken will make an announcement tomorrow, without further detail on what the announcement would be.

  • Sen. Gillibrand
  • Sen. Hirono
  • Sen. McCaskill
  • Sen. Hassan
  • Sen. Harris
  • Sen. Murray
  • Sen. Baldwin
  • Sen. Casey
  • Sen. Donnelly
  • Sen. Brown
  • Sen. Stabenow

*  *  *

As we detailed earlier, following reports of more sexual misconduct allegations, Senator Al Franken is facing a revolt among his female Senate 'collegaues' as seven female senators are demanding his resignation... "let someone else serve!"

Despite his apology and genuflection, further allegation shave appeared and that appears to have been the tipping point for Franken's peers.

As Bloomberg reports, within minutes of each other, seven female senators - Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii,  Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Kamala Harris of California, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconisn - and three males (Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana) posted messages on Facebook and Twitter saying Franken of Minnesota must resign.

We suspect in the interst of virtue-signaling that every female Democratic Senator will quickly pile on.

"I consider Senator Franken to be a friend and have enjoyed working with him in the Senate in our shared fight to help American families," Gillibrand wrote on Facebook.

 

"I have been shocked and disappointed to learn over the last few weeks that a colleague I am fond of personally has engaged in behavior towards women that is unacceptable,"

 

"While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve."

"Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down," Harris said in her statement.

Franken has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct.

Published:12/6/2017 12:08:45 PM
[China] Doug Casey On Why Millennials Favor Communism

Via CaseyResearch.com,

Communism is better than capitalism... At least, that’s what a growing number of young people in the U.S. think.

I wish I were joking. But a recent study from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit, found that half of the millennials it surveyed would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist society.

And 22% of those surveyed had favorable views of Karl Marx… while 13% viewed Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-un as “heroes.”

To figure out what’s behind this disturbing trend, I called Doug Casey…

*  *  *

Justin: So Doug, about half of U.S. millennials would rather live in a socialist or communist country… What’s gotten into the youth?

Doug: The youth are being corrupted, and it’s more serious than ever.

I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, however.

That’s because one of the two charges against Socrates when he was executed in Ancient Greece was corrupting the youth. Older people always think the youth are foolish, ignorant, lazy, crazy, and generally taking the world to hell in a handbasket. And of course many of their charges are, and always have been, true.

But as kids get older, they generally get wiser, more knowledgeable, harder-working, and more prudent. Nothing new here. The world has survived roughly 250 new generations since civilization began in Sumer 5,000 years ago. And it will likely survive this one too.

That’s the bright side. And, as you know, I always look on the bright side. But, on the other hand, the American university system has been totally captured by Cultural Marxists, socialists, statists, collectivists, promoters of identity politics, and people of that ilk. These people hate Western Civilization and its values, and are actively trying to destroy them.

Justin: How’d that happen? Don’t young people go to college to learn how to think critically?

Doug: When the average 18-year-old goes to college, he knows very little about how the world works in general. He’s got vague ideas he picked up mostly from TV, movies, and people who got a job teaching high school. They know roughly nothing about economics, government, or history. Worse, what they think they know is mostly wrong.

That makes them easy prey for professors with totally bent views to indoctrinate them.

It’s not so much that they’re taught inaccurate facts. There are plenty of “factoids” (artificial facts), of course—like the War Between the States (which shouldn’t be called the Civil War) was mainly fought to free the slaves. Or that Keynesian economics is correct. And many, many more. But that’s just part of the problem.

It’s not the factoids they’re taught. It’s the way the schools interpret actual facts. The meaning they infuse into events. The way they twist the “why?” of events, and pervert concepts of good and evil.

The real problem, however, is that, contrary to what you suggested a moment ago, they’re not taught critical thinking. Rather just the opposite—they’re taught blind acceptance of what’s currently considered politically correct.

Instead of questioning authority in a polite and rational manner—which is what Socrates did—the current idea is to prevent any divergent views from even being discussed. The profs are basically all socialists, and the kids tend to believe what they’re taught. Those views are buttressed by the other sources of information available to them—Hollywood, mass media, and government.

These bad ideas usually start with “intellectuals.” Intellectuals typically despise business and production, even though they envy the money the capitalists have. Intellectuals feel they’re not only smarter, but much more moral. That gives them the right, in their own eyes, to dictate to everyone else. That’s one reason why they’re usually socialists, and approve of a “cadre,” like themselves, ordering everyone else. Intellectuals naturally gravitate to the university system, where they’re paid to hang out with each other, be lionized by kids, hatch goofy ideas.

This has always been the case. But it’s becoming a much bigger problem than in the past.

Justin: How come?

Doug: A much, much higher percentage of kids go to college now than have ever gone to college in the past.

In the recent past, maybe five or a max of ten percent of kids went to college. These days, almost everybody goes. So a much higher proportion of the youth are being infected with memes that the leftists have put in there.

So yeah, some kids will grow out of it, and will realize that most of what they’ve paid an exorbitant amount of money to learn is nonsense. But most will reflexively believe and defend what they were taught in the cocoon. And I’m afraid those people now make up a big chunk of the U.S. population.

So yeah, I think the numbers that are quoted in that article, about how many kids think socialism is good, are probably accurate. And if they don’t think it, almost all of them feel it. Few know the difference between thinking and feeling…

Justin: Today’s universities aren’t just teaching bent ideas about politics and economics. They’re also dispelling insane notions on race.

For example, an anonymous student at Tulane University in New Orleans recently posted a sign that read “It’s okay to be white.”

Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, apparently the Tulane administration wasn’t pleased. Here’s an official response from Tulane’s public relations department.

We have no idea who posted these signs, but that person is obviously not speaking for Tulane University.

I got a chuckle reading that. But it’s a disturbing sign of the times. Wouldn’t you agree?

Doug: Yeah, it borders on the unbelievable. The insane, actually.

Most whites have been indoctrinated, both indirectly and directly, subtly and overtly, over the years. They’ve bought the propaganda that being white is bad. They believe Western Civilization is a bad thing…that white people have destroyed the world.

Even if they don’t want to believe it, because the concept is so stupid and so utterly contrafactual, they end up believing it just because they’ve heard it over and over. It’s very bad news across the board.

Justin: The mainstream media seems to be peddling these bad ideas, too. Wouldn’t you agree?

Doug: Absolutely. The memes that originated with intellectuals in universities have thoroughly infiltrated the mass media and the entertainment industry—places “thought leaders” gravitate towards.

And you’re getting no defense at all from so-called capitalists and business leaders. All they’re interested in is making money. And—absolutely if they’re wired with the Deep State—they don’t really care how they do it. They’re happy to work with and for the government. They self-righteously make charitable contributions to universities and NGOs, subsidizing the source of the poison.

So, there’s almost nobody to defend the ideas that have brought us Western Civilization. And—with the exception of a few anomalies like Taoism, yoga, and Oriental cooking—it’s responsible for about everything that’s good in the world. Without it the whole world would resemble Africa, or Cambodia, or Mongolia—not even today, but 200 years ago. Western ideas are things like individualism, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, science, rationality and capitalism. These concepts no longer have any defenders anywhere. They’re under attack everywhere.

Justin: This can’t be good for the economy in the long run.

Doug: No. It’s one of the reasons I’m generally bearish.

I mean, how can the markets be healthy when what’s left of the ruling class in the country actually hate themselves? When the middle class is collapsing? When political entrepreneurship is valued more than making money through production?

In fact, the economy and the markets are the least of our problems. The very foundation of civilization itself is under attack. The acceptance of destructive ideas is getting to be as serious as what we saw in Russia under the Soviets, in Germany under the Nazis, or China under Mao. More serious, since civilization is under serious attack in the U.S., which has been the bulwark for the last century.

So, excuse me for my bearishness, but I think it’s warranted.

Justin: Thanks as always, Doug.

Doug: You’re welcome.

*  *  *

As Doug says, civilization is under attack in the U.S. And this crisis is only getting worse by the day. That’s why Doug and his team recently released an urgent video that explains exactly what’s going on…and why it’s so important that you take action today. You can learn more right here.

Published:12/2/2017 6:42:10 PM
[Bitcoin] Doug Casey On The New Fed Chair

Authored by Doug Casey via CaseyResearch.com,

Ahead of his confirmation hearing tomorrow, a few words are in order about the likely new Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell.

I don’t know the man personally. Not that it would make any difference; denizens of the swamp within the Beltway usually present well, and a brief meeting rarely allows you to penetrate someone’s social veneer. But I’m pretty confident that if we dined together it would be tense and unpleasant. We’d have no common ground, after the obligatory two minutes on the weather and the state of the roads.

He’s a lawyer, has been a Fed Governor for five years, and appears to be a “steady as she goes” so-called moderate Republican. He’s a lifelong Deep State player. But let’s not waste time psychoanalyzing this bureaucrat; he’s just a cog in the machine. And the machine, at this stage, has a life of its own.

Many of my friends in the alternative press deplore Trump’s appointment of yet another conventional money printer. They were hoping for a “hawk,” who would start liquidating the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet, and raising interest rates. And they’re right. That $4.5 trillion of super money has driven stock, bond, and real estate prices to insane levels. And today’s artificially low interest rates are discouraging saving, and encouraging people to live above their means.

In an ideal world there would be some radical changes. The best thing for the US in the (famous) long run is to go “cold turkey.” To abolish the Federal Reserve, fire its thousands of employees with their worthless PhDs. Return to 100% reserve banking with a strict separation of demand and time deposits. Depoliticize money by using gold, not Federal Reserve Notes. And default on the national debt, which is rewarding crony capitalists, and will turn future generations of Americans into serfs. And massively deregulate. And abolish the income tax, while cutting spending 90%. Etc. Etc.

The chances of that happening are exactly zero. So let’s talk, instead, about what is going to happen.

We’re going to have much higher levels of inflation. The new Fed Chair will open a monetary hydrant, at least if he doesn’t want to be hung from a lamppost by his heels. But I’m quite pleased Trump has appointed the guy. That may sound shocking. Let me explain why.

A sound economist would work to stop money printing and let interest rates find a market level. But that would precipitate a deflationary collapse after decades of monetary debasement. And the powers of darkness would again be able to paint sound policies and the free market as the cause for the problem, when actually it’s the only cure for economic problems.

From an economic point of view an inflationist like Powell is a disaster. It’s too bad he’s nominally a Republican, since for some reason they’re associated with the free market. As is Trump. Wearing our speculator hats, we’d likely be better off under Hillary - even more inflation, even more distortions to capitalize on. Even wearing our economist hats we might be better off under her, because if the whole rotten structure collapsed on her watch, it might discredit her ideas for at least a few years. But, as ever, I suspect I’m being too optimistic.

For decades - at least since I started following these things in the early ‘70s - free market economists have argued whether the Fed’s ever-increasing money printing would result in a deflationary depression, or a hyperinflationary depression.

As to why a catastrophic depression is inevitable - despite the fact most people try to produce more than they consume, and despite the fact science and technology are advancing exponentially - is beyond the scope of this brief article. I refer you to these pieces (here and here) I’ve done in the past on that topic.

It will be a deflationary collapse if the Fed doesn’t continue buying debt and creating new dollars. And a hyperinflation if they do.

If they stop printing, the banks would fail, and the public would lose a good portion of their deposits. The economy would slow down considerably, causing indebted corporations to default, unemploying their workers. Tax revenues would fall off, and governments wouldn’t be able to fund welfare programs. The stock, bond and real estate markets would collapse, wiping out the asset base of rich people.

It would be a huge social upset. But most of the real wealth in the world would still exist, it’s just that a lot of it would change ownership. And the dollar would still exist—there’d just be many fewer of them. Production and commerce could continue. At least until the cries go out for the government to “do something.”

But hyperinflation will be an even bigger disaster. And that’s what we’re going to get. Money will drop radically in value, making production and consumption much, much harder. Foreigners will dump trillions of them, sending them back to the US in exchange for real wealth. There’ll be even more unemployment than with deflation. But the profligate—those who’d borrowed a lot to live above their means—will be rewarded, while prudent savers will be punished. Shaky, overindebted corporations might survive, while productive ones with fat balance sheets will lose. Worse, governments will have their debts erased, and therefore might even grow in power. They’ll definitely “do something,” they always do in time of chaos. Stocks and real estate could first crash, then soar as people try to get out of dollars and into assets. This will benefit the rich, at least in relative terms.

At this late stage either type of depression will result in not just financial and economic, but in social and political chaos. It won’t be fun. In a depression everybody loses. The winners are just those who lose least. And a few speculators that get lucky. Hopefully we’ll be among them.

Given a choice—and they have a choice, based on whether they keep printing or not—the government and the Fed will definitely veer towards more inflation. Everyone in office just hopes to kick the can down the road for at least one more cycle.

Frankly, I was surprised that things didn’t go over a cliff in 2008 when we entered this most recent hurricane. And I’ve been surprised that things have held together as well as they have during the long “eye of the storm.” But governments and central banks around the world have already printed up scores of trillions of new currency units, and reduced interest rates to zero and below. What can they do when we go into the trailing edge of the hurricane?

My guess is that they’ll repeat their actions so far. Print more money and try to take interest rates even lower. The result will be hyperinflation, or close to it. And lots of new government controls of all types.

Why is this - strictly relatively speaking - good news for us? Because more money printing means more bubbles will be created. And while bubbles are the enemies of a sound economy, they’re the friend of the speculator. The current mania in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is an example.

In particular, I’m looking forward to a bubble in commodities in general (most are down 50% from the previous peak in 2011), and precious metals in particular. And not just a bubble, but a hyper bubble in mining stocks.

So, if I’m right, in the next few years we could stand to make a fortune while the world is falling apart. I know - that sounds harsh to be eating caviar while the masses are forced to grub for roots and berries. But, as Ayn Rand said when asked what you should do about the poor: “Just make sure you’re not one of them.”

*  *  *

Every month, Doug shares his unique insights in The Casey Report, our flagship publication. If you sign up today, you’ll get complete access to all of our archived content, including recent essays by Doug on the Greater Depression, the migrant crisis, the crypto mania, technology, and much more. You’ll also receive specific, actionable advice to help you protect and grow your personal financial empire. You can sign up for a risk-free trial of The Casey Report right here.

Published:11/27/2017 7:10:21 PM
[Afghanistan] Thanksgiving 2017 - David Stockman Explains Why There Is No Peace On Earth

Authored by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow's White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.

To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

We have elaborated more fully on this proposition in "The Epochal Consequences Of Woodrow Wilson's War", but the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 26 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

In fact, the War Party entrenched in the nation's capital is dedicated to economic interests and ideological perversions that guarantee perpetual war; they ensure endless waste on armaments and the inestimable death and human suffering that stems from 21st century high tech warfare and the terrorist blowback it inherently generates among those upon which the War Party inflicts its violent hegemony.

In short, there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77-year war ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch.

So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world.

In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1991 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.

In fact, during the past 26 years Imperial Washington has lost all memory that peace was ever possible at the end of the cold war. Today it is as feckless, misguided and bloodthirsty as were Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna and London in August 1914.

Back then a few months after the slaughter had been unleashed, soldiers along the western front broke into spontaneous truces of Christmas celebration, singing and even exchange of gifts. For a brief moment they wondered why they were juxtaposed in lethal combat along the jaws of hell.

The truthful answer is that there was no good reason. The world had stumbled into war based on false narratives and the institutional imperatives of military mobilization plans, alliances and treaties arrayed into a doomsday machine and petty short-term diplomatic maneuvers and political calculus. Yet it took more than three-quarters of a century for all the consequential impacts and evils to be purged from the life of the planet.

The peace that was lost last time has not been regained this time for the same reasons. Historians can readily name the culprits from 100 years ago, such as the German general staff's plan for a lightening mobilization and strike on the western front called the Schlieffen Plan or Britain's secret commitments to France to guard the North Sea while the latter covered the Mediterranean.

Since these casus belli of 1914 were criminally trivial in light of all that metastisized thereafter, it might do well to name the institutions and false narratives that block the return of peace today. The fact is, these impediments are even more contemptible than the forces that crushed the Christmas truces one century ago.

Imperial Washington - Global Menace

There is no peace on earth today for reasons mainly rooted in Imperial Washington - not Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Damascus, Mosul or Raqqah. The former has become a global menace owing to what didn't happen in 1991.

What should have happened is that Bush the elder should have declared "mission accomplished" and slashed the Pentagon budget from $600 billion to $200 billion; demobilized the military-industrial complex by putting a moratorium on all new weapons development, procurement and export sales; dissolved NATO and dismantled the far-flung network of US military bases; slashed the US standing armed forces from 1.5 million to a few hundred thousand; and organized and led a world disarmement and peace campaign, as did his Republican predecessors during the 1920s.

Unfortunately, George H.W. Bush was not a man of peace, vision or even mediocre intelligence. He was the malleable tool of the War Party, and it was he who single-handedly blew the peace when he plunged America into a petty arguement between the impetuous dictator of Iraq and the gluttonous Emir of Kuwait that was none of our business.

By contrast, even though liberal historians have reviled Warren G. Harding as some kind of dumbkopf politician, he well understood that the Great War had been for naught, and that to insure it never happened again the nations of the world needed to rid themselves of their huge navies and standing armies.

To that end, he achieved the largest global disarmament agreement ever during the Washington Naval conference of 1921, which halted the construction of new battleships for more than a decade.

And while he was at it, President Harding also pardoned Eugene Debs. So doing, he gave witness to the truth that the intrepid socialist candidate for president and vehement anti-war protestor, who Wilson had thrown in prison for exercising his first amendment right to speak against US entry into a pointless European war, had been right all along.

In short, Warren G. Harding knew the war was over, and the folly of Wilson's 1917 plunge into Europe's bloodbath should not be repeated at all hazards.

Not George H.W. Bush. The man should never be forgiven for enabling the likes of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Gates and their neocon pack of jackals to come to power----even if he has denounced them in his bumbling old age.

Even more to the point, by opting not for peace but for war and oil in the Persian Gulf in 1991 he opened the gates to an unnecessary confrontation with Islam and nurtured the rise of jihadist terrorism that would not haunt the world today save for forces unleashed by George Bush's petulant quarrel with Saddam Hussein.

We will momentarily get to the 45-year old error that holds the Persian Gulf is an American Lake and that the answer to high old prices and energy security is the Fifth Fleet. Actually, the answer to high oil prices everywhere and always is high oil prices-----a truth driven home in spades again two years ago when the Brent oil price plunged below $35 per barrel.

But first it is well to remember that there was no plausible threat anywhere on the planet to the safety and security of the citizens of Springfield MA, Lincoln NE or Spokane WA when the cold war ended.

The Warsaw Pact had dissolved into more than a dozen woebegone sovereign statelets; the Soviet Union was now unscrambled into 15 independent and far-flung Republics from Belarus to Tajikistan; and the Russian motherland would soon plunge into an economic depression that would leave it with a GDP about the size of the Philadelphia SMSA.

Likewise, China's GDP was even smaller and more primitive than Russia's. Even as Mr. Deng was discovering the PBOC printing press that would enable it to become a great mercantilist exporter, an incipient threat to national security was never in the cards. After all, it was 4,000 Wal-Marts in America upon which the prosperity of the new red capitalism inextricably depended and upon which the rule of the communist oligarchs in Beijing was ultimately anchored.

No Islamic Or Jihadi Terrorist Threat Circa 1990

In 1991 there was no global Islamic threat or jihadi terrorist menace at all. What existed under those headings were sundry fragments and deposits of middle eastern religious, ethnic and tribal history that were of moment in their immediate region, but no threat to America whatsoever.

The Shiite/Sunni divide had co-existed since 671AD, but its episodic eruptions into battles and wars over the centuries had rarely extended beyond the region, and certainly had no reason to fester into open conflict in 1991.

Inside the artificial state of Iraq, which had been drawn on a map by  historically ignorant European diplomats in 1916, for instance, the Shiite and Sunni got along tolerably well. That's because the nation was ruled by Saddam Hussein's Baathist brand of secular Arab nationalism.

The latter championed law and order, state driven economic development and politically apportioned distribution from the spoils of the extensive government controlled oil sector. To be sure, Baathist socialism didn't bring much prosperity to the well-endowed lands of Mesopotamia, but Hussein did have a Christian foreign minister and no sympathy for religious extremism or violent pursuit of sectarian causes.

As it happened, the bloody Shiite/Sunni strife that plagues Iraq today and functions as a hatchery for angry young jihadi terrorists in their thousands was unleashed only after Hussein had been driven from Kuwait and the CIA had instigated an armed uprising in the Shiite heartland around Basra. That revolt was brutally suppressed by Hussein's republican guards, but it left an undertow of resentment and revenge boiling below the surface.

Needless to say, the younger Bush and his cabal of neocon warmongers could not leave well enough alone. When they foolishly destroyed Saddam Hussein and his entire regime in the pursuit of nonexistent WMDs and ties with al-Qaeda, they literally opened the gates of hell, leaving Iraq as a lawless failed state where both recent and ancient religious and tribal animosities are given unlimited violent vent.

Likewise, the Shiite theocracy ensconced in Tehran was an unfortunate albatross on the Persian people, but it was no threat to America's safety and security. The very idea that Tehran is an expansionist power bent on exporting terrorism to the rest of the world is a giant fiction and tissue of lies invented by the Washington War Party and its Bibi Netanyahu branch in order to win political support for their confrontationist policies.

Indeed, the three decade long demonization of Iran has served one over-arching purpose. Namely, it enabled both branches of the War Party to conjure up a fearsome enemy, thereby justifying aggressive policies that call for a constant state of war and military mobilization.

When the cold-war officially ended in 1991, the Cheney/neocon cabal feared the kind of drastic demobilization of the US military-industrial complex that was warranted by the suddenly more pacific strategic environment. In response, they developed an anti-Iranian doctrine that was explicitly described as a way of keeping defense spending at high cold war levels.

And the narrative they developed to this end is one of the more egregious Big Lies ever to come out of the beltway. It puts you in mind of the young boy who killed his parents, and then threw himself on the mercy of the courts on the grounds that he was an orphan!

To wit, during the 1980s the neocons in the Reagan Administration issued their own fatwa again the Islamic Republic based on its rhetorical hostility to America. Yet that enmity was grounded in Washington’s 25-year support for the tyrannical and illegitimate regime of the Shah, and constituted a founding narrative of the Islamic Republic that was not much different than America's revolutionary castigation of King George.

That the Iranians had a case is beyond doubt. The open US archives now prove that the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953 and put the utterly unsuited and megalomaniacal Mohammad Reza Shah on the peacock throne to rule as a puppet in behalf of US security and oil interests.

During the subsequent decades the Shah not only massively and baldly plundered the wealth of the Persian nation; with the help of the CIA and US military, he also created a brutal secret police force known as the Savak. The latter made the East German Stasi look civilized by comparison.

All elements of Iranian society including universities, labor unions, businesses, civic organizations, peasant farmers and many more were subjected to intense surveillance by the Savak agents and paid informants. As one critic described it:

Over the years, Savak became a law unto itself, having legal authority to arrest, detain, brutally interrogate and torture suspected people indefinitely. Savak operated its own prisons in Tehran, such as Qezel-Qalaeh and Evin facilities and many suspected places throughout the country as well. Many of those activities were carried out without any institutional checks.

Ironically, among his many grandiose follies, the Shah embarked on a massive civilian nuclear power campaign in the 1970s, which envisioned literally paving the Iranian landscape with dozens of nuclear power plants.

He would use Iran’s surging oil revenues after 1973 to buy all the equipment required from Western companies - and also fuel cycle support services such as uranium enrichment - in order to provide his kingdom with cheap power for centuries.

At the time of the Revolution, the first of these plants at Bushehr was nearly complete, but the whole grandiose project was put on hold amidst the turmoil of the new regime and the onset of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran in September 1980. As a consequence, a $2 billion deposit languished at the French nuclear agency that had originally obtained it from the Shah to fund a ramp-up of its enrichment capacity to supply his planned battery of reactors.

Indeed, in this very context the new Iranian regime proved quite dramatically that it was not hell bent on obtaining nuclear bombs or any other weapons of mass destruction. In the midst of Iraq's unprovoked invasion of Iran in the early 1980s the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against biological and chemical weapons.

Yet at that very time, Saddam was dropping these horrific weapons on Iranian battle forces - some of them barely armed teenage boys - with the spotting help of CIA tracking satellites and the concurrence of Washington. So from the very beginning, the Iranian posture was wholly contrary to the War Party’s endless blizzard of false charges about its quest for nukes.

However benighted and medieval its religious views, the theocracy which rules Iran does not consist of demented war mongers. In the heat of battle they were willing to sacrifice their own forces rather than violate their religious scruples to counter Saddam’s WMDs.

Then in 1983 the new Iranian regime decided to complete the Bushehr power plant and some additional elements of the Shah’s grand plan. But when they attempted to reactivate the French enrichment services contract and buy necessary power plant equipment from the original German suppliers they were stopped cold by Washington. And when the tried to get their $2 billion deposit back, they were curtly denied that, too.

To make a long story short, the entire subsequent history of off again/on again efforts by the Iranians to purchase dual use equipment and components on the international market, often from black market sources like Pakistan, was in response to Washington’s relentless efforts to block its legitimate rights as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to complete some parts of the Shah’s civilian nuclear project.

Needless to say, it did not take much effort by the neocon “regime change” fanatics which inhabited the national security machinery, especially after the 2000 election, to spin every attempt by Iran to purchase even a lowly pump or pipe fitting as evidence of a secret campaign to get the bomb.

The exaggerations, lies, distortions and fear-mongering which came out of this neocon campaign are truly disgusting. Yet they incepted way back in the early 1990s when George H.W. Bush actually did reach out to the newly elected government of Hashemi Rafsanjani to bury the hatchet after it had cooperated in obtaining the release of American prisoners being held in Lebanon in 1989.

The latter was self-evidently a pragmatist who did not want conflict with the United States and the West; and after the devastation of the eight year war with Iraq was wholly focused on economic reconstruction and even free market reforms of Iran's faltering economy.

It is one of the great tragedies of history that the neocons managed to squelch even George Bush's better instincts with respect to rapprochement with Tehran.

So the prisoner release opening was short-lived---especially after the top post at the CIA was assumed in 1991 by Robert Gates. He was one of the very worst of the unreconstructed cold war apparatchiks who looked peace in the eye, and elected, instead, to pervert John Quincy Adams' wise maxim by searching the globe for monsters to fabricate.

In this case the motivation was especially loathsome. Gates had been Bill Casey's right hand man during the latter's rogue tenure at the CIA in the Reagan administration. Among the many untoward projects that Gates shepherded was the Iran-Contra affair that nearly destroyed his career when it blew-up, and for which he blamed the Iranian's for its public disclosure.

From his post as deputy national security director in 1989 and then as CIA head Gates pulled out all the stops to get even. Almost single-handedly he killed-off the White House goodwill from the prisoner release, and launched the blatant myth that Iran was both sponsoring terrorism and seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.

Indeed, it was Gates who was the architect of the demonization of Iran that became a staple of War Party propaganda after the 1991. In time that morphed into the utterly false claim that Iran is an aggressive would be hegemon that is a fount of terrorism and is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, among other treacherous purposes.

That giant lie was almost single-handedly fashioned by the neocons and Bibi Netanyahu's coterie of power-hungry henchman after the mid-1990s. Indeed, the false claim that Iran posses an “existential threat” to Israel is a product of the pure red meat domestic Israeli politics that have kept Bibi in power for much of the last two decades.

But the truth is Iran has only a tiny fraction of Israel's conventional military capability. And compared to the latter's 200 odd nukes, Iran has never had a nuclear weaponization program after a small scale research program was ended in 2003.

That is not merely our opinion. It's been the sober assessment of the nation's top 17 intelligence agencies in the official National Intelligence Estimates ever since 2007. And now in conjunction with a further study in conjunction with the nuclear accord that will straight-jacket even Iran's civilian program and eliminate most of its enriched uranium stock piles and spinning capacity, the IAEA has also concluded the Iran had no secret program after 2003.

On the political and foreign policy front, Iran is no better or worse than any of the other major powers in the Middle East. In many ways it is far less of a threat to regional peace and stability than the military butchers who now run Egypt on $1.5 billion per year of US aid.

And it is surely no worse than the corpulent tyrants who squander the massive oil resources of Saudi Arabia in pursuit of unspeakable opulence and decadence to the detriment of the 30 million citizens which are not part of the regime, and who one day may well reach the point of revolt.

When it comes to the support of terrorism, the Saudis have funded more jihadists and terrorists throughout the region than Iran ever even imagined.

Myth Of The Shiite Crescent

In this context, the War Party’s bloviation about Iran’s leadership of the so-called Shiite Crescent is another component of Imperial Washington's 26-year long roadblock to peace. Iran wasn't a threat to American security in 1991, and it has never since then organized a hostile coalition of terrorists that require Washington's intervention.

Start with Iran's long-standing support of Bashir Assad's government in Syria. That alliance that goes back to his father’s era and is rooted in the historic confessional politics of the Islamic world.

The Assad regime is Alawite, a branch of the Shiite, and despite the regime’s brutality, it has been a bulwark of protection for all of Syria’s minority sects, including Christians, against a majority-Sunni ethnic cleansing. The latter would surely have occurred if the Saudi (and Washington) supported rebels, led by the Nusra Front and ISIS, had succeeded in taking power.

Likewise, the fact that the Bagdhad government of the broken state of Iraq——that is, the artificial 1916 concoction of two stripped pants European diplomats (Messrs. Sykes and Picot of the British and French foreign offices, respectively)——–is now aligned with Iran is also a result of confessional politics and geo-economic propinquity.

For all practical purposes, the Kurds of the northeast have declared their independence; and the now "liberated" western Sunni lands of the upper Euphrates have been physically and economically destroyed---- after first being conquered by ISIS with American weapons dropped in place by the hapless $25 billion Iraqi army minted by Washington’s departing proconsuls.

Accordingly, what is left of Iraq is a population that is overwhelmingly Shiite, and which nurses bitter resentments after two decades of violent conflict with the Sunni forces. Why in the world, therefore, wouldn’t they ally with their Shiite neighbor?

Likewise, the claim that Iran is now trying to annex Yemen is pure claptrap. The ancient territory of Yemen has been racked by civil war off and on since the early 1970s.  And a major driving force of that conflict has been confessional differences between the Sunni south and the Shiite north.

In more recent times, Washington’s blatant drone war inside Yemen against alleged terrorists and its domination and financing of Yemen’s governments eventually produced the same old outcome. That is, another failed state and an illegitimate government which fled at the 11th hour, leaving another vast cache of American arms and equipment behind.

Accordingly, the Houthis forces now in control of substantial parts of the country are not some kind of advanced guard sent in by Tehran. They are indigenous partisans who share a confessional tie with Iran, but which have actually been armed by the US.

And the real invaders in this destructive civil war are the Saudis, whose vicious bombing campaign against civilian populations controlled by the Houthis are outright war crimes if the word has any meaning at all.

Finally, there is the fourth element of the purported Iranian axis—–the Hezbollah controlled Shiite communities of southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.  Like everything else in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a product of historical European imperialism, Islamic confessional politics and the frequently misguided and counterproductive security policies of Israel.

In the first place, Lebanon was not any more a real country than Iraq was when Sykes and Picot laid their straight-edged rulers on a map. The result was a stew of religious and ethnic divisions—-Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Copts, Druse, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Kurds, Armenians, Jews and countless more—– that made the fashioning of a viable state virtually impossible.

At length, an alliance of Christians and Sunnis gained control of the country, leaving the 40% Shiite population disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged, as well. But it was the inflow of Palestinian refugees in the 1960s and 1970s that eventually upset the balance of sectarian forces and triggered a civil war that essentially lasted from 1975 until the turn of the century.

It also triggered a catastrophically wrong-headed Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, and a subsequent repressive occupation of mostly Shiite territories for the next eighteen years. The alleged purpose of this invasion was to chase the PLO and Yassir Arafat out of the enclave in southern Lebanon that they had established after being driven out of Jordan in 1970.

Eventually Israel succeeded in sending Arafat packing to north Africa, but in the process created a militant, Shiite-based resistance movement that did not even exist in 1982, and which in due course became the strongest single force in Lebanon’s fractured domestic political arrangements.

After Israel withdrew in 2000, the then Christian President of the county made abundantly clear that Hezbollah had become a legitimate and respected force within the Lebanese polity, not merely some subversive agent of Tehran:

“For us Lebanese, and I can tell you the majority of Lebanese, Hezbollah is a national resistance movement. If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have liberated our land. And because of that, we have big esteem for the Hezbollah movement.”[

So, yes, Hezbollah is an integral component of the so-called Shiite Crescent and its confessional and political alignment with Tehran is entirely plausible. But that arrangement—-however uncomfortable for Israel—–does not represent unprovoked Iranian aggression on Israel’s northern border.

Instead, it’s actually the blowback from the stubborn refusal of Israeli governments—–especially the rightwing Likud governments of modern times—–to deal constructively with the Palestinian question.

In lieu of a two-state solution in the territory of Palestine, therefore, Israeli policy has produced a chronic state of war with nearly half the Lebanese population represented by Hezbollah.

The latter is surely no agency of peaceful governance and has committed its share of atrocities. But the point at hand is that given the last 35 years of history and Israeli policy, Hezbollah would exist as a menacing force on its northern border even if the theocracy didn't exist and the Shah or his heir was still on the Peacock Throne.

In short, there is no alliance of terrorism in the Shiite Crescent that threatens American security. That proposition is simply one of the Big Lies that was promulgated by the War Party after 1991; and which has been happily embraced by Imperial Washington since then in order to keep the military/industrial/security complex alive, and justify its self-appointed role as policeman of the world.

Washington's Erroneous View That The Persian Gulf Should Be An American Lake - The Root Of Sunni Jihaddism

Likewise, the terrorist threat that has arisen from the Sunni side of the Islamic divide is largely of Washington's own making; and it is being nurtured by  endless US meddling in the region's politics and by the bombing and droning campaigns against Washington's self-created enemies.

At the root of Sunni based terrorism is the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.

That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 42 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market.

Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Revolutionary Guards of Iran has produced oil—-and all they could because they desperately needed the revenue.

For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milk every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east, and most especially for its long-time alliance with the despicable regime of Saudi Arabia.

The truth is, there is no such thing as an OPEC cartel——virtually every member produces all they can and cheats whenever possible. The only thing that resembles production control in the global oil market is the fact that the Saudi princes treat their oil reserves not much differently than Exxon.

That is, they attempt to maximize the present value of their 270 billion barrels of reserves, but ultimately are no more clairvoyant at calibrating the best oil price to accomplish that than are the economists at Exxon or the IEA.

The Saudis over-estimated the staying power of China’s temporarily surging call on global supply; and under-estimated how rapidly and extensively the $100 per barrel marker reached in early 2008 would trigger a flow of investment, technology and cheap debt into the US shale patch, the Canadian tar sands, the tired petroleum provinces of Russia, the deep offshore of Brazil etc. And that’s to say nothing of solar, wind and all the other government subsidized alternative source of BTUs.

Way back when Jimmy Carter was telling us to turn down the thermostats and put on our cardigan sweaters, those of us on the free market side of the so-called energy shortage debate said the best cure for high oil prices is high prices. Now we know.

So the Fifth Fleet and its overt and covert auxiliaries should never have been there—–going all the way back to the CIA’s coup against Iranian democracy in 1953.

But having turned Iran into an enemy, Imperial Washington was just getting started when 1990 rolled around. Once again in the name of “oil security” it plunged the American war machine into the politics and religious fissures of the Persian Gulf; and did so on account of a local small potatoes conflict that had no bearing whatsoever on the safety and security of American citizens.

As US ambassador Glaspie rightly told Saddam Hussein on the eve of his Kuwait invasion, America had no dog in that hunt.

Kuwait wasn’t even a country; it was a bank account sitting on a swath of oilfields surrounding an ancient trading city that had been abandoned by Ibn Saud in the early 20th century.

That’s because he didn’t know what oil was or that it was there; and, in any event, it had been made a separate protectorate by the British in 1913 for reasons that are lost in the fog of diplomatic history.

Likewise, Iraq’s contentious dispute with Kuwait had been over its claim that the Emir of Kuwait was “slant drilling” across his border into Iraq’s Rumaila field. Yet it was a wholly elastic boundary of no significance whatsoever.

In fact, the dispute over the Rumaila field started in 1960 when an Arab League declaration arbitrarily marked the Iraq–Kuwait border two miles north of the southernmost tip of the Rumaila field.

And that newly defined boundary, in turn, had come only 44 years after a pair of English and French diplomats had carved up their winnings from the Ottoman Empire’s demise by laying a straight edged ruler on the map. So doing, they thereby confected the artificial country of Iraq from the historically independent and hostile Mesopotamian provinces of the Shiite in the south, the Sunni in the west and the Kurds in the north.

In short, it did not matter who controlled the southern tip of the Rumaila field—–the brutal dictator of Baghdad or the opulent Emir of Kuwait. Not the price of oil, nor the peace of America nor the security of Europe nor the future of Asia depended upon it.

The First Gulf War - A Catastrophic Error

But once again Bush the Elder got persuaded to take the path of war. This time it was by Henry Kissinger’s  economically illiterate protégés at the national security council and his Texas oilman Secretary of State. They falsely claimed that the will-o-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia.

That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of crusader boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-trained Mujahedeen of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The 1991 CNN glorified war games in the Gulf also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national security fanatics who had mislead Ronald Reagan into a massive military build-up to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear war winning capabilities and global conquest.

All things being equal, the sight of Boris Yeltsin, Vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army a few months later should have sent them into the permanent repudiation and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz managed to extract from Washington’s pyric victory in Kuwait a whole new lease on life for Imperial Washington.

Right then and there came the second erroneous predicate. To wit, that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the middle east was in America’s national interest.

More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the Gulf War proved it could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation.

What the neocon doctrine of regime change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that utlimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world which threaten normal civilian life in the West are the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the middle east.

The CIA trained and armed Mujahedeen mutated into al-Qaeda not because Bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty.

His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the Sunni regime in Bagdad after 1991.

Yes, Bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history.

The younger Bush’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled-up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But Shock and Awe blew the lid and the de-baathification campaign unleashed the furies.

Indeed, no sooner had George Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a CIA recruit to the Afghan war a decade earlier and small-time specialist in hostage-taking and poisons, fled his no count redoubt in Kurdistan to emerge as a flamboyant agitator in the now disposed Sunni heartland.

The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers.

Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about the demise of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized Republican Guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners.

How a US prison camp helped create ISIS

As one former US Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it,

You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,” Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. “When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, ‘If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood.’ ”

 

What Gray didn’t know — but might have expected — was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca.

 

And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history.

 

Early in Bucca’s existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound — and, in any event, the guards didn’t speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice.

 

…….Bucca also housed Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air-defense force. Bakr was no religious zealot. He was just a guy who lost his job when the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi military and instituted de-Baathification, a policy of banning Saddam’s past supporters from government work.

 

According to documents recently obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Bakr was the real mastermind behind ISIS’s organizational structure and also mapped out the strategies that fueled its early successes. Bakr, who died in fighting in 2014, was incarcerated at Bucca from 2006-’08, along with a dozen or more of ISIS’s top lieutenants.

The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities.

In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal, but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to the Shiite majority.

After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA?  Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan that had been denied their 30 million strong tribe way back at Versailles and ever since?

Yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a national army.

In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. It wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria.

ISIS Is Washington's Frankenstein

Its instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters.

And that wasn’t the half of it. The newly proclaimed Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington inspired and financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The latter were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door; they are the living embodiment of it. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying gas pipelines to Europe across the upper Euphrates Valley.

In any event, ISIS soon had troves of additional American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Gaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey. And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side.

So that the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene 18 months ago. But even then the Washington war party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century.

But if bombing really worked, the Islamic State would be sand and gravel by now. Indeed, as shown by the map below, it is really not much more than that anyway.

The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed out precincts of Anbar province do not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the middle east and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offers prosperity, salvation or any future at all.

What recruits them is outrage at the bombs and drones being dropped on Sunni communities by the US air force; and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean which rip apart homes, shops, offices and mosques containing as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists.

The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It was contained by the Kurds in the north and east and by Turkey with NATO’s second largest army and air force in the northwest. And it was surrounded by the Shiite crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq.

So absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiesce in their horrific rule in due course.

But with the US Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell have been opened wide. What has been puked out is not an organized war on Western civilization as Hollande so hysterically proclaimed in response to the mayhem in Paris.

It was just blowback carried out by that infinitesimally small salient of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt.

Needless to say, bombing wont stop them; it will just make more of them.

Ironically, what can stop them is the Assad government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies. Its time to let them settle an ancient quarrel that has never been any of America’s business anyway.

But Imperial Washington is so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it can not see the obvious.

And that is why a quarter century after the cold war ended peace still hasn’t been given a chance and the reason that horrific events like November's barbarism in Paris still keep happening.

Even the so-called "inspired" terrorists like the pair who attacked San Bernardino emerge episodically because the terror that the American military visits upon Muslim lands is actually what inspires them. After all, whatever the Koran has to say about purging the infidel, it inspired no attacks on American soil until Imperial Washington went into the regime change and military intervention business in the middle east.

Another False Demon - Putin's Russia

At the end of the day there now exists a huge irony. The only force that can effectively contain and eventually eliminate the Islamic State is the so-called Shiite Crescent - the alliance of Iran, Baghdad, Assad and Hezbollah.

But since they are allied with Putin's Russia, still another unnecessary barrier to peace on earth comes into play.

The fact is, there is no basis whatsoever for Imperial Washington's relentless campaign against Putin, and Washington-NATO's blatant intervention in Ukraine.

Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America has no interest in the current spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014.

For several centuries the Crimea has been Russian; for even longer, the Ukraine has been a cauldron of ethnic and tribal conflict, rarely an organized, independent state, and always a meandering set of borders looking for a redrawn map.

Like everything reviewed above, the source of the current calamity-howling about Russia is the Warfare State–that is, the existence of vast machinery of military, diplomatic and economic maneuver that is ever on the prowl for missions and mandates and that can mobilize a massive propaganda campaign on the slightest excitement.

The post-1991 absurdity of bolstering NATO and extending it into eastern Europe, rather than liquidating it after attaining “mission accomplished”, is just another manifestation of its baleful impact. In truth, the expansion of NATO is one of the underlying causes of America’s needless tension with Russia and Putin’s paranoia about his borders and neighbors. Indeed, what juvenile minds actually determined that America needs a military alliance with Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, and now Montenegro!

So the resounding clatter for action against Russia emanating from Washington and its house-trained media is not even a semi-rational response to the facts at hand; its just another destructive spasm of the nation’s Warfare State and its beltway machinery of diplomatic meddling, economic warfare and military intervention.

Memo To Obama: It’s Their Red Line

Not only does Washington’s relentless meddling in the current Russian- Ukrainian food fight have nothing to do with the safety and security of the American people, it also betrays woeful disregard for the elementary facts of that region’s turbulent and often bloody history.

In fact, the allegedly “occupied” territory of Crimea was actually annexed by Catherine the Great in 1783, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. Over the ages Sevastopol then emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the commissars.

For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia—a span that exceeds the 166 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego.

While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian and Polish rifles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland from Turks, Europeans and Brits.

And the portrait of the Russian “hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I—whose brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith, and who was revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans.

At the end of the day, it’s their Red Line. When the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945 he did at least know that he was in Soviet Russia.

Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev in honor of the decision by their ancestors 300 years earlier to accept the inevitable and become a vassal of Russia.

Self-evidently, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of the Ukraine—with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990’s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.

In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848 and in the 166-year interval since then, our national security has depended not one wit on the status of the Russian-speaking Crimea.

That the local population has now chosen fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev is their business, not ours.

The real threat to peace is not Putin, but the screeching sanctimony and mindless meddling of Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Obama should have sent them back to geography class long  ago-------and before they could draw anymore new Red Lines.

The one in the Ukraine has been morphing for centuries among the quarreling tribes, peoples, potentates, Patriarchs and pretenders of a small region that is none of our damn business.

The current Ukrainian policy farce emanating from Washington is not only a reminder that the military-industrial-beltway complex is still alive and well, but also demonstrates why the forces of crony capitalism and money politics which sustain it are so lamentable. The fact is, the modern Warfare State has been the incubator of American imperialism since the Cold War, and is now proving itself utterly invulnerable to fiscal containment, even in the face of a $19 trillion national debt.

So 101 years after the Christmas truces along the Western Front there is still no peace on earth. And the long suffering American taxpayers, who foot the massive bills generated by the War Party's demented and destructive policies, have no clue that Imperial Washington is the principal reason.

Published:11/26/2017 10:37:56 PM
[B+] Doug Casey On Why Race Will Break America Apart, Part II

Via CaseyResearch.com,

Today, Doug and I continue our conversation on why the U.S. could dissolve over time. Doug says the problems are all bubbling to the surface…and when the U.S. eventually breaks apart “it will not be peaceful.” (If you missed Part I, you can catch up right here.)

Justin: What about political tensions? Because, as I’m sure you’ve seen, the far-left and far-right are becoming more and more antagonistic. In some cases, they’ve even become violent towards each other.

Could radical political ideologies cause the country to break apart?

Doug: Yes, I think so.

In the late ‘60s and the early ‘70s, hundreds of bombings took place at universities, banks, and all kinds of places. The National Guard was in cities like Detroit during the riots, and they were raking buildings with .50 caliber machine guns. It was wild.

I don’t think most remember this. At least, I don’t see it being brought up anywhere.

I lived in Washington DC then. It seemed like there was tear gas in the air half the time I went out on a date on a Friday or Saturday night.

But as wild and wooly as things were back then, what we have now is much more serious.

The racial element is still there, but the ideological element is even more pronounced.

In those days, people at least talked to each other. You could have a disagreement, and it was a simple difference of opinion.

It’s much worse now. Today, there’s a visceral hatred between the left and the right, between the people that live in the so-called red counties and blue counties.

You add that to the racial situation. Then throw in the fact that the rich are getting richer at an exponential rate while the middle class is disappearing.

And let’s not forget the large-scale subsidized migration of people from totally alien Third World hellholes. This is not what the U.S. was founded on. Before changes in the immigration law that were made in the ‘60s, immigrants were culturally compatible opportunity seekers that were coming to America to improve themselves.

Now, people from all kinds of alien places are being imported by the hundreds of thousands by NGOs; they then go on welfare in enclaves in different places around the country. This is unlikely to end well. The U.S. is no longer a country.

That said, I’m actually for open borders. But it’s only possible if, A, there is zero welfare to attract the wrong types. And, B, all property was privately owned, to help ensure everyone is self-supporting.

Justin: But Doug, aren’t you against large nation states? Would the Divided States of America be better?

Doug: Absolutely. In my ideal world, there would be approximately seven billion little nation states on the planet, all of them independent.

It would be excellent if the U.S. split into smaller entities, where the people that lived in these entities shared more in common with each other.

And let me go further. I think it was a mistake for the U.S. to have come together with the Constitution of 1789. The Articles of Confederation should have stayed in existence, with a few modifications. The Constitutional Convention of 1789 was actually a coup. A successful, non-violent coup. Most people didn’t really care because the government was such a trivial factor in their lives in those days.

I’m just afraid that when the U.S. breaks up, which inevitably it will, it may not be peaceful. The existence of the USA—which is now just one of 200 other nation states, no longer anything special—is not part of the cosmic firmament. The original founding ideas of America expressed in the Declaration of Independence have been lost, washed away. The absence of those principles is why I say it’s going to come to a bad end.

Justin: Do you think the United States will dissolve over time? Or will something set this in motion, possibly a financial or economic crisis?

Doug: An economic crisis always brings things to the fore.

When the standard of living is dropping, the government inevitably finds somebody or something to blame…anything other than itself.

Usually, they point the finger at foreigners. But if you get the wrong people in the government, they can point fingers at domestic enemies, the way the Germans did with the Jews in the ‘30s, or the way the Soviets did with the kulaks at the same time. Or the way the Chinese did with its enemies of the State under Mao. There are many, many other examples. Political power attracts the worst kind of people—and then brings out the worst in them.

Economic turmoil causes social turmoil and political turmoil. And one of the things that scares me most is that if things get spooky within the U.S., people in the government will try to find a foreign enemy in order to “unite” the country.

Incidentally, I don’t feel that uniting the country is necessarily a good idea. It all depends on which direction they’re united towards, and united against what. And do the people of the United States have enough in common anymore to even be united? I think not, in an age of multiculturalism.

There are a lot of problems, and they’re bubbling to the surface. When the economy gets bad, which it will, I think the pot will boil over.

*  *  *

As Doug says, America’s problems are coming to a head. Unfortunately, most investors aren’t prepared for what’s coming. That’s why Doug and his team just released this urgent video that explains everything you need to know about the crisis that’s about to make landfall…and why you need to take action today. Click here to watch it now.

Published:11/24/2017 8:50:09 PM
[8.5%] The Cardinal Sin Of International Finance

Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com,

As Doug Casey has correctly noted, the prime directive of any organism - whether it’s an amoeba or a person or a corporation or a government - is to survive.

That’s why the US government protects the petrodollar so zealously. It needs the system to survive.

Why Everyone Uses the US Dollar… for Now

In the 1970s, the US government struck a series of deals with Saudi Arabia, creating the petrodollar system. The US promised to coddle and protect the Saudi kingdom. And, in exchange, Saudi Arabia would use its dominant position in OPEC to ensure that all oil transactions happened in US dollars.

 

Until recently, virtually anyone who wanted to import oil from any country needed US dollars to pay for it.

 

The dollar is just a middleman here. But countries and businesses use it in countless transactions amounting to trillions of dollars that have nothing to do with US products or services.

 

Plus, if foreign countries are already using dollars for oil, it’s just easier to use the dollar for other international trade. That’s why, in addition to oil sales, the US dollar is used for about 80% of all international transactions.

World leaders who have challenged the petrodollar recently have ended up dead…

Take Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, for example. Each led a large oil-producing country—Iraq and Libya, respectively. And both tried to sell their oil for something other than US dollars, before US military interventions led to their deaths.

In October 2000, Saddam had started to sell Iraqi oil for euros only. Iraq said it would no longer accept dollars for oil because it did not want to deal “in the currency of the enemy.”

A little over two years later, the US invaded. Immediately after Baghdad fell to US forces, all Iraqi oil sales were switched back to dollars.

Thanks to WikiLeaks’ release of Hillary Clinton’s emails, we know that protecting the petrodollar—not humanitarian concerns—was a primary reason for overthrowing Libya’s Gaddafi.

According to her leaked emails, the US (and France) feared that Gaddafi would use Libya’s vast gold reserves to back a pan-African currency. This gold-backed currency would have been used to buy and sell oil in global markets. Also, it would have likely displaced a version of the French franc that’s used in Central and Western Africa.

The US and France backed a rebellion, both militarily and financially, that overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.

After Gaddafi’s death, plans for the gold-backed currency—along with Libya’s 4.6 million ounces of gold—vanished.

Of course there were other reasons the US toppled Saddam and Gaddafi. But protecting the petrodollar was a serious consideration, at the very least.

Putin Is a Tougher Adversary

The dollar’s special status gives Uncle Sam tremendous leverage. So it’s no surprise that Russia wants to undermine the petrodollar system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin summed it up this way:

Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.

Essentially, Putin is saying they all want to ditch the dollar.

That’s largely because the US uses the dollar as a political weapon. For example, the US tried to sanction Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine. These sanctions made it harder for Russia to access the US dollar–based financial system. So of course Russia is going to push for an alternative.

Shortly after the sanctions, Russia struck a massive deal to sell oil and gas to China for yuan. The deal totally bypassed the US financial system… and any sanctions.

China’s Permanent Bypass Around the US Dollar

Russia is the world’s largest energy producer. China is the world’s largest energy importer. Normally, they would trade with each other exclusively in US dollars.

But, as I’ve told you in recent weeks, China is now introducing a more permanent way around that.

I call it China’s “Golden Alternative” to the petrodollar. It’s a streamlined way for Russia and everyone else to sell oil to China for yuan—or effectively gold.

China’s “Golden Alternative” to the Petrodollar

China is launching a practical and attractive alternative to the petrodollar system. It will allow anyone in the world to trade oil for gold. It will also totally bypass the US dollar.

 

Here’s how it will work…

 

The Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) is introducing a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan. It will allow oil producers to sell their oil for yuan.

 

Of course, China knows most oil producers don’t want a large reserve of yuan. So producers will be able to efficiently convert it into physical gold through gold exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Bottom line, two of the biggest players in the global energy market are totally bypassing the petrodollar system.

Informed observers say Russia is already converting a large portion of its yuan earnings to gold.

Of course, other countries are interested in sidestepping the US financial system and US sanctions, too. China’s Golden Alternative will give anyone the option to do just that.

This will make the US dollar a much less effective political weapon.

Other countries on Washington’s naughty list are enthusiastically signing up. Iran, another major oil producer, is accepting yuan as payment. So is Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves.

I think others will soon follow. From the perspective of an oil producer, it’s a no-brainer.

With China’s Golden Alternative, an oil producer can participate in the world’s largest market and try to capture more market share. It can also easily convert and repatriate its proceeds into gold, an international form of money with no political risk.

But this doesn’t apply to one critical holdout… Saudi Arabia.

Twisting the Saudis’ Arm

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. A lot of that oil goes to China, the world’s largest importer.

Beijing still reluctantly pays for Saudi crude in US dollars. The Saudis won’t have it any other way, at least for now.

This bothers China. It can only import Saudi crude by obtaining and then using US dollars. And that, of course, means it has to stay in Washington’s good graces.

Trump’s Treasury secretary really drove this point home recently. He threatened to kick China out of the US dollar system if it didn’t crack down on North Korea.

China would rather not depend on an adversary like this. This is one of the main reasons it’s launching the Golden Alternative.

Saudi Arabia, however, refuses to participate. It won’t sell its oil in anything but US dollars because that would break its longstanding petrodollar agreement with the US.

When China, Russia, and others trade oil for yuan, it’s a significant blow to the petrodollar. But if Saudi Arabia switched to yuan, it would take out the petrodollar… and cause an immediate financial panic in the US.

The truth is selling oil for yuan would cost Saudi Arabia a whole lot.

It would immediately lose American diplomatic and military protection. Then the media and think tanks would quickly start pounding the table for the US military to force democracy on Riyadh.

Last year Trump said, “If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection, I don’t think it would be around.”

He’s absolutely correct.

Of course, the Saudis know all of this. So they’ve been on a short leash… until recently.

In a surprise move, Saudi King Salman recently became the first sitting Saudi monarch to ever visit Russia.

Until recently, the visit would have been unthinkable. Saudi Arabia has been one of the US’ closest allies since the petrodollar system started in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Russia and Saudi Arabia have been enemies for decades. Most recently, the Saudis and Russians have been on opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War.

That’s why King Salman’s historic visit to Moscow is so remarkable. The Saudis are clearly hedging their bets against the US and the petrodollar system.

Saudi Arabia is now drifting closer to Russia.

The Saudis have committed to invest up to $10 billion in various Russian sectors. But, even more significantly, they’ve agreed to buy the S-400 missile system, Russia’s top line air defense system, as part of a $3 billion weapons purchase.

This deal signals a geopolitical earthquake. The Saudis have never bought Russian military equipment before.

Ever since the birth of the petrodollar, the Saudis have depended on American military protection. After all, it’s what they get in return for pricing their oil in dollars.

The S-400 system deal suggests the Saudis are hedging their bets. First, they’re not buying an American system. Second, they’re buying a Russian system that’s capable of deterring an American attack.

Saudi Arabia is making significant moves to give itself alternatives to American protection.

At the same time, China is cutting back on Saudi crude.

A few years ago, Saudi oil made up over 25% of Chinese oil imports. They were Beijing’s No. 1 supplier. Today, the Saudis’ market share has dropped below 15%.

In other words, the Saudis are losing massive market share and getting pushed out of the biggest oil market in the world. This is mainly because they refuse to sell oil to China in yuan.

China has made itself clear. It’s willing to expand business with anyone who will accept yuan as payment.

Today, Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China’s top supplier. Its share of the lucrative Chinese market has grown from 5% to over 15%.

Russia’s enthusiastic acceptance of yuan as payment is the main reason for this shift.

In the meantime, Angola, an African oil producer, has also come on board. The country now accepts yuan as payment for its oil exports to China. It even made the Chinese yuan its second legal currency in 2015.

Chinese imports from Angola have shot up since. It’s now China’s No. 2 supplier, after Russia.

None of this bodes well for the petrodollar system.

The Saudis have two choices… rip up the petrodollar or get shut out of the world’s most lucrative oil market.

One way or another—and probably soon—the Chinese will find a way to compel the Saudis to accept yuan. The sheer size of the Chinese market makes it impossible for Saudi Arabia to ignore China’s demands indefinitely.

What to Watch For…

China might not convince the Saudis to ditch the petrodollar system tomorrow. But it’s making significant progress.

A few months ago, Saudi Arabia announced it was willing to issue Panda bonds to finance its government spending deficit. (Panda bonds are yuan-denominated bonds from non-Chinese issuers that are sold in China.)

This is remarkable. The Saudis’ currency is pegged to the US dollar. Up until this point, they’ve exclusively used US dollars for all of their major financial initiatives.

Issuing debt in yuan—instead of US dollars—is a significant move. It means Saudi Arabia is drifting closer to China.

Also, the Saudis recently inaugurated the massive Yasref refinery in the Saudi city of Yanbu. The refinery is an $8.5 billion joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China’s Sinopec.

These are noticeable steps. But the Saudis still haven’t given China what it really wants—oil for yuan.

However, it could happen soon…

The Largest IPO in History

In the coming months, the Saudis plan to float a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco, the state oil company.

Saudi Aramco is the most valuable company in the world. It will likely be the biggest equity offering ever. It could triple, or even quadruple, Alibaba’s current record initial public offering (IPO) of $25 billion.

The IPO’s success will depend on Saudi Arabia recruiting big cornerstone investors. But so far, Western investors haven’t shown a lot of enthusiasm.

For China, however, it could be the perfect opportunity to buy political influence in Saudi Arabia.

If China bought a large stake in the Aramco IPO, it would help cement its relationship with Saudi Arabia. It would also put more distance between the Saudis and the Americans.

And critically, it would give the Chinese more leverage to compel the Saudis to accept yuan for oil.

China is in the process of negotiating not just a 5% stake, but potentially a larger one.

Bottom line…the Saudis haven’t made a clean break with the US yet. However, they are drifting toward China financially and Russia militarily.

The Saudis are clearly setting up the option to dump the petrodollar.

If the Saudis sell oil to China in yuan, it would kill the petrodollar overnight. However, short of that, things still look very dire for the petrodollar.

The petrodollar system is facing serious erosion, thanks in large part to China’s Golden Alternative. That’s already baked into the cake.

And with that, severe inflation in the US is a certainty.

This will likely be the tipping point…

After the collapse of the petrodollar, the US government will be desperate enough to implement capital controls, people controls, nationalization of retirement savings, and other forms of wealth confiscation.

I urge you to prepare for the economic and sociopolitical fallout while you still can. Expect bigger government, less freedom, shrinking prosperity… and possibly worse.

It’s probably not going to happen tomorrow. But we know where this trend is headed.

It’s possible that one day soon, Americans will wake up to a new reality. Once the petrodollar kicks the bucket and the dollar loses its status as the world’s premier reserve currency, you will have few, if any, options.

The sad truth is, most people have no idea how bad things could get, let alone how to prepare…

Yet there are straightforward steps you can start taking today to protect your savings and yourself from the financial and sociopolitical effects of the collapse of the petrodollar.

We recently released a special Guide to Surviving and Thriving During an Economic Collapse. Click here to download the PDF now.

Published:11/22/2017 6:38:16 PM
[Brazil] Doug Casey On Why Race Will Break The US Apart, Part I

Via CaseyResearch.com,

“America is a marvelous idea, a unique idea, fantastic idea. I’m extremely pro-American. But America has ceased to exist.”

Longtime readers will recognize this. It’s one of Doug Casey’s more memorable quotes.

I’m sharing it with you today because Doug said something last week that touched on this radical idea. He said the United States could break apart due to racial tensions.

Most people haven’t considered this possibility. After all, the U.S. is supposedly a “melting pot” where different races can coexist peacefully.

So, a few days ago, I called Doug to learn why he thinks this. Below is the first part of our discussion.

*  *  *

Justin: Doug, the last time we spoke, you said the United States could break apart because of racial tensions. Why do you think that?

Doug: Well, I used to know a guy by the name of Michael Hart. He would come to our Eris Society meetings in Aspen. Eris was a private annual event I ran for 30 years, for authors, scientists, and people who were well-known for something. It enabled people who might not otherwise meet to get to know each other and exchange ideas. Michael was a university prof, best known for his book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History.

One year, he gave a speech about how the U.S. was going to break up into smaller countries, and part of it would be on racial lines.

I thought that unlikely at the time; it was about 1990. Now, I think Michael may have been right.

I’ll explain why in a minute. But we should first discuss the origins of democracy.

Democracy originated in 6th-century BC Greece. It was a unique and workable method of governance for city-states of a few thousand people. And in the case of Athens, as many as 40,000 people.

But these people all shared a common language. They worshipped the same gods. They were the same ethnicity. They had the same customs and beliefs.

They were like an extended clan with many similarities. Differences were among individuals, not groups.

When the U.S. democracy was started, it was much like that. It was very much like a Greek city-state, an extended one. Everybody shared culture, ethnicity, language, habits, and so forth, with just minor regional differences. People saw themselves first as New Yorkers, Virginians, or whatever, just as the Greeks saw themselves first as Athenians, Thebans, Corinthians, or many scores of other polities.

As you know I don’t believe in democracy, I believe in personal freedom. Democracy is workable enough in something like a cohesive city-state. But absolutely not once voters get involved in economic issues—the poor will always vote themselves a free lunch, and the rich will buy votes to give themselves more. Democracy always devolves into class warfare.

In ancient Greece, if you weren’t a landowner you weren’t respected. In the U.S., voting rules were determined by the States, and originally, everywhere, you had to be a landowner. That meant you had something to lose. But that’s not the case anymore.

Justin: What’s changed?

Doug: For one thing, anybody can vote. People who are penniless. Eighteen-year-olds who have no knowledge or experience and are fresh out of the indoctrination of high school. Lots of non-citizens, probably millions, manage to vote. Voting has become, as H.L. Mencken said, just an advance auction on stolen goods.

For another thing, today, the United States is multicultural. America used to have its own distinct culture; the U.S. no longer stands for anything.

Race is just the most obvious thing that divides people. You can see that somebody’s of a different race just by looking at them. The old saying about birds of a feather flocking together is basically true. It’s very politically incorrect to make that observation, of course. Certainly if you’re white. But it’s factually accurate. Most things that are PC fly in the face of reality.

If people are of a different race, it increases the chances that they’re not going to share other things. The key, for a rational person, is to judge people as individuals. Race, sex, religion, and cultural background are quick indicators of who a person might be. As are dress, accent, attitude, and what they say among many other indicators. You need as much data as you can get to help you judge what the other person will do, and who he is. It’s actually quite stupid to not discriminate among people you encounter. But then the whole PC movement is quite stupid by its very nature.

But, back to the subject, you can’t have a multicultural democracy. And you especially can’t have one where the government is making laws that have to do with economics…where it allocates wealth from one group to another group.

So, sure. The U.S. is going to break apart, and you can certainly see it happening along racial lines. The active racism among many blacks isn’t an anomaly.

Justin: I agree that racial tensions are rising in this country. But that’s clearly not the only source of tension. What else might cause the U.S. to break apart?

Doug: Cultural differences.

The Pacific Northwest draws people who like the idea of ecotopia. Southern California draws a very different type of person than Northern California does. People that live in Las Vegas are quite different from the people that live in Omaha, and very different again from people that live in New York.

The U.S. has turned into a domestic empire. It’s no longer the country that it was when it was founded.

And the constitution itself has changed at least as much. It’s a dead letter. Mainly window dressing. It’s been interpreted out of existence.

Sure, the U.S. is going to break up; throughout history the colors of the map on the wall have always been running. I don’t think the racial situation in the near term is going to get better. And the breakdown of the culture is definitely getting worse.

On the other hand, there’s more racial intermingling and marriage now than there’s ever been in the past. If we look down the road 1,000 years or so, racial distinctions will probably disappear. The average person will probably look like most Brazilians. Brazil, incidentally, is theoretically an integrated country—but there’s still a huge amount of racism. Go farther into the future, when homo sapiens has conquered the planets and hopefully the stars, and we’ll likely transform not only into new races, but new species. But I don’t think any of us are looking that far ahead.

*  *  *

Stay tuned for Part II of our discussion tomorrow. In it, Doug explains why the U.S. is “no longer a country”… And gets into all the problems that are bubbling to the surface…

Published:11/15/2017 10:49:12 PM
[Economy] Doug Casey On The Destruction Of The Dollar

Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

“Inflation” occurs when the creation of currency outruns the creation of real wealth it can bid for... It isn’t caused by price increases; rather, it causes price increases.

Inflation is not caused by the butcher, the baker, or the auto maker, although they usually get blamed. On the contrary, by producing real wealth, they fight the effects of inflation. Inflation is the work of government alone, since government alone controls the creation of currency.

In a true free-market society, the only way a person or organization can legitimately obtain wealth is through production. “Making money” is no different from “creating wealth,” and money is nothing but a certificate of production. In our world, however, the government can create currency at trivial cost, and spend it at full value in the marketplace. If taxation is the expropriation of wealth by force, then inflation is its expropriation by fraud.

To inflate, a government needs complete control of a country’s legal money. This has the widest possible implications, since money is much more than just a medium of exchange. Money is the means by which all other material goods are valued. It represents, in an objective way, the hours of one’s life spent in acquiring it. And if enough money allows one to live life as one wishes, it represents freedom as well. It represents all the good things one hopes to have, do, and provide for others. Money is life concentrated.

As the state becomes more powerful and is expected to provide more resources to selected groups, its demand for funds escalates. Government naturally prefers to avoid imposing more taxes as people become less able (or willing) to pay them. It runs greater budget deficits, choosing to borrow what it needs. As the market becomes less able (or willing) to lend it money, it turns to inflation, selling ever greater amounts of its debt to its central bank, which pays for the debt by printing more money.

As the supply of currency rises, it loses value relative to other things, and prices rise. The process is vastly more destructive than taxation, which merely dissipates wealth. Inflation undermines and destroys the basis for valuing all goods relative to others and the basis for allocating resources intelligently. It creates the business cycle and causes the resulting misallocations and distortions in the economy.

We know the old saw “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” No one ever said life had to be fair, but usually there is no a priori reason why the rich must get richer. In a free-market society the sayings “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” and “A fool and his money are soon parted” might be better descriptions of reality. We do not live in a free-market society, however.

The rich and the poor do have a tendency to draw apart as a society becomes more bureaucratic, but not because of any cosmic law. It’s a consequence of any highly politicized system. Government, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, is where the money is. The bigger government becomes, the more effort the rich, and those who want to get that way, will put into making the government do things their way.

Only the rich can afford the legal counsel it takes to weave and dodge through the laws that restrict the masses.

The rich can afford the accountants to chart a path through loopholes in the tax laws. The rich have the credit to borrow and thereby profit from inflation. The rich can pay to influence how the government distorts the economy, so that the distortions are profitable to them.

The point is not that rich people are bad guys (the political hacks who cater to them are a different question). It is just that in a heavily regulated, highly taxed, and inflationary society, there’s a strong tendency for the rich to get richer at the expense of the poor, who are hurt by the same actions of the government.

Always, and without exception, the most socialistic, or centrally planned, economies have the most unequal distribution of wealth. In those societies the unprincipled become rich, and the rich stay that way, through political power. In free societies, the rich can get richer only by providing goods and services others want at a price they can afford.

As inflation gets worse, there will be a growing public outcry for government to do something, anything, about it.

People will join political action committees, lobbying groups, and political parties in hopes of gaining leverage to impose their will on the country at large, ostensibly for its own good.

Possible government “solutions” will include wage and price controls, credit controls, restrictions on changing jobs, controls on withdrawing money from bank accounts, import and export restrictions, restrictions on the use of cash to prevent tax evasion, nationalization, even martial law—almost anything is possible. None of these “solutions” addresses the root cause—state intervention in the economy. Each will just make things worse rather than better.

What these solutions all share is their political nature; in order to work they require that some people be forced to obey the orders of others.

Whether you or I or a taxi driver on the street thinks a particular solution is good or not is irrelevant. All of the problems that are just beginning to crash down around society’s head (e.g., a bankrupt Social Security system, federally protected banks that are bankrupt, a monetary system gone haywire) used to be solutions, and they must have seemed “good” at the time, otherwise they’d never have been adopted.

The real problem is not what is done but rather how it is done: that is, through the political process or through the free market. The difference is that between coercion and voluntarism. It’s also the difference between getting excited, frustrated, and beating your head against a wall and taking positive action to improve your own standard of living, to live life the way you like it, and, by your own example, to influence society in the direction that you’d like to see it take—but without asking the government to hold a gun to anyone’s head.

Political action can change things. Russians in the ’20s, Germans in the ’30s, Chinese in the ’40s, Cubans in the ’50s, Congolese in the ’60s, South Vietnamese and Cambodians in the ’70s, then Rhodesians, Bosnians, Rwandans, and Venezuelans today are among those who certainly discovered it can. It’s just that the changes usually aren’t very constructive.

That’s the nature of government; it doesn’t create wealth, it only allocates what others have created. More typically, it either dissipates wealth or misallocates it, because it acts in ways that are politically productive (i.e., that gratify and enhance the power of politicians) rather than economically productive (i.e., that allow individuals to satisfy their desires in the ways they prefer).

It’s irresponsible to base your own life on what hundreds of millions of other people and their rulers may or may not do. The essence of being a free person is to be causative over your own actions and destiny, not to be the effect of others. You can’t control what others will do, but you can control yourself.

If you’re counting on other people, or political solutions of some type, most likely it will make you unwary and complacent, secure in the hope that “they” know what they’re doing and you needn’t get yourself all flustered with worries about the collapse of the economy.

*  *  *

Really, there’s no need to get worried or flustered. But you do need to act… now. We think there’s a strong chance widespread economic collapse is just around the corner. That’s why we’ve put together a timely special report, our Guide to Surviving and Thriving During an Economic Collapse. Click here to download your free PDF copy now.

Published:11/11/2017 3:28:52 PM
[8.5%] "It's Been Dismal" - Gold Coin Sales Slump As 'Bugs' Bounce To Bitcoin

Gold prices are rallying, but retail gold dealers and shops are struggling to survive.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, businesses that sell gold coins and other products made from the precious metal usually thrive during years like 2017.

Gold futures have gained more than 10%, boosted by a weaker dollar and by big investors looking for a haven during recent geopolitical tensions surrounding North Korea and Iran.

But despite higher bullion prices and solid demand from not-American-central banks, American Eagle Coin sales by the US Mint in October 2017 are down 87% YoY for gold and down 73% YoY for silver...

h/t @Gloeschi

The weak demand is taking a toll on gold dealers, some of whose sales have dropped as much as 70% compared with last year, according to Jeffrey Christian, managing partner at market-research firm CPM Group.

“It’s been absolutely dismal," said Peter Thomas, senior vice president of metals at Zaner Precious Metals, a Chicago precious-metals dealer.

 

“A lot of guys have been really hurting.”

And as WSJ notes, one reason for the declining business: A number of retail buyers are turning to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to store money during periods of stress, some analysts say.

Bitcoin has “taken some of the dedicated interest in gold away from gold,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz SE, who warned at a CME Group event in September that cryptocurrencies could pose a long-term threat to the precious metal.

 

While gold buyers historically have looked to the precious metal as a place to hide during a market selloff, some suggest that virtual currencies are a new “hedge against chaos.”

 

Mr. Thomas of Zaner Precious Metals said authorized gold purchasers who buy directly from the U.S. Mint have been getting hurt, too, because of waning dealer demand.

 

“They end up having to stockpile coins,” he said.

 

“You would expect gold to be rocking at the present time, but it’s not," said Ross Norman, head of London-based gold dealer Sharps Pixley.

Furthermore, small investors appear to be getting gold exposure though ETFs with more than $8.5 billion flowing into State Street’s gold ETF, the largest gold ETF, since the end of 2015, reversing three years of net outflows and marking the biggest period for inflows since 2009, according to FactSet.

Jim Rickards (and Goldman) recently opined on the Bitcoin vs Gold debate...

From my perspective, you might as well discuss gold versus watermelons or bicycles versus bitcoin. In other words, it’s a phony debate. I agree that gold and bitcoin are both forms of money, but they go their own ways.

There’s no natural relationship between the two (what traders call a “basis”).

The gold/bitcoin basis trade does not exist. But people love to discuss it, and I guess Goldman Sachs is no different.

Goldman Sachs has released a new research report that comes down squarely on the side of gold as a reliable store of wealth rather than bitcoin, which is untested in market turndowns.

Precious metals like gold are “neither a historic accident or a relic,” said the report.

It affirmed that gold is more durable than cryptocurrencies because cryptocurrencies are vulnerable to hacking, government regulation and infrastructure failure during a crisis.

Goldman also reminds us that gold holds its purchasing better than cryptocurrencies and has much less volatility. In dollar terms, bitcoin has had seven times the volatility of gold this year.

Since Goldman’s research department has not been notable as a friend to gold, the fact that they favor gold over bitcoin is highly revealing in more ways than one.

I don’t deny that bitcoin has made some people multimillionaires, but I also believe it’s a massive bubble right now.

I don’t own any bitcoin and I don’t recommend it. My reasons have to do with bubble dynamics, potential for fraud and the prospect of government intrusion.

So bitcoin evangelists seem to think I’m a technophobe. But I’ve read many bitcoin and blockchain technical papers. I “get it” when it comes to the technology.

I even worked with a team of experts and military commanders at U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to find ways to interdict and disrupt ISIS’ use of cryptocurrencies to fund their terrorist activities.

I will say, however, that I believe in the power of the technology platforms on which the cryptocurrencies are based. These are usually called the “blockchain,” but a more descriptive term now in wide use is “distributed ledger technology,” or DLT.

So although I am a bitcoin skeptic, I believe there is a great future for the blockchain technology behind them.

I’m not telling anyone not to own cryptocurrencies, but you need to do your homework before you do.

*  *  *

Finally, this gentlement seems to sum up the general perspective...

“You can’t be parked in gold," said Casey Frazier, a government administrator in Woodstock, Conn., who used to hold nearly a third of his savings in gold.

He has moved some of his money into the booming stock market, and now his precious-metals allocation is down to 10%.

Published:11/1/2017 12:45:27 PM
[Alternative currencies] Doug Casey: How I Learned To Love Bitcoin, Part 2

Via CaseyResearch.com,

Today, Doug Casey continues his argument for why this cryptocurrency bubble is only getting bigger from here. He also explains what this all means for the price of gold. (If you missed the first part of this essay, you can catch up here.)

By Doug Casey, founder, Casey Research

In all of Africa, most of South America, and a great part of Asia, fiat currencies issued by governments are a joke. They’re extremely unreliable within those countries. And they’re totally worthless outside the physical borders of the country. That’s why those people now want dollars. But those are physical paper dollars. And governments everywhere are trying to eliminate physical currency.

I think, therefore, that the Third World will adopt Bitcoin in a huge way.

That’s not just because people who own cryptocurrencies are currently making money. They’re saving an appreciating asset rather than a depreciating asset. You’re on a Sisyphean treadmill if you try to save a Third World currency—but three-fourths of humanity has no alternative. Nobody in these backward places wants to save the worthless local currency—but, by law, that’s typically their only option. Billions will try to get into Bitcoin.

These coins are also private. They can transfer wealth outside of the country, which is very helpful. Kwachas, pulas, pesos, and such are worthless outside of the countries that issue them. Of course, governments hate that, and this will present a big problem down the road. Governments hate Bitcoin. It gives their subjects a huge measure of extra freedom.

The whole Third World is going to go to these cryptocurrencies. They all have smartphones in these countries. A phone is the first thing they buy after food, shelter, and clothing. Bitcoin will become their savings vehicle.

Sure, it’s a bubbly market. But soon billions more people will be participating in it. So, it’s going to get more bubbly. That’s my argument for the bubble getting bigger, and the prices of quality cryptos going higher.

But like I said, cryptocurrencies are just the first application of blockchain technology. I think they have staying power simply because government fiat currencies are bad, and will be getting worse. They’re not going away. But I view them mainly as a speculative opportunity right now.

How high is Bitcoin going to go? Bitcoin is kind of the numeraire. It’s the gold standard, as it were, of cryptocurrencies. John McAfee, who founded the cyber security giant McAfee, Inc., thinks it’s headed much higher. He thinks Bitcoin’s going to $50,000.

That sounds outrageous, but it’s entirely possible. Another 10-1 in a manic market is possible - although it brings up thoughts of tulip bulbs, of course.

Remember, Central Banks all over the world are printing up fiat currencies by the trillions, desperately trying to put off a collapse of the world economy. Many will issue their own cryptos - they’re trying to totally abolish paper cash as we speak. And they won’t want competition from private currencies like Bitcoin. Governments may well try to outlaw peer-to-peer cryptos.

That’s a topic worth exploring.

Governments are going to get into these currencies in a big way. But only their own versions, probably making private cryptos like Bitcoin illegal. With paper cash no longer available, they’ll then be able to track absolutely everything that’s bought and sold.

At that stage - which is in the near future - the blockchain tech will have gone from one of the biggest pro-freedom innovations to one of the most repressive. Like gunpowder—first a liberator for the average man, then a means to suppress him. That said, technology, in the long run, is eventually always a liberating force.

And there’s one more factor that few are considering in the crypto revolution. They’re very good for gold. That’s because they’re drawing attention to the nature of the monetary system. Something few people think about. At all.

When people buy these cryptocurrencies, even if they know nothing about hard money, economics, or monetary theory, they implicitly ask themselves, “Hmm, Bitcoin or the dollar?” They’re both currencies. Then they naturally start asking questions about the nature of the dollar… the nature of inflation… and whether the dollar has any real value, and what’s going to happen to it, and why. Figuring out the differences between currencies—as opposed to just accepting the dollar and central banking as if they were constants in the firmament, which almost everyone does now—is part of a monetary revolution.

People are going to start asking themselves these questions—which wouldn’t have otherwise occurred to them. They’re going to see that only a certain number of Bitcoin will ever be issued, while dollars can be created by the trillions, by the hundreds of trillions.

That’s going to make them very suspicious of the dollar. It’s going to get a lot of people thinking about money and economics in a way that they never thought about it before. And this is inevitably going to lead them to gold.

So, the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency revolution will prove extremely positive for gold. It’s going to draw the attention of millions, or hundreds of millions of people, to gold as the real alternative to the dollar and other currencies, after Bitcoin.

Plus, I suspect future versions of Bitcoin, or Bitcoin 2.0, will be easily redeemable in gold grams. This is actually a big deal that most people aren’t looking at.

Published:10/30/2017 10:04:49 PM
[Afghanistan] The Legacy Of Reagan's Civilian 'PsyOps'

Authored by Robert Parry via ConsortiumNews.com,

When the Reagan administration launched peacetime “psyops” in the mid-1980s, it pulled in civilian agencies to help spread these still-ongoing techniques of deception and manipulation...

Declassified records from the Reagan presidential library show how the U.S. government enlisted civilian agencies in psychological operations designed to exploit information as a way to manipulate the behavior of targeted foreign audiences and, at least indirectly, American citizens.


Walter Raymond Jr., a CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw President Reagan’s “psyops” and “perception management” projects at the National Security Council. Raymond is partially obscured by President Reagan. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

A just-declassified sign-in sheet for a meeting of an inter-agency “psyops” committee on Oct. 24, 1986, shows representatives from the Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department, and the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) joining officials from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department.

Some of the names of officials from the CIA and Pentagon remain classified more than three decades later. But the significance of the document is that it reveals how agencies that were traditionally assigned to global development (USAID) or international information (USIA) were incorporated into the U.S. government’s strategies for peacetime psyops, a military technique for breaking the will of a wartime enemy by spreading lies, confusion and terror.

Essentially, psyops play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily controlled or defeated, but the Reagan administration was taking the concept outside the traditional bounds of warfare and applying psyops to any time when the U.S. government could claim some threat to America.

This disclosure – bolstered by other documents released earlier this year by archivists at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, California – is relevant to today’s frenzy over alleged “fake news” and accusations of “Russian disinformation” by reminding everyone that the U.S. government was active in those same areas.

The U.S. government’s use of disinformation and propaganda is, of course, nothing new. For instance, during the 1950s and 1960s, the USIA regularly published articles in friendly newspapers and magazines that appeared under fake names such as Guy Sims Fitch.

However, in the 1970s, the bloody Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers’ revelations about U.S. government deceptions to justify that war created a crisis for American propagandists, their loss of credibility with the American people. Some of the traditional sources of U.S. disinformation, such as the CIA, also fell into profound disrepute.

This so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” – a skeptical citizenry dubious toward U.S. government claims about foreign conflicts – undermined President Reagan’s efforts to sell his plans for intervention in the civil wars then underway in Central America, Africa and elsewhere.

Reagan depicted Central America as a “Soviet beachhead,” but many Americans saw haughty Central American oligarchs and their brutal security forces slaughtering priests, nuns, labor activists, students, peasants and indigenous populations.

Reagan and his advisers realized that they had to turn those perceptions around if they hoped to get sustained funding for the militaries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as well as for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, the CIA-organized paramilitary force marauding around leftist-ruled Nicaragua.

Perception Management

So, it became a high priority to reshape public perceptions inside those targeted countries but even more importantly among the American people. That challenge led the Reagan administration to revitalize and reorganize methods for distributing propaganda and funding friendly foreign operatives, such as creation of the National Endowment for Democracy under neoconservative president Carl Gershman in 1983.


President Ronald Reagan meeting with Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who later faced accusations of genocide against Indian populations in the central highlands.

Another entity in this process was the Psychological Operations Committee formed in 1986 under Reagan’s National Security Council. In the years since, the U.S. administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have applied many of these same psyops principles, cherry-picking or manufacturing evidence to undermine adversaries and to solidify U.S. public support for Washington’s policies.

This reality – about the U.S. government creating its own faux reality to manipulate the American people and international audiences – should compel journalists in the West to treat all claims from Washington with a large grain of salt.

However, instead, we have seen a pattern of leading news outlets simply amplifying whatever U.S. agencies assert about foreign adversaries while denouncing skeptics as purveyors of “fake news” or enemy “propaganda.” In effect, the success of the U.S. psyops strategy can be measured by how Western mainstream media has stepped forward as the enforcement mechanism to ensure conformity to the U.S. government’s various information themes and narratives.

For instance, any questioning of the U.S. government’s narratives on, say, the current Syrian conflict, or the Ukraine coup of 2014, or Russian “hacking” of the 2016 U.S. election, or Iran’s status as “the leading sponsor of terrorism” is treated by the major Western news outlets as evidence that you are a “useful fool” at best, if not a willful enemy “propagandist” with loyalty to a foreign power, i.e., a traitor.

Leading mainstream media outlets and establishment-approved Web sites are now teaming up with Google, Facebook and other technology companies to develop algorithms to bury or remove content from the Internet that doesn’t march in lockstep with what is deemed to be true, which often simply follows what U.S. government agencies say is true.

Yet, the documentary evidence is now clear that the U.S. government undertook a well-defined strategy of waging psyops around the world with regular blowback of this propaganda and disinformation onto the American people via Western news agencies covering events in the affected countries.

During more recent administrations, euphemisms have been used to cloak the more pejorative phrase, “psychological operations” – such as “public diplomacy,” “strategic communications,” “perception management,” and “smart power.” But the serious push to expand this propaganda capability of the U.S. government can be traced back to the Reagan presidency.

The Puppet Master

Over the years, I’ve obtained scores of documents related to the psyops and related programs via “mandatory declassification reviews” of files belonging to Walter Raymond Jr., a senior CIA covert operations specialist who was transferred to Reagan’s National Security Council staff in 1982 to rebuild capacities for psyops, propaganda and disinformation.


Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

Raymond, who has been compared to a character from a John LeCarré novel slipping easily into the woodwork, spent his years inside Reagan’s White House as a shadowy puppet master who tried his best to avoid public attention or – it seems – even having his picture taken.

From the tens of thousands of photographs from meetings at Reagan’s White House, I found only a couple showing Raymond – and he is seated in groups, partially concealed by other officials.

But Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fits the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who was controlling the various inter-agency task forces that were responsible for implementing psyops and other propaganda strategies.

In Raymond’s files, I found an influential November 1983 paper, written by Col. Alfred R. Paddock Jr. and entitled “Military Psychological Operations and US Strategy,” which stated: “the planned use of communications to influence attitudes or behavior should, if properly used, precede, accompany, and follow all applications of force. Put another way, psychological operations is the one weapons system which has an important role to play in peacetime, throughout the spectrum of conflict, and during the aftermath of conflict.”

Paddock continued, “Military psychological operations are an important part of the ‘PSYOP Totality,’ both in peace and war. … We need a program of psychological operations as an integral part of our national security policies and programs. … The continuity of a standing interagency board or committee to provide the necessary coordinating mechanism for development of a coherent, worldwide psychological operations strategy is badly needed.”

One declassified “top secret” document in Raymond’s file – dated Feb. 4, 1985, from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger – urged the fuller implementation of President Reagan’s National Security Decision Directive 130, which was signed on March 6, 1984, and which authorized peacetime psyops by expanding psyops beyond its traditional boundaries of active military operations into peacetime situations in which the U.S. government could claim some threat to national interests.

“This approval can provide the impetus to the rebuilding of a necessary strategic capability, focus attention on psychological operations as a national – not solely military – instrument, and ensure that psychological operations are fully coordinated with public diplomacy and other international information activities,” Weinberger’s document said.

An Inter-Agency Committee

This broader commitment to psyops led to the creation of a Psychological Operations Committee (POC) that was to be chaired by a representative of Reagan’s National Security Council with a vice chairman from the Pentagon and with representatives from CIA, the State Department and USIA.


CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

“This group will be responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing psychological operations activities in support of United States policies and interests relative to national security,” according to a “secret” addendum to a memo, dated March 25, 1986, from Col. Paddock, the psyops advocate who had become the U.S. Army’s Director for Psychological Operations.

 

“The committee will provide the focal point for interagency coordination of detailed contingency planning for the management of national information assets during war, and for the transition from peace to war,” the addendum added.

 

“The POC shall seek to ensure that in wartime or during crises (which may be defined as periods of acute tension involving a threat to the lives of American citizens or the imminence of war between the U.S. and other nations), U.S. international information elements are ready to initiate special procedures to ensure policy consistency, timely response and rapid feedback from the intended audience.”

In other words, the U.S. government could engage in psyops virtually anytime because there are always “periods of acute tension involving a threat to the lives of American citizens.”

The Psychological Operations Committee took formal shape with a “secret” memo from Reagan’s National Security Advisor John Poindexter on July 31, 1986. Its first meeting was called on Sept. 2, 1986, with an agenda that focused on Central America and “How can other POC agencies support and complement DOD programs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.” The POC was also tasked with “Developing National PSYOPS Guidelines” for “formulating and implementing a national PSYOPS program.” (Underlining in original)

Raymond was named a co-chair of the POC along with CIA officer Vincent Cannistraro, who was then Deputy Director for Intelligence Programs on the NSC staff, according to a “secret” memo from Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Craig Alderman Jr.

The memo also noted that future POC meetings would be briefed on psyops projects for the Philippines and Nicaragua, with the latter project codenamed “Niagara Falls.” The memo also references a “Project Touchstone,” but it is unclear where that psyops program was targeted.

Another “secret” memo dated Oct. 1, 1986, co-authored by Raymond, reported on the POC’s first meeting on Sept. 10, 1986, and noted that “The POC will, at each meeting, focus on an area of operations (e.g., Central America, Afghanistan, Philippines).”

The POC’s second meeting on Oct. 24, 1986 – for which the sign-in sheet was just released – concentrated on the Philippines, according to a Nov. 4, 1986 memo also co-authored by Raymond.

But the Reagan administration’s primary attention continued to go back to Central America, including “Project Niagara Falls,” the psyops program aimed at Nicaragua. A “secret” Pentagon memo from Deputy Under Secretary Alderman on Nov. 20, 1986, outlined the work of the 4th Psychological Operations Group on this psyops plan “to help bring about democratization of Nicaragua,” by which the Reagan administration meant a “regime change.” The precise details of “Project Niagara Falls” were not disclosed in the declassified documents but the choice of codename suggested a cascade of psyops.

Key Operatives

Other documents from Raymond’s NSC file shed light on who other key operatives in the psyops and propaganda programs were. For instance, in undated notes on efforts to influence the Socialist International, including securing support for U.S. foreign policies from Socialist and Social Democratic parties in Europe, Raymond cited the efforts of “Ledeen, Gershman,” a reference to neoconservative operative Michael Ledeen and Carl Gershman, another neocon who has served as president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), from 1983 to the present. (Underlining in original.)


Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Although NED is technically independent of the U.S. government, it receives the bulk of its funding (now about $100 million a year) from Congress. Documents from the Reagan archives also make clear that NED was organized as a way to replace some of the CIA’s political and propaganda covert operations, which had fallen into disrepute in the 1970s. Earlier released documents from Raymond’s file show CIA Director William Casey pushing for NED’s creation and Raymond, Casey’s handpicked man on the NSC, giving frequent advice and direction to Gershman. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups.”]

While the initials USAID conjure up images of well-meaning Americans helping to drill wells, teach school and set up health clinics in impoverished nations, USAID also has kept its hand in financing friendly journalists around the globe.

In 2015, USAID issued a fact sheet summarizing its work financing “journalism education, media business development, capacity building for supportive institutions, and strengthening legal-regulatory environments for free media.” USAID estimated its budget for “media strengthening programs in over 30 countries” at $40 million annually, including aiding “independent media organizations and bloggers in over a dozen countries,”

In Ukraine before the 2014 coup, USAID offered training in “mobile phone and website security,” which sounds a bit like an operation to thwart the local government’s intelligence gathering, an ironic position for the U.S. with its surveillance obsession, including prosecuting whistleblowers based on evidence that they talked to journalists.

USAID, working with billionaire George Soros’s Open Society, also funded the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which engages in “investigative journalism” that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption.

The USAID-funded OCCRP also collaborates with Bellingcat, an online investigative website founded by blogger Eliot Higgins, who is now a senior non-resident fellow of the Atlantic Council, a pro-NATO think tank that receives funding from the U.S. and allied governments.

Higgins has spread misinformation on the Internet, including discredited claims implicating the Syrian government in the sarin attack in 2013 and directing an Australian TV news crew to what looked to be the wrong location for a video of a BUK anti-aircraft battery as it supposedly made its getaway to Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014.

Despite his dubious record of accuracy, Higgins has gained mainstream acclaim, in part, because his “findings” always match up with the propaganda theme that the U.S. government and its Western allies are peddling. Though most genuinely independent bloggers are ignored by the mainstream media, Higgins has found his work touted by both The New York Times and The Washington Post, and Google has included Bellingcat on its First Draft coalition, which will determine which news will be deemed real and which fake.

In other words, the U.S. government has a robust strategy for deploying direct and indirect agents of influence who are now influencing how the titans of the Internet will structure their algorithms to play up favored information and disappear disfavored information.

A Heritage of Lies

During the first Cold War, the CIA and the U.S. Information Agency refined the art of “information warfare,” including pioneering some of its current features like having ostensibly “independent” entities and cut-outs present U.S. propaganda to a cynical public that would reject much of what it hears from government but may trust “citizen journalists” and “bloggers.”


A screen shot of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland speaking to U.S. and Ukrainian business leaders on Dec. 13, 2013, at an event sponsored by Chevron, with its logo to Nuland’s left.

USIA, which was founded in 1953 and gained new life in the 1980s under its Reagan-appointed director Charles Wick, was abolished in 1999, but its propaganda functions were largely folded into the new office of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, which became a new fount of disinformation.

For instance, in 2014, President Obama’s Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel engaged in a series of falsehoods and misrepresentations regarding Russia’s RT network. In one instance, he claimed that the RT had made the “ludicrous assertion” that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in the regime change project in Ukraine. But that was an obvious reference to a public speech by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland on Dec. 13, 2013, in which she said “we have invested more than $5 billion” to help Ukraine to achieve its “European aspirations.”

Nuland also was a leading proponent of the Ukraine coup, personally cheering on the anti-government rioters. In an intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland discussed how “to glue” or “midwife this thing” and who the new leaders would be. She picked Arseniy Yatsenyuk – “Yats is the guy” – who ended up as Prime Minister after elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown.

Despite all the evidence of a U.S.-backed coup, The New York Times simply ignored the evidence, including the Nuland-Pyatt phone call, to announce that there never was a coup. The Times’ obeisance to the State Department’s false narrative is a good example of how the legacy of Walter Raymond, who died in 2003, extends to the present.

Over several decades, even as the White House changed hands from Republicans to Democrats, the momentum created by Raymond continued to push the peacetime psyops strategy forward.

In more recent years, the wording of the program may have changed to more pleasing euphemisms. But the idea is the same: how you can use psyops, propaganda and disinformation to sell U.S. government policies abroad and at home.

Published:10/16/2017 2:00:42 AM
[FBI] Brandon Smith: A Tactical Analysis Of The Las Vegas Mass Shooting Incident

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

I set aside some time for more details of the Vegas shooting to emerge before writing this article. A few important data points have been released, but I have to say that this remains one of the most confusing terror incidents in decades.

The tactical and strategic thought applied in this attack denotes a sophisticated and experienced shooter, yet, we are told by Stephen Paddock's family and girlfriend that there was no indication that he had such knowledge or experience. There were some advanced tactical decisions involved in every aspect of the staging of the event, yet, there were also a few glaring mistakes that do not fit. Beyond this, there is evidence that Paddock (the alleged shooter) did not act alone, yet, the official mainstream narrative continues to tell us that he was a lone wolf.

Now, every terror event these days produces an endless supply of alternative theories, some practical and some ridiculous. I will be keeping my theories to a minimum here, because I don't think they serve much purpose in this instance beyond comfort for those that desperately want explanations. What I will be doing is presenting some questions and pointing out inconsistencies. My goal is merely to show that there is evidence which indicates far more complexity to the Vegas shooting than the mainstream media and federal officials are willing to discuss.

First, lets look at how the attack was staged versus what we are told about the background of Stephen Paddock.

Mass Shooter Psychological Profile

Psychological disposition is the root of tactical behavior.  It is important to note that mass shootings are an extremely rare occurrence despite the propaganda often poured onto the pages of the mainstream media. Psychological profiling of the people behind these crimes is difficult because the number of candidates is very small. There are, however, some common themes.

For example — many mass shooters are motivated by revenge or envy. Shooters often exhibit signs of sociopathy, a self-centered nature and a lack of compassion along with past instances of abuse and violence towards other people and animals. There is also usually a previous history of mental illness. In most cases there is a "triggering event" which leads to a psychological break and a reaction to violence.

According to the personal accounts from the people that knew Paddock, including his girlfriend, none of these attributes seems to fit. Marilou Danley described him as a "kind and caring man," stating that he had never taken any action which would have led her to believe he was capable of such violence. The only factor that stands as evidence of a potential psychological break is the fact that Paddock was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug diazepam months prior, which has been known to cause aggression when taken in larger doses.

Did Paddock take this drug because of unrelated anxiety and did it trigger his shooting spree? Or, was his anxiety caused by the fact that he was already planning a shooting spree and the drug was meant to "take the edge off" so he could more easily follow through with the attack?

Paddock was prescribed the drug once in 2016 and on June 21st of this year.  I have seen no evidence that he was using the medication in the days before the attack.  The meticulous planning that went into this attack, as well as possible evidence that Paddock was renting rooms adjacent to major musical events for some time, shows that this was not initiated by a psychological break. Rather, there was a considerable level of conscious critical thought and foresight.

There is also no available evidence of domestic instability or financial troubles. Paddock was a multi-millionaire with a successful real estate investment portfolio. He was a former postal worker and tax auditor, as well as an employee for defense contractor Lockheed Martin (I have not seen any statements by Lockheed on what exactly he did for them). It should be noted that Paddock, at age 64, was one of the oldest mass shooters in recent history.

Paddock's father, a bank robber on the FBI's Most Wanted list, was not present for the most of the early lives of the children according to his brother, Eric Paddock, which undermines the notion of poor environmental influences.

Eric Paddock claims Stephen also had no strong ideological or religious leanings and simply "didn't care" about such matters. Meaning, no apparent ties to extremist views. He had no social media profiles and police claim they have found nothing in his home computers or phones to suggest a philosophical or political motive. So far I have not seen a single concrete and verified piece of evidence proving Paddock believed in anything other than making money, gambling and traveling the world for fun.

I personally find this extremely hard to believe. Stephen Paddock, for all intents and purposes, was positively the perfect "Gray Man," a ghost that blended completely into the background, so much so that his own family and girlfriend had no idea that he was amassing the weapons and training needed to pull off the Vegas attack.

The Tactical Know-How Of A Nobody

This is the area which brings up the most questions for me in terms of the Vegas incident. As an avid tactical shooter and long distance shooter, I immediately recognized some strange factors. For instance, the choice of his perch, two adjacent rooms on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, was rather effective for a number of reasons.

If you have the chance to study counter-sniping methodologies or talk with veterans involved in counter-sniping in urban areas, you will learn that the most successful snipers tend to choose mid-ground perches to take shots from. Meaning, they never choose the highest points nor the lowest points, and never shoot from the closest points or the furthest points. Well trained snipers can and do sometimes shoot from 1,000 yards or more, but they prefer to shoot from the "sweet spot" around 300-400 yards away at an elevated point from an expedient hide in the middle of a building or structure.

They do this because when people (including trained combat soldiers) are shot at, their eyes naturally tend to scan for the highest points in the background and the closest points in the foreground first. Choosing mid-ground positions makes snipers more difficult to pick out quickly and also harder for the average person to shoot back at.

I would note that average, untrained mass shooters are more likely to enter a crowd and start shooting at point blank range in order to ensure hits on targets. Paddock chose the position of a trained shooter, which you can see a photo of in this article by The New Yorker. It was NOT the best possible position, but a very good one.

Paddock's choice to fire from the position of a large occupied hotel gave a layer of cover to his attack; anyone attempting to suppress him with their own fire would risk hitting innocent people within the building.  Only a person with an understanding of counter-sniping and a scoped rifle would have the ability to stop the attack from outside.  Nevada is a very concealed carry friendly state and attacking a crowd at close range on the ground would be a high risk scenario.  Firing from the Mandalay was the shooter's most likely chance of a high body count without meeting opposition, as long as he had the proper training.

The first room Paddock used in the Mandalay is in the corner of the 32nd floor with a view of the concert area and the north. It has a diagonal range of around 400 yards and a linear range of around 240 yards. When firing from an elevated position snipers range targets and bullet drop according to the shorter linear range or "true ballistic distance" (base of the ground to the target) rather than the direct range from their perch to the target. This is because gravity only affects the bullet over the true ballistic distance and elevation in a scope must be adjusted to that distance. It is not as easy as it seems to hit targets from an elevated position, even with an "automatic" weapon.

It has been recently stated by Las Vegas police that the "note" found near Paddock's body was scribbled with calculations for bullet drop from his position. These calculations can be done with newer laser rangefinders, but Stephen apparently chose to do them on paper. Las Vegas Detective Casey Clarkson was on the grounds of the concert during the attack, and recounted "I'm like, how is he so accurate" (in reference to Paddock) in an interview with 60 Minutes. Yet another piece of evidence showing that Paddock (or someone else) had extensive shooter training.

The two adjacent rooms at the Mandalay offered extensive coverage of possible approaches for first responders. The first room gave the shooter good coverage of the concert and the north approach of Las Vegas Blvd. The second room gave the shooter a very wide angle of coverage to the south approach to the Mandalay as well as the main entrance of the hotel. More tactical know-how on display.

Finally, Paddock allegedly placed small surveillance cameras in the hall approaching his room. A valuable tool which a shooter could use to surprise law enforcement, maintaining a longer period of shooter effectiveness as well as possibly allowing for an escape. Las Vegas police are quoted as stating that it appeared as though Paddock had planned to evade capture. This fits in line with the rest of his tactical staging. His suicide does not.

Things That Don't Add Up

Again, I am not going to enter into much discussion on theory, here. I am only going to cite some instances of evidence and narrative that, for me, do not make sense.  Let's begin...

The motive: No apparent motive. Paddock led a life of near luxury, had a happy relationship with his girlfriend and gave no indication to anyone of any instability or ideological affiliation. He had no criminal record. He was also well beyond the average age range of people commonly involved in such crimes. He does not fit any of the characteristics of mass shooters.  Period.

The arsenal: Paddock put a substantial amount of thought and planning into the position of his perch as well as a potential escape. He had the knowledge and experience to calculate accurate shots from an elevated position at distance. But, for some reason the 64-year-old-man decided it was warranted to drag at least 23 guns and hundreds of pounds of ammunition in ten separate suitcases to his room at the Mandalay Bay. A person with the intelligence displayed in the planning of this event would know that most of these rifles were not needed in the slightest to achieve the effect desired. They are dead weight, and moving them into the Mandalay only presented unnecessary risk of discovery. Unless, of course, the original plan involved multiple shooters.

A strange year?: Family and acquaintances have mentioned Paddock's propensity for "disappearing" in the year previous to the Vegas attack. And, there is the fact that 33 of the 47 firearms Paddock owned were purchased in the last 12 months.

Security calls: Paddock called hotel security at least twice to complain about "loud music" on the floor below him the day of the shooting.  Why would a mass shooter care, or take the risk of drawing too much attention to himself?

The windows: Why, after so much careful planning, did Paddock expose his position by smashing two separate windows in his adjacent hotel rooms? There are other ways of providing a shooter's loophole with less exposure? Very odd.  Almost as if the decision to actually shoot was made suddenly, which does not fit the rest of the narrative or evidence.

"Unrelated" room alarm leads security right to Paddock: The Las Vegas Sheriffs Department indicates that security was originally led directly to the floor that Paddock was shooting from by a "door alarm" that was set off by someone three rooms down from him. Now, authorities have been forced to admit that this alarm and the confrontation between security and Paddock took place BEFORE he began his shooting spree.  This means that police should have been alerted to Paddock's presence and exact location in advance of the attack.  Who set off this alarm which conveniently helped to give away Paddock's position early, and why?

The surveillance cameras: Paddock had a head start on security, SWAT and anyone else that approached his rooms. He fired at hotel security through his door injuring employee Jesus Campos. He also had thousands of rounds of ammunition including .308 rounds which could easily be fired through several walls on the floor of his hotel room. Why did Paddock prepare for an escape, use his cameras to allow him to fire at hotel security through his door, equip rounds capable of annihilating any SWAT team that stacked up to breach his room, but decided to shoot himself instead before SWAT ever entered? Some people might argue that there is no logic to the mind of a "madman," but again, I've seen no evidence that Paddock was insane beyond the criminal act itself.  Also, the hotel had its own surveillance in the hall near Paddock's rooms.  No one noticed the man placing cameras about the area?

Multiple shooters?: Las Vegas County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo is quoted as saying that it was only logical to assume given the evidence that Paddock "had some help at some point" in the staging of the Vegas attack. To me, this is absolutely clear in the tactical planning.  Paddock does not appear to have the background or training to have chosen and staged the perch.

The report suggesting that a phone charger was found that did not belong to Paddock has since been refuted by police, as well as the report that his card key was used to access his room while Paddock was gone. Of course, hotel surveillance would prove this one way or the other and should be made available to the public.

Still, there are multiple accounts by witnesses that there may have been a second shooter, including the initial reports given by first responders on the scene, who were told a shooter was on the 29th floor as well as the 32nd floor.  All of these accounts have been dismissed as a result of "panic" and the fog of war.

The mystery woman: A witness on site at the concert stated that a woman (and her apparent boyfriend) approached people near the stage 45 minutes before the attack, telling them that "they were all going to die." She was later escorted out of the venue by security. Who was this woman? Was she trying to menace the concertgoers or warn them? Or, was it all coincidence?

Conclusion

In my view, there is simply no way that a man with Stephen Paddock's history and background committed the Vegas shooting alone.

There is no motive, no clear evidence of mental illness, no ideological markers and nothing to be gained. The tactical expertise displayed in most cases shows considerable training. Theories will abound.

It is possible that he was used. It is also possible that he was secretly radicalized and trained, as ISIS has continuously asserted since the attack. Or, perhaps he never pulled a single trigger and somehow ended up shot through the head in a room full of guns overlooking Las Vegas Blvd. and dozens of dead concertgoers.

The most disturbing aspect of this event and the mainstream narrative, though, is what it insinuates.

It insinuates that anyone no matter how seemingly normal could one day simply "snap" and murder crowds of people with impunity.

It is the anti-Second Amendment narrative personified, because if "anyone" is capable of such horror, and motive is nonexistent, then the mere existence of firearm access means that we are surrounded by millions of latent mass shooters.

That is to say, we are supposed to fear everyone around us at all times.

I will write about the solution to this problem in my next article. In the meantime, I suggest everyone ponder on the oddities of this event and continue to ask questions.

Published:10/11/2017 10:01:58 PM
[] Tuesday Overnight Open Thread (10/10/17) (Yes we are) ***** Quotes of The Day Quote I All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed. Sean O'Casey Quote II From this day forward, somebody propose it, liberals should not be allowed to... Published:10/10/2017 9:23:11 PM
[World] Mom Whose Daughter Killed by Illegal Immigrant: Congress and President Must Work Together to Build the Wall

Wendy Hartling's daughter Casey was killed by illegal immigrant from Haiti whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement had tried three times to send home.

Published:10/8/2017 12:39:04 PM
[Charles Schumer] Harvey Weinstein's Lawyer Quits After Two Days As Democrats Scramble To Distance Themselves

Harvey Weinstein's attorney Lisa Bloom cut ties suddenly with her "radioactive" movie mogul client in a terse Saturday tweet.

“I have resigned as an advisor to Harvey Weinstein,” wrote Bloom - ironically a women’s rights advocate - who was brought in after the Miramax Films co-founder was accused by the NYT of spending decades sexually harassing the women he worked with. “My understanding is that Mr. Weinstein and his board are moving toward an agreement.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Bloom said she was brought in to assist Harvey in using this “painful learning experience to grow into a better man.” The attorney also promised that “I will continue to work with him personally for as long as it takes."

Apparently, it took 2 days.

Bloom did not elaborate what the agreement involving Weinstein might entail. Weinstein, 65, was suspended indefinitely Friday by company officials, including his brother Bob, amid devastating allegations  of three decades of inappropriate behavior. Among those accusing Weinstein are actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.

According to Variety and the NY Post, brother Bob Weinstein was among those executives calling for his brother’s firing. Miramax also brought in attorney John Kiernan to conduct an internal company probe of Harvey Weinstein's conduct amid reports that fellow executives wanted him out.

* * *

Meanwhile, Democrats - until this week proud recipients of Weinstein's financial generosity - are rushing to distance themselves from the suddenly "radioactive" film producer.  According to The Hill, nearly a dozen Democratic senators, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several potential 2020 presidential contenders, are pledging to donate the contributions they’ve received from Weinstein over the years to nonprofit groups advocating for women who have been the victims of sexual abuse.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) will give the money it received from Weinstein in the most recent campaign cycle to a trio of women’s groups (although in retrospect, they should probably also spend some on server protection and antivirus software). However, the DNC quickly came under fire for only donating a fraction of what it had received from Weinstein over the years, and for giving the money to political organizations rather than those that support victimized women.

“The allegations in the New York Times report are deeply troubling,” DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa told The Hill. “The Democratic Party condemns all forms of sexual harassment and assault. We hope that Republicans will do the same as we mark one year since the release of a tape showing President Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women followed by more than a dozen women who came forward to detail similar experiences of assault and harassment.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic campaign committees in Washington are working with lawmakers and their campaigns to assess how much Weinstein — whose donations date back to the early 1990s — might have given to their candidates and organizations.

* * *

Weinstein’s association with the Democratic Party runs deep. He has long been one of the most prominent figures on the donor circuit that runs through Hollywood. Many Democrats expressed disgust that Weinstein would open the party up to the same attacks they’ve levied against President Trump, whose “Access Hollywood” tape broke almost a year ago.

“The difference between Trump, Bill Cosby and Weinstein — none,” said Bob Mulholland, a Democratic National Committee member from California.

The Democratic disavowal of Weinstein began quickly after the publication of the Times story.

  • Schumer said he would give $14,200 received over the course of several campaign cycles to women’s groups, his office told The Hill.
  • Elizabeth Warren will donate the $5,000 she got from Weinstein to a Boston nonprofit group called Casa Myrna, which aids victims of domestic violence. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will give $7,800 to the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
  • Al Franken is returning the most money — $19,600 given to both his campaign and a supporting super PAC — to the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center. And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is giving $11,800 — none of which was received in the most recent cycle — to RAINN, the nation’s largest group assisting victims of sexual violence.
  • Richard Blumenthal, Martin Heinrich, Bob Casey, and Patrick Leahy are among other lawmakers donating Weinstein’s contributions to women’s groups.

The amount of money the lawmakers received from Weinstein pales in comparison to what he has given to the DNC and the Democratic Senate and House campaign arms.

In total, Weinstein has given at least a quarter of a million dollars to the DNC over the years, with about $30,000 of that coming in the latest cycle. The DNC is giving the $30,000 to EMILY’s List, which supports women candidates that support abortion rights, Emerge America, which recruits and trains Democratic women for office, and Higher Heights, which supports black women running for office.

Weinstein’s influence went beyond his wallet. He was a top draw at Democratic fundraisers for former President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, where tickets could run upwards of $35,000.

In 2015, Weinstein and his wife, Georgina Chapman, a fashion designer, hosted a fundraiser for Clinton in New York City, along with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.  Weinstein had also teamed up with Wintour for at least two fundraisers for Obama in 2012, where a top-flight roster of liberal donors paid $35,800 to co-host and individuals paid $10,000 each to get in.

Spokespeople for Obama and Clinton did not respond to requests for comment.

Republicans hammered Democrats for the Weinstein connection, eagerly highlighting those who have yet to return funds he’s given dating back to 1993. "During three-decades worth of sexual harassment allegations, Harvey Weinstein lined the pockets of Democrats to the tune of three quarters of a million dollars,” said Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “If Democrats and the DNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer."

Democrats were in no mood to hear that from Republicans, pointing to Trump’s own controversies and those at Fox News, where former chairman Roger Ailes and former anchor Bill O’Reilly were forced out amid sexual harassment accusations.

 

“The entire Republican Party, from the grass roots to the establishment, stayed with Donald Trump after they’d been made aware about what he said on the “Access Hollywood” tape,” said Jon Reinish, a Democratic consultant. “They all went on Bill O’Reilly and kissed Roger Ailes’ ring. I don’t want to hear from Republicans because they don’t have a leg to stand on here.”

Still, Democrats were doing their own soul searching about whether they had turned a blind eye toward Weinstein’s behavior, which was long the subject of rumors in Hollywood.

“There’s no question that for a long time Harvey was a mover and shaker and presence around fundraising structure of the party at a high level, he brought star wattage,” said one Democratic strategist.

“When the rumors are out there, whether about Harvey or someone else, all too many times they’ve turned out to be true. We need to do a better job of being true to our values and looking at the full picture, not just what someone can do for our movement.”

Published:10/7/2017 2:03:39 PM
[Science] Fake news writer who duped Trump campaign officials during election found dead Paul Horner, 38, was found dead in his bed at his house outside of Phoenix on Sept. 18, said Mark Casey, a spokesman for the Maricopa County... Published:9/27/2017 1:20:21 PM
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