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People who study the origins of civil wars see "indicators" the US is on the brink of conflict, Yale historian says

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder cited the high degree of polarization, beliefs in alternative realities, and the celebration of violence. An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021.Photo by Leah Millis/Reuters Yale history professor Timothy Snyder spoke with Insider about the future of American democracy. Snyder said factors like polarization and alternative realities indicate the US is close to conflict. But Snyder said he thinks it's even more likely that the US could cease to exist. Though the idea of another civil war in the near future seems far-fetched to many Americans, people who study such conflicts might disagree, according to Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale University.Snyder, an expert on the rise of authoritarianism, discussed the future of American democracy in an interview with Insider during which he said he fears the US might not survive if former President Donald Trump runs again in 2024.Insider asked Snyder how he feels about people invoking the Civil War when discussing the current state of affairs."First of all, I just want to say that, for the people who actually study the origins of civil wars, not just in the US, but as a class of events, America doesn't look good right now," Snyder said.He cited the high degree of polarization, beliefs in alternative realities, and the celebration of violence, pointing to some who praised the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who killed two people at a racial justice protest in Wisconsin in 2020. (A jury acquitted Rittenhouse, who said he acted in self-defense.)"Those social scientists who actually work on this topic — neutrally — see indicators in the United States, which suggests that we are on the brink of some kind of conflict," Snyder said.Snyder said it is "very possible" that the US could install a president in 2025 who technically loses the election by a clear margin. He said with "a few gimmicks" a candidate that loses the popular vote and loses the electoral college could become president."A few states just have to withhold their electoral votes; the House of Representatives then votes, according to state delegations; the Supreme Court then blesses the whole configuration; and then all of a sudden you have an installed president of the United States," Snyder explained.In that scenario, it's possible the US ends up with a civil war. But Snyder said he thinks that scenario would more likely lead to the dissolution of the US."It's a kind of conflict that ends with governors seeking some kind of safe haven for their states. It's a kind of conflict that ends with Americans moving from one part of the country to another to be with people with whom they feel safer," he said."It's the kind of conflict that ends with some kind of basic political reconstruction, where the US as we know it doesn't have to exist."Read Insider's full interview with Snyder here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

Are Putin And Xi "Gray Champions"? Part 1

Are Putin And Xi 'Gray Champions'? Part 1 Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog, “Long, long may it be, ere he comes again! His hour is one of darkness, and adversity, and peril. But should domestic tyranny oppress us, or the invader’s step pollute our soil, still may the Gray Champion come”  - Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Gray Champion “Who is this gray patriarch? That stately form, combining the leader and the saint…could only belong to some old champion of the righteous cause, whom the oppressor’s drum had summoned from his grave.”  - Nathaniel Hawthorne There is a misunderstanding regarding the Gray Champion of this Fourth Turning. The misunderstanding revolves around thinking there is only one Gray Champion, they are hugely popular, always do the right thing, and are universally admired for their leadership traits. Nothing could be further from the truth. In previous Fourth Turnings, there have always been multiple Gray Champions, often at war with each other, who were not popular or necessarily good men. What they always are is single-minded, tenacious, ruthless, and intent on winning at any cost. Their followers are inspired, and their enemies despise them. There is no middle ground when it comes to opinions about Gray Champions. They generally don’t fight the battles, but shape the strategy, inspire the troops, or mobilize the citizenry to action. The Awakening Prophet Generation firebrands during the American Revolution included Sam Adams and Ben Franklin. Adams organized and led the Boston Tea Party, lighting the fuse of revolution. Franklin provided the wisdom and guidance for the younger firebrands like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These Prophet Generation leaders were the inspirational lightning rods for a revolution where failure meant the gallows for them and their fellow rebels. This nation wouldn’t exist without the leadership of Adams and Franklin. Gray Champions during the Civil War Fourth Turning included Abraham Lincoln, William Tecumseh Sherman, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee. These four Transcendental Prophet Generation men were the driving force during the four-years of slaughter, where 700,000 men (10% of male population between the ages of 18 and 60) were killed in a brutal war of brother versus brother. The War Between the States certainly marked an hour of darkness, adversity, and peril. Lincoln rose from obscurity to lead the northern states in a scorched earth effort to suppress the Confederate states, greatly expanding the reach of the Federal government, instituting a mandatory draft, introducing an income tax, suspending the right to habeas corpus, and flaunting the Constitution when he deemed necessary. He did this without a mandate from the people, as he won the presidency in 1860 with only 39.8% of the popular vote, in a four-man race. He was determined to win the war at any cost. And his personal cost was bullet to the head and death before victory. Sherman was a take no prisoners general who implemented a new and far more violent form of war. He conducted war against soldiers and civilians alike, believing he could destroy the will of the enemy by using his terrible swift sword and wreaking destruction upon every city he passed through during his march to the sea. Ultimately, Grant and Sherman’s strategy of wearing down their opponents through superior manpower and armaments worked. Sherman is despised to this day by Southerners. Jefferson Davis had been a U.S. Senator prior to becoming president of the Confederate States of America. Just as the founding fathers would have been hung for treason if they had failed, Davis risked the same fate and ultimately spent a couple years in a federal prison after his defeat. His personality deficiencies and inability to convince Britain to support the Confederate cause, were a major factor in the South’s defeat. Meanwhile, the inspirational leadership of Robert E. Lee is probably the single biggest factor in the Confederacy lasting as long as it did. His daring, strategic brilliance, inspiring presence on the battlefield and tenaciousness won many improbable victories and even in defeat he escaped annihilation by his sheer guile and determination. It takes a certain type of man to give an order that will surely result in the deaths of thousands as he did on the 3rd day at Gettysburg, and Pickett made his fateful charge. At Antietam and Gettysburg his opponents could have destroyed his army and ended the war, but they were psychologically unable to do so, fearing Lee was setting a trap for them. His honorable surrender at Appomattox set a tone of reconciliation that helped bring the country back together as well as it could be done at that time. Lee is still considered an icon in the South, and the destruction of his statues by the low IQ ignorant BLM terrorists and their corrupt Democrat politician cucks is a disgrace to a great man and our rich history. The Great Depression/World War II Fourth Turning saw the Missionary Prophet Generation produce another four historical figures who will never be forgotten: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. It is reasonable to say these men had immense egos, were ruthless in achieving their objectives, were more hated then loved, fought against all odds, committed criminal acts, and ultimately cooperated enough to attain victory in World War II. Roosevelt changed the country from rural to urban, implemented his New Deal that began the social welfare state, tried to stack the Supreme Court, and imprisoned Japanese citizens for being Japanese. FDR accumulated such dictatorial power during his four terms in office, Congress implemented a two-term limit on all future presidents. MacArthur disobeyed orders from his superiors when he decided his path was better. But his strategy in the Pacific proved effective and his humane reign while overseeing the occupation of Japan from 1945 until 1951 paved the way for democracy and stability in Asia. Churchill had many more failures than successes during his life in the military, government office and politics, before ascending to prime minister at a point of maximum peril for the UK. A lesser man probably would have sued for peace, as his troops were cornered at Dunkirk and bombs obliterated London on a nightly basis. His inspirational speeches kept the spirits of his people up, and once Hitler turned his attention towards Russia, Churchill was able to focus on prodding FDR for help and angling to get the U.S. into the war. Churchill was cruel and ruthless when it came to fighting the war. He, along with FDR, decided firebombing Dresden and other German cities was a valid tactic in winning the war. Lying to allies in order to achieve his aims was a common occurrence by Churchill, but he also saw Stalin for who he really was, and immediately realized the Soviets would not be allies after the war was won. His own people booted him out of office at the war’s end, showing he wasn’t loved. Essentially, Churchill oversaw the last days of the British Empire. Despite being a psychopath who murdered and starved in excess of 1 million of his citizens during the 1930s, Joseph Stalin was a Gray Champion during the last Fourth Turning. He was a dictator who bore the brunt of Hitler’s armed forces and ultimately repelled the Germans and had his armies take Berlin. Generals who failed were executed. His sheer willpower and unwillingness to admit defeat were essential to achieving victory in World War II. He bullied and prodded his allies – FDR and Churchill – to open a second front and provide him with tanks and arms to defeat the Germans. He never considered himself a friend of the UK or US. They were useful pawns to help him achieve victory. He was an evil man running a despotic regime who became an immediate enemy upon victory in 1945. He is the ultimate example of a Gray Champion not being a noble, moral, well-liked person. Anyone with a true grasp of history would acknowledge all these men had monumental personality defects, huge egos, a determination to win by any means necessary (including breaking the law and flaunting the Constitution), and ability to mobilize forces to accomplish their goals. Their names and deeds are in the history books. Hundreds of biographies have been written about each, trying to capture their true essence. But one thing is certain. They fought for what they believed, shaped the future of their countries, didn’t back down from taking responsibility and making tough decisions, and sent millions to their deaths by their actions. Gray Champions are not wallflowers, quiet, or unassuming. They lead. They are willing to act, make decisions and fail or succeed on their own merits. When the Prophet archetype arrives at old age, it heralds a new constellation of generations, which happens every 80 years – marking the arrival of another Fourth Turning. As we are propelled through the fourteenth year of this Fourth Turning, Gray Champions have arrived on the scene and are propelling us towards a frightful climax, which will happen within the next several years. The intensification is being driven by these figures, who will ultimately be judged in history books based upon their success or failure in leading their nations through this Crisis period. Anyone who can’t see the world being pushed towards the brink of world war and on the verge of economic collapse, is either willfully ignorant, too dumbed down and distracted by their electronic bread and circuses, or just focused on profiting from war, chaos, and destruction. Neil Howe, one of the authors of The Fourth Turning, made a statement in January 2021 which clarified for me those who currently fit the mold of a Gray Champion. “Gray champions are made, not born. The persona of a gray champion is to focus on one big thing, not 17 little things.” As this Fourth Turning was ignited by the 2008 financial collapse, brought about by Wall Street bankers, Ben Bernanke and his central banker co-conspirators, corrupt politicians, and feckless government apparatchiks, I was trying to seek out the Gray Champion who would lead the country through this Crisis. I realize now, my view was too narrow. There seems to be multiple Gray Champions with differing agendas, often at conflict with the agendas of other Gray Champions and leading the world into a global conflict. Their one commonality is they are all Boomer Generation Prophets, with a single-minded ambition to lead their followers down the path they are sure will attain success for themselves and their followers. But we know for sure, some will lose and possibly all will lose if one or more is reckless enough to initiate nuclear Armageddon. With his improbable 2016 election I thought Trump might be the single Gray Champion, acting as a lightning rod for the conflict which always arises during a Fourth Turning. I now realize there are several Prophet Generation leaders who are leading competing factions both domestically and internationally. Even though Trump was removed from office in an ultimately successful Deep State coup in 2020, he continues to have a huge following, drawing massive crowds at rallies, and giving every indication he intends to run for president again in 2024. There is a major segment of the population which will follow him anywhere he leads. He most certainly is a Gray Champion, whose Deep State sanctioned adversary Hillary Clinton, also fits the mold of Gray Champion – albeit an evil she-devil Gray Champion intent on destroying what remains of civil society in America while instigating Russia into a world war. As a main figure in the plot to overthrow the man who defeated her in 2016, she continues to throw bombs and insinuate she might run again in 2024, as the dementia ridden pathetic shell of a corrupt politician Biden will be lucky to live until 2024 and the low IQ cackling hyena of a vice president will be cast aside by the Deep State as unelectable. Clinton has ratcheted up the war rhetoric and will always have the left-wing pussy hat wearing lunatic fringe as her base. She is a dangerous, vile human being, but so was Stalin. Being a malevolent hateful shrew does not disqualify you from being a Gray Champion during a Fourth Turning. She will attempt to rally her malicious forces of wickedness, with the full support of her Deep State puppet-masters and lapdog compliant corporate legacy media, to accelerate our downward spiral into a techno-communist, globally controlled, dystopian hellscape. This Fourth Turning will not end well if she and her globalist billionaire cronies emerge victorious. Another globalist billionaire, who cavorted with and did business with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, did not appear on my radar as a Gray Champion until he, Klaus Schwab, Fauci, Big Pharma, and the bought off medical industrial complex, created a worldwide pandemic using a Wuhan lab produced flu with a 99.7% survival rate. Bill Gates, a software geek who fancies himself a medical expert, used his immense wealth to push for the mandatory injection of an untested, unproven, dangerous, DNA altering gene therapy created by criminal pharmaceutical firms, into the bodies of everyone on earth. Gates has funded the vaccine propaganda campaign and funnels millions to the mainstream media to push falsehoods about the safety and effectiveness of these toxic concoctions. He has inexplicably bought up farmland, while promoting bugs as a future food source for the unwashed masses. He is a major player in the Great Reset Build Back Better WEF demonic plan to enslave the masses in poverty in a techno-gulag where we will own nothing and told to be happy, or else. He and his fellow pedophile satanic billionaire cultists will own everything and be really happy. His investments in vaccines, farmland, and the media most certainly makes his motivations suspect. His immediate negative reaction to Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter reveals his authoritarian censorship principles and belief he and his small cohort of wealthy totalitarian oligarchs should be the arbiters of truth and gatekeepers of what the plebs can say on social media. Suppression of those voicing dissent from the approved State narrative is essential for Gates and his ilk in propagandizing the ignorant masses. The first amendment and the Constitution are nothing more than annoyances to men like Gates who can buy and sell the world to implement their warped agenda. Like Clinton, if this Gray Champion succeeds, the people of this world will never recover their liberties and freedoms. This brings us to two men who weren’t in my thought process during the first thirteen years of this Crisis as potential Gray Champions. I suffer the same myopia as many others, viewing the world through the lens of living within the American Empire. Of course, America is no longer the shining city on the hill, if it ever was. We have been an empire since 1945, forged in war and sustained through currency dominance, intimidation, and bribing others to do as they are told. It seems both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are from the Boomer Prophet Generation and may be playing the dominant roles in the denouement of this increasingly violent Fourth Turning. As I’ve stated previously, there are no unequivocal good guys who can be counted upon to do what is in your best interest. These Gray Champions have immense egos, grand visions of worldly achievements and often a lack of self-awareness. They all believe their actions are morally right and guided by a higher authority. Living within the echo chamber of a declining empire drowning in debt and flailing about wildly as its last vestiges of military and economic domination crumble, makes it difficult to understand how the rest of the world views the big bully on the block getting his comeuppance. Those pulling the strings behind the scenes, who installed a doddering, decrepit gaffe machine in the oval office as their Trojan horse, anticipated using this pliable dupe to initiate the final destruction of a nation originally built on agreed upon community standards, a strong work ethic, thrift, religious freedom, self-reliance, and a spirit of independence and freedom. I don’t think they anticipated the pathetic weakness displayed by this ancient fossil, which has empowered Putin and Xi to take advantage of his frailty and intellectual decline. The question must be asked. Would Putin have invaded Ukraine if Trump was still president? Putin, as the evil Hitler demagogue character, portrayed by the Deep State controlled mass media mouthpieces, is entirely false. The characterization of Putin’s Operation Z as unprovoked and initiated as part of his plan to take over Eastern Europe is a canard, and the U.S. military and political operatives know it. Putin didn’t invade on a whim. His intelligence agency showed him proof the Ukraine was going to launch a NATO backed offensive against the Russian backed rebels in Donbas. Putin called their bluff and derailed their plans. This entire Ukrainian charade, where Pelosi, Schiff, Boris Johnson, Trudeau, Bono and now Jill Biden drop into a “dangerous hot war zone” for photo ops and a virtue signaling meetings with the U.S. puppet president B level actor/comedian Zelensky is a propaganda farce. I’m waiting for a “We Are the World” concert to break out at any moment. The entire narrative surrounding the conflict in the Ukraine, pushed by Biden, Soros, NATO, and their obedient media lackeys, is knowingly fabricated and built upon misinformation. The CIA Soros funded coup against the democratically elected president in 2014 set this entire farce in motion. No Ukrainians were being killed before the U.S. coup. Now we are using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder in our proxy war against Russia. Putin has also uncovered the secret biological weapons labs the U.S. has been funding in the Ukraine. No wonder the extreme reaction by Biden, Nuland, and the rest of his neo-con lackeys. It has been U.S. and NATO provocation which has forced Putin’s hand since the 2014 coup. His annexation of Crimea and military support for Russian friendly rebels in Donbas were reactions to the blatant U.S. incitement in their sphere of influence. NATO, completely under the control of the U.S. Empire, has steadily pushed eastward towards Russia since agreeing in 1990 to not do so. The U.S. purposely told Zelensky to act as if the Ukraine was going to seek NATO membership. Zelensky and his Ukraine Nazi forces have been bombing Russian speaking civilians since 2014 and were planning a major offensive in Donbas which Putin pre-empted with his attack. It has been the U.S. led NATO and Ukraine instigating Putin. They continue to do so, with Finland and Sweden being incentivized to join NATO by the U.S.  “Not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”  - Memorandum of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow, Feb 9, 1990 Vladimir Putin, a serious man, rising to the highest levels of the KGB, tenacious in accomplishing his agenda, and a nationalist at heart, cannot be intimidated by the likes of a feeble-minded pervert like Biden or any of the EU lackeys taking their orders from the U.S. Empire. Do you think he will be cowed by empty threats from a babbling Biden, cackling Kamala, effeminate Blinken, or gay pride promoting Austin? The U.S. propaganda machine continuously flogs the narrative of Ukraine winning, while Russians commit atrocities. Both are blatant falsities. As a Gray Champion, Putin understands victory goes to the one who refuses to back down or admit defeat when facing adversity. In Part 2 of this article, I will examine the traits of Putin and Xi which will make them the dominant Gray Champions during the final years of this Fourth Turning, and possibly the final years of modern life on this planet. *  *  * The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 16:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

Today’s "Diversity" Oaths Resemble 1950s "Loyalty" Oaths

Today’s 'Diversity' Oaths Resemble 1950s 'Loyalty' Oaths Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClear Politics (emphasis ours), It is rare to meet someone with true moral courage, someone who risks everything to do what he knows is right. I was privileged to know such a man, George Anastaplo. His story, set during the Red Scare of the 1950s, needs to be told because it applies today, when political zealots again demand rigid conformity. George, a boy from rural Illinois, refused to bow down to the most powerful lawyers in his home state. He knew their demands were wrong, even though he could have easily and truthfully said “yes” to their substance. He refused solely because he thought asking him violated basic guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. The time was the early 1950s, and the demands came from ideological crusaders on the right, who insisted on anti-communist loyalty oaths. Today’s crusaders come from the left, demanding pledges of support for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI). More on today’s ideological frenzy in a moment, but first, George’s story. Born in downstate Illinois, the son of Greek immigrants, George’s most formative experience was serving in World War II, where he was a navigator on B-17 and B-29 bombers. In the service, he told me, he met soldiers with backgrounds and life experiences far different from anyone he had known growing up. For someone as bright and curious as George, that experience opened up a wider world. After the war, George moved to the big city and went to the University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate and law degree (top of his class, 1951). He passed the bar exam and had only one more step before pursuing his chosen profession. Like all applicants, he had to answer a few questions from the Illinois State Bar Association. The examination began with some standard questions about communism. Those should have been easy since George abhorred Marxism. Still, George’s answers, focused on civil liberties, were not what the bar association wanted to hear. First, he noted that dissent and even revolution were integral features of America’s constitutional history. Then, the hapless members asked George the big question: “Are you now or have you ever been … ?” George Anastaplo refused to answer. He could have truthfully said, “No.” End of story. He could have noted that his parents’ homeland was fighting a brutal civil war to prevent communists from seizing control. He could have done all that, but he refused. His three-fold reply was that (1) the Constitution guaranteed freedom of association; (2) it was not illegal to belong to the Communist Party; and, most important, (3) it was totally improper for the Illinois Bar Association to ask him that question – or any question about an applicant’s political affiliation. His application to practice law was promptly denied. So, George and the Illinois Bar Association then did what all good American attorneys do: they sued each other. The constitutional challenge, in which George represented himself, took a full decade to reach the Supreme Court. It was the only case George ever argued, and he lost it despite a powerful dissent from Justice Hugo Black. “Too many men are being driven to become government-fearing and time-serving because the Government is being permitted to strike out at those who are fearless enough to think as they please and say what they think,” Justice Black wrote. “This trend must be halted if we are to keep faith with the Founders of our Nation and pass on to future generations of Americans the great heritage of freedom which they sacrificed so much to leave to us.” George also received strong support from Leo Strauss, the great political philosopher and a seminal figure in conservative thought. He congratulated George for his “brave and just action” and added, “If the American Bench and Bar have any sense of shame, they must come on their knees to apologize to you." Of course, they never did. George was never admitted to the bar. Instead, he taught political philosophy for six decades, wrote multiple books on political thought and civil liberties, eventually teaching at Loyola University’s law school. He was also our neighborhood Socrates, walking the streets of Hyde Park (near the University of Chicago) into his mid-80s, meeting friends and engaging in the kind of rigorous conversations recounted in Plato’s Dialogues. Why does George Anastaplo’s moral courage matter for us today? Because we are enduring another age of ideological zealotry, coupled with demands to “sign or resign.” Or never be hired in the first place. Today’s clearest analogy to anti-communist oaths are those demanding adherence to statements of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The crucial point here is not the specific content of DEI statements. You might agree or disagree with them. The crucial point is that it is improper to make these demands for political conformity. Such demands are, unfortunately, commonplace on university campuses. So are the bureaucracies that enforce them. Those demands and those bureaucracies are antithetical to the basic mission of a university, where freedom of expression and diversity of viewpoint should be core values, vigorously protected. Instead, every university has its burgeoning DEI bureaucracy, which writes these statements, runs seminars to indoctrinate students, staff, and faculty, and punishes the recalcitrant. Many departments won’t even consider hiring someone who refuses to kneel in obedience. Here, for example, is Berkeley’s “Rubric for Assessing Candidate Contributions to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging,” which it urges departmental search committees to use. (“Belonging” is a nice additional touch, isn’t it?) Note that voters in Deep Blue California strongly favor “merit” and have twice rejected any racial advantages in admissions. They are clearly opposed to what the university administrators are trying to impose here. No matter. Being a bureaucrat means never having to say you are sorry – or paying any attention to the desires of the taxpayers who pay your salary. Another recent example comes from George Anastaplo’s home state, from one of the country’s great research institutions, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The top academic officer there, Provost Andreas Cangellaris, recently announced that the university “will soon require all faculty members to submit a diversity statement to be considered for tenure or promotion.” So, if you study quantum physics, organic chemistry, statistics, or artificial intelligence, you must pledge allegiance to an ideological statement far removed from your field of academic excellence. Until now, the university had been requiring DEI statements on a “voluntary basis.” Yeah, sure. Imagine refusing and trying to get hired? I know what my friend George Anastaplo would do because he already did it. He would refuse to buckle to the DEI bureaucrats. He would fight the good fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, where today’s justices might listen more closely to Hugo Black’s powerful dissent: The entire course of [George Anastaplo’s] life, as disclosed by the record, has been one of devotion and service to his country-first, in his willingness to defend its security at the risk of his own life in time of war and, later, in his willingness to defend its freedoms at the risk of his professional career in time of peace. The one and only time in which he has come into conflict with the Government is when he refused to answer the questions put to him by the Committee about his beliefs and associations. And I think the record clearly shows that conflict resulted, not from any fear on Anastaplo's part to divulge his own political activities, but from a sincere, and in my judgment correct, conviction that the preservation of this country's freedom depends upon adherence to our Bill of Rights. We need a lot more people like George Anastaplo, and a lot fewer like Andreas Cangellaris and his heavy-handed cadre of DEI enforcers. We need a lot more people with George Anastaplo’s integrity in public and private universities, in K-12 schools, and in private businesses and nonprofits. His courage and his reverence for America’s Constitution are an enduring model. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 22:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 14th, 2022

Luongo On Disney"s Demise: "This Is Not The Way"

Luongo On Disney's Demise: "This Is Not The Way" Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, We live in an age of maximum arrogance. When you watch companies with some of the most marketable brands in the world torch them on an altar of political correctness, it’s easy to just think them stupid or going with the flow of history. But they aren’t. Because not only do we live in an age of maximal arrogance, we also live in the biggest self-created false realities in human history. It is the height of irony that the biggest brand in storytelling, Disney, has succumbed to its own arrogance and self-delusion, becoming trapped in a false reality that Disney should dictate the direction humanity should accept. That’s what lies at the heart of Disney’s troubles today. It arrogantly believed it has an obligation to decide what is and is not culturally acceptable to a majority of its customers. It completely misread the room in thinking a large percentage of its business comes from the insufferably woke suburban moms who are just as fucked up as the kids they’ve raised. The good news is Disney got the message loud and clear that they are not the arbiters of when it’s appropriate to groom children for adulthood. The bad news is they may not have heard it. Social media, political pressure and simply the massive extended echo chamber that is California politics suffused Disney’s board and its corporate culture with the mind virus of egalitarianism, eschewing any basic faith in humanity itself. Since they’ve rejected all forms of god, or submission to a higher authority that wasn’t man-made, Disney decided it was time to undermine all of its properties by coming out of the closet, as it were. Disney chose poorly. The Phildickian Nightmare Made Real I’m a huge Philip K. Dick fan. Dick wrote dozens of short stories and at least half a dozen important novels focusing on this very problem of false realities leading to a crisis in faith. In Dick’s work those false realities were tangible: You could visit them through drugs or meditation, meet your analogue from an alternate Universe or by nearly dying get trapped in a hellish landscape of someone else’s design. But in reading these tales, we recognize that they exist as metaphor, like all stories do, to teach us lessons about how to navigate our conflicts and emerge transformed into something better. For all of his wacky situations and conceits, Phil Dick’s stories are all about the most important issues we all face: empathy overcoming shame, pride justifying violence, selfishness justifying nihilism. Dick’s protagonists are all suffering basic crises of faith. The modern world has let them down, led them on a false path experiencing deep mid-life bouts of ennui as their carefully constructed coping strategies to numb their pain are shattered. And like all great storytellers Dick chose the fantastical and the weird not just to hide real human stories as enticements, but also, I’d argue, to make them far more memorable than they would have been otherwise. UBIK, for example, has been hailed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and whose ideas populate hundreds of derivative works of Hollywood. It’s what we will remember him for. By contrast all of his ‘real world’ literature which covered the same topics, couldn’t get published during his lifetime. The Storyteller’s Apprentice The alchemy of the fantastic with the mundane is what makes for great storytelling. It’s what made Disney into Disney. It’s what gave Dick’s science-fiction work its heft and power. It’s what makes stories something worth retelling. Taken to its extreme stories and legends become something larger than individual chapters. In an oral tradition the stories handed down would morph to suit the challenges of the day, their sequels can and would contradict what came before. Continuity wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t important, what was important was the underlying lessons, the underlying truth. Read any anthology of ancient stories and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Dick created novels like UBIK and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch to be purposefully insolvable puzzles of nested realities. They can be seen as examples of modern storytellers submitting to the higher power of stories themselves, knowing that the puzzles they present bring people back to them over and over. And guess what? You get exposed, again and again, to the deeper message, the deeper meaning. It’s what happened to me. I used to re-read UBIK every June 5th, the day the novel opens, because the book is that important to me. It’s why we watch beloved movies multiple times. You may have come for the superheroes or the lightsabers but you come back for the story. The point being is that stories which last have resonance and speak truth. Some become so big they grow beyond their origins into something that cannot be untangled. They become myth, legend. When the stories in the Bible or the Norse myths were being passed down through the ages, there wasn’t any care about continuity, only imparting lessons to the next generation who heard them. Jordan Peterson has made the point that it is actually the lack of continuity, the lack of logic, that makes Creation Myths capable of sustaining a culture and a society from falling into chaos and civil war. He frequently uses the example of the Egyptian stories of Osiris, Set and Horus as the big example, which sustained ancient Egypt, apparently, for thousands of years. Even Christianity can’t claim that…yet. This is the responsibility Disney took on when it acquired first Pixar Studios, then Marvel Studios and then, most importantly, Lucasfilm. It already owned ESPN and ABC. It was now a story generating conglomerate so large that it owned all the modern mythmaking franchises sans DC Comics. And with its overtly dipping its wick into the obvious political fray over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law it betrayed that responsibility as a repository and generator of new stories capable of becoming myth to its core. Disney, who used to stand apart from Hollywood’s descent into depravity and violence, became the ultimate symbol of it overnight. The War Over the Stars Star Wars I would argue, is one example of a modern story which is looked on by many today with that same kind of reverence. Star Wars’ inherent weirdness is what makes it so very accessible. The comic mythologies of Marvel and, in particular, DC have these same echoes. Both have been subverted to serve the ‘Woke’ agenda of the World Economic Forum and their Great Reset of all things human into all things Transhuman, which I’ve discussed at length in the past. It’s also why I think Zack Snyder’s Justice League {ZSJL} was a major turning point in the culture war, because the fans overrode the studio, exposing their betrayal of good storytelling for personal political gain. They butchered ZSJL and its predecessor on purpose to kill the franchise and create something both incomprehensible (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) and hollow (2017’s Justice League) That’s how much Warner Bros. executives hate Zack Synder and the basic message of his DCEU films: Chaos is bad, men need to be strong, and unite against madmen who are irredeemable. Management are furious by the runaway success {of ZSJL}, across the globe…This movie touched a deep nerve with a lot of people, especially in China (330 million views in the first 7 days), and whose release, in and of itself, feels like an inflection point. Snyder’s DC films aren’t woke, they are archetypal. The more this story about how Warner Bros’ execs screwing Snyder over gets out, the worse it looks for them and the more momentum the fans have to get stories they want, not the stories the powers want to give them. … or the stories the powers think we need, which is the fine line between propaganda and art. With Warner Brothers Discovery now a reality, everything DC in the pipeline is being retooled and all attempts to leave poison pills behind with billions of dollars tied up in bad projects blocked by new CEO David Zaslav, it’s looking like my call about ZSJL being an inflection point in the culture war was prophetic. Disney hasn’t yet cleaned house and possibly never will. I stopped referring to Star Wars as a fairy tale years ago, recognizing that it has risen for some to the level of Creation Myth. The bitter divide over the Original Trilogy vs. the Sequel Trilogy is a kind of incel version of the Old Testament/New Testament divide. It’s not that Star Wars is a good replacement for these far older, richer stories. It is that Star Wars has become that replacement for too many in our world today. As such, we have to recognize the angst surrounding it is real, even if the reality in which that angst was generated is a false one. They are in need of something more. This is why The Mandalorian was such a hit with all Star Wars fans. It restored some faith. Again from last year’s article on this subject: With two good guys who have deep storytelling chops now effectively running Lucasfilm, Dave Filoni and John Favreau, Star Wars will regain ‘the high ground’ in the culture war over the next decade. Now, today I’m not as sure of this statement as I was then, because Disney’s leadership has shown itself to be so thoroughly compromised. But if Star Wars comes back in full it will be despite the internal war within Disney and Lucasfilm. They will have to respond in part because of the competition on the horizon from Warner Discovery and also because burning Disney to the ground will leave it vulnerable to the same forces which led Elon Musk to buy Twitter. The Way Forward Embedded to the core of Star Wars is this idea of the power of stories to sustain culture. The mythology of the Jedi’s impartiality helped sustain the Old Republic for “a thousand generations,” even as they became hidebound and dogmatic. George Lucas built Star Wars on this idea, a mythology for a culture losing touch with its old traditions. Early returns are that he was successful. Star Wars will have to last a hundred years as a playground for storytellers to acquire even a smidgen of that power. Canonically, the collapse of the Jedi and the cynicism of Luke Skywalker as expressed in The Last Jedi is what spurred Favreau and Filoni to create The Mandalorian and heal the divide in the fanbase. Mando’s story is the opposite of Luke’s: A bad man driven by faith in an ancient creed to protect the innocent Grogu (Baby Yoda). That faith leads him to self-sacrifice but also challenging the creed’s self-negation to plant the seeds of spiritual rebirth in the post-Empire chaos through which hope springs in all of us. The creed he follows is even older than The Republic, a story of the historical conflicts between Mandalorians and Jedi going back 10,000 years. Those stories have sustained the most faithful even through racial purges, deadly civil wars, and the Empire’s turning Mandalore to a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It is truly powerful stuff, of the type new myths are born from. Mando’s story will be finding a new relationship with his creed that restores Mandalore, just like Luke did with the Jedi creed. “This is the way,” has joined “May the Force be with you,” as the rallying cry of a generation of people inspired by a story. To bear the burden of rebuilding a fallen world takes both fortitude and faith, hope and strength. And it shows you just how far Disney has fallen as a company that it succumbed to madness about race, sex and parental rights in service of false realities rather than seek the truth inherent in its own stories. The way out of the crisis is through it. *  *  * Join my Patreon if you want to get real. BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7ZfBCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6rytDCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oELTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5kDASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4VaETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edcDGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSEARRR: zs132w864erce9x8lmcmlnv8vw05p646kp0uxy29q82ak4n9504at0sut3eu3kmscn5yqhtje2yjyv Tyler Durden Wed, 04/27/2022 - 18:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 27th, 2022

Rabobank: US Is Seeking Escalation Into Permanent Economic War, And Russia Will Respond In Kind

Rabobank: US Is Seeking Escalation Into Permanent Economic War, And Russia Will Respond In Kind By Michael Every of Rabobank Prognosis Positive or Negative? Besides a bond-market rally (US yields down around 10bps across the curve), an inevitable ‘nothing-else-to-do-and-need-to-justify-my-job-so-buy-the-dip’ US stock rally, and China slowing down the fall in CNY and CNH with a policy tweak, there were other things of note yesterday. Indeed, in multiple dimensions, the outlook is now positive and yet equally negative. Elon Musk is buying Twitter. Cue screenshots of former Clinton Labor Secretary Reich arguing, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both — Louis D. Brandeis”… overlooking that Clinton helped to lay many of the foundations in place today. Others’ tweets quote Reich saying it was fine for Twitter to ban former President Trump because it was a private company, juxtaposed with him bewailing a billionaire buying it because it limits public debate. Musk himself tweeted: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.” For those who don’t want to stay, and was the case for those who couldn’t stay before, where else is there to go - Trump’s ‘Truth’, which ironically him returning to Twitter undermines the future of? That remains a huge structural negative nobody has an issue with when their side is ‘winning’. Will those anti-free speech now reembrace it or double down on censoriousness? Former President Obama recently said, “Disinformation is a threat to democracy” – and it is; so is censorship; and so is any state or private system to decide which stories are the former and require the latter. The only solution, logically and constitutionally (in the US), is free speech. Of course, Twitter won’t get any more civil ahead. There will be a broader range of voices available for people to ignore or troll. Psychologists suggest this is how we all really work, deep down, and social media companies recognize is where the money is made, up front - Twitter too, I would guess. And on civility, Google’s document editor will be introducing a new autocorrect function that offers warnings that vocab being used “may not be inclusive to all readers,” while suggesting users should consider using different words, offering politically-correct corrections. How long until they just autocorrect for you, and all Big Tech, ex-Twitter, do the same across platforms? US Secretary of State Blinken and US Secretary of Defence Austin just met President Zelenskiy in Kyiv, which is quite the turnaround from 60 days ago, when the US was offering to airlift the latter out. Blinken now says President Putin has “failed”, which sounds positive; and Austin that US strategy is “to make Russia so weak it can’t invade another country again”. That is a statement with negative consequences. As Von Clausewitz stated long ago, “War is a continuation of politics by other means.” In short, what are you trying to achieve? Putin lost his planned war when it became clear Ukrainians are not ‘Little Russians’: victory can now only be achieved by destroying Ukraine, not liberating it. Moscow’s ‘Nazi’ wrappings aside, that is irredentist imperialism that lets the genie out of the bottle. As such, there is no logical Western basis for a ‘realist’ foreign-policy argument to ‘let Russia be Russia’ in its ‘sphere of influence’; or at least not one that is compatible with the so-called ‘liberal world order’. It is either appeasement that doesn’t look at second-order effects (*cough* Germany *cough*), or a Melian dialogue that also doesn’t understand second-order effects (*cough* US isolationists *cough*). France is stepping up weapons supplies to Ukraine, it seems. (And President Macron was too busy to take President Biden’s congratulations call!) However, what does the West want from their side if they can’t just rewind to 23 February? Historians will tell you that post-WW2 plans for Germany began as early as 1942. If, over 62 days, the US plan has shifted from ‘run away!’ to ‘weaken Russia so it can’t invade anyone else in the future’, then it sounds akin to the WW2 Morgenthau Plan for a defeated Nazi Germany - which was to turn it into a pastoral nation of farmers who could never bother the world again. When published in September 1944, it was used as part of German propaganda efforts in the final seven months of the war in Europe to help convince the public to fight on to the bitter end. Austin’s public statement will likewise feed Russian paranoia about the West. There is no better way to swing all sections of Russian society behind the Kremlin, or to encourage Russia to escalate this conflict into areas where it feels the US might still decide blinking is a better strategy. Foreign Minister Lavrov just stated that rising military aid to Ukraine means NATO is “in essence engaged in war with Russia.”   True, maybe Austin was saying nothing new – but Lavrov did. One can argue that over time US and EU technology export controls are going to hamstring Russia and its military. (Yes, China could fill the gap – but then China would suffer sanctions next. And note this tweet from the IIF’s Robin Brooks from last week: “China chatter at IMF spring meetings: 1. The elephant in the room; 2. Risk of US sanctions seen as high; 3. Investors don't want another "Russia mistake"; 4. Now lots of distrust of "stable" autocracies; 5. Shanghai lock-downs seen with dismay; 6. Investors don't want any part of that.”) Yet if we are to take Austin more literally, as Russia will, then the logical strategic step --as underlined on Twitter by experts from the IIF and the logistics industry-- is to cut off Russian oil in a short, sharp shock. Specifically, by sanctioning key firms and oil-carrying vessels for two months, Russian oil flows would back up to the point where its wells would have to be capped – and restarting them would be incredibly difficult, if possible at all. That would prevent Russia from redirecting oil to Asia, while depriving it of a major slice of its export earnings. Russian oil would be taken off the map. Meanwhile, Russian gas to Asia would take years to come online on a scale (and price) to match what Europe buys now. In short, this would be an escalation into permanent economic war – and Russia would respond in kind. (And Beijing will take note, as will others: on ANZAC day yesterday, Australia’s Defence Minister Dutton stated his country must “prepare for war“ – and has been backed by defence experts in doing so, while being pilloried by the opposition for not having done so.) It would also be inflationary. Wars tend to be. Permanent wars more so. Against that backdrop, Bloomberg notes that negative-yielding bonds, which totaled $1.5 trillion last year, have disappeared from the market. That’s a big structural change; one prompted by remarkable shifts in the geopolitical and geoeconomic environment; and those, in turn, were most obvious to those who read the most interesting, most-likely-to-be-banned people on Twitter. And there are lots more of them yet to come. Both the voices and the geopolitical and geoeconomic shifts. So, positives and negatives. Tyler Durden Tue, 04/26/2022 - 11:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 26th, 2022

Communist China Has Thrown Out The Old Rules of War

Communist China Has Thrown Out The Old Rules of War Authored by Robert Spalding via RealClear Books & Culture, When I first read the Chinese war manual “Unrestricted Warfare” in 1999, I thought it was wacky. I was flying B-2 Stealth bombers out of Whiteman Air Force Base in western Missouri and reading a lot about war. As an Air Force officer, I thought it was part of my day job to understand the bigger picture – even though the prevailing attitude in the military was “Just fly the planes.” “Unrestricted Warfare” was one of those books that caused a stir among some military folks because it had recently been translated into English. It had that insider whiff of mystery and secrets, a peek into the mind of the Chinese Communist Party. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool) Despite that mystique, not a lot of people were finishing the book. For one thing, regardless of its title, no one thought we were ever going to be fighting a war with China, so it seemed like a lot of work for very little payoff. For another, the book itself is not a light read. It is a dense compendium of strategy, economics, social theory, and futuristic thoughts about technology. It imparts centuries of military history, particularly as it relates to the United States, but I already knew a lot of that. It seemed vague and also a little sci-fi, not relevant to a U.S. bomber pilot – even one with a fascination for military history. My mistake. If you look closely at everything China has done since 1999 – at all aspects of its economic, military, diplomatic, and technological relations with the rest of the world – it’s like watching “Unrestricted Warfare” come to life. One can find other glimpses into the secretive mentality of the CCP leaders, but this one is the single most important book for understanding the China of today. “Unrestricted Warfare” is the main blueprint for China’s efforts to unseat America as the world’s economic, political, and ideological leader. It shows exactly how a totalitarian nation set out to dominate the West through a comprehensive, long-term strategy that includes everything from corporate sabotage to cyberwarfare to dishonest diplomacy; from violations of international trade law and intellectual property law to calculated abuses of the global financial system. As one of the authors stated, “The only rule in ‘Unrestricted Warfare’ is that there are no rules.” The book is the key to decoding China’s master plan for world domination, which has been progressing more steadily and successfully than most Americans realize – even accelerating in the reign of Xi Jinping. The manipulation of COVID policies, stonewalling the world about its origins, and mounting a massive disinformation campaign to blame the United States are merely recent examples. So why is “Unrestricted Warfare” so obscure, even to people who study China professionally on behalf of the U.S. government, the Fortune 500, the investment world, the nonprofit world, academia, or the military? It’s not as if the book is some secret document that has never escaped the inner sanctum of the Chinese Communist Party. Just the opposite: The original translation by the U.S. government is in the public domain; you can google it and click on an English translation, for free, in less than a second. The problem is that “Unrestricted Warfare” is hard to read. While any American can access it, few can understand it. The prose is dense and confusing, even in the original Mandarin, and even more so in that crude, free translation you’ll find on the web. Its insights are clouded by endless repetitions and meandering discursions into military history, cultural theory, and attacks on U.S. policy. The colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, get tangled in semantics and draw on faulty citations and unsourced references. They obsess about the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 to an extent that puzzles Americans who consider that war to be a minor footnote to history. And the authors’ metaphors are so weird to our ears as to seem utterly baffling. Just consider two chapter titles: “The War God’s Face Has Become Indistinct” and “What Do Americans Gain by Touching the Elephant?” Huh? I mentioned “Unrestricted Warfare” several times in my previous book, “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept.” I noted that the book was well known to modern-day China scholars but that perhaps because of its strange complexity, Western strategists had failed to connect its strategic vision with the seemingly random actions of China’s misleadingly benign and smiling countenance. Although some of the text is pretty clear: “Using all means, including armed force or non-armed force, military and non-military, and lethal and non-lethal means to compel the enemy to accept one’s interest.” As I wrote at the time, that strategy can justify meddling in all manner of another country’s affairs: silencing ideas or promoting political discord, stealing technology, dumping products to disrupt markets. I was intrigued with the idea of creating an “army” of academics who could be used to gather medical, technological, and engineering information. The list of incursions goes on – and has grown since then. Consider just a small number of the things the Chinese Communists have done: Seized on COVID as a weapon to be used to their benefit, not a humanitarian crisis to be solved.   Viewed the climate change issue as a bargaining chip to win them economic concessions from global elites in return for reforms that they never intend to make.   Sponsored corporate espionage on a scale beyond what the United States acknowledges.   Launched unrelenting cyberattacks against Western companies and governments.   Fueled America’s deadly fentanyl drug crisis by allowing illegal smuggling of banned substances.   Used slave labor to produce goods such as clothing for sale to Western shoppers. Despite all of these actions by the CCP, since publication of “Stealth War,” I’ve encountered skepticism from some readers who simply can’t believe that China has been methodically undermining the rest of the world with a patient, long-term, multidisciplinary strategy. Some even dismissed “Stealth War” as the work of an alarmist. In the wake of that reaction, I realized how useful it would be to make the Chinese manual of war accessible to American readers so that they can see it for themselves. I set out to write a user-friendly guide that would explain “Unrestricted Warfare” chapter by chapter, adding examples while editing out the irrelevant and distracting parts of the original text. In the process I’ve drawn on history, military strategy, and Chinese culture to explain the context in which “Unrestricted Warfare” was written and then applied. My goal is to show how “Unrestricted Warfare’s” advice to the leadership of the CCP maps with terrifying consistency onto the events of the past two decades. This book has opened my eyes to how the CCP has essentially sneak attacked us in slow motion. And made me think hard about where they are going next. I hope it can have the same effect on others. I want to share with the men and women in our government, my respected former colleagues, who have to make some important – maybe life and death – decisions about how we deal with the Chinese government in the very near future. I know it can seem excessive to compare any country with Nazi Germany. But as we rethink our views on China, what other comparison is appropriate for a regime that casually and cold-bloodedly allowed COVID-19 to spread to the rest of the world at the same time it was forcing its Muslim citizens into concentration camps? Hong Kong parallels the takeover of Austria in 1938. And how do you account for the increasingly warlike rhetoric and military movements directed at Taiwan? Imagine the reaction during World War II if an American company had tried to export its goods to imperial Japan, or if a Wall Street firm had tried to underwrite the bonds of a Nazi arms manufacturer. Unthinkable, right? And yet today countless Americans are still trying to do business with and in China, misunderstanding or ignoring the CCP’s war without rules. I am deeply concerned that the Biden administration, despite some positive moves, is seriously underestimating the malevolence and power of the Chinese threat. Our adversaries wrote up their long-term plans in 1999 and have been executing them relentlessly ever since. Our leaders have a moral obligation to understand what’s happening, sound the alarm, wake up the country, and inspire Americans of all political stripes to do everything in their power to stop this totalitarian regime. I also want the average American to have access to this book. It’s time for every influential person in America – policy makers, diplomats, business executives, investors, journalists, scientists, academics, and more – to become part of the resistance to the Chinese Communist Party. My hope is that by explaining “Unrestricted Warfare” and its consequences, this book will make it impossible for my fellow Americans to continue to deny the reality of our existential conflict with China. The simple, chilling truth is that the CCP is doing everything in its power – mostly via economics, technology, diplomacy, and the media, not yet via military power – to destroy our way of life. To understand that plan, you need to understand “Unrestricted Warfare.” The stakes couldn’t be higher. *  *  * Robert Spalding retired from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general after more than 25 years of service. He is the CEO of SEMPRE and the author of “War Without Rules: China's Playbook for Global Domination” (Sentinel, 2022). Tyler Durden Fri, 04/22/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 23rd, 2022

Chris Hedges: The Pimps Of War

Chris Hedges: The Pimps Of War Authored by Chris Hedges via Consortium News, The same cabal of warmongering pundits, foreign policy specialists and government officials, year after year, debacle after debacle, smugly dodge responsibility for the military fiascos they orchestrate. They are protean, shifting adroitly with the political winds, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Pseudo intellectuals, they exude a cloying Ivy League snobbery as they sell perpetual fear, perpetual war and a racist worldview, where the lesser breeds of the earth only understand violence. “Whores of War,” original illustration by Mr. Fish. They are pimps of war, puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the defense contractors who lavishly fund their think tanks — Project for the New American Century, American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, Institute for the Study of War, Atlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many murderous military interventions go bad. They are immovable props, the parasitic mandarins of power that are vomited up in the dying days of any empire, including that of the U.S., leaping from one self-defeating catastrophe to the next. I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent reporting on the suffering, misery, and murderous rampages these shills for war engineered and funded. My first encounter with them was in Central America. Elliot Abrams — convicted of providing misleading testimony to Congress on the Iran-Contra Affair and later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush so he could return to government to sell us the Iraq War — and Robert Kagan, director of the State Department’s public diplomacy office for Latin America — were propagandists for the brutal military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as the rapists and homicidal thugs that made up the rogue Contra forces fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which they illegally funded. Their job was to discredit our reporting. “Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished.” They, and their coterie of fellow war lovers, went on to push for the expansion of NATO in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, violating an agreement not to extend NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany and recklessly antagonizing Russia. They were and are cheerleaders for the apartheid state of Israel, justifying its war crimes against Palestinians and myopically conflating Israel’s interests with those of the U.S. They advocated for air strikes in Serbia, calling for the U.S. to “take out” Slobodan Milosevic. They were the authors of the policy to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Robert Kagan and William Kristol, with their typical cluelessness, wrote in April 2002 that “the road that leads to real security and peace” is “the road that runs through Baghdad.” We saw how that worked out. That road led to the dissolution of Iraq, the destruction of its civilian infrastructure, including the obliteration of 18 of 20 electricity-generating plants and nearly all the water-pumping and sanitation systems during a 43-day period when 90,000 tons of bombs were rained down on the country, the rise of radical jihadist groups throughout the region, and failed states. The war in Iraq, along with the humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, shredded the illusion of U.S. military and global hegemony. It also inflicted on Iraqis, who had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11, the widespread killing of civilians, the torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners, and the ascendancy of Iran as the preeminent power in the region. Push for War & Overthrows They continue to call for a war with Iran, with Fred Kagan stating that “there is nothing we can do short of attacking to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons.” They pushed for the overthrow of President Nicholas Maduro, after trying to do the same to Hugo Chavez, in Venezuela. They have targeted Daniel Ortega, their old nemesis in Nicaragua. They embrace a purblind nationalism that prohibits them from seeing the world from any perspective other than their own. They know nothing about the machinery of war, its consequences, or its inevitable blowback. They know nothing about the peoples and cultures they target for violent regeneration. They believe in their divine right to impose their “values” on others by force. Fiasco after fiasco. Now they are stoking a war with Russia. “The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus,” Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš observed. “Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that’s to say national, that’s to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell — it’s other people (other nations, another tribe). They don’t even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images — as nationalists.” The Biden administration is filled with these ignoramuses, including Joe Biden. Victoria Nuland, the wife of Robert Kagan, serves as Biden’s undersecretary of state for political affairs. Antony Blinken is secretary of state. Jake Sullivan is national security adviser. Oct. 8, 2014: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at a Ukrainian State Border Guard Service Base in Kiev. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr) They come from this cabal of moral and intellectual trolls that includes Kimberly Kagan, the wife of Fred Kagan, who founded The Institute for the Study of War, William Kristol, Max Boot, John Podhoretz, Gary Schmitt, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Frum and others. Many were once staunch Republicans or, like Nuland, served in Republican and Democratic administrations. Nuland was the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. They are united by the demand for larger and larger defense budgets and an ever-expanding military. Julian Benda called these courtiers to power “the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.” They once railed against liberal weakness and appeasement. But they swiftly migrated to the Democratic Party rather than support Donald Trump, who showed no desire to start a conflict with Russia and who called the invasion of Iraq a “big, fat mistake.” Besides, as they correctly pointed out, Hillary Clinton was a fellow neocon. And liberals wonder why nearly half the electorate, who revile these arrogant unelected power brokers, as they should, voted for Trump. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during presidential election 2016. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons) These ideologues did not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every dead body I stood over in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Gaza, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, their intellectual dishonesty and their sick bloodlust.  They did not serve in the military. Their children do not serve in the military. But they eagerly ship young American men and women off to fight and die for their self-delusional dreams of empire and American hegemony. Or, as in Ukraine, they provide hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry and logistical support to sustain long and bloody proxy wars. Historical time stopped for them with the end of World War II. The overthrow of democratically elected governments by the U.S. during the Cold War in Indonesia, Guatemala, the Congo, Iran and Chile (where the C.I.A. oversaw the assassination of the commander-in-chief of the army, General René Schneider, and President Salvador Allende); the Bay of Pigs; the atrocities and war crimes that defined the wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; even the disasters they manufactured in the Middle East, have disappeared into the black hole of their collective historical amnesia. “Julian Benda called these courtiers to power ‘the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.’ ”  American global domination, they claim, is benign, a force for good, “benevolent hegemony.” The world, Charles Krauthammer insisted, welcomes “our power.” All enemies, from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, are the new Hitler. All U.S. interventions are a fight for freedom that make the world a safer place. All refusals to bomb and occupy another country are a 1938 Munich moment, a pathetic retreat from confronting evil by the new Neville Chamberlain. We do have enemies abroad. But our most dangerous enemy is within. The warmongers build a campaign against a country such as Iraq or Russia and then wait for a crisis — they call it the next Pearl Harbor — to justify the unjustifiable. In 1998, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, along with a dozen other prominent neoconservatives, wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton denouncing his policy of containment of Iraq as a failure and demanding that he go to war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. To continue the “course of weakness and drift,” they warned, was to “put our interests and our future at risk.” Neera Tanden and William Kristol in a dialog on Sept. 30, 2018. (Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan) Huge majorities in Congress, Republican and Democrat, rushed to pass the Iraq Liberation Act. Few Democrats or Republicans dared be seen as soft on national security. The act stated that the United States government would work to “remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein” and authorized $99 million towards that goal, some of it being used to fund Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that would become instrumental in disseminating the fabrications and lies used to justify the Iraq war during the administration of George W. Bush. The attacks of 9/11 gave the war party its opening, first with Afghanistan, then Iraq. Krauthammer, who knew nothing about the Muslim world, wrote that: “the way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory…The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and again…is that power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychologically above all. The psychology in the [Middle East] is now one of fear and deep respect for American power. Now is the time to use it.” Removing Saddam Hussein from power, Kristol crowed, would “transform the political landscape of the Middle East.” It did, of course, but not in ways that benefited the U.S. “Historical time stopped for them with the end of World War II.” They lust for apocalyptic global war. Fred Kagan, the brother of Robert, a military historian, wrote in 1999 that “America must be able to fight Iraq and North Korea, and also be able to fight genocide in the Balkans and elsewhere without compromising its ability to fight two major regional conflicts. And it must be able to contemplate war with China or Russia some considerable (but not infinite) time from now [author’s emphasis].” They believe violence magically solves all disputes, even the Israeli-Palestinian morass. In a bizarre interview immediately after 9/11, Donald Kagan, the Yale classicist and rightwing ideologue who was the father of Robert and Fred, called, along with his son Fred, for the deployment of U.S. troops in Gaza so we could “take the war to these people.” They have long demanded the stationing of NATO troops in Ukraine, with Robert Kagan saying that “we need to not worry that the problem is our encirclement rather than Russian ambitions.”  His wife, Victoria Nuland, was outed in a leaked phone conversation in 2014 with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, disparaging the EU and plotting to remove the lawfully elected President Viktor Yanukovych and install compliant Ukrainian politicians in power, most of whom did eventually take power. They lobbied for U.S. troops to be sent to Syria to assist “moderate” rebels seeking to overthrow Basha al-Assad. Instead, the intervention spawned the Caliphate. The U.S. ended up bombing the very forces they had armed, becoming Assad’s de facto air force. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, like the attacks of 9/11, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Putin, like everyone else they target, only understands force. We can, they assure us, militarily bend Russia to our will. “Toward a Europe Whole and Free,” April 29-30, 2014. From left: Moderator David Ensor, Voice of America director; Robert Kagan, senior fellow, Brookings; Frederick Kempe, president and CEO, Atlantic Council; Alexandr Vondra, former minister of defense of the Czech Republic. (Atlantic Council, Flickr) “It is true that acting firmly in 2008 or 2014 would have meant risking conflict,” Robert Kagan wrote in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, lamenting our refusal to militarily confront Russia earlier. He wrote: “But Washington is risking conflict now; Russia’s ambitions have created an inherently dangerous situation. It is better for the United States to risk confrontation with belligerent powers when they are in the early stages of ambition and expansion, not after they have already consolidated substantial gains. Russia may possess a fearful nuclear arsenal, but the risk of Moscow using it is not higher now than it would have been in 2008 or 2014, if the West had intervened then. And it has always been extraordinarily small: Putin was never going to obtain his objectives by destroying himself and his country, along with much of the rest of the world.” In short, don’t worry about going to war with Russia, Putin won’t use the bomb. I do not know if these people are stupid or cynical or both. They are lavishly funded by the war industry. They are never dropped from the networks for their repeated idiocy. They rotate in and out of power, parked in places like The Council on Foreign Relations or The Brookings Institute, before being called back into government. They are as welcome in the Obama or Biden White House as the Bush White House. The Cold War, for them, never ended. The world remains binary, us and them, good and evil. They are never held accountable. When one military intervention goes up in flames, they are ready to promote the next. These Dr. Strangeloves, if we don’t stop them, will terminate life as we know it on the planet. *  *  * Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report. Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report. This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column. Click here to sign up for email alerts. The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News. Tyler Durden Wed, 04/13/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 13th, 2022

"Gradually, ...Then Suddenly!"

"Gradually, ...Then Suddenly!" Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog, “How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises “I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.”  – John Adams Hemingway’s famous quote about going bankrupt connects with so many because it is true on a personal basis and a civilization basis. It applies to individuals and empires in decline – like the American democracy. John Adams realized two centuries ago democracy was no better than monarchy or aristocracy over the long haul. We were handed a Republic by Franklin and his fellow revolutionaries, but we failed to keep it almost from the very birth of this nation. As we rush towards our World War 3 rendezvous with destiny, aided and abetted by politicians placed in power by globalist billionaires hellbent on the destruction of our way of life, so they own everything and you own nothing, I can’t help but ponder who is to blame and could we have avoided this dystopian outcome. The United States has been going bankrupt gradually for the last fifty years, both financially, intellectually, and morally. Nixon closing the gold window in 1971 and opening the debt door to morally bankrupt bankers and politicians set in motion a downward spiral accelerating at hyper-speed as we speak. The American Empire was born in the shattered global debris of World War II with the Bretton Woods agreement, which left the USD as the dominant currency in world trade, specifically as the settlement currency for all oil transactions. The empire has been sustained by currency supremacy, military might, and until 1980, manufacturing superiority. Once the most highly educated nation on the planet, decades of lowering the bar, less than mediocre union teachers, and replacing education with indoctrination, has created generations of ignorant zombies incapable and uninterested in critical thought. The road to bankruptcy was very gradual at the outset of empire, with the national debt topping out at $269 billion, 119% of GDP, in 1946. In 1960 it had only grown to $286 billion but had dropped to 54% of GDP. Rebuilding the world and being the dominant economic power paid huge dividends. After a decade of guns, butter and welfare programs, the debt grew to $398 billion, but continued to drop as a percentage of GDP to 35% in 1971. After decoupling from gold, the national debt soared to $908 billion by 1980, inflation surged to 15%, and Volcker had to raise interest rates to 20% to avert disaster. What happened over the next forty years was mind boggling in its recklessness, shortsightedness, and acquiescence to the Wall Street cabal. These decade-by-decade increases were obscene: 1980               $908B            32% of GDP 1990               $3.2T              54% of GDP 2000               $5.7T              52% of GDP 2010               $13.6T            90% of GDP 2020               $27.8T            129% of GDP Today             $30.3T            130% of GDP Rogoff and Reinhart postulated in 2010 that once a country passes 90% of GDP, economic growth slows dramatically, and the chances of financial crisis increase exponentially. With annual GDP growth of about 2% since 2010, their theory has proven accurate. Now we approach the existential financial crisis which could initiate the “going bankrupt suddenly” phase of our empire of debt. Larry Kotlikoff, Harvard, and Wharton educated economic professor at Boston University, estimates the unfunded welfare liabilities of the United States exceeds $210 trillion. We are a long way from when our Founders handed us a republic. “American money was never more sound, or banking more free, than 200 years ago. Since then, it’s been a long steady decline from the gold standard and competitive banking to our Fed-run system of inflated paper currency, deposit insurance, and perpetually shaky banks on the dole.” – Lew Rockwell There is no conceivable way this debt can ever be repaid, therefore it will not. It’s just pure math, which the average dumbed down American chooses not to question or dispute. In their own lives they need to make enough income to make their mortgage payment and car loan payment. It’s the same for the government. The only way debt obligations can be met is for tax revenue to exceed expenses. Borrowing to make debt and interest payments is unsustainable, reckless, and an example of imperial empire arrogance. The only unknown now is whether the debt is defaulted upon, it is hyperinflated away, or some sort of debt jubilee and currency collapse makes it mute. No matter the solution, the people will bear the brunt of the pain and drastic diminishment of their standard of living. Those in control will position themselves to benefit from whatever scheme is implemented to eliminate the debt. The current trend of running trillions in deficits per year is unsustainable and already resulting in raging inflation, declining GDP, and pushing the world towards a global depression. There is no disputing the facts I have presented. These facts trump the willful ignorance of the masses and the false narratives of the ruling class, along with their media mouthpieces pretending all is well. Those controlling the levers of power know this shitshow can’t go on. They have fully exhausted their propaganda tools, financial derivative schemes, and monetary machinations, leaving them nothing but crashing the system and implementing a Great Reset, which would keep them in control and the rest of us in squalor and subservience. We’ve been on the road to perdition for a long time, but we came to a peak on that highway in 2019 and the path has been straight down since, with our chariot of fire accelerating at breakneck speed towards its final destination with catastrophe and ruin. The rise and fall of the American Empire will be far more rapid than the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. With the inept and reckless leadership in place presently, I only hope we still have a nation after they successfully provoke World War 3. The gradually part of going bankrupt is over. Since the end of fiscal year 2019, our fearless leaders have added $7.6 trillion to the national debt, a 33% increase in less than three years. Meanwhile, the duplicitous Fed has added $5 trillion to their balance sheet, a 125% increase, while keeping interest rates at zero and creating a tsunami of inflation, crushing the poor and middle class. But at least the Wall Street bankers are raking in record bonuses, while still sucking at the teat of Fed QE to infinity. The blatant disregard for the lives of average Americans, while propping up the Wall Street cabal, billionaire oligarchs, and corrupt politicians should be met with pitchforks and torches in a just world. But that is not the world we occupy. The last time inflation was this high (15% as measured in 1980), Volker jacked the Fed Funds rate to 20%. Spineless Jerome Powell has the Fed Funds rate at .33% today. It’s almost as if they are promoting record high inflation to make the national debt load less burdensome. Destroying the finances of hundreds of millions, creating global energy and food shortages, and instigating World War 3 as a consequence of their actions is just a minor irritation for the global elite. In fact, it appears to be part of Schwab’s Great Reset plan. At first it seemed outrageous to think anyone would want famine, starvation, energy shortages, economic depression, and global war, but watching the insane decision making of politicians, trumpeted by the Deep State bootlickers in the media, has convinced me this is chapter 2 in their Great Reset book of horrors. Once you wrap your head around how vile, evil, and demented those who are pulling the strings behind this Great Reset are, your eyes are open to how far they are willing to go to institute their plan. It appears they will stop at nothing, kill as many people as necessary, create maximum chaos and pain, wreck any civic cohesiveness left, and destroy all moral and legitimate norms of society, in order to increase their control, power and wealth on this earth. They hold all the cards. They control the governments, corporations, banks, legacy media, social media, entertainment industries, military industrial complex, sickcare Big Pharma complex, and the mental processes of the masses through their mind control/propaganda technology. Their hubris and arrogance have reached peak altitude and exuberance. They believe they are invincible. That will be their fatal weakness. The sheer cavalcade of lies, misinformation, purposely created chaos, engineered conflict, and financial market manipulation, make the daily intrigues confusing and open to misinterpretation. There are various factions competing to control the future course of history. There is not a clear good versus evil battle underway. Sometimes it is tough to distinguish the New World Order Great Reset crowd from those opposing Schwab and his Davos billionaire satanists. I know we would like to root for the good guys, but there are no good guys running any country on this earth. Only bad guys, willing to sell their souls, are ever elevated to positions of power. They are selected by oligarchs, not elected by the people. The western propaganda spewing media machine specializes in demonizing those they are paid to demonize (Putin, Trump, non-vaxxers), while glorifying anyone the ruling elite have chosen to use to further their agenda (Zelensky, Fauci, vaxxers). Putin is most certainly a bad guy, ruthless in his consolidation of power, serious in enforcing his beliefs through political or military measures, and willing to use any means necessary to achieve his aims. But he is only one of many bad men leading their countries across the globe. The Panama Papers show Zelinsky to be a corrupt puppet of Ukrainian oligarchs. He was a two-bit actor installed by the US, Soros, and NATO to play a role. As a reward, he has millions parked in offshore bank accounts and a $35 million mansion in Florida. He’s such a democratic icon, he’s spent the last eight years bombing Russian speaking civilians in Donbass and Donetsk, and he outlawed all opposition political parties and media outlets last week. It seems our far-left media outlets have no problem supporting actual far-right Nazis in Ukraine, as long as they are paid to do so. They are nothing but faux-journalist whores. The fact is Biden, Trudeau, Macron, Johnson, Erdogan, Xi, and the leaders of every country in the world are bad guys. Venezuela and Iran were evil, until our gas prices hit $4.25 a gallon because of Biden’s Russian sanctions. Now Biden is frantically negotiating with these “bad guys” to get their oil. Orwell nailed it seven decades ago with: “The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” – Orwell – 1984 We have always been at war with Russia, supporting the noble democracy of Ukraine, and fully supportive of those benevolent dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and China when in our economic interest, no matter how many people they kill, imprison, or behead. Of course, if you don’t toe the line of the petrodollar, you get Iraq’d, Libya’d, or Syria’d. Those in control of the message just move from villain to villain in the their never ending narrative. First Trump, then Covid, then the anti-vaxxers, and now Putin. The real villains are the media and those who manipulate the minds of the masses to achieve their insidious aims. Hypocrisy is not a characteristic that registers with empires in their late stages. Bribing, bullying, and bombing are what the American Empire does to enforce their waning power upon other nations. The over-the-top sanctions against Russia have accelerated the American decline into bankruptcy, while ignorant Americans remain distracted by their iGadgets, NCAA tournament pools and the latest season of American Idol. Every conflict is manufactured to benefit the global oligarchs, the military industrial complex, and those seeking to keep the masses enslaved in debt and distracted by technology, entertainment, and hatred towards whoever they are directed to hate by the government/media propaganda machine. It’s always about wealth, power, and control. The key financial arrangement sustaining the American Empire, even as it internally crumbles from cultural rot, institutionalized corruption, and glorified ignorance of reality, is the global dominance of the U.S. dollar in trade. This is why the empire’s bankruptcy has been gradual and to many, unnoticeable. But Dementia Joe has accidentally, or purposefully as part of the Great Reset agenda, set in motion the rapid spiral into bankruptcy and collapse of the short-lived America Empire (1946 – 2022). By creating a global energy crisis over a border dispute 6,000 miles from our shores, with no strategic interest to our country, Biden has initiated the final countdown of the petrodollar as the global settlement currency for all energy transactions. Petrodollar warfare has been the policy of the U.S. for decades as economic imperialism has been enforced militarily against Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Venezuela. Trying to enforce this policy against Russia will be a bridge too far. And the consequences are already being felt. Biden’s sanctions against Russian energy are backfiring and will bring an end to the petrodollar regime. Russia is demanding payment from Europe for their oil, gas, and coal in rubles, rather than USD. Any propaganda being peddled about the U.S. filling the gap is nothing but bullshit, as proven by this chart:   Via  Eurostat.   Russia supplies 47% of the EU coal demand, 41% of their natural gas demand, and 27% of their oil demand. They will pay Russia in rubles or have their societies grind to a halt, with starvation, chaos, depression, and revolution as the result. This doesn’t even consider Russian wheat and fertilizer exports, vital to Africa and the Middle East. Living within the propaganda bubble encasing the United States, where only the Deep State surveillance state sanctioned narrative is allowed to be broadcast by the dying legacy media and controlled social media propaganda platforms, you would be under the mistaken belief the entire world is in lockstep with Biden and his Great Reset cronies. The vast majority of the world (countries in gray in the map below) are not supporting the sanctions imposed by Biden. As already noted, even the European countries in yellow are ignoring the energy sanctions. Biden has pushed Russia and China closer together, with the petroyuan rising as an alternative to the petrodollar. India has reached agreement with Russia regarding oil imports. Africa and South America, with all their natural resources, have told Biden to shove it. America’s bullying tactics are now giving rise to alternative currency schemes, such as cryptocurrencies and discussions about a gold backed yuan and gold backed ruble. We stand on the precipice of a global conflagration, with talk of nuclear war bantered about by unserious low-IQ government bureaucrats, vacuous bimbo journalists and talking heads on the boob tube, and spurred on by the despicable hero worship of the textbook symbol of this farce – a sitcom actor who played a president in a TV show, funded by a billionaire oligarch, who was installed as president of Ukraine in a campaign funded by that billionaire, has ruled as a U.S. puppet, and who the Hollywood elite wanted to share the stage with the most dim-witted virtue signaling narcissists on the planet at the Oscars to call for the West to intervene in his losing battle and start World War 3. Instead they virtue signaled their support for Zelensky during the ceremonies. The Hollywood elite ignore the actual Nazis fighting for Zelensky, his banning of political opponents and media outlets, and his government not allowing transgenders to flee the country because they are men. He belongs on-stage at the Oscars with the freaks, frauds, degenerates, pedophiles, and hypocritical scumbags who make up the American entertainment industry. He would have gotten a standing ovation for being such a glorious upstanding symbol of democracy, freedom, and the transvestite way. He could have stripped down, grabbed his guitar, and performed for a worldwide audience, while begging for missiles, fighter jets, tanks and drones. We should all be laughing at this farce, but Zelensky and his handlers, Biden and his handlers, along with the other EU/NATO jokers and fools, have chosen to provoke Putin into war, and are now ratcheting up the rhetoric and sanctions to the point where a wider conflict is all but ensured. These reckless psychopaths clearly have not studied history or human nature when it comes to how wars can escalate rapidly with unanticipated outcomes and death on a massive scale. In a recent communication with writer Margaret Anna Alice, she described perfectly why we are headed into a horrific period in history, as the bloodiest chapter of this Fourth Turning hurtles towards its climax: “The lethal combination of incompetency, obliviousness, hubris, psychopathy, narcissism, megalomania, and every other dark triad trait is on full display in those purporting to be our leaders.” With it being quite apparent there are no good guy leaders in the world, trying to figure out the least worst outcome of this current episode of As the World Burns becomes difficult to grasp. I am convinced this engineered conflict in Ukraine is part of the bigger Great Reset plan of the global elites. But writers I respect have differing viewpoints on whether Putin is playing his part in this scheme for a new world order or whether he and Xi are partnering to fight Soros, Schwab, Gates, and the Global Reset co-conspirators. Based on what I’ve observed, I don’t believe all these bad men have the exact same goals for how the world should be run and who should run it. But no matter who wins, the winners want more power, more wealth, more control, and an autocracy, with them calling the shots. When I take into account all that has happened since 2014, who has been calling the shots, who was getting paid off, and the families implicated in this Ukrainian debacle, I conclude the Great Reset collaborators see this war as the next step (after the Covid scamdemic) in their Great Reset – purposely provoking Putin into attacking and now believing they can bleed him dry by funneling arms and cash into Ukraine. Why did the Clinton Foundation receive more “donations” from the Ukraine, prior to the 2014 CIA coup, than any country on earth? Biden was involved in the coup to overthrow a democratically elected president, friendly towards Russia. There was no conflict within Ukraine prior to the coup. No death. No destruction. So, who is to blame for the bloodshed now? It’s not Putin. Biden’s crackhead son raked in millions from selling influence to the “Big Guy”, with the U.S. installed puppet presidents doing as they were told by Soros and his U.S. surveillance state agents. There has been a simmering conflict since Putin annexed Crimea, shortly after the coup, and Ukraine began attacking the eastern Russian speaking provinces. The ratcheting up of attacks in those eastern provinces and the rhetoric about Ukraine joining NATO is what provoked Putin to attack. Despite the all-out propaganda campaign, Russia is winning and will win against Ukraine alone. This is the point in history when the Great Reset acolytes have decided they can accomplish multiple goals by turning Ukraine into a nightmarish quagmire of death and destruction, fueled by a never ending flow of armaments into this war zone, as a means to overthrow Putin, create food shortages, raise the cost of fossil fuels to astronomical heights, implement further restrictions on civil rights, increase technological controls over the populace, and institute a Chinese like social credit scoring system to enforce obedience and compliance with government demands. The Ukrainian people are just cannon fodder to these evil men. After two years of demanding submission from the peasants regarding lockdowns, masking and vaccine mandates, the ruling elite believe they will be able to enforce food and energy restrictions with the same ease upon the American people. This is where I believe their master plan goes awry. Putin will not be cowed by Biden’s toothless sanctions, empty threats, and pathetic tough guy rhetoric. He will use any means necessary to defeat his foes. Economic sanctions are an act of war. Supplying his enemy with weapons to kill Russians is an act of war. NATO and the U.S. are one miscalculation away from starting WW3. At a minimum, Biden has pushed China and Russia into closer cooperation as a new economic bloc. Biden’s weakness and inability to comprehend global strategy has probably convinced China they can annex Taiwan without the U.S. intervening in a meaningful way, other than easily avoided sanctions and threats. The new world order may end up revolving around China, with Russia and India as strategic partners and the U.S. and EU as outcasts. The underlying anger in the country is bubbling to the surface. The raging inflation is crushing poor and middle-class families. Food and energy are the two largest monthly expenditures for families struggling to survive in this Federal Reserve induced billionaire boom society. When diesel fuel supplies dwindle to nothing, destroying our just in time, truck dependent supply chain, and real food shortages start inflicting real pain, civil disobedience and rioting will occur which will make the BLM riots looks like child’s play. When people no longer have anything to lose, they will lose it and start looking for the culprits who stole their livelihoods and future. I don’t believe their propaganda machine will be able to convince the masses this was the fault of Trump or right wing conspiracists. Their pain and suffering are due to Federal Reserve bankers, corrupt politicians of the uni-party, and the media who has lied to them non-stop for the last decade. Woke is going to mean something different in the near future. Pugnacious Putin has unwittingly, or possibly purposefully, initiated the “sudden” phase of the demise of the crumbling American Empire. A PR campaign and “USD subsidies” (aka bribes) to foreign countries will not save us now. Biden lit the fuse, and it is just a matter of when it blows. And does it just blow up the remnants of our empire, or the whole world? No one knows the answer to that question, but the future of civilization on earth depends on the answer. Most of the world continues to go about their daily lives staring at their phones, oblivious to the danger of having angry senile sociopaths and egomaniacal billionaires controlling the use of nuclear weapons. We are one rash arrogant choice by a low IQ psychopath politician from the final scene in the Planet of the Apes. “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” – George Taylor Are we destined to be victims? This Ukraine war has revealed both parties fully support never ending war. Left and right media outlets have been spewing the anti-Russian propaganda in lockstep. What has been set in motion will not be fixed at the ballot box, as if voting matters anymore in this empire of lies and deceit. Armed insurrection would not prevail with the current configuration of our society. The only option is to organize in local communities of like-minded people to try and survive the coming storm. Get out of cities. Prep as much as you are able, with enough food, water, and fuel to sustain your family for an extended period of time. Stock up on guns, ammo, cash, gold, silver, and barterable items. On whatever plot of land you occupy, try to raise some food, and if possible become friendly with local farmers. No one can escape what is coming, as it will be global in nature, but you can take steps now to increase your chances of survival. Our republic has degenerated into despotism, we’ve willingly relinquished our freedoms and liberties for the supposed safety and security of a Big Brother surveillance state, and now we will suffer the consequences of these cowardly actions. Life in America is about to become far harder than our generations of snowflakes ever anticipated. Those with no survival skills will not survive. If you are not prepared in mind, body, and spirit for what is coming, your future will be bleak. Only those already awake are likely to read this anyway, so good luck and Godspeed to you all. “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”  - John Adams “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” -  Aristotle *  *  * The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/28/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 28th, 2022

Niall Ferguson On Misunderstanding History: "Biden Is Making A Colossal Mistake"

Niall Ferguson On Misunderstanding History: "Biden Is Making A Colossal Mistake" Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, Biden is making a colossal mistake in thinking he can bleed Russia dry, topple Putin and signal to China to keep its hands off Taiwan... “The language people speak in the corridors of power,” former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter once observed, “is not economics or politics. It is history.” In a recent academic article, I showed how true this was after both the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 and the “9/15” bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Policy makers used all kinds of historical analogies as they reacted. “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today,” President George W. Bush noted in his diary, late on the night of the attacks, to give just one example, though many other parallels were drawn in the succeeding days, from the Civil War to the Cold War. Seven years later, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Tim Geithner were the first members of the Federal Open Market Committee to appreciate that, without drastic measures, they risked re-running the Great Depression. What kind of history is informing today’s decisions in Washington as the war in Ukraine nears the conclusion of its first month? A few clues have emerged. “American officials are divided on how much the lessons from Cold War proxy wars, like the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan, can be applied to the ongoing war in Ukraine,” David Sanger reported for the New York Times on Saturday. According to Sanger, who cannot have written his piece without high-level sources, the Biden administration “seeks to help Ukraine lock Russia in a quagmire without inciting a broader conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary or cutting off potential paths to de-escalation … CIA officers are helping to ensure that crates of weapons are delivered into the hands of vetted Ukrainian military units, according to American officials. But as of now, Mr. Biden and his staff do not see the utility of an expansive covert effort to use the spy agency to ferry in arms as the United States did in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the 1980s.” Reading this carefully, I conclude that the U.S. intends to keep this war going. The administration will continue to supply the Ukrainians with anti-aircraft Stingers, antitank Javelins and explosive Switchblade drones. It will keep trying to persuade other North Atlantic Treaty Organization governments to supply heavier defensive weaponry. (The latest U.S. proposal is for Turkey to provide Ukraine with the sophisticated S-400 anti-aircraft system, which Ankara purchased from Moscow just a few years ago. I expect it to go the way of the scuttled plan for Polish MiG fighters.) Washington will revert to the Afghanistan-after-1979 playbook of supplying an insurgency only if the Ukrainian government loses the conventional war. I have evidence from other sources to corroborate this. “The only end game now,” a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, “is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it. Seeing Russia get cut off will not look like a good vector and they’ll have to re-evaluate the Sino-Russia axis. All this is to say that democracy and the West may well look back on this as a pivotal strengthening moment.” I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that “the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.” Again and again, I hear such language. It helps explain, among other things, the lack of any diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire.  It also explains the readiness of President Joe Biden to call Putin a war criminal. Now, I may be too pessimistic. I would very much like to share Francis Fukuyama’s optimism that “Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine.” Here is his bold prediction from March 10 (also here): The collapse of their position could be sudden and catastrophic, rather than happening slowly through a war of attrition. The army in the field will reach a point where it can neither be supplied nor withdrawn, and morale will vaporize. … Putin will not survive the defeat of his army … A Russian defeat will make possible a “new birth of freedom,” and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy. The spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians. From his laptop to God’s ears. I can see why so many Western observers attach a high probability to this scenario. There is no question that the Russian invasion force has sustained very high casualties and losses of equipment. Incredibly, Komsomolskaya Pravda, a pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper, just published Russian Ministry of Defense numbers indicating 9,861 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine and 16,153 wounded. (The story was quickly removed.) By comparison, 15,000 Soviet troops died and 35,000 were wounded in 10 years in Afghanistan. Moreover, there is ample evidence that their logistics is a mess, exemplified by the many supply trucks that have simply been abandoned because their tires or engines gave out. By these measures, Ukraine does seem to be winning the war, as Phillips O’Brien and Eliot A. Cohen have argued. History also provides numerous cases of authoritarian regimes that fell apart quite rapidly in the face of military reverses — think of the fates of Saddam Hussein and Moammar Al Qaddafi, or the Argentine junta that invaded the Falklands almost exactly 40 years ago. It would indeed be wonderful if the combination of attrition in Ukraine and a sanctions-induced financial crisis at home led to Putin’s downfall. Take that, China! Just you try the same trick with Taiwan — which, by the way, we care about a lot more than Ukraine because of all those amazing semiconductors they make at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The fascinating thing about this strategy is the way it combines cynicism and optimism. It is, when you come to think of it, archetypal Realpolitik to allow the carnage in Ukraine to continue; to sit back and watch the heroic Ukrainians “bleed Russia dry”; to think of the conflict as a mere sub-plot in Cold War II, a struggle in which China is our real opponent. The Biden administration not only thinks it’s doing enough to sustain the Ukrainian war effort, but not so much as to provoke Putin to escalation. It also thinks it’s doing enough to satisfy public opinion, which has rallied strongly behind Ukraine, but not so much as to cost American lives, aside from a few unlucky volunteers and journalists. The optimism, however, is the assumption that allowing the war to keep going will necessarily undermine Putin’s position; and that his humiliation in turn will serve as a deterrent to China. I fear these assumptions may be badly wrong and reflect a misunderstanding of the relevant history. Prolonging the war runs the risk not just of leaving tens of thousands of Ukrainians dead and millions homeless, but also of handing Putin something that he can plausibly present at home as victory. Betting on a Russian revolution is betting on an exceedingly rare event, even if the war continues to go badly for Putin; if the war turns in his favor, there will be no palace coup. As for China, I believe the Biden administration is deeply misguided in thinking that its threats of secondary sanctions against Chinese companies will deter President Xi Jinping from providing economic assistance to Russia. Begin with the military situation, which Western analysts consistently present in too favorable a light for the Ukrainians. As I write, it is true that the Russians seem to have put on hold their planned encirclement of Kyiv, though fighting continues on the outskirts of the city. But the theaters of war to watch are in the east and the south. In the east, according to military experts whom I trust, there is a significant risk that the Ukrainian positions near the Donbas will come under serious threat in the coming weeks. In the south, a battalion-sized Chechen force is closing in on the besieged and 80%-destroyed city of Mariupol. The Ukrainian defenders lack resupply outlets and room for tactical breakout. In short, the fall of Mariupol may be just days away. That in turn will free up Russian forces to complete the envelopment of the Donbas front. The next major targets in the south lie further west: Mykolayiv, which is inland, northwest of Kherson, and then the real prize, the historic port city of Odesa. It doesn’t help the defenders that a large storm in the northern Black Sea on Friday did considerable damage to Ukrainian sea defenses by dislodging mines. Also on Friday, the Russians claim, they used a hypersonic weapon in combat for the first time: a Kinzhal air-launched missile which was used to take out an underground munitions depot at Deliatyn in western Ukraine. They could have achieved the same result with a conventional cruise missile. The point was presumably to remind Ukraine’s backers of the vastly superior firepower Russia has at its disposal. Thus far, around 1,100 missiles have struck Ukraine. There are plenty more where they came from. And, of course, Putin has the power — unlike Saddam or Qaddafi — to threaten to use nuclear weapons, though I don’t believe he needs to do more than make threats, given that the conventional war is likely to turn in his favor. The next blow will be when Belarusian forces invade western Ukraine from the north, which the Ukrainian general staff expects to happen in the coming days, and which could pose a threat to the supply of arms from Poland. In any case, Putin has other less inflammatory options if he chooses to escalate. Cyberwarfare thus far has been Sherlock Holmes’s dog that didn’t bark. On Monday the Biden administration officially warned the private sector: “Beware of the dog.” Direct physical attacks on infrastructure (e.g., the undersea cables that carry the bulk of global digital traffic) are also conceivable. I fail to see in current Western strategizing any real recognition of how badly this war could go for Ukraine in the coming weeks. The incentive for Putin is obviously to create for himself a stronger bargaining position than he currently has before entering into serious negotiations. The Ukrainians have shown their cards. They are ready to drop the idea of NATO membership; to accept neutrality; to seek security guarantees from third parties; to accept limits on their own military capability. What is less clear is where they stand on the future status of Crimea and the supposedly independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. It seems obvious that Putin needs more than just these to be able to claim credibly to have won his war. It seems equally obvious that, if they believe they are winning, the Ukrainians will not yield a square mile of territory. Control of the Black Sea coast would give Putin the basis from which to demand further concessions, notably a “land bridge” from Crimea to Russia. Meanwhile, the mainly financial sanctions imposed on Russia are doing their intended work, in causing something like a nationwide bank run and consumer goods shortages. Estimates vary as to the scale of the economic contraction — perhaps as much as a third, recalling the depression conditions that followed the Soviet collapse in 1991. Yet, so long as European Union countries refuse to impose an energy embargo on Russia, Putin’s regime continues to receive around $1.1 billion a day from the EU in oil and gas receipts. I remain skeptical that the sanctions as presently constituted can either halt the Russian war machine or topple Putin. Why has the ruble not fallen further and even rallied against the euro last week? Remember, both sides get to apply history. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is a master of the art, carefully tailoring his speeches to each national parliament he addresses, effectively telling one country after another: “Our history is your history. We are you.” He gave the Brits Churchill, the Germans the Berlin Wall, the Yanks Martin Luther King Jr., and the Israelis the Holocaust. Putin applies history in a diametrically opposite way. “The president has completely lost interest in the present,” the Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar argued in a recent New York Times piece. “The economy, social issues, the coronavirus pandemic, these all annoy him. Instead, he and [his adviser Yuri] Kovalchuk obsess over the past.” I can see that. Putin’s recent pseudo-scholarly writing — on the origins of World War II and “On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians” — confirm the historical turn in his thought. I disagree with the former Russian foreign minister, Andrey Kozyrev, who told the Financial Times that, for Putin and his cronies, “the cold war never stopped.” That is not the history that interests Putin. As the Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev told Der Spiegel, Putin “expressed outrage that the annexation of the Crimea had been compared with Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. Putin lives in historic analogies and metaphors. Those who are enemies of eternal Russia must be Nazis.” Moreover: The hypocrisy of the West has become an obsession of his, and it is reflected in everything the Russian government does. Did you know that in parts of his declaration on the annexation of Crimea, he took passages almost verbatim from the Kosovo declaration of independence, which was supported by the West? Or that the attack on Kyiv began with the destruction of the television tower just as NATO attacked the television tower in Belgrade in 1999? Yet such recent history is less significant to Putin than the much older history of Russia’s imperial past. I have made this argument here before. Fresh evidence that Putin’s project is not the resurrection of the Soviet Union, but looks back to tsarist imperialism and Orthodoxy, was provided by his speech at the fascistic rally held on Friday at Moscow’s main football stadium. Its concluding allusion to the tsarist admiral Fyodor Ushakov, who made his reputation by winning victories in the Black Sea, struck me as ominous for Odesa. The Chinese also know how to apply history to contemporary problems, but they do it in a different way again. While Putin wants to transport post-Soviet Russia back into a mythologized tsarist past, Xi remains the heir to Mao Zedong, and one who aspires to a place alongside him in the Chinese Communist Party’s pantheon. In their two-hour call on Friday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry read-out, Biden told Xi: 50 years ago, the US and China made the important choice of issuing the Shanghai Communique. Fifty years on, the US-China relationship has once again come to a critical time. How this relationship develops will shape the world in the 21st century. Biden reiterated that the US does not seek a new Cold War with China; it does not aim to change China’s system; the revitalization of its alliances is not targeted at China; the US does not support “Taiwan independence”; and it has no intention to seek a conflict with China.  To judge by Xi’s response, he believes not one word of Biden’s assurances. As he replied: The China-US relationship, instead of getting out of the predicament created by the previous US administration, has encountered a growing number of challenges. … In particular … some people in the US have sent a wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” forces. This is very dangerous. Mishandling of the Taiwan question will have a disruptive impact on the bilateral ties … The direct cause for the current situation in the China-US relationship is that some people on the US side have not followed through on the important common understanding reached by the two Presidents …  Xi concluded with a Chinese saying: “He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off.” Make of that what you will, but it didn’t strike me as very encouraging to those in Team Biden who have been pushing a hawkish line toward China. The China hawks in the administration — notably Kurt Campbell and Rush Doshi at the National Security Council — do not like the term “Cold War II.” But Doshi’s recent book “The Long Game” (which I reviewed here) is essentially a manual for the containment of China — the nearest thing we are likely to get to George Kennan’s foundational Long Telegram and “X” article in Foreign Affairs. And National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan did not make himself popular at last Monday’s marathon meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, by threatening secondary sanctions against a list of Chinese companies the U.S. will be watching for signs that they are trading with Russia. If Benn Steill and Benjamin Della Rocca of the Council on Foreign Relations are right, the Chinese have already helped Russia hide some of its foreign exchange reserves from financial sanctions. Judging by his weekend interview in the Wall Street Journal, a member of President Donald Trump’s NSC, Matthew Pottinger, is now more than content to call a cold war by its real name. I agree: The invasion of Ukraine in many ways resembles the invasion of South Korea by North Korea in 1950. I would put it like this: Cold War II is like a strange mirror-image of Cold War I. In the First Cold War, the senior partner was Russia, the junior partner was China — now the roles are reversed. In Cold War I, the first hot war was in Asia (Korea) — now it’s in Europe (Ukraine). In Cold War I, Korea was just the first of many confrontations with aggressive Soviet-backed proxies — today the crisis in Ukraine will likely be followed by crises in the Middle East (Iran) and Far East (Taiwan). But there’s one very striking contrast. In Cold War I, President Harry Truman’s administration was able to lead an international coalition with a United Nations mandate to defend South Korea; now Ukraine has to make do with just arms supplies. And the reason for that, as we have seen, is the Biden administration’s intense fear that Putin may escalate to nuclear war if U.S. support for Ukraine goes too far. That wasn’t a concern in 1950. Although the Soviets conducted their first atomic test on August 29, 1949, less than a year before the outbreak of the Korean War, they were in no way ready to retaliate if (as General Douglas MacArthur recommended) the U.S. had used atomic bombs to win the Korean War. History talks in the corridors of power. But it speaks in different voices, according to where the corridors are located. In my view — and I really would love to be wrong about this — the Biden administration is making a colossal mistake in thinking that it can protract the war in Ukraine, bleed Russia dry, topple Putin and signal to China to keep its hands off Taiwan. Every step of this strategy is based on dubious history. Ukraine is not Afghanistan in the 1980s, and even if it were, this war isn’t going to last 10 years — more like 10 weeks. Allowing Ukraine to be bombed to rubble by Putin is not smart; it creates the chance for him to achieve his goal of rendering Ukrainian independence unviable. Putin, like most Russian leaders in history, will most likely die of natural causes. And China watches all this with a growing sense of certainty that it is not up against the U.S. of Truman and Kennan. For that America — the one that so confidently waged the opening phase of Cold War I — is itself now history. Tyler Durden Thu, 03/24/2022 - 16:21.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 24th, 2022

The Second Amendment And The Sovereignty Of A Nation

The Second Amendment And The Sovereignty Of A Nation Authored by Dania Vizzi via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), As the world watches the Ukrainian people bravely fight for their sovereignty against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of their country, I am reminded of the importance of the Second Amendment enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The right to bear arms has been viciously attacked in the past few decades as an archaic vestige of a bygone era. However, as many Ukrainians take up arms for the first time in their lives, it serves as a stark reminder of why our Second Amendment rights at home are critical for the survival of our nation. Dania Vizzi from the United States competes in the Women's Skeet Final of the Shooting competition during the Lima 2019 Pan-American Games, at Las Palmas shooting range in Lima, Peru, on Aug. 2, 2019. (Luka Gonzales/AFP via Getty Images) Many Americans are familiar with the Second Amendment and how its foundation—as described by our nation’s Founding Fathers—was to grant citizens the right to defend themselves against a tyrannical government. Usually, this understanding is only applied in the case of a tyrannical U.S. government; however, Ukraine has proven that the right to bear arms can be fundamental in protecting the sovereignty of a nation against a hostile foreign government. While the value of the Second Amendment is disputed within American society, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has—in a dramatic reversal of his initial stance against the legalization of weapons—reversed his policy in the face of Russian aggression. Zelensky recently not only called on ordinary Ukrainians to take up arms in the defense of their nation, but concurrently stated that the Ukrainian government would issue weapons to any citizen who requested one. Though a judicious decision by Zelensky, many Ukrainians—in preparation before the conflict—had limited experience with firearms. For example, in viral images weeks before the invasion, Ukrainians were seen wielding wooden rifles in an attempt to gain as much training as possible with firearms. While honorable, this deficit in knowledge across the agrarian nation, has no doubt harmed their readiness against the Russian forces. While the Russo-Ukrainian conflict provides a fresh example of why Americans’ right to bear arms is so critical, there are other examples here in the United States of Americans taking up arms in order to defend their rights. For example, look no further than the Deacons for Defense and Justice. Founded in 1964, the group of Black World War II veterans armed themselves to defend against the Ku Klux Klan as black Americans marched for civil rights against the Jim Crow South. These American patriots looked tyranny in the face and took up arms in the name of liberty and justice. From the Deacons for Defense and Justice to the Battle of Athens, Tennessee, Americans have used the Second Amendment to protect against those who sought to oppress a population. This is why the Second Amendment is so important for the security of the American people and the prosperity of the United States. From Ukraine to within our own shores, a legally armed citizenry can serve as a deterrent to a wide array of potential threats. Many Americans recognize this and have taken the time to get proper firearms training as, according to one study, over 60 percent of American gun owners have formal training. So, while some Americans continue to debate the value of the Second Amendment, let us not forget the people around the world who have no such rights and cannot defend themselves against an oppressive government. Let us not take for granted the gift of our Founding Fathers that has allowed millions of Americans the right to self-defense and a formal education on how to properly use arms. The United States stands as one of only three nations in the world that has enshrined the right of its citizenry to bear arms, and the significance of this rare clause in the U.S. Constitution has enabled us to become the beacon of the free world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should serve as a reminder of the blessings we in the United States take for granted, and buttress American support for our Second Amendment rights for the sake of the sovereignty of our great nation. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/18/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 19th, 2022

How Russia"s assault on Ukraine, the "world"s breadbasket," could lead to famine in Yemen

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, with millions living on the brink of starvation and relying on wheat from Ukraine and Russia. A Yemeni boy receives humanitarian aid, donated by the World Food Programme, in the country's third city of Taez, on October 10, 2020.Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP/Getty Images The war in Ukraine has added to the crisis in Yemen, where a civil war has been ongoing since 2014. Millions of Yemenis receive food aid from the UN and 161,000 will likely experience famine in 2022. Russia's attack on Ukraine has jeopardized crucial wheat supplies and caused prices to skyrocket. Russia's assault on Ukraine has caused millions of Ukrainians to flee, triggering a refugee crisis in eastern Europe. But the conflict is also exacerbating an ongoing humanitarian crisis a continent away.The area around the Black Sea, which includes Ukraine and Russia, has been called the "world's bread basket," thanks to it's fertile soil and high rates of grain production. Now, the war in Ukraine threatens the food security of countries that rely on that breadbasket for wheat and other grains — especially Yemen, where millions of people are already on the brink of famine amid a civil war."Before the Ukraine crisis erupted in February, we were warning about a year of unprecedented hunger in Yemen," Shaza Moghraby, a spokesperson for the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP), told Insider.Since the outbreak of civil war in Yemen in 2014, its economy has been cut in half and millions of Yemenis have been pushed into food insecurity with more than 80% living below the poverty line. The situation has been worsened by global economic challenges and rising prices, including those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.WFP provides 13 million Yemeni's with food assistance every month, with wheat from Ukraine and Russia making up a crucial part of the country's food supply.Ukraine and Russia account for nearly 30% of global wheat exports"When it comes to wheat, the Black Sea region, specifically Ukraine and Russia, matters a lot," J. Mark Welch, a grain markets economist at Texas A&M University, told Insider.Russia grows 10% of the world's wheat and 17% of the world's wheat exports, while Ukraine accounts for 12% of wheat exports. That amounts to nearly 30% of global wheat exports coming from those two countries alone.Displaced Yemenis receive humanitarian aid, donated by the World Food Programme in cooperation with the Danish Refugee Council, in the northern province of Hajjah on December 30, 2019.Essa Ahmed/AFP/Getty ImagesIn Yemen specifically, 22% of its wheat imports come from Ukraine alone, according to WFP.After Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the country's ports were shut down, effectively cutting off its wheat supply to nations that rely on it, which includes countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The price of wheat skyrocketed in response.Russia's wheat supply is also at risk of being cut off to some countries. Welch said sanctions and opposition to the war could deter purchases of Russian wheat. Or, even if a country was willing to buy Russian wheat, sanctions related to financial institutions could make it difficult to actually pay Russia and complete the transaction.Welch explained that wheat, like many agricultural products, can't be produced overnight. Wheat crop being sold and transported now is from last year's harvest, and new crop won't be harvested in the northern hemisphere until June or July. That means even if other wheat-producing countries wanted to step up and fill in the gaps, it's very difficult to add to the supply.There are some nations, like India, that have had a particularly good wheat harvests and, in theory, could have excess supply to fill in the gaps left by Ukraine or Russia, but with wheat at a much higher price, that still leaves some nations in a difficult spot."Those nations that import a large portion of the grain to feed their population, even if it comes from another source it's at much, much higher prices, so there are likely to be some very serious consequences of that," Welch said.Yemenis receive humanitarian aid provided by the World Food Programme in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on June 1, 2021.Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty ImagesCountdown to 'catastrophe' in YemenAt the start of the year, the WFP already had to halve its food rations for 8 million people in Yemen due to a lack of necessary funding. The 5 million Yemenis at immediate risk of famine have continued to receive full rations.But if the war in Ukraine continues to choke wheat supply and drive up prices, WFP may have to cut its assistance even further, potentially leading to "catastrophe" in Yemen."Those who can somehow get by, barely, will soon join the ranks of those 5 million if we continue providing them with just half of the rations," Moghraby said.Some 161,000 people in Yemen are now expected to experience famine in 2022.Moghraby said the WFP is in dire need of more funding to keep up with the rising prices and continue providing food assistance. A UN fundraising effort held Wednesday sought to raise $4.27 billion for humanitarian efforts in Yemen.But only $1.3 billion was raised as the crisis in Ukraine has overshadowed the situation in Yemen, prompting the UN's Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths to call the total a "disappointment," the Associated Press reported."It's not a sustainable situation," Moghraby said, explaining that, even with the money they do have, they can't buy as many goods due to rising prices.She added: "Our humanitarian dollar is really being stretched to a breaking point."Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 16th, 2022

Why Did Vladimir Putin Invade Ukraine?

Why Did Vladimir Putin Invade Ukraine? Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, Nearly three weeks have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, but it still is not clear why he did so and what he hopes to achieve. Western analysts, commentators and government officials have put forward more than a dozen theories to explain Putin's actions, motives, and objectives. Some analysts posit that Putin is motivated by a desire to rebuild the Russian Empire. Others say he is obsessed with bringing Ukraine back into Russia's sphere of influence. Some believe that Putin wants to control Ukraine's vast offshore energy resources. Still others speculate that Putin, an aging autocrat, is seeking to maintain his grip on power. While some argue that Putin has a long-term proactive strategy aimed at establishing Russian primacy in Europe, others believe he is a short-term reactionary seeking to preserve what remains of Russia's diminishing position on the world stage. Following is a compilation of eight differing but complementary theories that try to explain why Putin invaded Ukraine. 1. Empire Building The most common explanation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that Putin, burning with resentment over the demise of the Soviet Empire, is determined to reestablish Russia (generally considered a regional power) as a great power that can exert influence on a global scale. According to this theory, Putin aims to regain control over the 14 post-Soviet states — often referred to as Russia's "near abroad" — that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is part of greater plan to rebuild the Russian Empire, which territorially was even more expansive than the Soviet Empire. The Russian Empire theory holds that Putin's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014, as well as his 2015 decision to intervene militarily in Syria, were all parts of a strategy to restore Russia's geopolitical position — and erode the U.S.-led rules-based international order. Those who believe Putin is trying to reestablish Russia as a great power say that once he gains control over Ukraine, he will turn his focus to other former Soviet republics, including the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and eventually Bulgaria, Romania and even Poland. Putin's ultimate objective, they say, is to drive the United States out of Europe, establish an exclusive great-power sphere of influence for Russia on the continent and dominate the European security order. Russian literature supports this view. In 1997, for instance, Russian strategist Aleksandr Dugin, a friend of Putin, published a highly influential book — "Foundation of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia" — which argued that Russia's long-term goal should be the creation, not of a Russian Empire, but of a Eurasian Empire. Dugin's book, which is required reading in Russian military academies, states that to make Russia great again, Georgia should be dismembered, Finland should be annexed and Ukraine should cease to exist: "Ukraine, as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions, represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia." Dugin, who has been described as "Putin's Rasputin," added: "The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us." In April 2005, Putin echoed this sentiment when, in his annual state of the nation address, he described the collapse of the Soviet empire as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century." Since then, Putin has repeatedly criticized the U.S.-led world order, in which Russia has a subordinate position. In February 2007, during a speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, Putin attacked the idea of a "unipolar" world order in which the United States, as the sole superpower, was able to spread its liberal democratic values to other parts of the world, including Russia. In October 2014, in a speech to the Valdai Discussion Club, a high-profile Russian think tank close to the Kremlin, Putin criticized the post-World War II liberal international order, whose principles and norms — including adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and the promotion of liberal democracy, as well as preserving the sanctity of territorial sovereignty and existing boundaries — have regulated the conduct of international relations for nearly 80 years. Putin called for the creation of a new multipolar world order that is more friendly to the interests of an autocratic Russia. The late Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter), in his 1997 book "The Grand Chessboard," wrote that Ukraine is essential to Russian imperial ambitions: "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.... However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia." The German historian Jan Behrends tweeted: "Make no mistake: For #Putin it's not about EU or NATO, it is about his mission to restore Russian empire. No more, no less. #Ukraine is just a stage, NATO is just one irritant. But the ultimate goal is Russian hegemony in Europe." Ukraine expert Peter Dickinson, writing for the Atlantic Council, noted: "Putin's extreme animosity towards Ukraine is shaped by his imperialistic instincts. It is often suggested that Putin wishes to recreate the Soviet Union, but this is actually far from the case. In fact, he is a Russian imperialist who dreams of a revived Czarist Empire and blames the early Soviet authorities for handing over ancestral Russian lands to Ukraine and other Soviet republics." Bulgarian scholar Ivan Krastev agreed: "America and Europe aren't divided on what Mr. Putin wants. For all the speculation about motives, that much is clear: The Kremlin wants a symbolic break from the 1990s, burying the post-Cold War order. That would take the form of a new European security architecture that recognizes Russia's sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space and rejects the universality of Western values. Rather than the restoration of the Soviet Union, the goal is the recovery of what Mr. Putin regards as historic Russia." Transatlantic security analyst Andrew Michta added that Putin's invasion of Ukraine was: "The culmination of almost two decades of policy aimed at reconstructing the Russian empire and bringing Russia back into European politics as one of the principal players empowered to shape the Continent's future." Writing for the national security blog 1945, Michta elaborated: "From Moscow's perspective the Ukrainian war is in effect the final battle of the Cold War — for Russia a time to reclaim its place on the European chessboard as a great empire, empowered to shape the Continent's destiny going forward. The West needs to understand and accept that only once Russia is unequivocally defeated in Ukraine will a genuine post-Cold War settlement finally be possible." 2. Buffer Zone Many analysts attribute the Russian invasion of Ukraine to geopolitics, which attempts to explain the behavior of states through the lens of geography. Most of the western part of Russia sits on the Russian Plain, a vast mountain-free area that extends over 4,000,000 square kilometers (1.5 million square miles). Also called the East European Plain, the vast flatland presents Russia with an acute security problem: an enemy army invading from central or eastern Europe would encounter few geographical obstacles to reach the Russian heartland. In other words, Russia, due to its geography, is especially difficult to defend. The veteran geopolitical analyst Robert Kaplan wrote that geography is the starting point for understanding everything else about Russia: "Russia remains illiberal and autocratic because, unlike Britain and America, it is not an island nation, but a vast continent with few geographical features to protect it from invasion. Putin's aggression stems ultimately from this fundamental geographical insecurity." Russia's leaders historically have sought to obtain strategic depth by pushing outward to create buffer zones — territorial barriers that increase the distance and time invaders would encounter to reach Moscow. The Russian Empire included the Baltics, Finland and Poland, all of which served as buffers. The Soviet Union created the Warsaw Pact — which included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania — as a vast buffer to protect against potential invaders. Most of the former Warsaw Pact countries are now members of NATO. That leaves Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, strategically located between Russia and the West, as the only eastern European countries left to serve as Russian buffer states. Some analysts argue that Russia's perceived need for a buffer is the primary factor in Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. Mark Galeotti, a leading British scholar of Russian power politics, noted that the possession of a buffer zone is intrinsic to Russia's understanding of great-power status: "From Putin's point of view, he has built so much of his political identity around the notion of making Russia a great power and making it recognized as a great power. When he thinks of great power, he is essentially a 19th century geopolitician. It's not the power of economic connectivity, or technological innovation, let alone soft power. No. Great power, in good old-fashioned terms, has a sphere of influence, countries whose sovereignty is subordinate to your own." Others believe that the concept of buffer states is obsolete. International security expert Benjamin Denison, for instance, argued that Russia cannot legitimately justify the need for a buffer zone: "Once nuclear weapons were invented ... buffer states were no longer seen as necessary regardless of geography, as nuclear deterrence worked to ensure the territorial integrity of great powers with nuclear capabilities.... The utility of buffer states and the concerns of geography invariably changed following the nuclear revolution. Without the concern of quick invasions into the homeland of a rival great power, buffer states lose their utility regardless of the geography of the territory.... "Narrowly defining national interests to geography, and mandating that geography pushes states to replicate past actions throughout history, only fosters inaccurate thinking and forgives Russian land-grabs as natural." 3. Ukrainian Independence Closely intertwined with theories about empire-building and geopolitics is Putin's obsession with extinguishing Ukrainian sovereignty. Putin contends that Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and that its independence in August 1991 was a historical mistake. Ukraine, he claims, does not have a right to exist. Putin has repeatedly downplayed or negated Ukraine's right to statehood and sovereignty: In 2008, Putin told William Burns, then the U.S. ambassador to Russia (now director of the CIA): "Don't you know that Ukraine is not even a real country? Part of it is really East European and part is really Russian." In July 2021, Putin penned a 7,000-word essay — "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians" — in which he expressed contempt for Ukrainian statehood, questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's borders and argued that modern-day Ukraine occupies "the lands of historical Russia." He concluded: "I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia." In February 2022, just three days before he launched his invasion, Putin asserted that Ukraine was a fake state created by Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union: "Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia — by separating, severing what is historically Russian land.... Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks' policy and can be rightfully called 'Vladimir Lenin's Ukraine.' He was its creator and architect." Russia scholar Mark Katz, in an essay — "Blame It on Lenin: What Putin Gets Wrong About Ukraine" — argued that Putin should draw lessons from Lenin's realization that a more accommodating approach toward Ukrainian nationalism would better serve Russia's long-term interests: "Putin cannot escape the problem that Lenin himself had to deal with of how to reconcile non-Russians to being ruled by Russia. The forceful imposition of Russian rule in part — much less all — of Ukraine will not bring about such a reconciliation. For even if Ukrainians cannot resist the forceful imposition of Russian rule over part or all of Ukraine now, Putin's success in imposing it is only likely to intensify feelings of Ukrainian nationalism and lead it to burst forth again whenever the opportunity arises." Ukraine's political independence has been accompanied by a long-running feud with Russia over religious allegiance. In January 2019, in what was described as "the biggest rift in Christianity in centuries," the Orthodox church in Ukraine gained independence (autocephaly) from the Russian church. The Ukrainian church had been under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate since 1686. Its autonomy dealt a blow to the Russian church, which lost around one-fifth of the 150 million Orthodox Christians under its authority. The Ukrainian government claimed that Moscow-backed churches in Ukraine were being used by the Kremlin to spread propaganda and to support Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region. Putin wants the Ukrainian church to return to Moscow's orbit, and has warned of "a heavy dispute, if not bloodshed" over any attempts to transfer ownership of church property. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, has declared that Kyiv, where the Orthodox religion began, is comparable in terms of its historic importance to Jerusalem: "Ukraine is not on the periphery of our church. We call Kiev 'the mother of all Russian cities'. For us Kiev is what Jerusalem is for many. Russian Orthodoxy began there, so under no circumstances can we abandon this historical and spiritual relationship. The whole unity of our Local Church is based on these spiritual ties." On March 6, Kirill — a former KGB agent who is known as "Putin's altar boy" due to his subservience to the Russian leader — publicly endorsed the invasion of Ukraine. In a sermon he repeated Putin's claims that the Ukrainian government was carrying out a "genocide" of Russians in Ukraine: "For eight years, the suppression, extermination of people has been underway in Donbass. Eight years of suffering and the entire world is silent." German geopolitical analyst Ulrich Speck wrote: "For Putin, destroying Ukraine's independence has become an obsession.... Putin has often said, and even written, that Ukraine is not a separate nation, and should not exist as a sovereign state. It is this fundamental denial that has led Putin to wage this totally senseless war that he cannot win. And that leads us to the problem of making peace: either Ukraine has the right to exist as a nation and a sovereign state, or it hasn't. Sovereignty is indivisible. Putin denies it, Ukraine defends it. How can you make a compromise about the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state? Impossible. That's why both sides can only fight on until they win. "Normally wars that take place between states are about conflicts they have between them. Yet this is a war about the existence of one state, which is denied by the aggressor. That's why the usual concepts of peacemaking — finding a compromise — do not apply. If Ukraine continues to exist as a sovereign state, Putin will have lost. He is not interested in territorial gain as such — it's rather a burden for him. He is only interested in controlling the entire country. Everything else for him is defeat." Ukraine expert Taras Kuzio added: "The real cause of today's crisis is Putin's quest to return Ukraine to the Russian orbit. For the past eight years, he has used a combination of direct military intervention, cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, economic pressure, and coercive diplomacy to try and force Ukraine into abandoning its Euro-Atlantic ambitions.... "Putin's ultimate objective is Ukraine's capitulation and the country's absorption into the Russian sphere of influence. His obsessive pursuit of this goal has already plunged the world into a new Cold War.... "Nothing less than Ukraine's return to the Kremlin orbit will satisfy Putin or assuage his fears over the further breakup of Russia's imperial inheritance. He will not stop until he is stopped. In order to achieve this, the West must become far more robust in responding to Russian imperial aggression, while also expediting Ukraine's own Euro-Atlantic integration." 4. NATO This theory holds that Putin invaded Ukraine to prevent it from joining NATO. The Russian president has repeatedly demanded that the West "immediately" guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO or the European Union. A vocal proponent of this viewpoint is the American international relations theorist John Mearsheimer, who, in a controversial essay, "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault," argued that the eastward expansion of NATO provoked Putin to act militarily against Ukraine: "The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West.... "Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion." In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Mearsheimer blamed the United States and its European allies for the current conflict: "I think all the trouble in this case really started in April 2008, at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, where afterward NATO issued a statement that said Ukraine and Georgia would become part of NATO." In fact, Putin has not always opposed NATO expansion. Several times he went so far as to say that the eastward expansion of NATO was none of Russia's concern. In March 2000, for instance, Putin, in an interview with the late BBC television presenter David Frost, was asked whether he viewed NATO as a potential partner, rival or enemy. Putin responded: "Russia is part of the European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. So, it is hard for me to visualize NATO as an enemy." In November 2001, in an interview with National Public Radio, Putin was asked if he opposed the admission of the three Baltic states — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — into NATO. He replied: "We of course are not in a position to tell people what to do. We cannot forbid people to make certain choices if they want to increase the security of their nations in a particular way." In May 2002, Putin, when asked about the future of relations between NATO and Ukraine, said matter-of-factly that he did not care one way or the other: "I am absolutely convinced that Ukraine will not shy away from the processes of expanding interaction with NATO and the Western allies as a whole. Ukraine has its own relations with NATO; there is the Ukraine-NATO Council. At the end of the day the decision is to be taken by NATO and Ukraine. It is a matter for those two partners." Putin's position on NATO expansion radically changed after the 2004 Orange Revolution, which was triggered by Moscow's attempt to steal Ukraine's presidential election. A massive pro-democracy uprising ultimately led to the defeat of Putin's preferred candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, who eventually did become president of Ukraine in 2010 but was ousted in the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a recent interview with Radio Free Europe, discussed how Putin's views about NATO have changed: "Mr. Putin has changed over the years. My first meeting took place in 2002...and he was very positive regarding cooperation between Russia and the West. Then, gradually, he changed his mind. And from around 2005 to 2006, he got increasingly negative toward the West. And in 2008, he attacked Georgia.... In 2014, he took Crimea, and now we have seen a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. So, he has really changed over the years. "I think the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine in 2004 and 2005 contributed to his change of mind. We shouldn't forget that Vladimir Putin grew up in the KGB. So, his thinking is very much impacted by that past. I think he suffers from paranoia. And he thought that after color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, that the aim [of the West] was to initiate a regime change in the Kremlin — in Moscow — as well. And that's why he turned against the West. "I put the blame entirely on Putin and Russia. Russia is not a victim. We have reached out to Russia several times during history.... First, we approved the NATO Russia Founding Act in 1997.... Next time, it was in 2002, we reached out once again, established something very special, namely the NATO-Russia Council. And in 2010, we decided at a NATO-Russia summit that we would develop a strategic partnership between Russia and NATO. So, time and again, we reached out to Russia. "I think we should have done more to deter Putin. Back in 2008, he attacked Georgia, took de facto Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We could have reacted much more determinedly already in that time." In recent years, Putin repeatedly has claimed that the post-Cold War enlargement of NATO poses a threat to Russia, which has been left with no other choice than to defend itself. He also has accused the West of trying to encircle Russia. In fact, of the 14 countries that have borders with Russia, only five are NATO members. The borders of those five countries — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Poland — are contiguous with only 5% of Russia's total borders. Putin has claimed that NATO broke solemn promises it made in the 1990s that the alliance would not expand to the east. "You promised us in the 1990s that NATO would not move an inch to the east. You brazenly cheated us," he said in during a press conference in December 2021. Mikhail Gorbachev, then president of the Soviet Union, countered that such promises were never made. Putin recently issued three wildly unrealistic demands: NATO must withdraw its forces to its 1997 borders; NATO must not offer membership to other countries, including Finland, Sweden, Moldova or Georgia; NATO must provide written guarantees that Ukraine will never join the alliance. Writing for Foreign Affairs, Russian historian Dmitri Trenin, in an essay — "What Putin Really Wants in Ukraine" — argued that Putin wants stop NATO expansion, not to annex more territory: "Putin's actions suggest that his true goal is not to conquer Ukraine and absorb it into Russia but to change the post-Cold War setup in Europe's east. That setup left Russia as a rule-taker without much say in European security, which was centered on NATO. If he manages to keep NATO out of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and U.S. intermediate-range missiles out of Europe, he thinks he could repair part of the damage Russia's security sustained after the Cold War ended. Not coincidentally, that could serve as a useful record to run on in 2024, when Putin would be up for re-election." 5. Democracy This theory holds that Ukraine, a flourishing democracy, poses an existential threat to Putin's autocratic model of governance. The continued existence of a Western-aligned, sovereign, free and democratic Ukraine could inspire the Russian people to demand the same. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Robert Person, a professor at the United States Military Academy, wrote that Putin is terrified of democracy in Ukraine: "Over the last thirty years, the salience of the issue [NATO expansion] has risen and fallen not primarily because of the waves of NATO expansion, but due instead to waves of democratic expansion in Eurasia. In a very clear pattern, Moscow's complaints about NATO spike after democratic breakthroughs.... "Because the primary threat to Putin and his autocratic regime is democracy, not NATO, that perceived threat would not magically disappear with a moratorium on NATO expansion. Putin would not stop seeking to undermine democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine, Georgia, or the region as a whole if NATO stopped expanding. As long as citizens in free countries exercise their democratic rights to elect their own leaders and set their own course in domestic and foreign politics, Putin will keep them in his crosshairs.... "The more serious cause of tensions has been a series of democratic breakthroughs and popular protests for freedom throughout the 2000s, what many refer to as the "Color Revolutions." Putin believes that Russian national interests have been threatened by what he portrays as U.S.-supported coups. After each of them — Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, the Arab Spring in 2011, Russia in 2011-12, and Ukraine in 2013-14 — Putin has pivoted to more hostile policies toward the United States, and then invoked the NATO threat as justification for doing so.... "Ukrainians who rose up in defense of their freedom were, in Putin's own assessment, Slavic brethren with close historical, religious, and cultural ties to Russia. If it could happen in Kyiv, why not in Moscow?" Ukraine expert Taras Kuzio agrees: "Putin remains haunted by the wave of pro-democracy uprisings that swept Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, setting the stage for the subsequent Soviet collapse. He sees Ukraine's fledgling democracy as a direct challenge to his own authoritarian regime and recognizes that Ukraine's historical closeness to Russia makes this threat particularly acute." 6. Energy Ukraine holds the second-biggest known reserves — more than one trillion cubic meters — of natural gas in Europe after Russia. These reserves, under the Black Sea, are concentrated around the Crimean Peninsula. In addition, large deposits of shale gas have been discovered in eastern Ukraine, around Kharkiv and Donetsk. In January 2013, Ukraine signed a 50-year, $10 billion deal with Royal Dutch Shell to explore and drill for natural gas in eastern Ukraine. Later that year, Kyiv signed a 50-year, $10 billion shale gas production-sharing agreement with the American energy company Chevron. Shell and Chevron pulled out of those deals after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Some analysts believe Putin annexed Crimea to prevent Ukraine from becoming a major oil and gas provider to Europe and thereby challenge Russia's energy supremacy. Russia, they argue, was also worried that as Europe's second-largest petrostate, Ukraine would have been granted fast-track membership to the EU and NATO. According to this theory, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is aimed at forcing Kyiv to officially acknowledge Crimea as Russian, and recognize the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states, so that Moscow can legally secure control over the natural resources in these areas. 7. Water On February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops restored water flow to a strategically important canal linking the Dnieper River to Russian-controlled Crimea. Ukraine blocked the Soviet-era North Crimean Canal, which supplies 85% of Crimea's water needs, after Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014. The water shortages resulted in a massive reduction in agricultural production on the peninsula and forced Russia to spend billions of rubles each year to supply water from the mainland to sustain the Crimean population. The water crisis was a major source of tension between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted that the water supply would not be restored until Russia returns the Crimean Peninsula. Security analyst Polina Vynogradova noted that any resumption of water supply would have amounted to a de facto recognition of Russian authority in Crimea and would have undermined Ukraine's claim to the peninsula. It would also have weakened Ukrainian leverage over negotiations on Donbas. Even if Russian troops eventually withdraw from Ukraine, Russia likely will maintain permanent control over the entire 400-kilometer North Crimean Canal to ensure there are no more disruptions to Crimea's water supply. 8. Regime Survival This theory holds that the 69-year-old Putin, who has been in power since 2000, seeks perpetual military conflict as a way of remaining popular with the Russian public. Some analysts believe that after public uprisings in Belarus and Kazakhstan, Putin decided to invade Ukraine due to a fear of losing his grip on power. In an interview with Politico, Bill Browder, the American businessman who heads up the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, said that Putin feels the need to look strong at all times: "I don't think that this war is about NATO; I don't think this war is about Ukrainian people or the EU or even about Ukraine; this war is about starting a war in order to stay in power. Putin is a dictator, and he's a dictator whose intention is to stay in power until the end of his natural life. He said to himself that the writing's on the wall for him unless he does something dramatic. Putin is just thinking short-term ... 'how do I stay in power from this week to the next? And then next week to the next?'" Anders Åslund, a leading specialist on economic policy in Russia and Ukraine, agreed: "How to understand Putin's war in Ukraine. It is not about NATO, EU, USSR or even Ukraine. Putin needs a war to justify his rule & his swiftly increasing domestic repression.... It is really all about Putin, not about neo-imperialism, Russian nationalism or even the KGB." Russia expert Anna Borshchevskaya wrote that the invasion of Ukraine could be the beginning of the end for Putin: "Though he is not democratically elected, he worries about public opinion and protests at home, seeing them as threats to retaining his grip on power.... While Putin may have hoped that invading Ukraine would quickly expand Russian territory and help restore the grandeur of the former Russian empire, it could do the opposite." Tyler Durden Tue, 03/15/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 15th, 2022

10 Signs The War In Ukraine Is Part Of The Great Reset

10 Signs The War In Ukraine Is Part Of The Great Reset Via WinterOak.org.uk, Welcome to the second phase of the Great Reset: war. While the pandemic acclimatised the world to lockdowns, normalised the acceptance of experimental medications, precipitated the greatest transfer of wealth to corporations by decimating SMEs and adjusted the muscle memory of workforce operations in preparation for a cybernetic future, an additional vector was required to accelerate the economic collapse before nations can ‘Build Back Better.’ I present below several ways in which the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is the next catalyst for the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset agenda, facilitated by an interconnected web of global stakeholders and a diffuse network of public-private partnerships. 1. The war between Russia and Ukraine is already causing unprecedented disruption to global supply chains, exacerbating fuel shortages and inducing chronic levels of inflation. As geopolitical tensions morph into a protracted conflict between NATO and the Sino-Russia axis, a second contraction may plunge the economy into stagflation. In the years ahead, the combination of subpar growth and runaway inflation will force a global economic underclass into micro-work contracts and low-wage jobs in an emerging gig economy. Another recession will compound global resource thirst, narrow the scope for self-sufficiency and significantly increase dependence on government subsidies. With the immiseration of a significant portion of the world’s labour force looming on the horizon, this may well be a prelude to the introduction of a Universal Basic Income, leading to a highly stratified neo-feudal order. Therefore, the World Economic Forum’s ominous prediction that we will ‘own nothing and be happy’ by 2030 seems to be unfolding with horrifying rapidity. 2. The war’s economic fallout will lead to a dramatic downsizing of the global workforce.  The architects of the Great Reset have anticipated this trend for a number of years and will exploit this economic turbulence by propelling the role of disruptive technologies to meet global challenges and fundamentally alter traditional business patterns to keep pace with rapid changes in technology. Like the pandemic, disaster preparedness in the age of conflict will rest significantly on the willingness to embrace specific technological innovations in the public and private spheres so that future generations can supply the labour demands of the Great Reset. A recurring theme in Klaus Schwab’s Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that groundbreaking technological and scientific innovations will no longer be relegated to the physical world around us but become extensions of ourselves. He emphasises the primacy of emerging technologies in a next generation workforce and highlights the urgency to push ahead with plans to digitise several aspects of the global labour force through scalable technology based solutions. Those spearheading the Great Reset seek to manage geopolitical risk by creating new markets which revolve around digital innovations, e-strategies, telepresence labour, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Bodies. The breakneck speed in which AI technologies are being deployed suggest that the optimization of such technologies will initially bear on traditional industries and professions which offer a safety net for hundreds of millions of workers, such as farming, retail, catering, manufacturing and the courier industries. However, automation in the form of robots, smart software and machine learning will not be limited to jobs which are routine, repetitive and predictable. AI systems are on the verge of wholesale automation of various white collar jobs, particularly in areas which involve information processing and pattern recognition such as accounting, HR and middle management positions. Although anticipating future employment trends is no easy task, it’s safe to say that the combined threat of pandemics and wars means the labour force is on the brink of an unprecedented reshuffle with technology reshaping logistics, potentially threatening hundreds of millions of blue and white collar jobs, resulting in the greatest and fastest displacement of jobs in history and foreshadowing a labour market shift which was previously inconceivable. While it has long been anticipated that the increased use of technology in the private sector would result in massive job losses, pandemic lockdowns and the coming disruption caused by a war will speed up this process, and many companies will be left with no other option but to lay off staff and replace them with creative technological solutions merely for the survival of their businesses. In other words, many of the jobs which will be lost in the years ahead were already moving towards redundancy and are unlikely to be recovered once the dust is settled. 3. The war has significantly reduced Europe’s reliance on the Russian energy sector and reinforced the centrality of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ‘net zero‘ emissions which lies at the heart of the Great Reset. Policymakers marching lockstep with the Great Reset have capitalised on the tough sanctions against Russia by accelerating the shift towards ‘green’ energy and reiterating the importance of decarbonisation as part of the ‘fight against climate change’. However, it would be very short-sighted to assume that the Great Reset is ultimately geared towards the equitable distribution of ‘green’ hydrogen and carbon-neutral synthetic fuels replacing petrol & diesel. While UN SDGs are crucial to post-pandemic recovery, more importantly, they are fundamental to the makeover of shareholder capitalism which is now being vaunted by the Davos elites as ‘stakeholder capitalism’. In economic terms, this refers to a system where governments are no longer the final arbiters of state policies as unelected private corporations become the de facto trustees of society, taking on the direct responsibility to address the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges through macroeconomic cooperation and a multi-stakeholder model of global governance. Under such an economic construct, asset holding conglomerates can redirect the flow of global capital by aligning investments with the UN’s SDGs and configuring them as Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) compliant so that new international markets can be built on the disaster and misery of potentially hundreds of millions of people reeling from the economic collapse caused by war. Therefore, the war offers a huge impetus for the governments pushing the reset to actively pursue energy independence, shape markets towards ‘green and inclusive growth’ and eventually move populations towards a cap-and-trade system, otherwise known as a carbon credit economy. This will centralise power in the hands of stakeholder capitalists under the benevolent guise of reinventing capitalism through fairer and greener means, using deceptive slogans like ‘Build Back Better’ without sacrificing the perpetual growth imperative of capitalism. 4. Food shortages created by the war will offer a major boon to the synthetic biology industry as the convergence of digital technologies with materials science and biology will radically transform the agricultural sector and encourage the adoption of plant-based and lab-grown alternatives on a global scale.  Russia and Ukraine are both breadbaskets of the world and critical shortages in grains, fertilisers, vegetable oils and essential foodstuffs will catapult the importance of biotechnology to food security and sustainability and give birth to several imitation meat start-ups similar to ‘Impossible Foods’ which was co-funded by Bill Gates. One can therefore expect more government regulation to usher a dramatic overhaul to industrial food production and cultivation, ultimately benefiting agribusiness and biotech investors, since food systems will be redesigned through emerging technologies to grow ‘sustainable’ proteins and CRISPR gene-edited patented crops. 5. Russia’s exclusion from SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) foreshadows an economic reset which will generate precisely the kind of blowback necessary for corralling large swathes of the global population into a technocratic control grid. As several economists have opined, weaponizing SWIFT, CHIPS (The Clearing House Interbank Payments System) and the US Dollar against Russia will only spur geopolitical rivals like China to accelerate the process of de-dollarisation. The main benefactor of economic sanctions against Russia appears to be China which can reshape the Eurasian market by encouraging member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS to bypass the SWIFT ecosystem and settle cross-border international payments in the Digital Yuan. While the demand for cryptocurrencies will see a massive spike, this is likely to encourage many governments to increasingly regulate the sector through public blockchains and enforce a multilateral ban on decentralised cryptocurrencies. The shift to crypto could be the dress rehearsal to eventually expedite plans for programmable money overseen by a federal regulator, leading to the greater accretion of power in the hands of a powerful global technocracy and thus sealing our enslavement to financial institutions. I believe this war will bring currencies to parity, therefore heralding a new Bretton Woods moment which promises to transform the operation of international banking and macroeconomic cooperation through the future adoption of central bank digital currencies. 6.  This war marks a major inflection point in the globalist aspiration for a new international rules-based order anchored in Eurasia. As the ‘father of geopolitics’ Halford Mackinder opined over a century ago, the rise of every global hegemon in the past 500 years has been possible because of dominance over Eurasia. Similarly, their decline has been associated with losing control over that pivotal landmass. This causal connection between geography and power has not gone unnoticed by the global network of stakeholders representing the WEF, many of whom have anticipated the transition to a multipolar era and return to great power competition amid America’s receding political and economic influence and a pressing need for what technocrats call smart globalisation. While America tries desperately to cling to its superpower status, China’s economic ascent and Russia’s regional ambitions threaten to upend the strategic axial points of Eurasia (Western Europe and Asia Pacific). The region in which America previously enjoyed uncontested hegemony is no longer impervious to cracks and we may be witnessing a changing of the guard which dramatically alters the calculus of global force projection. Although China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has the potential to unify the world-island (Asia, Africa and Europe) and cause a tectonic shift in the locus of global power, the recent invasion of Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences for China-Europe rail freight. The Ukrainian President Zelensky claimed that Ukraine could function as the BRI’s gateway to Europe. Therefore, we cannot ignore China’s huge stake in the recent tensions over Ukraine, nor can we ignore NATO’s underlying ambition to check China’s rise in the region by limiting the sale of Ukrainian assets to China and doing everything in its capacity to thwart The Modern Silk Road. As sanctions push Russia towards consolidating bilateral ties with China and fully integrating with the BRI, a Pan-Eurasian trading bloc may be the realignment which forces a shared governance of the global commons and a reset to the age of US exceptionalism. 7. With speculation mounting over the war’s long term impact on bilateral trade flows between China and Europe, the Russia-Ukraine conflict will catapult Israel – a leading advocate of the Great Reset – to even greater international prominence.  Israel is a highly attractive BRI market for China and the CCP is acutely aware of Israel’s importance as a strategic outpost connecting the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea through the Gulf of Suez. Furthermore, the Chinese government has for many years acknowledged the primacy of Israel as a global technology hub and capitalised on Israel’s innovation capabilities to help meet its own strategic challenges. Therefore, Naftali Bennet’s mediation between Moscow and Kiev is likely to factor the instrumental role of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in expanding both China and Israel’s regional and global strategic footprint. Israel’s status as among the leading tech hubs of the future and gateway connecting Europe and the Middle East is inextricably tied to the web of physical infrastructures, such as roads, railways, ports and energy pipelines which China has been building over the past decade. Already a powerhouse in auto-technologies, robotics and cybersecurity, Israel aspires to be the central nation in the millennial Kingdom and the country’s tech startups are predicted to play a key role in the fourth industrial revolution. Strengthening its evolving relationship with China amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis could help propel Israel into a regional hegemon par excellence with a large share of centralised economic and technological power converging in Jerusalem. As Israel embarks on efforts to diversify its export markets and investments away from the United States, it begs an important question. Is Israel in the formative stages of outsourcing its security interests away from the US and hedging its bets on the Sino-Russia axis? 8. It is now common knowledge that Digital IDs are a central plank in the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset agenda and are to be streamlined across industries, supply chains and markets as a way of advancing the UN 2030 SDGs and delivering individualised and integrated services in future smart cities. Many have cottoned on to how such a platform can be used to usher in a global system of technocratic population control and compliance by incorporating humanity into a new corporate value chain where citizens are mined as data commodities for ESG investors and human capital bond markets and assigned a social and climate score based on how well they measure up against the UN SDGs. This seamless verification of people and connected devices in smart environments can only take place once our biometrics, health records, finances, education transcripts, consumer habits, carbon footprint and the entire sum of human experiences is stored on an interoperable database to determine our conformity with the UN SDGs, thus forcing a monumental change to our social contract. Vaccine passports were initially touted by public-private partnerships as an entry point for Digital IDs. Now that such a logic has run its course, how might the present geopolitical tensions contribute to scaling what is the key node in a new digital ecosystem? Ukraine has traditionally been called Europe’s breadbasket and alongside Russia, both nations are major global suppliers of staple grains. Therefore, the war has all the makings of a black swan for commodities and inflation. With an economy teetering on the brink of collapse due to a global supply crunch, I believe the resulting economic tremors will trigger wartime emergencies across the world and the public will be told to brace themselves for rationing. Once this takes place, the multilateral adoption of Digital IDs which interface with Central Bank Digital Currencies can be touted as the solution to efficiently manage and distribute household rations under an unprecedented state of emergency and exception. The Bank of England has already floated the prospect of programmable cash which can only be spent on essentials or goods which an employer or government deem sensible. Once the issuer is granted control over how it is spent by the recipient, it will become nigh impossible to function adequately without a Digital ID, which will be required to receive food parcels and obtain a basic means of subsistence. Think UBI (Universal Basic Income). If food inflation continues on an upward trajectory with no signs of abating, governments may institute price controls in the form of rationing and ration entries could be logged on blockchain ledgers on the Digital ID to track our carbon footprint and consumptive habits during a national emergency. 9. Europe is directly in the line of fire once a hybrid war between NATO and the Sino-Russia axis is underway. It would be remiss to ignore the clear and present danger posed by a cyber attack on banks and critical infrastructure or even a tentative and tactical nuclear exchange with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). I can’t see how any warring party will not be limited by the doctrine of mutually assured destruction so a thermonuclear fallout is unlikely. However, the use of remote access technologies to erase system memory from the SWIFT banking apparatus or Cross-Border Interbank Payment System can potentially render much of the international economy non-operational and send the dollar into a tailspin. If an event of such cataclysmic proportions was to occur, it will undoubtedly lead to increasing demands to overhaul cyber security. The fallout from such an event could very well establish a new global security protocol according to which citizens must possess a Digital ID as a necessary national security measure. One can imagine how accessing the internet or public services in the aftermath of a nationwide cyberattack may require citizens to use a Digital ID to authenticate that their online activities and transactions are from a legitimate and non-malicious source. There are few coincidences in politics. 10. The economic implications of this war will be so disastrous that governments and the public sector will require a significant injection of private capital to address the financing shortfall.  This will effectively render the traditional separation of powers between central banking institutions and governments obsolete, as the former will be positioned to disproportionately influence the fiscal trajectory of nation states, whose sovereignty will be hollowed out by the wholesale capture of governments by the central banks and hedge funds. Therefore, the nation-state model is gradually being upended by a global technocracy, consisting of an unelected consortium of leaders of industry, central banking oligarchs and private financial institutions, most of which are predominantly non-state corporate actors attempting to restructure global governance and enlist themselves in the global decision-making process. Therefore, the future of international relations and the social, economic and political transformation which the world is presently undergoing in light of the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict will not be decided through multilateralism and elected representatives of sovereign states. Rather, it will be decided through a network of multi-stakeholder partnerships which are motivated by the politics of expediency and not accountable to any electorate or beholden to any state and for whom concepts like sovereignty and international law are meaningless. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/14/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 15th, 2022

Ferguson: The Fates Of Ukraine And Putin Turn On 7 Forces Of History

Ferguson: The Fates Of Ukraine And Putin Turn On 7 Forces Of History Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, Does Russia grind out victory? Can sanctions stop that? Might Putin go nuclear? Is China for war or peace? The past offers clues, but no certain answers. What makes history so hard to predict - the reason there is no neat “cycle” of history enabling us to prophesy the future - is that most disasters come out of left field. Unlike hurricanes and auto accidents, to which we can at least attach probabilities, the biggest disasters (pandemics and wars) follow power-law or random distributions. They belong in the realm of uncertainty, or what Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book “The Black Swan,” calls  “Extremistan.” They are like tsunamis, not tides. What’s more, as I argued in my book “Doom,” disasters don’t come in any predictable sequence. The most I can say is that we tend not to get the same disaster twice in succession. This time we’ve gone from plague to war. In 1918, it was from war to plague. The Hundred Years’ War began eight years before the Black Death struck England. Not everything in history is random, of course. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was not difficult to foresee at the beginning of this year. You just had to take Russian President Vladimir Putin both literally and seriously when he asserted that the Russian and Ukrainian peoples were one and that the possibility of Ukraine becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union was a red line; and to realize that Western threats of economic sanctions would not deter him. Now that the war is well into its second week, however, there are much more difficult predictions to make. It seems there are seven distinct historical processes at work and it’s not clear which is going fastest. All I can do is to apply history, as there is no model from political science or economics that can really help us here. 1. Do the Russians manage to take Kyiv in a matter of two, three, four weeks or never? I heard it argued the other day that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could become a “frozen conflict.” I think it looks a lot more like the opening hot conflict of Cold War II, and one that will be decided quite swiftly. There’s reason to think this is turning into Putin’s version of Stalin’s Winter War against Finland in November 1939, when the Red Army ran into much stiffer resistance than it had expected from the Finns. (It was the Finns who invented the Molotov Cocktail, named after Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.) The difference is that Stalin was able to order in a second, larger wave of Soviet troops in February 1940, forcing the Finns to accept his punitive terms, including the cession of 9% of Finland’s prewar territory. Putin does not have as much manpower and hardware at his disposal. At least one military analyst I respect said late last week that the Russian invasion force has around two weeks left before serious logistical and supply problems force Putin seriously to the negotiating table. I hope that is true. The now famous 40-mile-long stalled convoy between Prybisk and Kyiv is Exhibit A that the war has not proved to be the Blitzkrieg that Putin apparently expected. On the other hand, Western media seem over-eager to cover news of Russian reverses, and insufficiently attentive to the harsh fact that the invaders continue to advance on more than one front. Nor is there sufficient recognition that the Russian generals quickly realized their Plan A had failed, switching to a Plan B of massive bombardment of key cities, a playbook familiar from earlier Russian wars in Chechnya and Syria. A week may be a long time in politics, as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said. It is a short time in war. A better analogy than the Winter War with Finland may be the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that began in December 1979. The reason that developed into such a protracted disaster for the Red Army was that the Afghan mujahideen were so well supplied with American arms. Today, too, the Ukrainians are receiving significant amounts of hardware (Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin antitank weapons, Turkish TB2 drones), much of it now coming across the border from Poland. Ukraine is also receiving vital private-sector assistance, notably the delivery of Starlink internet terminals, which are helping maintain communications despite Russian attacks on television towers (not to mention morale-boosting support from Starlink Inc. founder Elon Musk himself). What I cannot tell is whether or not these weapons and other equipment will suffice to sustain Ukrainian resistance over the coming weeks. Clearly, the Ukrainians are doing real damage to Russian infantry and armor and shooting down an impressive number of low-flying helicopters and planes. They will certainly be able to make any Russian advance into central Kyiv very costly to the invaders. But the Ukrainians have no real answers to higher-altitude bombardment and missile attacks. The fate of an independent Ukraine will be decided in the coming weeks or days. If cities continue to fall to the Russians, as Kherson has and Mariupol may, we may look back and say that Western arms shipments to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government were too little, too late. 2. Do the sanctions precipitate such a severe economic contraction in Russia that Putin cannot achieve victory? I have heard it said that the breadth and depth of the sanctions imposed on Russia make them unprecedented. I disagree. The way in which the U.S. and the European Union have severed financial ties with Russia, even seizing those parts of the reserves of the Russian central bank that are held abroad, recalls but does not quite match the sanctions that Britain and its allies imposed on Germany at the outbreak of World War I. We should remember that those measures did not defeat Germany, however, because — like Russia today — it had the resources to be self-sufficient, though the sanctions may have made a German victory less likely by increasing the hardships of the war at home. Then, as now, it was possible for an increasingly authoritarian government to impose economic controls and divert resources away from civilian consumption to the war effort, while blaming the resulting deprivation on the enemy. The Allied “hunger blockade” was a potent theme for German wartime propaganda. Economic warfare between 1914 and 1918 was not a substitute for sending British armies to fight on the European continent, just as it had not been in the Napoleonic Wars against France. It is especially hard to wage purely economic warfare on a vast and resource-rich country such as Russia. After 1928, Stalin imposed autarky on the Soviet Union. Putin has had it imposed on him by the West. But no one should forget that self-sufficiency is possible for Russia, albeit at the price of severe austerity, whether it is a choice or a consequence of war. It seems clear that Western sanctions will get tougher with every passing week of destruction of Ukrainian cities and killing of Ukrainian civilians. We are already heading for sanctions on Russian energy exports, beginning with a ban on importing Russian oil by the U.S. and U.K. (the Europeans are hesitating). On the other hand, China is able to help Russia in ways that could mitigate the economic shock, just as for years it has helped Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions by buying its oil. To my eyes, the most striking feature of the sanctions against Russia is the way that Western corporations have gone well beyond the letter of government requirements. No one ordered the big U.S. technology companies to turn off or restrict most of their services in Russia, but they did so. Unlike Soviet citizens, who were accustomed to a state monopoly on communications, today’s Russians have come to rely as much as we do on Big Tech. Being cut off from the metaverse may prove a more psychologically painful deprivation than shortages of imported foods. Russia’s economy now faces as severe a blow as it suffered in the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell apart and the planned economy collapsed. It is teetering on the brink of a financial crisis that will see bank runs, soaring inflation and default on at least some sovereign debt. But even a 35% quarterly decline in gross domestic product does not condemn a country to military defeat if its planes can still fly and its tanks still fire rounds. 3. Does the combination of military and economic crisis precipitate a palace coup against Putin? Modern Russia has seen three popular revolutions (1905, 1917 and 1991). There have been assassinations — for example, Tsar Alexander II in 1881 and Lenin, whose life was shortened by an attempt in 1918 — and palace coups, such as the ones that put Nikita Khrushchev in power in 1953 and removed him in 1964. But most Russian rulers die of natural causes — even Stalin, though there was no great rush to get him medical assistance when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. President Boris Yeltsin surprised everyone by resigning on New Year’s Eve, 1999, without duress. Could Putin fall from power, a victim of his own hubris in underestimating Ukrainian courage and Western economic might? It is possible. But I would not bet the fate of Ukraine on Russian internal politics. For one thing, the repressive apparatus of Russian state security seems to be in full working order. Those in Russia who courageously protest the war are being arrested and harassed in the usual fashion. For another, I can imagine few riskier actions for a member of the Russian economic elite than to intimate to one of his peers even the faintest interest in overthrowing Putin. On the other hand, it was obvious even during the somewhat farcical broadcast of the Russian Security Council meeting two weeks ago that not everyone inside the Kremlin was wholly comfortable with Putin’s invasion plan. More plausible than a popular revolt or an oligarchs’ mutiny is a palace coup led by one or more of Russia’s security service chiefs. The people with the power to arrest Putin are the people he counts on to execute his arrest orders: Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council and, like Putin, a long-serving KGB officer; Sergei Naryshkin, the head of foreign intelligence; and Alexander Bortnikov, who heads the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB. 4. Does the risk of downfall lead Putin to desperate measures (carrying out his nuclear threat)?  The most dangerous aspect of the war in Ukraine is obvious: Russia, though in many ways diminished, is still the heir of the Soviet Union as a nuclear-armed power — unlike Ukraine, which gave up its Soviet nukes in return for a security guarantee (the Budapest Memorandum of 1994) that proved worthless. Putin has understood from the outset that his ace is to threaten to use nuclear weapons. Even before launching his invasion, he warned that “anyone who tries to interfere with us … must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history.” Russia, he added, remains “one of the most powerful nuclear powers” with “certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapons” and that “no one should have any doubt that a direct attack on Russia will lead to defeat and dire consequences for a potential aggressor.” After the war was underway, he put Russian nuclear forces on a “special regime of combat duty” — in other words, high alert. If Putin’s goal was to deter members of NATO from offering direct military assistance to Ukraine, it seemed to have some effect. An idea for Poland and others to lend fighter jets to Kyiv was briefly floated by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, and then melted away, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is trying to revive it, and the Poles appear to think they are swapping their Soviet-era MiG-29 jets for U.S. planes, presumably so the MiGs can go to Ukraine. There has also been media discussion of a NATO “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government keeps asking for, but which would surely be seized on by Putin as an act of war. Fortunately, no one in a position of responsibility has endorsed the idea. Yet it cannot be right that a threat to use nuclear weapons goes unanswered. In the Cold War, both sides used nuclear alerts to intimidate one another. The reason no nuclear war occurred — though it came close on more than one occasion, notably in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the Able Archer false alarm of 1983 — was that each side believed the other capable of going nuclear and no one could be sure that a limited nuclear war, of the sort envisaged by Henry Kissinger in 1957, would not escalate into Armageddon. At 11:41 p.m. on October 24, 1973, at the height of the Yom Kippur War, Kissinger and the other key members of President Richard Nixon’s national security team agreed to raise the U.S. alert level to Defcon 3 — the highest level of peacetime readiness for war — to ensure that the Soviet Union did not send troops to support the Arab states that had attacked Israel but were now losing badly. At the same time, they ordered major movements of U.S. military assets, to ensure the Soviets got the message. The Soviet documents reveal a Politburo wrong-footed, just as Kissinger had intended. None of the Soviet leaders, not even the drug-addled Leonid Brezhnev — who, like Nixon, was asleep during the hours of maximum danger — was ready to blow up the world to save Egypt and Syria from defeat. As the future Soviet leader (then KGB chief) Yuri Andropov put it: “We shall not unleash the Third World War.” Today, however, the boot is on the other foot. Not only is Putin intimidating NATO; he may have achieved something more, namely a tacit admission by the Biden administration that it would not necessarily retaliate with nuclear weapons if Russia used them. The failure of the administration to signal that it would retaliate is of a piece with last year’s reports that Biden’s national security team was considering ruling out first use of nuclear weapons in its new national military strategy. Nuclear missiles cease to be a deterrent if one side is unwilling to use them. Putin is probably bluffing. What would he strike with a tactical nuclear weapon? If it’s a Ukrainian city, particularly Kyiv, he surely destroys his own spurious claim that he is fighting to preserve the historic unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. Russian casualties are being caused by Ukrainians using arms supplied by multiple NATO countries, including the U.S. and Turkey, but they are mostly crossing into Ukraine from Poland. Might Putin therefore strike a target in eastern Poland — Lublin, say, or Przemysl? It cannot be completely ruled out. And he is surely more likely to do so if believes the U.S. would not immediately retaliate in kind against a Russian target. A key lesson of this entire crisis has been that indications of weakness on the U.S. side, which I discussed here last week, have emboldened Putin. 5. Do the Chinese keep Putin afloat but on the condition that he agrees to a compromise peace that they offer to broker? Let no one have any illusions. Putin’s war would not have gone ahead without a green light from the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, who was able to specify that the Russians wait until the Beijing Winter Olympics were over. The Chinese now have the option to assist Russia economically. The question is whether this leverage would give Xi the role of intermediary played by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, when it was Japan that Russia was fighting. We know from a number of reports that Chinese peace-making is a possibility. On Tuesday it was reported that China, France and Germany were “coordinating to end the conflict.” We can assume that the messiness of the war is not pleasing the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, who have their hands full with Covid (remember that?), a slowing economy and their upcoming Party Congress, and wanted a quiet world in 2022. On the other hand, we should not underestimate the closeness of the Xi-Putin relationship and the extent to which Xi’s preference must be for a Russian victory, given his own ambitions to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. My guess is that the Chinese make no serious diplomatic move until they are convinced Putin’s invasion is thoroughly bogged down in Ukraine’s spring mud. 6. Does the West’s attention deficit disorder kick in before any of this? All over the democratic world, people are learning the words “Slava Ukraini!” — Glory to Ukraine! — donning blue-and-yellow garments, participating in pro-Ukrainian demonstrations. True, the U.S. public generally has about three weeks of attention for any overseas calamity (see the temporary wave of outrage that followed the abandonment of Afghanistan last year). Yet the response to the invasion of Ukraine seems bigger and more likely to endure. Remarkably, one U.S. legislator told me last week that he “couldn’t recall an issue more obsessively followed and more unifying among” his constituents. We may speculate as to why this is, but a significant part of the explanation is surely the skillful way in which Zelenskiy has used television and social media to win the world’s sympathies. Most Americans also recognize a war of independence when they see one. I am reminded of the way the British public in the 19th century would periodically embrace an ethnic group fighting for its freedom. The Greeks in the 1820s, the Poles in the 1830s, the Germans and Italians in the 1840s, the Bulgarians in the 1870s — all these causes aroused passionate support in Britain, and equally passionate condemnation of the despotic empires of the Ottomans, Romanovs and Habsburgs.   However, spasms of moral outrage tend to contribute very little of practical use to those intent on building nation-states. That was Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck’s point in 1862, when he declared: “Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided … but by iron and blood.” The only real significance of Western public outrage at Putin’s actions is the political pressure it exerts on Biden and other leaders to take a tougher line with Russia. 7. What is the collateral damage? The problem for Biden — and it will soon be a problem for his European counterparts, too — is the economic damage this war will cause. Inflation expectations had already shifted upward sharply as a result of the excessive fiscal and monetary stimulus administered early last year in the form of the American Rescue Plan and the Federal Reserve’s continued asset purchases. History shows that wars (much more than pandemics) are the most common cause of jumps in inflation. The best-known recent illustration is the way wars in 1973 (Yom Kippur) and 1979 (Iran-Iraq) contributed to the great inflation of the Seventies, but there are many other examples. True, the price of oil is a much smaller component of economic activity and consumer inflation indices today than 50 years ago. But it would be naive to imagine that, with inflation already at its highest level since 1982, the additional shock of war and rapidly escalating sanctions won’t pour kerosene on the barbecue. Even if the Russians fail to scupper the scramble to resuscitate the Iran nuclear agreement, the return of Iranian oil to the world market is unlikely to offset the shock of Western sanctions on Russia. What’s more, these price spikes are not confined to oil and gas but involve a host of other commodities. The prospect of this year’s Ukrainian grain harvest being disrupted means a significant surge in food prices, with all kinds of consequences, especially in developing countries. Nor can we ignore the risks that may be lurking within the international financial system. A great many institutions blithely ignored the approach of war and have been left holding large quantities of Russian assets that have plunged in value. Losses on this scale — and with more to come if the Russian state defaults on some of its debt — almost always have repercussions. The Russian default on local-currency bonds in 1998 was an important element in the Long-Term Capital Management blowup that year. Add these seven imponderables together and you see how profoundly important the next few weeks will be. This is the first big crisis of Cold War II, which is in many ways like a mirror image of Cold War I, with China the senior partner, Russia the junior, and a hot war in Eastern Europe rather than East Asia (it was Korea’s turn in 1950). I do not know how the crisis will turn out, but I do know it will have profound consequences for the course of the superpower contest. If the invasion of Ukraine ends in disaster for the heroic defenders of Kyiv and their comrades, another disaster may well follow — and it could occur as far away as Taiwan. Conversely, if there is justice in the world and the disaster befalls the architect of this war, that too will give birth to some fresh and unforeseeable event. For any victory for democracy in Ukraine is likely to prove ephemeral if its consequence is a new Time of Troubles in Russia, echoing the 17th-century fight over the tsar’s crown. A tsunami of war has struck Ukraine. Whether the Russian tide flows or ebbs in the coming weeks will do much to determine the course of world history for the rest of our lives. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Whitehead: The Rise Of Global Fascism And The End Of The World As We Know It

Whitehead: The Rise Of Global Fascism And The End Of The World As We Know It Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.” - “The Hollow Men,” T.S. Eliot Barely three years into the 2020s, and we seem to be living out the prophesies of the Book of Revelation with its dire warnings about plague, poverty, hatred and war. Just as the government hysteria over the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be dying down, new threats have arisen to occupy our attention and fuel our fears: food shortages, spiking inflation, rocketing gas prices, and a Ukraine-Russia conflict that threatens to bring about a world war. Is this the end of the world as we know it? Or is this the beginning of the end of the world? Will the world end with a bang or will it end, as T.S. Eliot concludes, with a whimper? Robert Frost, torn between a vision of the world ending in fire (the hot flame of violence, anger and greed) or ice (the cold burn of hatred), suggests that either would suffice to do the job. And then there’s the Polish-American poet Czeslaw Milosz, who envisioned the day the world ends as a day like any other: “Those who expected lightning and thunder are disappointed. And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps do not believe it is happening now. As long as the sun and the moon are above, as long as the bumblebee visits a rose, as long as rosy infants are born, no one believes it is happening now… There will be no other end of the world.” In Milosz’ words can be found a distant echo of a warning issued by Bertram Gross in his book Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America: “Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism. In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment... In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal. I am worried by those who fail to remember-or have never learned -that Big Business-Big Government partnerships, backed up by other elements, were the central facts behind the power structures of old fascism in the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese empire builders.” Look beyond the drum-pounding distractions of war and the fear-inducing tactics of the Deep State, and consider the long-term ramifications of the so-called sanctions being levied against Russia right now: not just the governmental sanctions, but the corporate lockdowns. As CBS News reports, “Car shipments were paused. Beer stopped flowing. McDonald's shut down sales of Big Macs. Cargo ships dropped port calls and oil companies cut their pipelines. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is leading some of the world's best known brands—from Apple to Disney and Ikea—to abruptly exit a country that's become a global outcast.” This is shunning on a global scale. Some companies, as Fortune reports, have gone above and beyond what was required by government sanctions. For instance, “major oil companies, including Exxon, BP, and Shell, ended joint investment projects with Russian oil companies. Major retailers, including H&M, Nike, Ikea, and TJX, have shut down Russian sales and closed stores. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express shut down global services in Russia… Boeing cut off support for Russian airlines and closed its offices in Moscow, while Delta ended its Russian code-sharing arrangement… FedEx and UPS shut services to Russia. Apple, Alphabet, Meta, and Microsoft all have taken significant action to combat Russian aggression and disinformation.” “You basically have Russia becoming a commercial pariah,” confirmed economist Mary Lovely. “Pretty much no company, no multinational, wants to be caught on the wrong side of U.S. and Western sanctions.” Russia’s military aggression has paved the way for a show of force by a punitive Big Business-Big Government power alliance that, until recently, had been exerting itself on a smaller scale to sanction individuals whose behavior was deemed to be hateful, discriminatory, conspiratorial or anti-government. There’s no going back from here. This may well be the end of the world as we know it. This particular apocalypse is the fallout from a silent coup that has given the Corporate State a taste for punitive power and an understanding of the ease with which it can use that power to manipulate, control and direct the world governments. For good or bad, it will change the way we navigate the world, redrawing the boundaries of our world (and our freedoms) and altering the playing field faster than we can keep up. This new world order—a global world order—made up of international government agencies and corporations owes its existence in large part to the U.S. government’s deep-seated and, in many cases, top-secret alliances with foreign nations and global corporations. This powerful international cabal, let’s call it the Global Deep State, is just as real as the corporatized, militarized, industrialized American Deep State, and it poses just as great a threat to our rights as individuals under the U.S. Constitution, if not greater. We’ve been inching closer to this global world order for the past several decades, but COVID-19, which saw governmental and corporate interests become even more closely intertwined, shifted this transformation into high gear. Now, in the face of Russia’s aggression, fascism is about to become a global menace. Given all that we know about the U.S. government—that it treats its citizens like faceless statistics and economic units to be bought, sold, bartered, traded, and tracked; that it repeatedly lies, cheats, steals, spies, kills, maims, enslaves, breaks the laws, overreaches its authority, and abuses its power at almost every turn; and that it wages wars for profit, jails its own people for profit, and has no qualms about spreading its reign of terror abroad—it is not a stretch to suggest that the government has been overtaken by a power elite that do not have our best interests at heart. Indeed, to anyone who’s been paying attention to the goings-on in the world, it is increasingly obvious that we’re already under a new world order, and it is being brought to you by the Global-Industrial Deep State. It remains unclear whether the American Deep State (“a national-security apparatus that holds sway even over the elected leaders notionally in charge of it”) answers to the Global Deep State, or whether the Global Deep State merely empowers the American Deep State. However, there is no denying the extent to which they are intricately and symbiotically enmeshed and interlocked. Consider the extent to which our lives and liberties are impacted by this international convergence of governmental and profit-driven corporate interests in the surveillance state, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, the intelligence sector, the security sector, the technology sector, the telecommunications sector, the transportation sector, the pharmaceutical industry and, most recently, by the pharmaceutical-health sector. All of these sectors are dominated by mega-corporations operating on a global scale and working through government channels to increase their profit margins. The profit-driven policies of these global corporate giants influence everything from legislative policies to economics to environmental issues to medical care. On almost every front, whether it’s the war on drugs, or the sale of weapons, or regulating immigration, or establishing prisons, or advancing technology, or fighting a pandemic, if there is a profit to be made and power to be amassed, you can bet that the government and its global partners have already struck a deal that puts the American people on the losing end of the bargain. We’ve been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we’re certainly on that downward trajectory now, and things are moving fast. The “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has perished. In its place is a shadow government—a corporatized, militarized, entrenched global bureaucracy—that is fully operational and is not only running the country but is about to take over the world. Given the trajectory and dramatic expansion, globalization and merger of governmental and corporate powers, we’re not going to recognize this country (or the rest of the world) 20 years from now. It’s taken less than a generation for our freedoms to be eroded and the Global Deep State’s structure to be erected, expanded and entrenched. Yet mark my words: the U.S. government will not save us from the chains of the Global Deep State. The current or future occupant of the White House will not save us. For that matter, anarchy, violence and incivility will not save us. Unfortunately, the government’s divide and conquer tactics are working like a charm. Despite the laundry list of grievances that should unite “we the people” in common cause against the government, the nation is more divided than ever by politics, by socio-economics, by race, by religion, and by every other distinction that serves to highlight our differences. The real and manufactured events of recent years—the pandemic, invasive surveillance, the extremism reports, the civil unrest, the protests, the shootings, the bombings, the military exercises and active shooter drills, the color-coded alerts and threat assessments, the fusion centers, the transformation of local police into extensions of the military, the distribution of military equipment and weapons to local police forces, the government databases containing the names of dissidents and potential troublemakers—have all conjoined to create an environment in which “we the people” are more divided, more distrustful, and fearful of each other. What we have failed to realize is that in the eyes of the government, we’re all the same. When the government and its Global-Industrial Deep State partners in the New World Order crack down, we’ll all suffer. If there is to be any hope of freeing ourselves, it rests—as it always has—at the local level, with you and your fellow citizens taking part in grassroots activism, which takes a trickle-up approach to governmental reform by implementing change at the local level. One of the most important contributions an individual citizen can make is to become actively involved in local community affairs, politics and legal battles. As the adage goes, “Think globally, act locally.” America was meant to be primarily a system of local governments, which is a far cry from the colossal federal bureaucracy we have today. Yet if our freedoms are to be restored, understanding what is transpiring practically in your own backyard—in one’s home, neighborhood, school district, town council—and taking action at that local level must be the starting point. Responding to unmet local needs and reacting to injustices is what grassroots activism is all about. Attend local city council meetings, speak up at town hall meetings, organize protests and letter-writing campaigns, employ “militant nonviolent resistance” and civil disobedience, which Martin Luther King Jr. used to great effect through the use of sit-ins, boycotts and marches. And then, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, if there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march towards outright dictatorship, it may rest with the power of communities and local governments to invalidate governmental and corporate laws, tactics and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 00:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 11th, 2022

How Ukraine Fits Into The Global Jigsaw

How Ukraine Fits Into The Global Jigsaw Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Ukraine is part of a far bigger geopolitical picture. Russia and China want US hegemonic influence in the Eurasian continent marginalised. Following defeats for US foreign policy in Syria and Afghanistan and following Brexit, Putin is driving a wedge between America and the non-Anglo-Saxon EU. Due to global monetary expansion, rising energy prices are benefiting Russia, which can afford to squeeze Germany and other EU states dependent on Russian natural gas. The squeeze will only stop when America backs off. Being keenly aware that its dominant role in NATO is under threat, America has been trying to escalate the Ukraine crisis to suck Russia into an untenable occupation. Putin won’t fall for it. The danger for us all is not a boots-on-the-ground war — that’s likely to only involve the pre-emptive attacks on military installations Putin initiated last night — but a financial war for which Russia is fully prepared. Both sides probably do not know how fragile the Eurozone banking system is, with both the ECB and its national central bank shareholders already having liabilities greater than their assets. In other words, rising interest rates have broken the euro system and an economic and financial catastrophe on its eastern flank will probably trigger its collapse. The bigger picture is Mackinder’s World Island The developing tension over Ukraine is part of a bigger picture — a struggle between America and the two Eurasian hegemons, Russia and China. The prize is ultimate control over Mackinder’s World Island. Halford Mackinder is acknowledged as the founder of geopolitics: the study of factors such as geography, geology, economics, demography, politics, and foreign policy and their interaction. His original paper was entitled “The Geographical Pivot of History”, presented at the Royal Geographical Society in 1905 in which he first formulated his Heartland Theory, which extended geopolitical analysis to encompass the entire globe. In this and a subsequent paper (Democratic Ideals and Reality: A study in the Politics of Reconstruction, 1919) he built on his Heartland Theory, and from which his famous quote has been passed down to us: “Who rules East Europe commands the World Island [Eurasia]; Who rules the World Island rules the World”. Stalin was said to have been interested in this theory, and while it is not generally admitted, the leaders and administrations of Russia, China and America are almost certainly aware of Mackinder’s theory and its implications. We cannot know if the Russian and Chinese leaders and administrations are avid Mackinder fans, but their partnership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is consistent with his World Island Theory. Since commencing as a post-Soviet, post-Mao security agreement between Russia and China founded in 2001 to suppress Islamic fundamentalism, the SCO has evolved into a political and economic intergovernmental organisation, which with its members, observer states, and dialog partners accounts for over 3.5 billion people, half the world’s population. The symbiotic relationship between resource rich Russia and the industrial Chinese ties the whole SCO together. China’s development of the Asian land mass holds the promise of dramatic improvements in everyone’s living conditions. And consistent with the World Island Theory, Chinese money now dominates the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asian nations, particularly those controlled and influenced by the Chinese diaspora. China’s influence also spreads to South America through organisations such as BRICS (B is for Brazil) and Chile for copper and other metals. While the Sino-Russian partnership dominates the World Island economically, America has only gradually been expelled from Asian affairs. Its post 9/11 campaigns in the Middle East destabilised that region, creating fuel for America’s enemies and appalling refugee calamities for her European allies to this day. Her withdrawal from resource-rich Afghanistan was merely the last domino to fall. She retains political influence in Western Europe and South-East Asia only, though her military and intelligence presence is still widespread. Today, America’s actions are those of a hegemon whose time is passing. By the UK opting for Brexit, American influence over the European Union through its security and political partnership with the UK has been diminished. Its grip on European affairs through NATO is being undermined by both Turkey’s determination to shift its interests into the Turkic regions of Central Asia, and the EU’s determination to establish its own defence arrangements. The irrelevance of NATO for the future defence of Western Europe is now becoming apparent to the Russians, and it must be hard for them to resist speeding its decline. The cold war in the Pacific is all about containing China. While Taiwan’s future and China’s attempts to establish naval bases in the South China Seas hog the headlines, China’s trade influence in the region continues to increase. After President Trump withdrew America from the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TTP was replaced by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership which came into force in December 2018, whose eleven signatories have combined economies representing 13.4% of world GDP. This makes it one of the largest free trade areas by GDP and includes Australia and New Zealand. Even the UK has formally applied to join (it qualifies as a Pacific nation through its dependencies in the region), so that three of the US security “five eyes” members will be part of the CPTPP. China also applied to join the CPTPP last September. For now, China’s membership of the CPTPP is in doubt. US allies in the partnership, including Japan, are insisting on various obstructive provisions. But in that well-worn hackneyed metaphor, China is the elephant in the room, and it is hard to see the CPTPP holding out against her membership for ever. For now, China can chip away at it by separate free trade agreements with selected CPTPP members, with whom it is already in bilateral trade. Whatever America’s desire to retain political and military control over the Pacific may be, the economics of trade will eventually diminish that influence. And while sabres are being rattled over Taiwan and Pacific atolls, Russia is putting pressure on Europe to put an end to American dominated defence arrangements at the other end of the World Island. Observers of the greatest of the great games would be right to look at current developments over Ukraine in the context of Mackinder’s heartland theory. Understand that, and you have a grasp of Putin’s reasoning. Driving American influence out of the Eurasian continent has been his objective ever since America reneged on her agreement not to advance NATO any closer to Russia following the ending of the old USSR. Ukraine is caught in the middle Both Russia and the Anglo-Saxons are ramping up the rhetoric over Ukraine. Until recently, Ukraine itself had seen little evidence of any truth in Western propaganda, asking for it to be toned down because all this war talk is increasing its likelihood and ruining the economy. Meanwhile the EU mainstream just wants peace and natural gas. Concern is being expressed in some quarters that all this talk of war might become self-fulfilling — like the first World War. In this case, it is generally agreed by military strategists that Putin would be mad to take over Ukraine. He certainly has the fire power, and Ukraine is cast like a Belgium on the Steppes, with two ethnic groups and whose main purpose seems to be to allow foreign occupation and passage for foreign troops. But holding on to Ukraine against the peoples’ will, when there is an immensely long border over which dissidents can be provided with arms and anti-Russian propaganda is another matter. Russian occupation is likely to be limited to defending Donbas and Luhansk now that Russia has formally recognised their right to self-determination. Without firing a shot, the Russian military has moved the border a hundred miles into formally Ukrainian territory. But that is where an occupying invasion is likely to stop and is not to be confused with the pre-emptive strikes against military bases and airfields today. These moves are there to apply increasing pressure for a diplomatic settlement. So, what is it that Putin wants? Basically, he wants America to get out of Eastern Europe. And following Brexit, as America’s poodle he sees no reason why Britain should be there either. And having his thumb over various gas pipes into Europe, he is squeezing Germany and the other EU NATO members into his way of thinking. Ukraine comes in the wake of America’s disastrous evacuation of Afghanistan, which followed the failure of her attempt to remove Syria’s Assad. It is rumoured that US intelligence services organised the failed coup in Kazakhstan, which was quickly subdued by Russian troops. So, from Putin’s point of view, American policy with respect to the Eurasian land mass has failed, he has America on the run, and he will want to capitalise on its retreat. Meanwhile America, which has ruled western Europe through NATO following WW2, finds it hard to come to terms with its setbacks and needs to get back on the front foot. Presumably, by ramping up fears of a Russian invasion, the Biden administration hoped that either Putin would back down or be tricked into attacking Ukraine. If he had backed down, that would be a diplomatic victory and allow America to rebuild its presence in Kiev. If Putin invades and occupies Ukraine, America can help make life extremely difficult for an occupying force. Either way, it would mark the end of American policy failures on the Eurasian continent. Britain, as always, merely toes the American line. But Putin is no fool. He is destroying Ukraine’s economy. He has his thumb on Nord Stream 1 and 2. And Germany has too many commercial and financial interests in both Russia and Eastern Europe for this not to hurt. Germany also hosts the main railhead for China’s silk road. If Germany kowtows to America, will America then put pressure on her to cut ties with China? This is the geopolitical reality Germany and all mainland Europeans must now face. The new German Chancellor must decide: does he back America, sacrifice Germany’s economic potential and see energy costs soar, or does he recognise the economic realities of the Russia—China partnership and the enormous opportunities it provides for the long run? Russia, America, and Germany are the principal actors whose decisions will decide the outcome of the Ukrainian situation. An escalation into a non-nuclear conflict and Russian occupation of Ukraine will only suit the Americans, confirming that their presence is the guarantee of national security. Ukraine has become a virtual battleground. Ukraine’s geographical position, between the liberated central European states and Russia ensured that it would become central to the continuing rivalry between Russia and America. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been determined to forge its path independent of Russia as a sovereign nation. But its starting point was difficult, with its eastern provinces predominantly Russian, while the western regions were more central European. The Orange and Maidan Revolutions in 2004 and 2014 respectively were proxy struggles between America and Russia. While America allegedly chucked billions into its Ukrainian interests, in 2014 Russia responded by taking over Crimea and fomented rebellions in Luhansk and Donetsk. By capturing Crimea and fostering two breakaway provinces, Putin had won this territorial battle in an ongoing war. Other than these eastern provinces, most Ukrainians have desperately tried to avoid their country becoming a Russian colony. They wanted to apply for EU membership, which was rejected by Russian-backed President Yanukovych in 2013, leading to the Maidan Revolution and Yanukovych fleeing the country to Russia. Ukraine has also sought the protection of NATO, which has provoked Putin to put a stop to American influences marching eastwards. While Ukraine never left the headlines, the US moved its focus to Syria later in 2014.The eventual failure to oust Assad, who drew on Russian help, was followed by Afghanistan. Ukraine is now back in the headlines, this time at the behest of Russia. Putin is now proactively leading this conflict instead of quietly letting America make all the mistakes and rolling with the punches, representing a major change in Russian strategy. It implies that Putin perceives America to be off balance, and he sees it as the time for a winning move. Putin has prepared his defences carefully. US politicians called for Russia to be cut out of SWIFT after the Crimean invasion. Since then, Russia has developed Mir, a payment system for electronic fund transfers, and a SWIFT equivalent known as SPFS — System for transfer of Financial Messages, with agreements linking SPFS to other payment systems in China, India, Iran, and member nations of the Eurasian Economic Union. The Central Bank of Russia has strengthened the commercial banking network. And it has also reduced its dollar exposure as much as possible by investing in gold and euros instead, which means less reserves are held as deposits in the US banking system and invested in US bonds. From these actions, Putin has signalled that he is aware that the danger to Russia is more likely to be a financial war, rather than a physical one. As President Biden said, to have American troops on the ground fighting the Russians is a world war and will not happen. In that sense the Ukraine, over which Russia retains an energy stranglehold, is a virtual battleground for a proxy war. Financial considerations In examining the strengths and weakness of the principal parties, we must first confirm who they are: Russia, America, and the EU. And in the EU, principally it is Germany, but all member states will be affected. As argued above, Russia’s real objective is to get America out of Europe, and Putin’s strategy is to drive a wedge between America and the EU, and in particular its industrial powerhouse, Germany. Plans to split America from Europe go back to Putin’s earlier days, with the construction of Nord Stream to bypass Ukraine with which Russia’s Gazprom was in dispute. Delivering 55bn billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, the first Nord Stream was completed in 2012. A second pipeline. Nord Stream 2, which is ready to go online, doubles this capacity. American pressure on Germany to delay the operation of Nord Stream 2 follows the dollar’s debasement from March 2020 in particular, when the Fed reduced interest rates to zero and instituted QE of $120bn every month. The effect has been to undermine the dollar’s purchasing power for nearly all commodities, including energy. Consequently, a combination of dollar debasement, winter demand and the absence of extra supply from Russia has created an energy crisis not just for Germany, but all EU members. Germany is particularly hard hit, with its producer prices index up 25% year-on-year at the end of January. Germany cannot go along with an escalation of financial sanctions against Russia at a time when its industry is struggling with other rising production costs. Not only is her trade with Russia substantial, but she has banking and financial interests in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Russia, which could be destabilised by American-led attempts to restrict payments. Despite Chancellor Scholz’s initial support for EU sanctions Germany is likely to be indecisive, torn between competing demands from a collapsing economy and pressure from NATO. By withholding regulatory permission for Nord Stream 2 he has demonstrated that instead of regarding his electors’ interests as paramount, he has given in to NATO pressure. This weakness on Olaf Scholz’s part is consistent with the indecisive socialism of his Social Democratic Party and Germany’s continuing guilt trip following two world wars. Recognising the importance of Germany and its likely indecision, President Macron of France seized the political opportunity to mediate between Russia and the EU, which suits the Russian cause. Macron simply provided another channel for Putin’s message about NATO: get the US out of Europe and the EU should be responsible for its own defence. And given Macron’s ambitions for France in Europe he is likely to see it as an opportunity to enable France to take the lead in the EU’s future defence arrangements after the Ukraine situation has blown over. That will be down the road, but for now the EU is standing firm behind US and UK sanction proposals. Sanctions rarely work. They merely encourage the sanctioned to dig deeper into their own intellectual and entrepreneurial resources and work hard to find ways round them. Russia will merely sell its gas elsewhere: at these high prices harm is minimal, and they can afford to restrict supplies through Ukraine, the Yamal-Europe and Turk-stream pipeline supplies. It might be sensible for Russia to allow flows through Nord Stream 1 to continue for now, holding its restriction as a backup threat. European gas prices will likely rise even further, providing a price windfall for Russia. The tweet below, from Russian President Medvedev implies European gas prices will double from here. The apparent lack of understanding of economic and financial consequences for the EU by the EU leadership is a wild card danger. The economic and financial exposure of Germany to its eastern neighbours has already been mentioned, but other EU members are similarly exposed. Furthermore, the reckless inflationary policies of the ECB have undermined the financial health of the entire euro system to the point where even on the current rise in bond yields, the ECB and all the national central banks (with only three minor exceptions) have liabilities greater than their assets. The whole eurozone is a mountain of financial disasters balanced on an apex over which it is set to topple. We cannot say for sure that Ukraine will be the last straw for the euro system, but we can point to political ignorance of this instability. Any dissenting central banker (and there could be some, particularly at the Bundesbank) has no influence at the political level. We must assume that none of the major political players in this tragedy are aware of the financial and economic crisis in Europe waiting to be triggered. And if the Russians have made a mistake, it will be in their accumulation of euro reserves, which will turn out to be worthless when the euro system collapses. Financial sanctions against individual oligarchs have probably already been anticipated and avoiding action been taken by them: oligarchs are not dumb. Sanctions against Russian banks will have also been anticipated and will probably inflict less damage on them than on their counterparties in the EU banking system, particularly if SWIFT comes under pressure to suspend Russian banking access. Not only Ukraine, but the whole of the EU, for which Russia supplies over 40% of its natural gas, is being squeezed. We can be reasonably sure that the Russian government has war-gamed this situation in advance. Inflation, gold, and unintended consequences The situation today is very different from that of 2014 at the time of the Maidan revolution, with the world massively increasing government debt and currency in circulation since then. At the time of the Crimean take-over, commodity prices were declining from their peak in 2011, and following Crimea, they fell sharply with negative consequences for the Russian economy. The expansion of world currencies is now driving commodity and energy prices higher due to their purchasing power is declining. Figure 2 shows how a basket of commodities has increased in price since the Fed reduced its funds rate to the zero bound and instituted QE at $120bn per month. In those 22 months commodity prices have risen by 127% by this measure. When all commodity prices rise at the same time it is due to currency debasement, which is what has happened here. Within the broader commodity context, energy price increases have been particularly acute, with Russia being a major beneficiary, leading to a substantial surplus on its balance of trade. It has been a long-term ambition of the Sino-Russian partnership not just to expel America from the World Island but to reduce dependency on dollars as well. While trade between Russia and China is increasingly settled in their own currencies, so long as the dollar has credibility for settling international transactions it will still dominate trade for the other nations in the Eurasian landmass. The fiat alternative for Russia has been the euro, which partly explains why Russia has accumulated them in her foreign currency reserves. But since 2014, the stability of the euro system has deteriorated to the point where the currency is no longer a credible alternative to the US dollar. We cannot be sure if this is understood in the Kremlin. But there has always been a Plan B, which is the accumulation of physical gold. There is evidence that official reserves in China and Russia understate the true position. Following the enactment of regulations in 1983 whereby the Peoples Bank was appointed sole responsibility for the acquisition of China’s gold and silver reserves, I have estimated that the State accumulated as much as 20,000 tonnes of gold before permitting the public to own gold, for which purpose the Shanghai Gold Exchange was established in 2002. Since then, the SGE has delivered a further 20,000 tonnes from its vaults into public hands, though some of this will have been returned as scrap. The Chinese state has retained the exclusive right to mine and refine gold, even importing doré from abroad. China is now the largest gold mine producer in the world by far, continuing to add over tonnes annually to total above ground stocks (last year’s dip to 350 tonnes was due to covid), which are all ringfenced in China. These policies, as well as anecdotal evidence suggests that my earlier estimate of state-owned gold of 20,000 tonnes was realistic. Russia has been relatively late in adding to her gold reserves, having officially accumulated 2,298 tonnes. But being only second to China as a gold mine producer at 330 tonnes, it is likely that following earlier financial sanctions that Russia has accumulated undeclared gold reserves as well. Additionally, we can see that all the SCO members and their associates have increased their declared gold reserves by 75% since 2014. Plan B therefore appears to be to back fiat roubles and renminbi with gold in the event of a Western fiat currency meltdown. The West has no such plan. America’s fifty-one-year denial of and attempted demotion of gold as the ultimate money appears to have left it short: otherwise it could have returned Germany’s gold on demand instead of trying to spin it out over a number of years. Furthermore, Western central banks routinely lease and swap their gold, leading to double counting of reserves and lack of clarity over ownership. We can be sure that neither Russia nor China indulge in these practices. The consequence of these disparities is to weaponize gold’s monetary status, turning it into a nuclear weapon in a financial war. If, say, during NATO-led attempts to destabilise the rouble Russia was to declare another 6,000 tonnes to match America’s unaudited figure and for China to revise its reserves to stabilise the renminbi, it would probably result in a run against the dollar. It would be a sure-fire way for the Asian hegemons to destroy US economic and military power. Therefore, ultimately, the US and its five-eyes allies cannot win a financial war. When China and Russia planned their financial defences, this golden umbrella made sense, and the security services in America would have been aware of it, if not the full implications. But things have changed, particularly the debasement of all major currencies, including the renminbi. China has an old-fashioned cyclical property crisis on her hands and can only think to print her way out of trouble. Together with the Fed, the ECB, and the Bank of Japan, the Peoples Bank has expanded its balance sheet recklessly, and all together they have increased from $5 trillion equivalent in 2007 to over $31 trillion today, with their rate of expansion being particularly high from March 2020. The consequences for their currencies’ purchasing power are becoming obvious now, turbocharging Russia’s strategy with respect to European energy supply. What few politicians appear to be aware of, and we should include Putin in this, is the fragile state of the major central banks. Having loaded their balance sheets up with fixed-interest government debt, falling market values for these bonds are eliminating central banks’ margin of assets over liabilities. While the Fed, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England can turn to their governments for recapitalisation, embarrassing though that may be, the ECB has no such recourse. The ECB’s shareholders are the national central banks in the euro system. And they in turn, except for Ireland’s, Malta’s, and Slovenia’s central banks, all have liabilities easily exceeding their assets. The euro system is already insolvent, and Russian action on energy supplies could tip the whole currency system over the edge. Given the Russian Central Bank’s reserve holding of euros, we can call that an unintended consequence. Tyler Durden Fri, 02/25/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytFeb 25th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Former President Jimmy Carter issues a dire warning ahead of Capitol riot anniversary: The US "teeters on the brink of a widening abyss"

He listed five demands that Americans should demand of political leaders to "uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct." Former President Jimmy Carter.AP Photo/John Amis, File Former President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed for The New York Times saying that democracy is in danger. It was published on the eve of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots. "Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late," Carter wrote. Former President Jimmy Carter issued a warning that the spread of misinformation and the deepening political divide jeopardizes US democracy, in an op-ed published in The New York Times on the eve of the anniversary of the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.The 39th president, who is now 97-years-old, said he'd hoped the riot — in which a Pro-Trump mob attempted to overturn the 2020 election — would enlighten the nation and force it to act against "the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy."He listed five demands that Americans should demand of political leaders to "uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct":Put aside political differences to uphold the constitution and fairnessEstablish better election security and reformCreate ways to re-unify the political divideEliminate violence from politics by creating or amending existing lawsReform social media and encourage the spread of accurate informationThe January 6, 2021, riots ended with five people dying and hundreds more injured — including approximately 140 officers.More than 727 people have been charged so far in relation to the riot. The US House of Representatives has also convened a bipartisan committee that is currently investigating the Capitol insurrection — including subpoenaing lawmakers, media personalities, and former President Donald Trump's confidants.In closing, Carter said, "Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss.""Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late," he added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 5th, 2022

The Defenestration Of Dr. Robert Malone

The Defenestration Of Dr. Robert Malone Commentary authored by John Mac Ghlionn via The Epoch Times, Dr. Robert Malone is a U.S. virologist and immunologist who has dedicated his professional existence to the development of mRNA vaccines. In the 1980s, Malone worked as a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he conducted studies on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology. In the early 1990s, Malone collaborated with Jon A. Wolff and Dennis A. Carson, two eminent scientists, on a study that involved synthesization. In fact, Malone is the father of mRNA vaccines. He has served as an adjunct associate professor of biotechnology at Kennesaw State University, and he co-founded Atheric Pharmaceutical, a company that was contracted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in 2016. As you can see, Malone is no ordinary man. In fact, he’s a rather extraordinary man. Before embarking on a distinguished career in science, Malone worked as a carpenter and as a farmhand. Becoming a doctor was a lofty aspiration, but through hard work and determination, his dream became a reality. Over the course of three decades, Malone has established himself as one of the most competent people in the fields of virology and immunology. Dr. Robert Malone (L) speaks at the Global Covid Summit in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 18, 2021. (Courtesy of Global Covid Summit/Screenshot via NTD) Why, then, is he considered “a pariah” (in his own words) by so many of his peers? Why did Twitter recently suspend his account? Malone is arguably the most qualified person in the world to speak on what we as a society should and shouldn’t be doing during the pandemic. Yet for reasons that will become abundantly clear, he finds himself ostracized, largely silenced, and cut off from the scientific community. Why? Two months before his Twitter account was suspended, Malone wrote a rather prophetic Twitter post: “I am going to speak bluntly,” he wrote. “Physicians who speak out are being actively hunted via medical boards and the press. They are trying to delegitimize us and pick us off one by one.” He finished by warning that this is “not a conspiracy theory” but “a fact.” He urged us all to “wake up.” Sadly, many of us are still asleep. In my research for this piece, it seems clear to me that Malone has been silenced, not because he’s some quack spouting nonsense, but because he challenged—and still challenges—the overarching narrative about vaccines and the lethality of COVID-19. Malone was recently interviewed by Joe Rogan. For the uninitiated, Rogan is the host of one of the most influential podcasts in the world. At one point during the three-hour interview, Malone referred to Dr. Anthony Fauci as Tony Fauci, a man he knows personally. Malone, in other words, knows where all the skeletons are hidden. The same is true for Dr. Peter McCullough, another world-renowned expert who has appeared on Rogan’s podcast. Prior to writing this piece, I consulted both Malone and McCullough. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing at the White House on Dec. 1, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo) Over the course of the past 18 months, Malone has been painted as some kind of anti-vax fringe scientist, a man of questionable merit who’s spouting nonsense. Well, he’s not. Malone happens to be vaccinated. All he has ever asked for is the chance to have frank and honest discussions on vaccines. In his own words, vaccines have “saved lives. Many lives.” “But it is also increasingly clear that there are some risks associated with these vaccines,” Malone said. “Various governments have attempted to deny that this is the case. But they are wrong. Vaccination-associated coagulation is a risk. Cardiotoxicity is a risk. Those are proven and discussed in official USG communications, as well as communications from a variety of other governments.” Malone isn’t a crazed conspiracy theorist: He’s a man who’s intimately familiar with the benefits and the risks of vaccines. He’s a proponent of informed consent. Perhaps before letting someone inject a vaccine into your body, you should be fully informed of the risks involved, he says. He isn’t an unreasonable man. Nevertheless, in this age of faux outrage and fabricated storylines, society needs a fall guy, a boogie man, a sacrificial lamb. Malone fits the bill. He knows too much. It’s much easier to discredit a decorated physician—who challenges the overarching narrative—than it is to actually debate him. Zero Degrees of Separation The story goes deeper. In 2019, the BBC established the Trusted News Initiative (TNI), a partnership that now includes organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Reuters, and The Washington Post. We’re told that it was established to tackle “disinformation in real time.” TNI was ostensibly designed to wage a war on “fake news.” Upon closer inspection, however, it appears to have been designed to promote very specific narratives and to silence any dissenting voices, such as Malone’s. Instead of trusting the TNI, we should question the motives of its members. After all, The Washington Post recently published a piece asking people to stop criticizing President Joe Biden. The message is clear: Stop being mean to the president, even if the president is being mean to you (on more than one occasion). Then, there’s James C. Smith, chairman of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He sits on the board of directors for Pfizer, a company that’s responsible for the creation of vaccines with questionable efficacy and that has a history of manipulating data. In short, Pfizer is a company with a questionable reputation. Nevertheless, Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla was recently named CNN’s Business CEO of the Year. Make of that what you will. When one thinks of TNI (and the mainstream media in general), various terms instantly spring to mind. “Objectivity” isn’t one of them. “Highly compromised” and “conflict of interest” do come to mind, however. Speaking of objectivity, or the lack thereof, in August 2021, The Atlantic ran a much-cited hit piece on Malone, which was high on accusations, but low on actual evidence. It attacked his character and credibility—repeatedly. Rather intriguingly, the article, like all of The Atlantic’s COVID-19 articles, was funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The former is an organization established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation owns stock in Johnson & Johnson, a company whose vaccine has been associated with the development of blood clots—the very thing Malone has been warning us about for the better part of two years. People might scoff. But contrary to popular belief, democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies in broad daylight. Its death is slow and protracted, one by a thousand cuts rather than by one fatal stab. As author Steve Levitsky once wrote, democracies don’t often die at the hands of military generals, “but of elected leaders—presidents or prime ministers who subvert the very process that brought them to power.” “One of the great ironies of how democracies die is that the very defense of democracy is often used as a pretext for its subversion,” he wrote. “Would-be autocrats often use economic crises, natural disasters, and especially security threats—wars, armed insurgencies, or terrorist attacks—to justify antidemocratic measures.” Apply these lines to the pandemic, and Levitsky’s words carry more weight than ever before. In the United States, one must not question the efficacy of masks, vaccines for kids, the logic (or lack thereof) of lockdowns, or the unconstitutional nature of vaccine mandates. What about the little matter of vaccine breakthrough deaths? Don’t ask any questions. But wait, if science can’t be questioned, doesn’t this make it propaganda? Hush now. Don’t you love America? Don’t you want people to live, rather than die? Then shut up and get the vaccine, then the booster shot, then the booster-booster shot. We, the arbiters of truth, know what’s best for you. Somewhat ironically, these self-appointed arbiters of truth spout no shortage of lies. Is it any surprise, then, that more and more Americans continue to lose faith in the mainstream media and the government? Yet here we are, being condescended to by the likes of CNN’s Don Lemon and MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace. Worse still, we’re supposed to take orders from Fauci, a man who supposedly represents science, yet goes out of his way to smear scientists. Why would a man of science attack the very thing that he’s supposed to represent? A stock photo of social media platform icons in a mobile device. (Pixabay/Pexels) According to numerous reports, Fauci has repeatedly deceived the American people. It’s important to remember that Fauci is, first and foremost, a talking head for the U.S. government. In reality, he’s a politician with a medical degree. To quote the author Gillian Flynn, the author of “Gone Girl”: “The truth is malleable; you just need to pick the right expert.” Who better than Fauci, a highly qualified individual with his own fan club? But don’t be fooled. Fauci might act like he answers to no one, but he does. He answers to the U.S. government. Who, then, does the government answer to? Big Pharma, it seems. In 2019, the Roosevelt Institute published a fascinating report, “The Cost of Capture: How the Pharmaceutical Industry has Corrupted Policy Makers and Harmed Patients.” The report outlines the many ways in which the pharmaceutical industry has shaped policies through corporate capture. This is a phenomenon that sees private industries use their significant financial and political influence to manipulate a state’s decision-making apparatus. The report warned about the dangers of lobbying and of deeply flawed medical research. What we’re seeing is the convergence of Big Pharma, Big Tech, and Big Government. Let’s call it the unholy trinity, with Big Tech doing the bidding of Big Government, and Big Government doing the bidding of Big Pharma. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, YouTube has removed the Joe Rogan episodes featuring Robert Malone and Peter McCullough. Why? Because when it comes to viruses and vaccines, these are among the most notable and accomplished experts in the world. They appear to know things that the government doesn’t want us to know. Additionally, Google, the owner of YouTube, appears to be closely involved with the U.S. government. What we’re left with is the equivalent of a digital dictatorship, with even the most qualified people being silenced, ostracized, and, in some cases, defenestrated. Robert Malone is a wise man, an honest man, and a highly credible man. The grief that has come his way—and continues to come his way to this day—is unwarranted. But as he knows only too well, this is the price one must pay for challenging the unholy trinity. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 19:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 5th, 2022

Ray Dalio On The Changing World Order: "Entirely Possible Neither Side Will Accept Losing The 2024 Election"

Ray Dalio On The Changing World Order: "Entirely Possible Neither Side Will Accept Losing The 2024 Election" Authored by Ray Dalio via LinkedIn.com, At the risk of boring you by repeating myself, now at this beginning of the new year and with the publication of my book Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order, I want to concisely convey the most important thoughts I have about the paradigm we are now in, which is a result of how the world order appears to be changing. To be clear, while I express concerns and risks, I believe that we collectively have the power to manage our challenges well if we are smart and considerate with each other. Also, please know that I am not sure that any expectations I have are right. I’m just passing along my thinking for you to take or leave as you like.   MY CONCLUSIONS UP-FRONT The world order is changing in important ways that have happened many times before in history, though not in our lifetimes. How the world order is changing has created the paradigm that we are in. By “paradigm,” I mean the environment that we are in. Paradigms typically last about 10 years, with occasional big corrections within them. They are driven by a persistent set of conditions that takes those conditions in a swing from one extreme to an opposite extreme. Because of this, each paradigm is more likely to be opposite than similar to the one before it. For example, the Roaring ’20s were followed by the depressionary 1930s, and the inflationary 1970s were followed by the disinflationary 1980s. The assets and liabilities that you would most like to have, and those that you would most like to avoid, change with the paradigm that exists at the time. For example, in the Roaring ’20s you’d want to own stocks and avoid bonds, while in the depressionary 1930s it would be the opposite; in the inflationary 1970s you’d want to own hard assets like gold and avoid bonds, while in the disinflationary 1980s you’d want to own financial assets and avoid hard assets. For reasons explained in this report, I believe the current paradigm is a classic one that is characterized by the leading empire (the US) 1) spending a lot more money than it is earning and printing and taxing a lot, 2) having large wealth, values, and political gaps that are leading to significant internal conflict, and 3) being in decline relative to an emerging great power (China). The last time we saw this confluence of events was in the 1930-45 period, though the 1970-80 period was also analogous financially. In this piece, I will explain my reasoning and show charts that display these things happening. (For a much more comprehensive description, read Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order.) What should one do in this new paradigm? This paradigm is leading to a big shift in wealth and power. Naturally, as a global macroeconomic investor, the economic and market behaviors in this paradigm are top of mind. I think one should consider minimizing one’s ownership of cash and bonds in dollars, euros, and yen (and/or borrow in these) and putting funds into a highly diversified portfolio of assets, including stocks and inflation-hedge assets, especially in countries with healthy finances and well-educated and civil populations that have internal order. These things are especially important in this paradigm. In brief, I think one’s assets and liabilities should be well-balanced with minimum exposures to dollar, euro, and yen currency and debt assets. During this time, I also think it will pay to be short cash (i.e., borrow cash). Of course there will be corrections during the several years in the paradigm—for example, in central bank tightenings. But I don’t see any sustained period in which the government will likely allow cash returns to be better than the returns of a well-diversified, non-cash portfolio (e.g., All Weather) geared to the level of risk you’re comfortable with because that would cause terrible problems. These circumstances also have big geopolitical implications, which I will touch on here.  Now I will show you the reasoning behind my conclusions. Please do not just believe my conclusions because I don’t want you to blindly follow me. I urge you to challenge my reasoning and see how it goes. I hope the picture comes through clearly in the charts and text that follow.  THE FOLLOWING ARE THE THREE BIGGEST ISSUES THAT I WANT TO FOCUS ON 1) Big Debt and Debt Monetizations, Particularly in the World’s Leading Reserve Currency 2) Internal Conflicts over Wealth and Values Gaps 3) External Conflicts, Most Importantly the Rise of a Great Power (China) to Challenge the Existing Great Power (the US) The confluence of these three issues is shaping the type of paradigm we are in. While I can’t cover them in depth in this brief report, I can hit the most important aspects of them, particularly of the debt/money/investment issue because that’s an area I have devoted my life to. All three issues transpire in cycles driven by cause/effect relationships that are logical and can be understood. It is important to understand how these cycles work and where we are in them. 1) BIG DEBT AND DEBT MONETIZATIONS The three major reserve currency empires—the United States, Europe, and to a lesser extent Japan—are in poor financial shape. The top chart shows for the US how debt levels (black line) are high today and were high in the 1929-33 and 2008 periods. In both cases, interest rates hit 0% (blue line), and the printing of money and buying of financial assets began in a big way (red line). More recently, the COVID-triggered downturn and the political move to the left has led to a massive increase in debt creation and debt monetization in the US (and other countries). There is no doubt that this will continue even after COVID disappears, as large deficits that have to be monetized will exist. This makes everyone financially rich (i.e., they have a lot of money) and devalues money, which takes away much of this newfound wealth. THIS PRINTING OF MONEY AND BUYING OF DEBT ASSETS HAS DRIVEN INTEREST RATES SO LOW THAT CASH AND BONDS ARE STUPID TO OWN You aren’t getting an interest rate—why would you keep your money there? You are guaranteed to get lousy rates, particularly on cash. The charts below show that you are basically going to get the worst interest rates ever in both inflation-adjusted and nominal terms. Think about the deal. The charts below show the number of years it takes for the money one invests in bonds and cash to be returned before one starts making a profit. The one on the top left is in dollars and the one on the top right is in inflation-adjusted dollars. As shown, the amounts of time are between 50 years and never. This creates more incentive to sell and borrow this debt than to buy more. At the same time, a lot more debt will be produced and will have to be sold. There won’t be enough demand to buy it, especially since global investors are already overweight in it. The way this is dealt with is that the Fed prints a lot more money and buys a lot of debt. REMEMBER THAT ONE PERSON’S DEBTS ARE ANOTHER PERSON’S ASSETS, AND IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE ASSET HOLDERS SOLD BECAUSE THE DEBT ASSETS WERE UNATTRACTIVE (WHICH THEY ARE) That would lead to either a big increase in interest rates or a huge increase in the printing of money to buy the debt to artificially hold interest rates down. The chart below shows the amount of debt assets relative to GDP, which means that a lot can be sold if the holders lose their taste for it.  THE AMOUNT OF FINANCIAL ASSETS RELATIVE TO REAL ASSETS IS DANGEROUSLY HIGH, WHICH COULD LEAD TO A “BANK RUN”-TYPE MOVE FROM FINANCIAL ASSETS TO REAL ASSETS I am not saying this will happen, but I am saying that there is a much higher probability of this happening than is reflected in market pricing. Think about it. There is only one purpose of investment assets, and that is to sell them to get cash to buy the real goods and services that one wants. Throughout history, whenever there were far more claims on real assets than there were real assets, a crisis eventually occurred when many holders of these financial assets went to sell them and discovered that there were far too many of them. That led to a “run on the bank”-type dynamic. Right now, there are vastly more financial assets than there are real assets, so if there was a move to convert them into real assets, that would lead to a “run on the bank”-type dynamic, which central banks would certainly respond to by printing a lot of money to allow people to get the money, but it would be of much less value. Making financial asset prices go up by creating a lot of money and debt makes people financially richer, but it doesn’t make them actually richer. It also leads to periods of bad real returns. This is shown in the following charts [3]. The top chart shows financial asset values as a percentage of all assets, the second chart shows financial net worth relative to GDP, and the third chart shows rolling returns of the 60/40 stock/bond portfolio since 1910.  PERIODS LIKE THESE PRODUCE TERRIBLE RETURNS FOR HOLDING CASH In my opinion, the four periods circled in the chart below are the analogous periods to today, each of which produced analogous paradigms to what we’re experiencing. PERIODS LIKE THESE EVENTUALLY PRODUCE BAD REAL RETURNS FOR STOCKS AND BONDS 2) INTERNAL CONFLICTS OVER WEALTH AND VALUES GAPS In the US (and a number of other countries), wealth and income gaps are the largest since the 1930s. AND THE POLITICAL GAPS ARE THE GREATEST EVER This chart shows that the US Republican Party (red lines) is more right-leaning and the US Democratic Party (blue lines) is more left-leaning than at any time since 1900, so the gap between them is enormous. There is great internal conflict going on in the United States now, which makes it a risky place. For example, it is entirely possible that neither side will accept losing the 2024 election. Such political clashes hurt productivity and create an inhospitable environment, which hurts capital flows. GOVERNMENT SPENDING WILL INCREASE A LOT. TAX RATES WILL RISE A LOT, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO COVER THE SPENDING. SO WEALTH WILL BE REDISTRIBUTED THROUGH BOTH TAXES AND DEBT MONETIZATIONS. 3) EXTERNAL CONFLICTS DUE TO THE RISES AND DECLINES OF GREAT POWERS The chart below shows indices of the strengths and weaknesses of the leading world powers since 1500. Note the Dutch, British, American, and Chinese cycles. The Dutch guilder was the world’s reserve currency when the Dutch Empire was on top, the British pound was the world’s reserve currency when the British Empire was on top, and the US dollar is the dominant reserve currency now that the US is on top. Note how things are changing. These cycles are transpiring for archetypical reasons. This chart is a simplified version of what you just saw for these four empires. The gray shaded areas are the periods of great internal and external conflicts and restructurings via depression, revolution, and war (typically lasting 10-25 years). They are followed by more extended periods of peace and prosperity in which order is brought about by the existence of a dominant power that no country wants to fight because it’s too strong, leading people to work harmoniously together. THE ARCHETYPICAL BIG CYCLE I will begin taking you through the typical cycle at the point that the new order is created. After revolutions and wars a new order—i.e., a new system run by new leaders—is created. For example, the last world order to be created came after WWII, in 1945. At that point in the cycle there is a dominant power, and nobody wants to fight the dominant power, so this part of the cycle is typically peaceful and, if managed well, prosperous. It is economically rewarding, which leads people to borrow and bet on it continuing, leading to over-indebtedness. Because economic opportunities are naturally distributed unevenly, large wealth gaps develop. Also, with time, competitors emerge and grow in power. Over-indebtedness and declining competitiveness eventually lead to financial problems at the same time as there are large wealth and political gaps. This produces more internal conflict and people demanding more money, which leads governments to create more debt and print a lot more money, which weakens the currency and raises inflation. As the dominant power weakens and other powers get strong enough to challenge it, there are greater internal and external conflicts that lead to revolutionary changes in who has what wealth and power. That ends the old order and leads to the next new order. That is now happening. As explained in my conclusions up-front, I believe that important wealth and power shifts are underway, creating a new paradigm in which 1) it is undesirable to hold dollar-, euro-, and yen-denominated credit assets, especially short-term debt assets, because they will have significantly negative real returns, and 2) it is desirable to hold a well-diversified portfolio of currencies, countries, and asset classes. What I’ve given you above is an inadequately brief overview of that which is covered comprehensively in my book Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order. If you are interested in this subject, I urge you to read it. In the coming days, I’ll be sharing another update on what I’ll be watching for in 2022. Tyler Durden Tue, 01/04/2022 - 17:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 4th, 2022

Meet the typical baby boomer: Worth $206,000, they"ve been blamed for ruining the economy for millennials and are in the midst of the "gray tsunami"

Baby boomers have reaped the benefits of low interest rates and housing inflation. They're wealthy, but some still don't have enough money to retire. Baby boomers have shifted demographics and the economy for the past 70 years.Javier Bragado/Getty Images Baby boomers are the post-World War II generation. The typical boomer has generated wealth for themselves thanks to a growing economy. But many say boomers didn't think about the future and left a broken economy for younger generations. Named for the wave of births that occurred from 1946 to 1964, baby boomers set the tone for a post- World War II America.They were brought up during some of America's biggest defining events in living history, from the Vietnam War and civil rights movement to Beatlemania and the moon landing. As they entered adulthood, they sought the American Dream marked by a steady career and a house, a car, and a family in the suburbs. But they developed a here-and-now mentality that disregarded the future, which many experts and media outlets have argued came at the expense of younger generations, like millennials.They reaped benefits from low interest rates and inflated housing prices, which increased the value of their assets. As such, many boomers have acquired enough wealth to partake in the greatest wealth transfer in modern history, which will go to their children and philanthropy.But not everything is bright for boomers. Many still have debt and don't have enough money saved to sustain a full retirement. And there isn't a long-term care system yet in place for all the boomers aging into their senior years. Here's what life looks like for the typical baby boomer.The post-World War II generation, boomers have been shifting the structure of the US population and economy for more than 70 years.Javier Bragado/Getty ImagesFollowing the end of World War II when the US emerged as one of the world's economic superpowers, Americans celebrated by getting busy in the bedroom. Births from 1945 to 1946 increased by 20% to 3.4 million, peaking at 4.3 million in 1957 — a number of "unprecedented" births, per the Census.It was the beginning of the baby boomer generation, whose members now turn ages 58 to 76 this year. By 2030, all boomers will be at least 65. As of 2019, per the most recent Census data available, there are around 73 million baby boomers in the US.Research from McKinsey Global Institute found the generation has "earned record levels of income, generated great wealth, and spurred economic growth." They've witnessed some of the most important cultural and political events in American history, which have defined their upbringing.In this July 1969 file photo, Astronaut Edwin Aldrin walks by the footpad of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module.NASALike all generations, boomers are shaped by key historical and cultural events. Politically, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War all affected baby boomers, reported Insider's Frank Olito. They also grew up in the Cold War and were there when President John F. Kennedy was elected — and assassinated.Culturally, they were also defined by Woodstock, Beatlemania, and the moon landing. And, while millennials and Gen Z are the generations known for their tech savviness, boomers were first to witness the advent of some of the technology we use today. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the men behind Apple and Microsoft respectively, were part of the baby boom. Their coming of age experience taught the typical boomer that they should focus on the present.Robert Nickelsberg/Getty ImagesNeil Howe, the economist, historian, and demographer who coined the term "millennial," previously told Insider that boomers were raised by the GI generation, who cared about building strong institutions and looking into the future. Boomers took that for granted and developed a "live-for-today attitude," he said."The boomer coming of age experience taught them that we should really trust your gut and focus more on what makes us feel good today," he added.They were also raised on the idea of the postwar American Dream, which they continued to chase as they entered adulthood. Their goal-centric minds valued hard work and relationships, idealizing a stable career that promised "the good life" in the suburbs with a house and a family. While this mentality has served boomers well, many have argued that it didn't serve future generations well. It's why boomers have typically been blamed for ruining the economy for millennials.Matt Henry Gunther/Getty ImagesHowe said boomers' coming-of-age experience is why they refuse to pay for institutional upkeep, preferring to spend money on things that change people's lives now. "They're not interested in making sure that the institutional framework is sustained over time," he said.They reaped economic benefits from this mindset, a Deutsche Bank Research report found last year. Boomers, it said, saw an increased value in assets thanks to low interest rates and inflated housing prices. They didn't have to pay as much for education as millennials have, nor will they face the cost for environmental damage caused by the carbon emission-releasing companies in which they've invested. "The magnitude of the boomers' votes and financial resources have given them enormous political influence over the last 40 years," wrote investor and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management Howard Marks in a recent note. "The result has been extensive deficit spending on things the boomers want and a failure to modify benefit programs that need fixing, all at the expense of future generations."  But the typical boomer will help out their children in the long run. They're wealthy enough to pass down an inheritance in a process known as "The Great Wealth Transfer."IRAs can be a good way to save for retirement, but there are different types to choose from, with each offering different tax benefits and rules.Marko Geber/GettyNever have older generations had so much wealth, reported The Wall Street Journal. Boomers benefited from the post-World War II economy, it stated, which saw declining tax rates on high-income households and a strong stock market. They held onto these savings in the face of low interest rates and a declining pension system.It put them in prime position to pass down money in their later years, known as the Great Wealth Transfer. The Journal cited the $70 trillion boomers and Silent Gen are expected to transfer between 2018 and 2042, according to research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates. About $61 trillion of that will go to their millennial and Gen X children, with the rest donated to philanthropy."From a big-picture viewpoint, millennials will likely receive the greatest wealth transfer in modern history — from the baby boomers," Jason Dorsey, a researcher of millennials, consultant, and president of The Center for Generational Kinetics, previously told Insider.     The typical boomer has a median net worth of $206,700.NurPhoto/Getty ImagesThat's according to a MagnifyMoney analysis of Federal Reserve data. It's slightly wealthier than their counterparts 20 years ago, who had a median net worth of $205,200 in inflation-adjusted dollars.Looking at baby boomers' average net worth presents a different picture, though. That sits at $1.2 million — nearly double the net worth than Americans had at that age two decades ago, which was $747,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars. While the average net worth is likely skewed by outliers like higher-earning households, the differences between the two over the past 20 years indicates that rich boomers got even richer.Meanwhile, millennial households saw their average net worth decline from $103,400 to $100,800 in the same time frame.Much of that wealth comes from real estate. The typical boomer owns a home and doesn't plan on selling it anytime soon.Tim Boyle/Getty ImagesThree-quarters of boomers own a home, and many plan to stay in them longer than their parents did. Older generations typically begin to sell their homes to move in with their families or into assisted-living facilities or nursing homes, leaving the next generation to take over as the biggest wealth holders in real estate.But boomers are hanging on. They've held the most real estate wealth of any generation for the past 20 years, according to Michael Kolomatsky's analysis of Federal Reserve Data for The New York Times. While this peaked in 2011 at about 49%, boomers still hold 44% of real estate wealth in 2021, compared to 31% of Gen Xers, the next richest generation. By this token, Gen Xers should have held the most real estate wealth as of 2017, but they're still far behind.It's a sign that boomers are "aging in place," Kolomatsky wrote, a growing concept that the pandemic has exacerbated. It's partly because some boomers are cautious of nursing homes in a Covid era, he added.But other boomers are taking advantage of an appreciating housing market, per a recent Zillow report, putting their houses up for sale to downsize or move to a new town. With lifetime savings and home equity, they're able to win out bidding wars.But not everything is rosy for boomers. The typical boomer household still has debt, owing $28,672.Marko Geber/Getty ImagesThat's across credit card, auto loan, and student loan debt and excludes a mortgage, according to a LendingTree analysis. It's not as high as Gen X, who carries a median of $37,524 in non-mortgage debt, but more than the median $24,929 millennials carry. Boomers are most burdened by credit card debt, which an average of 81.4% of boomer consumers are dealing with. That's more than any other generation, and they also carry the highest overall median balance of $3,958.    It indicates that many boomers are indebted as they head into their retirement years. The typical boomer over age 65 has just $58,035 saved.boonchai wedmakawand/ Getty ImagesThe actual savings balance of most retirees is lower than it should be. The median 55- to 64-year-old's 401(k) account balance is $61,738, according to Vanguard data. For those 65 and up, it's $58,035.Data from Fidelity estimates that the average 65-year-old woman retiring in 2019 will spend $150,000 on healthcare alone in retirement, and the average man will spend $135,000. That's  more than double the median balances. And a chunk of baby boomers who have no retirement savings whatsoever. According to data from the Insured Retirement Institute in 2019, about 45% of baby boomers surveyed had no savings. IRI reported that about half of the baby boomers who don't have retirement savings did have money set aside at one time, but they had to use the cash before retirement.On the other hand, more boomers retired in 2020 than any other year, bringing the total share of retired boomers to 40%. The early retirements have been contributing to the labor shortage in the US economy. As boomers enter their golden years, the US is undergoing a demographic shift the Census calls the "gray tsunami."An assumable mortgage lets you transfer the loan to another personWestersoe/Getty ImagesAccording to Census Bureau demographic statistician Stella Ogunwole, the older population is becoming more significant. "As boomers age through their 60s, 70s, 80s, and increasingly beyond, the 'big bulge' of the boomer generation will contribute to the overall aging of the US population in coming decades," she said.A higher life expectancy and declining birth rate has the Census projecting that older adults are expected to outnumber children under age 18 for the first time in US history by 2034. This means there is an increased need for caregiver and health services for people over age 65."This is an enormous issue," Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow focused on health care at the Urban Institute, told CNBC. "Advances in technology and public health have allowed people to live longer in a condition of frailty, and we haven't developed a long-term care system to keep up with that."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 2nd, 2022