The US"s powerful Abrams tanks are heading to Ukraine, but generals disagree over how hard it"ll be to use them on the battlefield

The Abrams is a powerful and highly capable tank, but it's also challenging to operate and to maintain. An M1A2 Abrams tank at the Orchard Combat Training Center in Idaho.US Army photo The US has pledged to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, joining a bevy of Western-made tanks. The Abrams is a powerful and highly capable tank, but it's also seen as challenging to operate. Experts disagree about how easily Ukraine will be able to wield that diverse tank force. Ukraine is getting America's powerful Abrams tank — but generals disagree over how difficult it will be to operate.Berlin's contorted decision-making process on whether to allow delivery of its widely-operated Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine has been at the forefront of the news cycle in January as German Chancellor Scholz, and his officials issued contradictory messages regarding whether they would "release the Leopards."Fearing Russian escalation, Scholz seemingly conditioned authorization on Washington also donating its M1 Abrams main battle tanks to diffuse responsibility.Here comes the M1 Abrams for UkraineA M1A2 Abrams tank fires at a target during an exercise.Maj. Randy Ready/US ArmyFinally, on January 24, Berlin announced it would donate a company of 14 Leopard 2A6 battle tanks with long-barreled guns to Ukraine and open the way for many additional donations from the Leopard's numerous operators. But perhaps a quid-pro-quo was at work.The same day, word spread that US President Joe Biden would announce he was sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.That could be the first tranche of a more significant transfer — as has proven the case for the Bradley fighting vehicle.Both the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams are broadly comparable in performance — heavier at 60-70 tons, faster, harder-hitting, and with much better sensors than the 45-55 ton main battle tanks used by Russia and Ukraine. Both will require 2-3 months of training for Ukrainian crews and maintainers at minimum before deployment.However, the M1 Abrams' deployment amounts to a rapid about-face for Washington. Immediately prior, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dismissed the Abrams as too logistically demanding — "a very complicated piece of equipment" — compared to Germany's Leopard 2.A German Leopard 2 tank during a demonstration in Munster in May 2019.Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty ImagesThis assertion spurred an online debate amongst senior retired officers, all vocal supporters of Ukraine with experience commanding M1 Abrams-equipped units.Retired US Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who has commanded everything from platoons to an entire armored division of Patton and Abrams tanks, supported Austin's take, tweeting:"Ukrainian Army commanders who I talk with want tanks, but have admitted they struggle with logistics, repair parts getting to the right places, and resupply. So reducing the burden must be a key consideration — and in my professional opinion, the Abrams would cause more of a burden due to training and resupply to a force that's in a tough fight. Also, in my view, Leopard 2s would means less of a burden."But retired Australian Gen. Mick Ryan, former commander of an Abrams brigade in arid northern Australia, argued such arguments were "… excuses … entirely absent when these tanks were sold to Iraq, Egypt and Australia — all of whom possess very light military logistic capabilities."A US Army maintenance crew reattaches a 30-ton turret to an Abrams M1A2 tank in Kuwait in September 2019.US Army/Kevin FlemingRetired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th Infantry Division that destroyed Iraq's 1st Armored Division at Rumaila in one day, also endorsed the Abrams, noting its integration by earlier foreign operators. "An experienced Ukrainian tank crew could fight in 30 days," he concluded.And retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, formerly chief of US Army Europe, agreed the difficulties of adoption were exaggerated: "The Ukrainians will figure all of that out. Please no more condescension from DoD."But Hertling disagreed that withholding the M1 Abrams was a "political decision" and didn't find the examples of non-US Abrams operators persuasive. "Countries we've sold it to took years — and [US] contractors — to field and sustain them."While it's certain Ukraine will get both Leopard 2s and M1 Abrams, it's still worth examination — just how serious were those downsides cited by Austin prior to the change?Are there enough M1 Abrams and related support facilities available?A sailor guides a Marine M1A1 Abrams tank on Camp Pendleton's White Beach.US Marine CorpsBroadly speaking, the US has a staggering 3,700 Abrams tanks estimated to be in storage, according to IISS's Military Balance 2021, and builds more yearly — even if the Army doesn't want them — to keep the factory in Lima, Ohio open.And the Marine Corps recently retired all of its 400+ M1A1 tanks. There are also 2,000-3,000 Leopard 2s in service or storage, though divvied up between numerous operating countries in a variety of models.But there are 13 countries in/around Europe operating Leopard 2s, and only one — Poland — that just began operating the M1 Abrams. That means there's a lot of Leopard 2 inventory, maintenance depots, and spare parts geographically close to Ukraine.Still, there's one other big Abrams operator in Europe — the US Army. While US armor in Europe briefly dwindled to zero in 2013, it ticked back up after Russia's invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022, notably including a rotating armor brigade in Poland.Dave Demorrow, a retired Army non-commissioned officer-in-charge with 18 year's experience serving in mechanized units, particularly in an intelligence role, sparred online with Hertling regarding the availability of M1 hulls and spare parts in Europe.US Marines inventory gear during an exercise in Finland in May 2019.US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Scott JenkinsDemorrow, who organizes donations of gear and equipment to Ukraine and runs a military museum in Texas, told me over the phone that besides the rotating brigade in Poland he believes there are 2-3 additional brigade-sets of M1s pre-positioned in Europe.He states, between that and Poland's purchase of hundreds of M1s, there's a healthy supply of spare parts. That could reflect unspecified "enhancements" the White House promised last year.However, Maj. Joe Minarick of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the Tennessee Army National Guard wrote to me that he "would not expect" the US to dip into its pre-positioned assets, and that in his experience as a battlegroup planner in Poland, spare parts were an issue."[Many parts] have to be ordered from the US. When we were in Poland they would fly parts to Ramstein then truck them to an SSA yard in Poland, where we would have to drive and pick them up. The Ukrainian border would be an addition to this process, which in our case would take up to a few days."Is the M1 Abrams's gas-turbine engine incompatible with Ukraine's armed forces?US soldiers perform maintenance on an Abrams tank in Grafenwoehr, Germany in August 2017.3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry DivisionThe Leopard 2 relies on a diesel engine, like most Ukrainian tanks. The Abram employs a Honeywell AGT1500 gas-turbine engine that can run on jet fuel. But it's a multifuel engine, so it can run on diesel too — and according to Demorrow, the US Army service frequently does this when refueling alongside diesel-engine Bradley fighting vehicles."It could run on Chanel No. 5," Demorrow said, alluding to a stunt pulled by comedian Jay Leno using his gas-turbine-powered Chrysler. Furthermore, Ukraine does deploy some gas-turbine engine tanks, the speedy T-80BV assigned to airborne brigades.Joe Minarick concurred "The fuel is a non-issue. M1s are thirsty, but they'll drink anything. Running diesel through the turbine slightly increases the maintenance burden (they prefer JP8 [kerosene-based jet fuel]), but it's not much of an issue."US Marines receive fuel from Finnish soldiers during an exercise at Niinisalo Garrison in Finland in May 2019.US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Scott JenkinsThe real problem is that the M1 Abrams' faster starting and accelerating engine is a gas hog. Reportedly, an M1 consumes 10 gallons an hour idling and .6 to 1.2 gallons per minute on the move. For every mile traveled, a Leopard 2 consumes just over half as much. That's obviously a big logistical burden."I hope to hell we give them good HEMMT fuelers as well," Minarick remarked, referring to huge, eight-wheeled Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks such as the M978 tanker which can carry 2,500 gallons.Demorrow insists the fuel-efficiency gap is lower—"around 17 percent"—and believes Ukrainians will field-improvise external auxiliary power units (APUs) for M1 Abrams to avoid gas consumption while idling, a solution he says is harder to implement on the Leopard 2A4's turret. Only the latest-model Abrams and Leopard 2A7s come with built-in APUs.Will Ukraine get depleted uranium armor and weapons?A crewmen performs maintenance on a M1 Abrams tank during a platoon combined-arms live-fire exercise.U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dustin D. Biven / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentThe US M1s incorporate ultra-dense depleted uranium (DU) to maximize protection and firepower.A depleted uranium mesh weighing a few tons is inserted between steel or carbon plates to help Abrams's front turret to achieve dramatically higher effective levels of armor protection, rendering parts of its front turret impenetrable to most armor-piercing weapons.The Army also uses hi-tech M829 depleted uranium shells tailored to defeat sophisticated Kontakt-5 and Relikt explosive reactive armor on newer Russian tanks — which may use depleted uranium shells, but don't sport depleted uranium armor.Depleted uranium is mildly radioactive, and the US has omitted it from Abrams tanks exported to operators like Egypt and Thailand, leaving them with reduced armor protection. However, the ban isn't absolute; Poland and possibly Australia's M1s will have depleted uranium armor inserts and M829 rounds.US soldiers load an M1A1 Abrams tank with M829 120mm sabot rounds at a training area in Poland on April 18, 2020.US Army/Sgt. Andres ChandlerThus it's unclear whether Ukraine's M1s will benefit from the controversial material. Meanwhile, later-model Leopard 2A5s, 2A6s and 2A7s sport extra armor and longer-barreled guns to match the benefits depleted uranium provide the M1.Demorrow argued that the secrecy concerns surrounding DU armor were overblown decades after its introduction. "I think it's more about radiation rather than it's a strategic or tactical secret."Furthermore, he argues the M1s are robust even without depleted uranium reinforcement.Present at the titanic Battle of Norfolk in the 1991 Gulf War, he was driving an ammunition truck close to an M1A1 Abrams — an earlier model lacking uranium armor — when it was repeatedly hit by friendly fire from forces advancing behind it. It sustained a dozen hits before finally being disabled, with three of the four crew surviving.M1 Abrams: training and sustainmentAn M1A2 Abrams drives into the woods during an exercise in Hohenfels, Germany. in February 2020.US Army National Guard/Sgt. Fiona BerndtThere are also concerns the M1's advanced components will make it difficult to train personnel to operate and sustain it in the field. Nicholas Drummond, a British armor officer and advisor to German tank manufacturer KMW told Breaking Defense the Leopard 2 may be easier to integrate due to being designed for Germany's Cold War conscript army.Hertling tweeted the Abrams requires higher training standards than most tanks, especially for the crew to avoid self-inflicted mechanical breakdowns:"Some M1 repairs require part replacements (requiring many high tech spare parts to be in a Prescribed Load List [a standardized unit inventory of on-hand spare parts]). Other replacements require pulling things (like Full Up Power Packs [engine and transmission], sights, etc.) to a logistics center/depot with new one being sent forward. It's a 500-mile supply line from Poland to the Donbas."Minarick, who has 24 year's experience with armor, agreed that Leopard 2s are easier to maintain than the Abrams. "The turbine is more complicated (although having fewer moving parts) than a diesel engine. From having worked with both platforms in the field, the reliability is about the same, only the repairs are more difficult."Demorrow, however, argues there's a double-standard, noting M2s and Bradley fighting vehicles already given to Ukraine use Bushmaster cannons with more components than the Abram's main gun, and use the same support systems including M88 Armored Recovery Vehicles. He maintains faulty power packs could be shipped out of Ukraine while the vehicles stays in country using a swapped-in pack.Diverging views among officersA German civilian greets US Army vehicles on a road during an exercise in April 2018.US Army photo by Spc. Dustin D. BivenWhy have these veterans come to such different conclusions despite their common experience with the Abrams? Perhaps, they have different assumptions of the integration and opportunity costs.Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe—recently retired from his role overseeing maneuver warfare training at Fort Benning—argues, "[Ukrainian forces] need one system, delivered in numbers that matter, in one variant to east sustainment in order to maximize the effect on the enemy and reduce internal friction and challenges."From his perspective, giving two different tank models is worse than maximizing the delivery of the most efficient type.Responding to news of M1 deliveries, Hertling reiterated his concerns: "… can they quickly learn the capability of the Abrams (and Leopard II) the way it is designed to operate? That's training with other tanks, infantry, scouts, drones, artillery, engineers, intel. All more than crew training when the tank – or small critical parts in the tank – break (which they do), and when those small and large replacement parts need replacing, and when it requires daily/weekly/monthly echelon maintenance, will Ukraine have also trained those who do these things?After the tank crews, sections, companies, battalions master the gunnery skills, the maneuver, and the maintenance; will there also be echelons of support that will flow the needed parts, Full Up Power Packs, ammo, fuel, roadwheels, torsion bars, etc., etc., to the front lines?…I've seen U.S. units at our training centers and in combat get just a few things wrong and it causes disaster and failure. Lethal tanks turn into pillboxes that don't move or shoot."So Hertling sees a distinction between simply operating a tank, and employing it sustainably and effectively using US-style combined arms doctrine and logistics.An M1A2 Abrams tank is unloaded at the Port of Vlissingen in the Netherlands in October 2019.US Army/Sgt. Kyle LarsenUkraine's military has undeniably absorbed a staggering variety of troop-carrying vehicles and artillery systems via foreign assistance — diversity ordinarily seen as a massive no-no to logisticians due to the inefficiencies of having to train for and sustain so many different types of equipment.If you assume there are substantial overhead costs to inducting new equipment types and constrained "bandwidth" to do so, there's less benefit to furnishing two types just to increase volume.But boosters of the M1 Abrams for Ukraine argue Kyiv would gladly take all the tanks it can get and has the personnel, motivation, and culture of assimilation to adopt new platforms faster via crash courses and MacGyver-style fixes than a peacetime army ordinarily could.By keeping foreign experts on-call for technical consulting, and rapid on-demand parts deliveries, they argue Ukraine may sustain a diversified force better than is conventionally thought possible.Mick Ryan writes: "Ukrainians have demonstrated throughout this war that they are very capable of integrating very complex hardware and weapons quickly. They are an adaptive, learning institution with a strong imperative for constant improvement."Furthermore, Ryan and defense expert Michael Kofman argue that while Ukraine can learn much from US maneuver doctrine, the methods contextually suited to Ukraine may differ greatly.Minarick, who considers Leopard 2s and M1 Abrams to be similar "apex tanks," wrote to me: "Other countries far less competent have used them in austere environments. I think the concern that the Abram specific logistics will distract from more pressing issues on the ground is genuine, but overblown."Expertise and Experience: Sébastien Roblin writes on the technical, historical, and political aspects of international security and conflict for publications including The National Interest, NBC News,, War is Boring and 19FortyFive, where he is defense-in-depth editor. He holds a master's degree from Georgetown University and served with the Peace Corps in China. You can follow his articles on Twitter.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 1st, 2023

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, 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

This is the M1 Abrams, the powerful American main battle tank the US is sending to Ukraine

First, the British offered up their Challenger tanks. Then the Germans decided to send Leopards. And now, the Abrams has been promised to Kyiv. An M1A2 Abrams main battle tank from the Minnesota National Guard races through a breach in a barbed wire obstacle during the 116th eXportable Combat Training Exercise at the Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho.US Army photo NATO allies and partners are sending lots of heavy armor to Ukraine. After much debate over whether or not to send tanks, several different types have been promised to Kyiv. The US is sending its powerful Abrams main battle tank. The US has been sending Ukraine more and more weapons, promising Kyiv hard-hitting rocket artillery, formidable air defense systems followed by infantry fighting vehicles, and now, after some debate, it's agreed to send M1 Abrams tanks. Senior Pentagon officials said last week the US was not ready to send these, arguing that the "Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment" that is expensive, difficult to maintain, and hard to train on, but this week, the US joined partners in Europe in offering Ukraine tanks.The British Challengers, German-made Leopards, and American Abrams are modern battle tanks with superior capabilities compared to those of the Soviet-era tanks Ukraine has relied on and provide the kind of mobile firepower and shock effect necessary to break through enemy lines and enable new offensives at a time when the front has become largely static.An M1A2 Abrams Tanks from A Company, 2-116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team (CBCT), Idaho Army National Guard run through field exercises on Orchard Combat Training Center (OCTC).Thomas Alvarez/Idaho Army National GuardUkraine's defense ministry humorously suggested renaming the Abrams a "recreational utility vehicle" to alleviate any potential US concerns about sending tanks, but this heavy tracked vehicle is a tank and one of the most capable in the world.—Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) January 12, 2023The M1 Abrams tank, a heavy armor product of what is now General Dynamics Land Systems but was Chrysler Defense, was developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the Army's older M60 tanks. It first entered service in 1980, but it didn't see combat until the Gulf War in the early 1990s.Just over 2,000 Abrams tanks were deployed with combat units during the war, and only 23 were damaged or destroyed. Of the nine that were destroyed, none were lost as a result of enemy action.A Government Accountability Office report on the performance of the Abrams tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in that conflict said that Abrams crews reported taking direct frontal hits from Soviet-era T-72s and sustaining only minor damage.In the aftermath of the Gulf War, the US military developed the M1A2 Abrams, which has steadily been upgraded over the past two decades. The Abrams tank also saw extensive combat early in the Iraq War and was used to some extent in Afghanistan.US Army troopers assigned to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fire the M1A2 SEPV3 Main Battle Tanks as part of gunnery qualification, Sept. 22, 2022, on Mielno Tank Range, Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles PorterThe modern M1A2 weighs more than 70 tons, is powered by the AGT1500 gas turbine engine providing 1,500 horsepower for speeds up to 42 mph, and is armed with a 120mm main gun, a M2 .50 caliber machine gun, and a pair of M240 7.62mm machine guns.Crewed by a team of four soldiers, specifically the gunner, loader, driver, and commander, the Abrams can deliver the mobility, firepower, and, perhaps most importantly, shock effect needed to exploit weak points in enemy lines and pursue offensive breakthroughs.When engaging the enemy, the Abrams is protected by Chobham composite armor improved with depleted uranium meshing. Its protection can be upgraded with explosive reactive armor blocks.General Dynamics Land Systems is currently in the process of developing the next-generation Abrams, the so-called Abrams X main battle tank, which will rely on a smaller crew supported by artificial intelligence to deliver increased combat capability with better fuel efficiency.US Army troopers assigned to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fire the M1A2 SEPV3 Main Battle Tanks as part of gunnery qualification, Sept. 22, 2022, on Mielno Tank Range, Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles PorterThe US has, until now, been hesitant to send these tanks, pointing to the complicated maintenance and operational difficulties.Jeffrey Edmonds, a Russia expert at the Center for Naval Analyses and former US Army armor officer, told Insider last week that the US should do what it needs to do to get Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but he acknowledged that there are hurdles that make it a challenge."The maintenance problem, with all it's components, that is the real challenge," Edmonds said, pointing to the thousands of tiny parts, some of which are essential to keeping the vehicle running properly, that Ukraine has to be able to get its hands on and use in the field.Troopers with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division prepare test fire the U.S. Army’s new M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle Tank, Fort Hood, Texas, August 18, 2020.US Army photo by Sgt. Calab Franklin"The other thing that people don't really talk about is how well the crews will be trained and how well they use the tanks," he said, noting that "fighting in a tank is kind of an art."But if Ukraine can maintain and operate them properly, "they're great for the Ukrainian force," Edmonds said, explaining that "the whole reason tanks were created was to make a static situation fluid."The situation along the front lines in Ukraine is brutal, with battles turning into grinding exchanges of artillery with minimal gains on either side.Powerful modern tanks like the Abrams, Leopards, and Challengers the Ukrainians have sought, along with all the other armor and weaponry heading that way, could be just what Kyiv needs to fuel an offensive and break through Russian lines, but that remains to be seen.The US has said it will send Ukraine 31 Abrams tanks, as well as the equipment and parts necessary to sustain them, but it will likely be months before these arrive on the battlefield.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 25th, 2023

Putin"s nuclear threats are stirring fears of a nightmare scenario. Here"s what"s in his arsenal and what could happen if he orders the unthinkable.

Alarm is growing as Russian forces retreat and Putin's rhetoric grows more unhinged. Here's how a Russian nuclear attack could unfold. Russian soldiers stand near a Topol-M ICBM while participating in a rehearsal for the nation's Victory Day parade outside Moscow.ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images Putin has repeatedly made nuclear threats since he launched Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Experts say the immediate risk of a nuclear attack is low, but they are growing increasingly concerned. The use of a nuclear weapon is "directly tied to Russia's fate on the battlefield," one expert recently told Insider. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a lot of very unsettling nuclear threats since the start of Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine, and concerns are growing as his forces lose ground that he could resort to the unthinkable and order the use of weapons of mass destruction, a nightmare scenario.The day Putin launched his so-called "special operation" in Ukraine in late February, he said that "Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states" and warned that any enemy that attacks it "will face defeat and ominous consequences."Putin, who claimed to have placed Russia's nuclear deterrent forces on high alert just days later, has continued to remind the world of Russia's nuclear might in the months since.In September, Putin made a veiled reference to nuclear weapons while vowing to defend Russia's "territorial integrity," emphasizing that "this is not a bluff." And later that month, Putin said that the use of nuclear weapons by the US against Japan in World War II set a "precedent" as he warned that "we will protect our land with all the forces and means at our disposal."World leaders and international institutions have criticized Putin over his repeated threats, accusing him of nuclear saber rattling. In August, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world is "one misunderstanding" away from "nuclear annihilation."President Joe Biden recently went as far to suggest the risk of nuclear "Armageddon" is the highest it's been since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and the US has privately communicated to Russia that there would be "catastrophic consequences" if nuclear weapons are used. Though some Russia watchers suspect Putin is bluffing to deter Western support for Kyiv, many top nuclear experts say that his threats should be taken seriously regardless.Russia's tactical and strategic nuclear weaponsA Russian Iskander-E missile launcher on display at the International Military Technical Forum 'Army 2022' on August 17, 2022 in Patriot Park, outside of Moscow, Russia.Getty ImagesPutin, who has issued threats in vague terms, has not expressly said whether or not or how he might use a nuclear weapon, but military and nuclear weapons experts have said that if he did, Putin is more likely to employ a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine than a strategic nuclear weapon, though the latter remains an option.Tactical or non-strategic nuclear weapons are meant for more limited strikes or use on the battlefield over a shorter range while strategic nuclear weapons typically have higher explosive yields and are intended to be used against targets farther from the front lines.Russia has the largest nuclear stockpile in the world with 5,997 warheads, though roughly 1,500 are retired, according to the latest assessment from the Federation of American Scientists, and not all of Russia's active nuclear weapons are deployed.Russia is estimated to have around 1,912 tactical nuclear weapons in its arsenal, and it maintains a fully operational nuclear triad, giving it the ability to deliver nukes to their intended targets by way of land, air and sea.The explosive yield of a tactical nuclear weapon tends to range from around 10 to 100 kilotons (a kiloton is a unit of measurement equivalent to the explosive force of 1,000 tons of TNT), but Russia also has low-yield nukes that fall below one kiloton.That said, these weapons are still extraordinarily powerful. The atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki by the US during World War II had an explosive yield of just 21 kilotons, but it killed roughly 140,000 people. There are tactical nuclear weapons that are more than four times as powerful. "These are devastating and indiscriminate killing machines," Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association (ACA), said of tactical nuclear weapons during a Tuesday webinar hosted by his organization. A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental-ballistic-missile system drives during a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2015.REUTERS/Grigory DukorDemonstrating resolve by going nuclearPavel Podvig, a senior researcher at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, does not believe that at this stage, despite Putin's rhetoric, Russia is close to breaking the atomic taboo, potentially alienating its remaining allies and entrenching its status as an international pariah.And "there is a consensus among people who've been looking at all this that the battlefield use of nuclear weapons is very much out of the question," Podvig told Insider from his home in Geneva. "This is not that kind of war."Ukraine's forces are dispersed, meaning there likely would not be an opportunity to take out thousands of soldiers in a strike. At best, a single tactical nuclear weapon could destroy about a dozen tanks, Podvig said. It would also, among other things, be a logistical nightmare for a military that at least early on struggled to even feed its own troops."You need to coordinate. You need to deal with all the contamination," he said. "It's not easy."Even if the intent of such a strike were to simply demonstrate Russia's resolve and willingness to escalate, Podvig does not think it would achieve that with a battlefield nuke — it could in fact be read as Moscow being hesitant. If the Kremlin were seeking an effective demonstration, he argued, "it would have to be shocking," like nuking an entire city."It won't be enough just to have an explosion over the Black Sea somewhere to deliver the shock. You really would have to kill a lot of people — we are talking about tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people," he said. "And you would have to do that very much in cold blood."The devastation caused by a nuclear weapon could undermine Putin at home though. He sold this conflict to his population on the basis of shared history with Ukraine, creating a potential backlash were he to oversee, by way of nuclear force, the destruction of cities or the mass killing of Ukrainians, who he has described as "one people" with Russians. Such sentiments, however, have not prevented other wartime atrocities.It's Putin's call whether to use a nukeRussian President Vladimir Putin and top officials during a meeting with former members of the Cabinet at the Kremlin on January 29, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesRussia released a document in 2020 called the "Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence," which outlines its nuclear doctrine. The document states that the Russian president makes the decision to use nuclear weapons."The Russian President is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, and he has the authority to direct the use of nuclear weapons," per the Congressional Research Service. In other words, it's Putin's call whether Russia uses a nuke, but letting one loose is not as simple as the press of a button.If Putin ordered a nuclear strike, it's possible that at some stage his orders could be refused. But there's no way of knowing if anyone would dare stand against the Russian leader, whose opponents have a history of winding up in prison or dying in violent ways. The whole process starts with a decision by Putin, Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, explained during the ACA webinar on Tuesday. "But of course, like in the United States, the military has to cooperate," he said."I don't think there's a red button on his desk that he can press and then suddenly the nuclear weapons start flying," Kristensen said, and it would likely "take longer," he continued, to use a tactical nuclear weapon than a strategic one given that these weapons are not immediately available.Russia's non-strategic nukes are "in central storage and would have to be brought out of their bunker first and transported out to the launch units that would fire them," Kristensen explained, adding that it's "reasonable to assume" Western intelligence would detect whether this is occurring given the number of steps involved. US intelligence has so far seen no indication that Putin is preparing to use nuclear weapons, according to recent reporting.And some of these nukes are potentially unreliable given their age and time in storage."Most of these warheads stored there are very old," Pavel Baev, a military researcher who previously worked for the Soviet defense ministry, recently told the Guardian. "Without testing it's really hard to say how suitable they are because many of them are past their expiration date."Putin's nuclear calculusRussian President Vladimir PutinContributor/Getty ImagesThe document released by Russia in 2020 lays out four scenarios that could potentially lead to the use of nuclear weapons: the use of nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies, conventional aggression that threatens Russia's existence, ballistic missiles that are already in flight and heading for Russia or its allies, and an attack on the government or military that jeopardizes Russia's nuclear response capabilities.But Putin's recent threats suggest that he might, though the risk remains low, ignore Russia's official nuclear doctrine and use a weapon of mass destruction to send a grave message to Ukraine and its Western allies. There's an open, evolving debate over whether Putin would actually take the extreme step of using a nuclear weapon, but there's widespread agreement that the Ukraine war has raised the risk of a nuclear crisis to a level not seen in decades.Kristensen said during the ACA webinar on Tuesday that he believes it's unlikely that Russia employs nuclear weapons in Ukraine. For that to happen, things would have to "escalate significantly" to a "direct clash between NATO and Russia," he said."That said, they've certainly rattled the sword and threatened something that looks like a scenario going beyond what Russia's declaratory policy is," he said, adding that if Russia did choose to use a nuclear weapon it would likely turn to a nuclear-armed Iskander short-range ballistic missile.The risks of Putin employing a nuclear weapon in the short-term are "still low," Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former senior intelligence officer who led strategic analysis on Russia for the National Intelligence Council from 2015 to 2018, told Insider in late September. But Kendall-Taylor also emphasized that Putin's decision to annex four Ukrainian territories — declaring territories on the front lines of the war as part of Russia — "increased those risks." "I do worry now that as the Ukrainians reclaim territory that Russia has now annexed and that [Putin] claims as Russian, given that he now is so personally invested in this, that the risk of his use of a tactical nuke on the battlefield in Ukraine has gone up," she said, going on to say that the use of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine is "directly tied to Russia's fate on the battlefield."Military and Russia experts widely agree that Putin will probably wait and see how his risky decision to announce a partial military mobilization plays out before he begins to seriously consider something as extreme as the use of a nuclear weapon.In the meantime, Russia is more likely to engage in other escalatory steps — such as sabotaging infrastructure. Russia carried out strikes across Ukraine on such targets this week, attacking Kyiv for the first time in months in the process. If Putin did decide to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, it would likely be "in hopes of shocking Ukraine into surrender or the West into cutting off aid to Ukraine," according to an assessment from the Institute for the Study of War. "Such attacks would be highly unlikely to force Ukraine or the West to surrender, however, and would be tremendous gambles of the sort that Putin has historically refused to take," ISW said.Responding to the unthinkablePresident Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.Mikhail Metzel/Getty ImagesOne of the most pressing questions surrounding the potential use of a nuclear weapon by Russia is how the West, and more specifically NATO, would respond. Ukraine is not a nuclear power. But multiple countries in NATO, a 30-member military alliance that has supported Ukraine in its fight against Russia, have nuclear arsenals of their own — including the US. The US and Russia collectively possess roughly 90% of the world's nuclear warheads. The two countries came dangerously close to nuclear war on more than one occasion during the Cold War, often by accident, but fortunately managed to avoid a catastrophe.The Biden administration has warned Russia there would be serious consequences if nuclear weapons are used, but it has not gone into specifics. Experts advise not going nuclear in response."I do not believe that a nuclear response is something that the United States and its allies should be placing on the table. We need to stay on the side of perhaps a firm military response, but one that would stay conventional in nature," Rose Gottemoeller, a former senior State Department official for arms control and nonproliferation issues and former deputy secretary general of NATO, said during ACA's webinar. Gottemoeller said that the response could target where Russia's nuclear attack originated, but the US could also consider executing a non-lethal attack first, such as employing offensive cyber capabilities. "Any such attack would be carefully designed to be proportionate and to be responsive to what would be an egregious attack on a Ukrainian target using a nuclear weapon," Gottemoeller said, adding that she wanted "to stress and really underscore that none of these options for military action are desirable to NATO or to the United States of America." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 13th, 2022

Russia is paying a steep price for few gains as its war machine grinds to a halt after 6 months of hard fighting in Ukraine

A senior US defense official said recently that the Pentagon is "seeing a complete and total lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield." A paratrooper from Ukraine's 81st Airmobile Battalion comes out from a trench after an attack from a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher which has destroyed a house on July 5,2022 in Seversk, Ukraine.Laurent van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images After half a year of war in Ukraine, Russia has little to show for its unprovoked invasion. The Russian military, which was expected to steamroll Ukraine, has stalled as losses mount. And Russia looks to be shifting to a defensive posture as Ukraine makes counteroffensive moves. Six months ago, Russian forces stormed into Ukraine determined to quickly crush Ukrainian defenses and achieve a swift victory. But that hasn't happened.Instead, Russia's rapid advance has slowed to a crawl, and Ukraine is making the invading forces pay in blood for every inch forward as the conflict becomes a grinding war of attrition.Russian President Vladimir Putin ignited this brutal conflict on February 24, when he ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops positioned on Ukraine's borders, alongside tanks and other warfighting equipment, into the country. Infantry and armor movements and airborne assault operations followed long-range strikes on Ukrainian soil.Expert analysis and intelligence assessments before the war started suggested Ukraine didn't stand a chance and would likely fall to Russian control in a matter of months, if not weeks or even days. It was a bleak picture, but such expectations could not have been more wrong.Early Russian missteps, such as the missing-in-action Russian air force and the lack of combined arms operations, created opportunities for Ukrainian resistance. And supply issues and disorder and discipline problems within the Russian ranks, including sabotage, surrender, and disobedience, hindered the effectiveness of Russia's military in battle.After initially encircling Kyiv, Russian forces failed to overrun Ukraine's defenses and capture the city.Unable to seize the capital and topple the government, Russia pulled back and redirected its focus to the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict has resembled World War I combat, with trench warfare and intense exchanges of artillery fire.'The Russians have achieved none of Vladimir Putin's objectives'Map of the battle lines in Ukraine as of August 22.UK Ministry of DefenseRussia has expanded its territorial holdings in the east and along the coast in southern Ukraine. Part of Russian-controlled territory, however, includes regions that Russian forces either already occupied or that Russia-backed separatists held before the war.And those relatively limited achievements compared to some earlier expectations have come at a pretty steep price for the Russian military.Russia has lost an unusually high number of generals and senior officers in battle, and the most recent Pentagon estimates put Russian casualties in Ukraine as high as 80,000, with up to 4,000 armored vehicle losses.A senior US defense official said earlier this month that these figures were "remarkable considering that the Russians have achieved none of Vladimir Putin's objectives at the beginning of the war."In late July, CIA director William Burns revealed that US intelligence estimates placed Russian war dead at about 15,000, with around three times as many wounded. Those numbers have gone up since."The Ukrainians have suffered as well," he said, explaining that the numbers are "probably a little less than that, but, you know, significant casualties."Ukraine's top general Valeriy Zaluzhny said this week that Ukraine has lost an estimated 9,000 soldiers since Russia launched its invasion.'No one is making big gains'A destroyed Russian main battle tank rusts next to the main highway into the city on May 20, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesAfter half a year of fighting in Ukraine, Russia's war machine seems to be grinding to a halt, according to expert and military observations."If I had to give a simple characterization of the front now, I would say it's largely static," Jeffrey Edmonds, a CNA Russia expert and former CIA military analyst, told Insider. "You have little movements here and there on both sides, but no one is making big gains."A senior American defense official told reporters last Friday that the Pentagon is "seeing a complete and total lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield," adding that there has been a "hollowing out of Russian forces in Ukraine" that is raising questions of sustainability."Both sides are fairly exhausted, but especially on the Russian side, they can't maintain momentum," Edmonds, a former US Army tanker, said. "They don't have the manpower; they don't have the morale or the momentum to actually carry through at the operational level and sequence multiple operations moving forward to try to claim new territory."A view of the building after the Russian shelling hit civilian settlements in Mariupol, Ukraine on August 01, 2022.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesBut Russia's army has been able to spread destruction, devastation, and fear.Some Ukrainian cities, like Mariupol, have been all but completely destroyed. Others, like those in the shadow of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station that the Russian military has apparently been using as a shield, have been held hostage by Russian aggression that has been widely condemned as reckless.Six months of war has ravaged a number of places across Ukraine, taking a heavy toll on its people. The Ukrainians have alleged numerous Russian war crimes and atrocities and reported thousands of civilian casualties, and millions of Ukrainians have had to flee their homes.Ukraine's leadership warned this week that as the Ukrainian people celebrate the country's independence day on Wednesday, Russia could carry out "something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious." It is unclear what that might be.'Actively shaping the course of the war for the first time'A Ukrainian soldier seen at the school destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Mykolaiv Oblast.Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is heading up Ukraine's ongoing efforts to fend off the Russian invasion, propped up with billions of dollars in economic aid and weapons packages from the US and other Western partners.The Biden administration, for instance, has provided over $10 billion in support for Ukraine's war efforts and is expected to soon announce a massive $3 billion arms package.Western anti-tank weapons like the Javelin and NLAW have ripped through Russian armor, and artillery systems like the M777 Howitzer and the long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket System have been used to great effect to hinder Russian advances.And six months in to the war, there are now growing signs that a long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive is in the works, though perhaps not in the way that some might expect.Ukrainian officials, as well as some expert observers, have said that recent explosions at Russian positions in the rear that damaged combat assets, among other attacks, were the beginning of an effort to retake captured territory, specifically the western bank of the Dnieper River and part of Kherson, the first city to fall to the Russians.Ukrainian MSLR BM-21 "Grad" shoots toward Russian positions at the frontline in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka"That pattern of activity is part of a campaign to erode the Russian position," George Barros, an analyst and expert on Russia and Ukraine at the Institute for the Study of War, told Insider."The Russians," he explained, "would actually like it if the Ukrainians assembled a large combat force, brought them to Kherson possibly at the expense of weakening Ukraine's defenses in other parts of the country, and then gave the Russians a decisive battle," one where Russia has the advantage."But the Ukrainians aren't doing that," Barros said. Instead, they are "degrading the Russian positions that are reinforced in upper Kherson," suggesting a counteroffensive is very likely to resemble a "protracted sort of siege."At a certain point, when Russian combat capability has been sufficiently weakened, it becomes "manageable for a smaller Ukrainian force to conduct a series of ground maneuvers to actually recapture that territory," Barros said.Russia appears to be taking the possibility of a southern counteroffensive seriously and seems to be repositioning assets and making a clear "shift to a defensive position, emphasizing the defense of the south," Edmonds said.Earlier this month, the Institute for the Study of War wrote that "Ukraine's preparations for the counteroffensive in Kherson and the initial operations in that counteroffensive combined with the dramatic weakening of Russian forces generally appear to be allowing Ukraine to begin actively shaping the course of the war for the first time."'They may just pull off the most unlikely of victories'Ukrainian servicemen drive a T-72 tank on the frontline in eastern Ukraine on July 13, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty ImagesThat said, "there is a difficulty to offensive operations that, in some ways, makes them harder than defense," Edmonds explained, noting that this does not mean defense is easy, given the defending army's need to stay mobile and carefully anticipate potential avenues of approach that an enemy might exploit.But because offense does present a number of substantial challenges, Ukraine may need time to further erode Russian warfighting capabilities at key positions and build up the necessary combat power, and Russia is unlikely to sit idly by.Even in the face of these difficulties though, the notion that Ukraine could achieve victory in this fight against a former military superpower seems far less impossible now than it did before the war began.Paratroopers from Ukraine's 81st Airmobile Battalion takes shelter in a trench from a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher attack which has destroyed a neighboring house on July 5,2022 in Seversk, Ukraine.Laurent van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty ImagesMick Ryan, a strategist, author, and retired Australian Defense Force major general, wrote in an op-ed for The Sydney Morning Herald last week that "as months have passed, the initiative has slowly bled away from Russia as Ukraine corrodes its ability to conduct offensive operations."He argued that Ukraine "can win," but it will need continued political, military, and economic support from its partners, strength of leadership, and battlefield victories."The Ukrainians have demonstrated the value of courage, intelligence, influence and, most of all, heart," Ryan wrote, adding that "if Western political, economic and military support can be sustained, and the Ukrainian military can inflict more battlefield defeats on the Russians, they may just pull off the most unlikely of victories."Whether such optimism is misplaced remains to be seen as this fight in Ukraine rages on with no immediate end in sight.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 24th, 2022

"US Is Not Yet Ready For Great Power Conflict", Yet Still Plots Against China; WSJ

"US Is Not Yet Ready For Great Power Conflict", Yet Still Plots Against China; WSJ Authored by Yves Smith via, A vivid scene came in my first year Harvard MBA course, Business, Government and the International Economy, taught in my section by George C. Lodge, son of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. George Lodge said he still remembered the day in 1968 when he realized there were limits to US power, that we could not fight a war on poverty, send a man to the moon, and fight a ground war in Asia at the same time. The lack of that insight still seems widespread inside the Beltway, with belief in American omnipotence renewed by the fall of the USSR and then the further decline of Russia in the 1990s. Under a story initially published with a page-wide banner headline, The US is Not Yet Ready for the Era of “Great Power’ Conflict. The article curiously omits that it is the US that has been fomenting these clashes. And even though the URL banner on the article proper reads, The US is Not Yet Ready for the Era of “Great Power’ Conflict with China and Russia, the piece treats Russia dismissively, in passing, and treats escalating with China as a perfectly reasonable thing to do, not just now. We’ll turn to Russia in due course, particularly in light of Ukraine deciding Monday to try to break into the Bakhmut cauldron. If you read the article carefully, you’ll see the reverse, that any meaningful improvement in US preparedness against China is based on hopium, like the US developing, manufacturing, and deploying new weapons that are on the drawing board or in early stages. Similarly, it fails to admit a huge weakness in the US dealing with China: that our Navy is badly overinvested in the floating pork known as aircraft carriers. Informed observers like Scott Ritter has said China has the capability to take them out without too much difficulty if they get within menacing range. Sinking only one aircraft carrier would result in roughly 6000 deaths, a humiliation the US would not tolerate. Ritter has long worried that our response would be to fire a tactical nuke at the Chinese hinterlands. Ritter is certain that China would immediately light up the entire US West Coast. By: Investing TrendsChina has nearly complete control over the cobalt, lithium and rare earths supply chain. From raw material extraction to processing operations. Read This Special Report Before Wall Street Does The point of this article may be to provide cover for a minor US de-escalatory move with China: that rather than having new House Speaker stir the Taiwan independence pot as Nancy Pelosi did with a visit to the island, the Taiwanese leader will instead come to the US to meet McCarthy. Note the article repeats the CIA claim that China intends to invade Taiwan by 2027. Ex CIA analyst Larry Johnson has warned that the agency has outsourced a tremendous amount of its purported intelligence-gathering, which in Ukraine has resulted in the government retailing Ukraine propaganda. There’s no reason to think China will invade even it decides it has had enough. A blockade would do. That would also put the US, in the eyes of the international community, as being the aggressor were it to try to do anything about it, since just about no one recognizes Taiwan. The belief among cynics was the CIA (or its pro-Taiwan sources) focused on 2027 as close to the end of the window when the US could challenge China over Taiwan, in light of the growth of the Chinese economy and among other things, its ship-building capability. But this piece implicitly throws cold water on this timeline and keeps hammering at the idea that the US can surpass China, when there’s no reason to think we can create and deploy a whole bunch of new-gen systems and upgrade our forces too. The article is also heavily anecdotal, generally not a good sign in a story on a “hard” topic like geopolitics. It start with an Air Force lieutenant general realizing as a result of 2018 wargames that China had enough missiles to do serious damage to US bases in the region. It ominously continues: Five years ago…the U.S. started tackling a new era of great-power competition with China and Russia. It isn’t yet ready, and there are major obstacles in the way…. Corporate consolidation across the American defense industry has left the Pentagon with fewer arms manufacturers. Shipyards are struggling to produce the submarines the Navy says it needs to counter China’s larger naval fleet, and weapon designers are rushing to catch up with China and Russia in developing superfast hypersonic missiles. When the Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies ran a wargame last year that simulated a Chinese amphibious attack on Taiwan, the U.S. side ran out of long-range anti-ship cruise missiles within a week. The military is struggling to meet recruitment goals, with Americans turned off by the long conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, potentially leaving the all-volunteer force short of manpower. Plans to position more forces within striking range of China are still a work in progress Yet it lards that sober message with faith in eventual success via vaporware or hopium: The U.S. military is still more capable than its main adversaries. The Chinese have their own obstacles in developing the capability to carry out a large-scale amphibious assault, while the weaknesses of Russia’s military have been exposed in Ukraine…. New tactics have been devised to disperse U.S. forces and make them less of an inviting target for China’s increasingly powerful missiles. The Pentagon’s annual budget for research and development has been boosted to $140 billion—an all time high. The military is pursuing cutting-edge technology it hopes will enable the military services to share targeting data instantaneously so that U.S. air, land, sea and space forces, operating over thousands of miles, can act in unison, a current challenge…. Many of the cutting-edge weapons systems the Pentagon believes will tilt the battlefield in its favor won’t be ready until the 2030s, raising the risk that China may be tempted to act before the U.S. effort bears fruit. We’ll interrupt this recap to point out that the US bizarrely assumes it will be able to gain meaningful ground on China, that China will either stand still or not progress as quickly. Yet if you look at the ASPI critical technologies study we cited yesterday, you will see China dominates in categories relevant to military hardware and battlefield coordination: advanced materials and manufacturing; artificial intelligence, computing and communications; defense, space, robotics, and transportation. Back to the Journal: Deterring China from invading Taiwan, a longstanding U.S. partner that Beijing claims as Chinese territory, defines the challenge….The U.S. needed to demonstrate it could prevent Beijing from seizing the island in the first place—a requirement included in the Biden administration’s National Defense Strategy issued in 2022… A more recent wargame conducted by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff showed the U.S. could stymie a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and force a stalemate if the conflict was fought later in the decade, although high casualties on both sides would result. That simulation assumed that the U.S. would have the benefit of new weapons, tactics and military deployments that are currently being planned at the Pentagon. So the US will only be able to fight China to a draw if US new wunderfaffen become operational soon enough and the US succeeds in executing a major revamp too. More on capability-building: The Army, which saw its electronic warfare, short-range air defense and engineering capabilities atrophy amid budget pressures and the previous decades’ wars, is moving to develop a new generation of weapons systems that can strike targets at much longer ranges. It is planning to deploy a new hypersonic missile in the fall though its utility against Chinese forces will depend on securing basing rights in the Pacific. The Navy, which is confronting budget pressures, personnel shortages and limits to American shipbuilding capacity, is currently planning to expand its fleet to at least 355 crewed ships, a size still smaller than China’s current navy. In the near term, the U.S. will have around 290 ships. A CBO report dated January 31, 2023 is much less bullish about hypersonic missiles, including their combat-ready date: CBO reached the following conclusions: Technological challenges must still be overcome to field hypersonic missiles. The fundamental remaining challenge involves managing the extreme heat that hypersonic missiles are exposed to by traveling at high speeds in the atmosphere for most of their flight (unlike cruise missiles, which fly in the atmosphere at lower speeds, or ballistic missiles, which mainly fly above the atmosphere). Shielding hypersonic missiles’ sensitive electronics, understanding how various materials perform, and predicting aerodynamics at sustained temperatures as high as 3,000° Fahrenheit require extensive flight testing. Tests are ongoing, but failures in recent years have delayed progress. Both hypersonic and ballistic missiles are well-suited to operate outside potential adversaries’ antiaccess and area-denial (A2/AD), or “keep-out,” zones. The Department of Defense has developed a strategy to use accurate, long-range, high-speed missiles early in a conflict to neutralize the A2/AD zones being developed by potential adversaries, such as China and Russia. Both hypersonic missiles and ballistic missiles equipped with maneuverable warheads could provide the combination of speed, accuracy, range, and survivability (the ability to reach a target without being intercepted) that would be useful in the military scenarios CBO considered. However, many missions do not require such rapid strikes. For those missions, less costly alternatives to both hypersonic and ballistic missiles exist, including subsonic cruise missiles. Hypersonic weapons would mainly be useful to address threats that were both well-defended and extremely time-sensitive. Again to the Journal: The general [Clint Hinote] has pushed to equip cargo planes with cruise missiles to boost allied firepower, the use of high-altitude balloons to carry sensors and electric “flying cars” to carry people and equipment throughout the Pacific island chains—ideas that have led to experiments but so far no procurement decisions. He thinks a future Air Force could rely more on autonomous, uncrewed aircraft and deploy fewer fighters. Mind you, Russia went down that path a long, long time ago, resulting its layered offensive missiles and its best-in-breed air defense systems. The cheery closing thought, from Hinote: “I think we’ve got a recipe for blunting” a Chinese attack, he said. “I just think you have to reinvent your force to do it.” Now if this article isn’t worrisome enough merely based on a careful reading for relying on magic technological saves or massive operational improvements, another big red flag is its few, scathing mentions of Russia. The article does acknowledge the danger of China and Russia cooperating and Russia’s strong capabilities in hypersonic missiles. But the references to Ukraine are dismissive: …the weaknesses of Russia’s military have been exposed in Ukraine…. A conflict in the Western Pacific might also give Russia’s military, which has been badly battered in Ukraine, the confidence to carry out President Vladimir Putin’s goals of reviving Russian power in what it believes to be its traditional sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe. Mind you, I do not believe this take is entirely or even mainly the result of Pentagon spokescritters hewing to the party line. My impression is most of them believe it. We discussed the latest Defense Intelligence Agency’s Worldwide Threat Assessment, particularly regarding its underestimation of Russia. If we can’t get that right, when we’ve been trying to gin up a war with them since 2014, why should we have any more confidence in our assessment of China? The US is managing to talk itself into a different type of delusion with respect to Russia. Remember the Anthony Blinken interview with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, which was widely depicted as presenting a peace plan? In fact it did no such thing. It was a formula for keeping the conflict going, just at a lower boil. As we wrote: The Blinken/State vision seems to be: US and NATO support Ukraine > *Magic* > War ends > US and NATO support Ukraine We and others have speculated that Blinken’s peace gestures are insincere, merely to appease various constituencies that want to see the war end and also intended, if possible, to depict Russia as not interested in negotiating. The latter claim is to a fair degree true, but that is due to the now-clear Western position that the most it is prepared to do is stop a hot war but continue arming Ukraine so as to restart at a convenient time. Russia recognized that it is at war with NATO and it needs a durable solution. Given the West’s stated lack of interest in a lasting peace, plus its pride over its duplicity, Russia has no choice but to keep going until it has prostrated NATO or alternatively, increased pressure on major fault lines (for instance, Douglas Macgregor has said NATO would fracture if Poland were to enter Ukraine). Consider this section from a February Wall Street Journal story, in which NATO plans to make Ukraine an official, as opposed to de facto, NATO-lite member: Germany, France and Britain see stronger ties between NATO and Ukraine as a way to encourage Kyiv to start peace talks with Russia later this year, officials from the three governments said, as some of Kyiv’s Western partners have growing doubts over its ability to reconquer all its territory. U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week laid out a blueprint for an agreement to give Ukraine much broader access to advanced military equipment, weapons and ammunition to defend itself once the war ends… A British official said another goal of the NATO pact would be to change the Kremlin’s calculus. If Moscow sees that the West is prepared to scale up its military assistance and commitments to Ukraine over time, it could help persuade Moscow that it can’t achieve its military objectives. This must be one of the British officials that also believes (per British MoD press reports) that Russia has committed 97% of its armed forces to Ukraine and Wagner forces in Bakhmut are fighting with shovels The West is completely open that it plans to keep arming Ukraine no matter what. It expects Russia to agree to a peace deal despite Ukraine being a ticking time bomb by design. It further expects Russia to negotiate when it’s becoming obvious that the US/NATO ability to supply enough artillery and equipment will drop off even further come sometime in the summer. Recall that the press has reported that Ukraine’s daily ammo fire has dropped from 3,000 to 4,000 shells to more like 2,000 and Ukraine is demanding 250,000 shells a month. Not only can the West not provide that, but even that is not enough to match Russia’s estimated 600,000 shells a month. In addition, and due to the pressure of time, I was not able to confirm the sourcing, but in recent broadcast, Alexander Mercouris, citing a Western source (perhaps the BBC?) said Ukraine had only 300 artillery platforms, which he noted was down from about 1000 when the war started. If that it true, you can stick a fork in Ukraine. We pointed out that Russia had recently deployed a very effective counter-battery device called the Penicillin, which allowed Russia to detect the location of artillery fire using sound waves and ground impact. Unlike radar, the Penicillin does not put out signals that can be read, so it can’t be located and destroyed. Since the Penicillin was put into production, various commentators have pointed out that Russia has been taking out many more weapons platforms. My impression from Dima at Military Summary is that the average is over 2 a day. Even if only 2 a day, 60 platforms in a month is 1/5 of what Ukraine is alleged to have left. And as Brian Berletic has repeatedly documented, US weapons deliveries and the dollars attached to them keep falling, to the degree that the US has stopped disclosing the numbers of what it is sending, merely naming the type of weapon or support. And so the delusion produces confused messages. Again from the February story: President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he needed to start considering peace talks with Moscow when the three leaders met in Paris earlier this month, people familiar with the conversation said…. While London, Paris and Berlin see the possibility that Kyiv may have to seek talks with Russia after an expected counteroffensive this spring that could help it regain more territory, other Ukraine backers think there should be no negotiations as long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian soil Ukraine’s backers are acting like gamblers hoping they can wager their way out of big losses. No, Ukraine is not to sue for peace now. It’s to settle after a win, even if it were to prove to be a modest win, mainly for the sake of the face of its funders. And how is that supposed to happen? Russian officials have reported that Ukraine is massing more troops, up from 25,000 to now over 30,000 in Zaporzhizhia, presumably to try an offensive to the south, aimed either at Melitopol or Mariupol. The wags speculate that Ukraine will assemble 40,000 and perhaps as many as 60,000 men, with the target time expected to be late March/early April. But these troops will be short on tanks, ammo, and air cover. And Russia has been building major fortifications in the region since Surovkin took over in October, and per Alexander Mercouris, has about 90,000 there now. If an attack looked likely, Russia would almost certain increase its force level there. And while Ukraine is supposedly preparing for its big, last ditch counter-offensive, it is also wasting more men and materiel in Bakhmut. Russia has achieved operational encirclement. Men can’t get out without serious survival risk. But Ukraine announced Monday it is still contesting Bakhmut, most experts believe by attempting to force open a transportation route. But even if they succeed, to what end? If they can get enough troops out to recover the cost of forcing open a corridor, that might be a worthy gamble. But if they think they can do more than further delay the full capture of Bakhmut, it’s more evidence they have lost their minds. For much more detail on the grim state of play in Bakhmut, see Moon of Alabama’s new post Why Bakhmut Is Falling. Now of course wars are uncertain, and perhaps Russia will make a spectacular blunder. But absent that, it’s hard to see any reason for Russia to end the war before its aims are met. And the US and NATO keep feeding more cannon fodder into the Russian killing machine. Tyler Durden Tue, 03/07/2023 - 23:25.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 8th, 2023

Futures Rebound After Worst Week Of 2023

Futures Rebound After Worst Week Of 2023 US index futures jumped after suffering their worst weekly drop of 2023, as traders looked for fresh opportunities to buy stocks while assessing the outlook for growth. S&P 500 futures rose 0.5%, rising just shy of 4,000 by 7:45 a.m. ET after the underlying benchmark fell 1.1% in the last trading session. Nasdaq 100 futures rose by about 0.6% after the tech-heavy gauge tumbled 1.7% at the end of last week. European and Asian stocks also rose; the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index turned red after retreating from the day’s highs, lifting most Group-of-10 currencies. Treasuries edged lower, mirroring moves in global bond markets. Gold was little changed, oil fell and bitcoin resumed losses after gains overnight In premarket trading, cancer drugmaker Seagen soared after the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer is in early-stage talks to acquire the cancer therapy developer worth around $30BN. Pfizer shares slipped. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Best Buy (BBY) shares drop 1.8% after Telsey downgraded the electronics retailer, saying the company’s business is likely to experience a further decline in the near term. Fisker (FSR) climbs 7.8% after the carmaker  posted 4Q results and forecast 8% to 12% annual gross margin and potentially positive Ebitda for 2023. FuboTV (FUBO) rises 8.2% after posting 4Q revenue that beat the average analyst estimate. Focus Financial Partners (FOCS) shares are halted after the company agreed to be acquired by affiliates of CD&R for $53 per share. Enphase Energy Inc. (ENPH) shares are up 1.9% after Janney Montgomery upgraded the company to buy, citing attractive valuation. Li-Cycle shares (LICY) rise 8% after the firm announced that one of its US subsidiaries had been granted a $375 million loan offer from the Biden administration. Lucira Health (LHDX) shares surge 240% after the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the company’s Covid-19 and flu test. Payoneer Global (PAYO) gains 5% after Jefferies initiated coverage with a buy recommendation, saying the payments firm suffered from a “complexity discount.” Pulmonx Corp. (LUNG) rises 3.8% as Wells Fargo upgrades to overweight, saying the company’s fourth-quarter results “represent a turning point for the company.” Range Resources (RRC) shares slump 7.5% after Pioneer Natural Resources said it was not “contemplating a significant business combination or other acquisition transaction” in a statement Friday evening. Seagen (SGEN) shares soar 14% after the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer is in early-stage talks to acquire the cancer therapy developer. Tegna (TGNA) shares slump 22% after the Federal Communications Commission shelved Standard General’s proposed $5.4 billion buyout of the broadcaster. Union Pacific (UNP) shares climb 10% after the rail freight company said it was looking for a new CEO following pressure from a hedge fund. Universal Insurance Holdings (UVE) rises 1.8% after Piper Sandler upgraded the insurer to overweight, anticipating strong earnings in 2023 on higher prices and potential tort reform via a bill that seeks to reduce unnecessary litigation XPeng (XPEV) shares gain 5% after the Chinese electric-vehicle maker is included in the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index The S&P 500 has fallen over the past three weeks amid concerns that renewed price pressures will prompt more (and bigger) rate hikes from the US central bank. An unexpected acceleration in the personal consumption expenditures price index boosted expectations for policy tightening, while solid income and spending growth data further allayed fears of an imminent recession. Traders await durable goods data due later on Monday. Monday’s advance may signal traders are looking “towards the end of the potential bearish correction brought by last week’s decreased appetite for riskier assets, after investors digested the prospect of longer hawkish monetary stances from central banks,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades. Others - such as MS permabear Mike Wilson - remained bearish: Wilson said March will see stronger bear-market headwinds for stocks in a note on Monday. Fresh earnings downgrades will weigh on markets, with the S&P 500 potentially sliding as much as 24% to 3,000 points. Wilson also said that those treading into this market risk falling into a “bull trap”, a view echoed by Torsten Slok, chief economist at Apollo Global Management. “A generation of investors has since 2008 been taught that they should buy on dips, but today is different because of high inflation, and credit markets and equity markets are underestimating the Fed’s commitment to getting inflation down to 2%,” Slok wrote in a note. Stock markets that had mostly shrugged off forecasts for higher interest rates are finally giving way to a swift repricing of yields. Traders are now pricing US rates to peak at 5.4% this year, compared with about 5% just a month ago, as an acceleration in the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge dashes hopes for an imminent pause in policy tightening. Meanwhile, JPMorgan strategists led by Mislav Matejka said last year’s strong outperformance in cheaper, so-called value stocks over growth peers is likely to reverse soon as the economic recovery slows. The next move for investors in the following month or two might be to go “outright underweight value versus growth,” they wrote in a note. Ironically, that comes as JPM initiated coverage of two big US online real estate firms, Zillow Group at overweight and Redfin at neutral, as it forecasts a recovery in the property market. European stocks also rose as investors are tempted by lower prices following the largest weekly selloff since December. The Stoxx 600 is up 1.2% with tech, retail and consumer products the best-performing sectors. The bounce ignores the surge in German benchmark yields which hit 2.58%, the highest since 2011, on bets the European Central Bank will extend its tightening cycle beyond this year. Here are some of the biggest movers on Monday: Shell rises as much as 2.4% after Goldman Sachs upgrades the oil and gas company to buy from neutral, following a strong earnings season for oil majors Associated British Foods shares rise as much as 2.7% after the food processing and retailing company said it sees total sales for the first half more than 20% ahead of last year Michelin gains as much as 3.1% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the French tiremaker to buy from neutral, noting “underappreciated tailwinds” including lower raw material and logistics costs Hennes & Mauritz shares jump as much as 4.2% after Bank of America upgraded the clothing retailer to buy from underperform, citing prospects for a profit recovery this year Bunzl shares gain as much as 4.2%, hitting the highest intraday since August, after the distribution group’s results were marginally better than expected across the board, showing business model resilience Haleon shares rise as much as 1% after Bloomberg News reported the consumer health business, spun out of GSK last year, is exploring a divestiture of its ChapStick lip balm brand PostNL shares tumble as much as 12%, the most since October, after the Dutch delivery firm’s new FY23 Ebit guidance came in 43% below consensus Dechra Pharmaceuticals tumbles as much as 18% after the British animal health-care company posted a profit decline in the first half and forecast FY guidance that disappointed Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined as traders worry about the prospect of further interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve after an unexpected acceleration of US inflation. Investors were also cautious ahead of a key political meeting in China.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.8%, led by technology and materials shares. Australia and South Korea were among the worst-performing markets, while Japan bucked the region’s trend following a pledge from the Bank of Japan governor nominee to maintain ultra-loose monetary policy. Chinese and Hong Kong benchmarks edged lower as investors eyed the National People’s Congress meeting starting this weekend. They are showing a preference for onshore stocks over Hong Kong peers amid expectations that more pro-growth policies will be announced. A strong rally in Asian stocks has hit a wall this month amid renewed worries of US policy tightening and a lack of positive catalysts for Chinese shares. A hotter-than-expected set of data in the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge Friday spurred a hawkish recalibration of expectations for rate hikes, pressuring risk assets. Asian emerging markets will “certainly not be immune” from “spillover risks” of the rebound in US inflation, said Vishnu Varathan, Asia head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank. Prospects of tighter policy for a longer period “will hold feet to fire for valuations.” Japanese equities closed mixed, as investors mulled the unexpected acceleration of US inflation data that suggested potential further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The Topix rose 0.2% to close at 1,992.78, while the Nikkei declined 0.1% to 27,423.96. The yen strengthened about 0.1% after tumbling 1.3% Friday to 136.48 per dollar. Fanuc contributed the most to the Topix gain, increasing 2.9% after it was upgraded at Nomura. Out of 2,160 stocks in the index, 1,478 rose and 591 fell, while 91 were unchanged. “Japanese equities were mainly influenced by the higher than expected US PCE data, and the rising US interest rates would make the environment tougher for growth stocks,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities. “However, compared to US stocks, Japanese stocks are still supported by a weaker yen and this is likely to continue for some time.” Australian stocks declined; the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.1% to close at 7,224.80, dragged by losses in mining shares. The materials sub-gauge dropped the most since Oct. 28, continuing a four-day losing streak, after iron ore slumped.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9% to 11,793.33 In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was steady and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers. Sweden’s krona and the pound were the best performers while the New Zealand and Australian dollars were the worst. The euro was steady at $1.0550. Bund yields followed Treasury yields higher after an early drop. the 10-year yield rose to the highest since 2011 as traders are betting the ECB will extend its tightening cycle beyond this year, pushing back expectations for a peak in interest rates into 2024 for the first time. Focus is on speeches by policymakers The pound rose 0.2% against the dollar, snapping a three-day decline, to trade around 1.1966 amid speculation of an imminent deal on the Northern Ireland protocol. Gilts yields rose as bets on BOE rates pricing turned higher. The yen steadied near a two-month low as currency traders weighed remarks from BOJ governor nominee Kazuo Ueda at his second parliamentary hearing. Ueda said monetary easing should continue in support of the economy’s recovery, a comment that suggests he won’t seek an immediate change in policy if he is approved to helm the central bank The New Zealand dollar underperformed its G-10 peers. RBNZ chief economist Paul Conway said inflation is “far too high,” labor market is “incredibly tight”. The Australian dollar also tacked lower. RBA chief Philip Lowe’s expectation of further interest-rate rises prompted economists and money markets to narrow the odds of a recession In rates, Treasury yields reversed a drop to inch up, led by the front end following a wider drop across German bonds, as traders wagered that the European Central Bank will extend its rate-hiking cycle further into 2024. US yields were cheaper by up to 1.7bp in front-end of the curve with 2s10s flatter by almost 1bp; 10-year yields around 3.95%, less than 1bp cheaper vs. Friday session close with Germany 10-year lagging by 3bp vs. Treasuries.  Bund futures are lower as traders push back bets on when ECB rates will peak until 2024 for the first time. German 10-year yields are up 4bps. In commodities, oil fell as concerns that the Fed will keep on raising rates eclipsed the latest disruption to supplies in Europe and optimism over a demand recovery in China; WTI hovered around $76.30. Spot gold is flat at around $1,810. Bitcoin is modestly firmer on the session, +1.0%, but off initial best levels and well below 24k. RBI Governor Das said at the G20 that there is now wide recognition of major risk with crypto. Looking at today's calendar, we get the February Dallas Fed manufacturing activity, January durable goods orders, and pending home sales; elsewhere we also get Japan January retail sales, industrial production, Italy February manufacturing confidence, economic sentiment and consumer confidence index, Eurozone February services, industrial and economic confidence, January M3, Canada Q4 current account balance. Fed speaker slate includes Jefferson at 10:30am; Goolsbee, Kashkari, Waller, Logan, Bostic and Bowman are scheduled later this week. On the earnings front, Occidental Petroleum, Workday, and Zoom report. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,994.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.0% to 462.49 MXAP down 0.5% to 157.92 MXAPJ down 0.8% to 511.47 Nikkei down 0.1% to 27,423.96 Topix up 0.2% to 1,992.78 Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 19,943.51 Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,258.03 Sensex down 0.4% to 59,220.58 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.1% to 7,224.81 Kospi down 0.9% to 2,402.64 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.56% Euro little changed at $1.0555 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $83.48/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,809.86 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 105.15 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Three quarters of the 1,500 UK business leaders polled by BCG’s Centre for Growth believe the economy will shrink in 2023 but only 20% plan to shed staff, fewer than the 29% who plan to increase headcount: BBG Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen will meet in the UK in the early afternoon on Monday for final talks ahead of an expected announcement of a post-Brexit settlement for Northern Ireland: BBG The ECB is very likely to go ahead with its intention to raise interest rates by a half-point when it meets next month, President Christine Lagarde told India’s Economic Times: BBG Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators suggests China’s economy rebounded in February after the long holiday, although it points to an uneven recovery with strong consumption following the scrapping of Covid rules but lagging industrial activity: BBG Macron announced he will visit China in April and hopes to encourage Beijing to pressure Moscow into reaching a settlement of the Ukraine war. SCMP New home sales by floor area in 16 selected Chinese cities rose 31.9% month-on-month in February, compared with a fall of 34.3% in January, according to China Index Academy, one of the country’s largest independent real estate research firms. RTRS    American companies, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Ralph Lauren, Tapestry, and others, are expanding in China in anticipation of a consumer-led rebound in the economy as the post-reopening recovery continues. WSJ China Renaissance confirmed Chairman Bao Fan has been assisting in a Chinese probe since he disappeared abruptly earlier this month. The investigation is being run by authorities, and Renaissance will "cooperate and assist with any lawful request." It was reported last week that Cong Lin, the firm's former president, has been involved in a probe since September. BBG BOJ policy – incoming governor Kazuo Ueda says it’s premature to discuss normalization as “big improvements” must be achieved in the country’s inflation trajectory before changes can happen (Ueda says the benefits of monetary easing exceed the costs). RTRS Russia has halted supplies of oil to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline, a move that comes one day after Poland sent its first Leopard tanks to Ukraine. RTRS US insurance regulators on Monday will meet to consider boosting capital charges on complex corporate loan instruments that some in the industry warn are creating excessive risk. The issue pits insurers backed by large private equity firms such as Blackstone, Apollo Global and KKR — who are increasingly investing in the loans — against traditional life insurers such as MetLife and Prudential Financial, who warn of growing risks. FT Pfizer is in early-stage talks to acquire biotech Seagen, valued at about $30 billion, and its pioneering targeted cancer therapies. WSJ Hedge fund Soroban Capital Partners is pushing Union Pacific Corp.  to replace Chief Executive Lance Fritz, arguing the railroad has underperformed on his watch, according to people familiar with the matter. WSJ A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously heading into month-end and a slew of upcoming releases including Chinese PMI data, with headwinds also from the US where firmer-than-expected Core PCE data spurred hawkish terminal rate bets. ASX 200 was negative as participants digested a deluge of earnings and with the mining industry leading the retreat seen across nearly all sectors aside from energy which benefitted from a jump in Woodside Energy’s profits. Nikkei 225 price action was contained by a lack of pertinent macro drivers and with BoJ Governor nominee Ueda’s largely reiterated prior comments at the upper house confirmation hearing. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were choppy with initial pressure amid geopolitical frictions after the G20 finance ministers meeting failed to agree on a communique due to opposition from Russia and China, while National Security Adviser Sullivan also warned there will be a real cost if China provides military assistance to Russia for the Ukraine war. However, Chinese stocks gradually recovered from the early weakness and briefly turned positive with sentiment helped by a continued liquidity injection and after China drafted guidelines to regulate financial support in the housing rental market, although the gains proved to be short-lived. Top Asian News China drafted guidelines to regulate financial support in the housing rental market and began to solicit public opinion, according to Macau dropped COVID-19 mask mandates for most locations aside from public transportation, hospitals and some other areas, according to Reuters. BoJ Governor Kuroda commented that he is resolved to keep ultra-loose policy and that the BoJ expects core consumer inflation to slow beyond 2% in both fiscal 2023 and 2024, according to Reuters. BoJ Governor nominee Ueda says CPI growth will slow below 2% in fiscal 2023 and that it takes time for CPI to meet the 2% target stably and sustainably, while he added that the BoJ's current monetary easing is appropriate and that it is appropriate to continue monetary easing from now on as well. Adds, changing the 2% inflation target into a 1% target would strengthen the JPY in the short-term, weaken it long-term. Overshooting commitment is aimed at exerting powerful announcement effects on policy, need to be mindful of risk of inflation overshooting too much. Targeting shorter-dated JGBs than current 10yr yield is one idea if BoJ were to tweak YCC in the future, but there are many other options. Does not think Japan has reached the reversal rate, in which financial transmission channels are hurt so much that the demerits of easing exceed benefits. European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.8%, after a cautious APAC handover following Friday's selling pressure. Sectors are all in the green with Energy names at the top of the pile, given benchmark pricing and Shell's upgrade at GS. Stateside, futures are currently posting more modest upside of around 0.5% with Fed's Jefferson (voter) the session's main event. Tesla's (TSLA) German plant has hit a production level of 4,000 per week, three weeks ahead of schedule, according to Reuters. Top European News UK PM Sunak and European Commission President von der Leyen will meet at 12:00GMT/07:00EST in Windsor, according to BBC; if there is a deal, a press conference could be around 15:30GMT. Earlier, UK PM Sunak's office said UK PM Sunak will meet with EU's von der Leyen for talks on Northern Ireland Brexit deal late lunchtime on Monday and will hold a Cabinet meeting later on Monday. Furthermore, PM Sunak and von der Leyen will hold a news conference if a deal is reached, while Sunak will also address parliament if there is a deal. UK ministers are unlikely to quit re. the Brexit deal, with the likes of Steve Baker and others liking what they are hearing but waiting to see the full text, according to Times' Swinford; ERG say they would love to back the deal but if the DUP does not back the deal it cannot and won't support it. UK PM Sunak said they are giving it everything they’ve got regarding talks for a post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland and he will try to resolve the concerns the DUP Party have regarding a new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. It was later reported that PM Sunak said he won big concessions from the EU, according to The Sunday Times and The Times. UK Deputy PM Raab said there is real progress on a trade deal and he is hopeful for good news on the Brexit deal within days, not weeks, and also noted that Northern Ireland’s DUP does not have a de-facto veto over the Brexit deal. In other news, Raab said he will resign if an allegation of bullying against him is upheld, according to Reuters. ECB’s Lagarde said headline inflation is still unacceptably high and core CPI is at a record level, while she added that they want to bring inflation back to the 2% target and noted that rate decisions are to be data dependent. Magnitude 5.7 earthquake that struck the Eastern Turkey region has been revised to 5.2, according to the EMSC. FX DXY retained a bid between Fib and psychological level within 105.360-070 range; though has erred towards the lower-end of these parameters going into the US session. Sterling 'outperforms' after a dip through 200 DMA vs Buck on UK-EU NI trade deal optimism, with EUR/GBP within 10 pips of 0.8800 at worst. Kiwi flags as NZ Q4 retail sales fall and Aussie feels more contagion from Yuan weakness; antipodeans near 0.6150 and 0.6710 respectively. Euro pivots 1.0550 vs the Dollar and Yen pares back from sub-136.50 amidst Fib support nearby. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.9572 vs exp. 6.9586 (prev. 6.8942) Commodities WTI and Brent are a touch softer though have lifted off overnight USD 75.58/bbl and USD 82.38/bbl lows given the improvement in risk sentiment throughout the European morning. Though, the benchmarks are shy of USD 76.82/bbl and USD 83.60/bbl peaks with numerous geopolitical updates factoring into the overall indecisive price action. Russia halted supplies of oil to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline, according to PKN Orlen's CEO. Subsequently, Russia's Transneft says payment orders for oil shipments to Poland were not issued in the second half of February, no oil flows to Poland currently, via Tass; paperwork for oil supplies to Poland has not been completed. Crude oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline to the Czech Republic are running as planned, according to Mero. Spot gold is little changed with the yellow metal in a tight sub-10/oz range above the USD 1800/oz handle, taking its cue from the similarly cagey USD. Base metals are, broadly speaking, firmer following overnight weakness but remain in proximity to the troughs from Friday's session. Fixed Income Bonds remain in bear clutches after another failed recovery rally. Bunds probe new cycle low at 133.61 (session high 134.36) have fallen just shy of key resistance area, associated 10yr at a YTD peak of 2.57%. Gilts wane just two ticks below 101.00 and test bids/support into 100.00 and T-note hugs base of 111-07/16 range ahead of US data, Central Bank speakers and crunch UK-EU Brexit talks. Geopolitics Russia's Kremlin, on China's peace plan, says no conditions for peace 'at the moment' in Ukraine, according to AFP. G20 Finance Ministers meeting concluded without a joint communique as China and Russia opposed the draft with the two countries said to be upset by the use of a G20 platform to discuss political matters, according to sources cited by Reuters. India’s chair statement noted that there was a discussion about the war in Ukraine and it reiterated the G20 position on deploring in the strongest terms aggression by Russia, as well as reiterated the G20 position demanding Russia’s complete and unconditional withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. Russian President Putin said Russia has taken into account NATO’s nuclear potential and claimed that the west wants to liquidate Russia, according to TASS. Russian Wagner Group boss Prigozhin said his fighters captured the village of Yahinde which is north of Bakhmut, according to Reuters. US President Biden said on Friday that he is ruling out Ukraine’s request for F-16 aircraft for now but added they have to put Ukrainians in a position where they can make advances this spring and summer. Biden also said he doesn’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China to provide weapons to Russia and that he hasn’t seen anything in the Chinese peace plan that would be beneficial for anyone but Russia, while he also suggested it is possible that Chinese President Xi did not know about the Chinese spy balloon, according to an ABC News interview. US National Security Adviser Sullivan said China has made the final decision regarding providing aid to Russia and has not taken the possibility of providing lethal aid to Russia off the table, while he noted the consequences have been made clear to China and warned there will be a real cost if China provides military assistance to Russia for the Ukraine war, according to an interview with ABC News. There were also comments from Republican lawmaker McCaul that China is thinking of sending drones and other lethal weapons. Belarus President Lukashenko will pay a state visit to China from February 28 to March 2. "The visit will serve as an opportunity for the two sides to further promote comprehensive cooperation", according to Global Times. Germany, France, and the UK are considering making concrete security guarantees to Ukraine as an incentive for Ukrainian President Zelensky to engage in peace talks with Russia, according to the WSJ. German Defence Minister Pistorius commented regarding the Chinese peace plan and stated that they will judge China by its actions, not its words, according to Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: Jan. Durable Goods Orders, est. -4.0%, prior 5.6% Jan. -Less Transportation, est. 0.1%, prior -0.2% Jan. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0%, prior -0.6% Jan. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. -0.1%, prior -0.1% 10:00: Jan. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 1.0%, prior 2.5% Jan. Pending Home Sales YoY, prior -34.3% 10:30: Feb. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -9.2, prior -8.4 Central Bank Speakers 10:30: Fed’s Jefferson Discusses Inflation and the Dual Mandate DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As we close out a tougher second month of the year than the first tomorrow night, Henry pointed out an interesting stat to me on Friday. January was the best January for the Global Bond Ag index this century whereas February so far is on course to be the worst February over the same period. The very strong financial market performance between mid-October and end-January was in our opinion based mostly around US terminal pricing being remarkably stable between 4.75-5.1%. In the previous 9-10 months it was constantly being repriced from around 1% to 5% causing chaos in the financial world. On Friday, US terminal closed at 5.4%, catching up to DB's street leading 5.6% forecast. Clearly this has been bubbling up since payrolls (Feb 3), the CPI revisions (Feb 10), CPI beat (Feb 14), retail sales beat (Feb 15), and even things like Manheim used prices spiking higher again in January and February. Last Friday's core PCE was another important piece of evidence with the 0.6% mom print above expectations of 0.4%. Even though the concern was that it would beat, this added fuel to the fire and markets still struggled to deal with the ramifications with 2yr, 10yr and terminal up +11.6bps, +6.8bps and +5.3bps to 4.814%, 3.943% and 5.40% respectively. 2yr yields are the highest since July 2007 and terminal the highest this cycle. For core US PCE, the 3m, 6m and 12m annualised numbers are now 4.8%, 5.1% and 4.7% and thus strongly hint at inflation stickiness. With this data it’s tough to rule out a return to 50bps hikes even if that’s not yet the base case. While that uncertainty is there, markets will stay on edge. In credit we downgraded our tactical bullishness in our "Credit: Rally ends soon" (Jan 30) note (link here) and suggested reducing exposure to dollar credit immediately. The biggest challenge though is when to officially run for the preverbal hills given we've had a long standing YE 23 target for HY of +860bps linked into our US recession call by year end. In the near-term we’re a little more relaxed on European credit. Indeed our credit team published a €HY update this morning looking at tight spreads in the face of growing fundamental vulnerabilities and the highest share of bonds rated B or worse in the last 10 years. However with supply unlikely to pick up materially, favourable technicals should keep spreads supported for now. Still, we think concerns about deteriorating credit metrics will eventually prevail and see €HY selling off in H2’23 alongside the US market when signs of a growth slowdown become even more tangible (see here for the full text). Linked into this view, the recent US data probably makes us more confident of a hard landing given the boom-and-bust nature of this cycle that has been increasingly clear step-by-step over the last 2-3 years. This trend first emerged with the extraordinarily excessive covid stimulus, which in turn led to an enormous spike in the money supply, which brought structural inflation, and was always going to require an immense amount of tightening to control. An immaculate disinflation and soft landing from here would defy all historical precedent. Time will tell if we're wrong and history needs to be rewritten but this feels a fairly straight forward US cycle to predict. For this week, with the current sensitivities over prices, all eyes will be on the flash February European CPI releases (France Tues, Germany Weds, Italy and EA Thurs) and labour market data released throughout the week. The CPI numbers follow Friday's upward revisions for the January report in the Euro Area, where core inflation was revised up a tenth to a new record of +5.3%. We also have the global PMIs (and US ISMs) with manufacturing on the first day of the month (Wednesday) and services (Friday). ECB speakers will have plenty of opportunity to reflect on the data with at least 8 appearances already scheduled for next week. For a more backward-looking assessment, markets will also have the ECB's account of the February meeting due Thursday to read through. Our own European economists upgraded their ECB call last week and now see two +50bps hikes in March/May followed by a final +25bps hike in June, which would imply a terminal of 3.75%, up from 3.25% previously (see full note here). Fed speakers are also prevalent as you'll see in the day-by-day week ahead. There are six FOMC voters and there is a lot for them to chew over at the moment, especially after Friday's PCE data. Outside of the ISMs, US data will revolve around consumer and manufacturing activity. That will include the Conference Board's consumer confidence index tomorrow, Chicago PMI (also tomorrow) and a host of regional central bank indices. Other notable indicators due include durable goods orders today and the advance goods trade balance tomorrow. Asian equity markets are trading lower this morning with the KOSPI (-1.19%) leading losses across the region while the Hang Seng (-0.75%), the CSI, (-0.21%) the Shanghai Composite (-0.12%) and the Nikkei (-0.19%) all trading in the red. In overnight trading, US stock futures are fairly flat alongside US yields. Earlier this morning, the government’s nominee for the Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor, Kazuo Ueda in his speech to the parliament stressed the need to maintain the central bank’s ultra-loose policy to support the Japanese economy despite various market side-effects. Meanwhile, candidates for the BoJ deputy governor (Uchida and Himino) will appear for hearings in the Upper House tomorrow, following this week's Lower House hearings. Looking back on last week now, both equities and fixed income retreated as markets priced in further central bank hikes following mounting evidence that inflation was continuing to prove persistent. The selloff gathered pace on Friday, following the aforementioned US PCE inflation data surprising firmly to the upside, with headline PCE at +0.6% (vs +0.5% expected) month-on-month, and +4.7% (vs +4.3% expected) year-on-year. Further adding to the view that inflation is durable, core PCE inflation also came in above consensus, with the month-on-month print at +0.6% (vs +0.4% expected) whilst year-on-year came in at +4.7% (vs +4.3% expected). This data led markets to swiftly priced in a more aggressive price of rate hikes from the Fed. In particular, there was growing speculation that the Fed might step up their hikes to 50bps again, with a +30.3bps move priced into the next meeting in March, up from +27.5bps at the start of the week. US terminal rate timing is starting to be evenly balanced between July (5.400%) and September (5.401%), rather than the July peak we've had for several weeks. It's also at the highest level of the cycle. The pricing for the July meeting climbed up +11.8bps last week (+5.3bps on Friday), while the September meeting pricing rose +14.6bps last week (+6.9bps on Friday). Expectations also increased for rates remaining higher for longer, with the December meeting now implying a 5.28% rate. This was up +11.0bps on Friday and +21.6bps on the week – marking a fifth consecutive weekly increase. Renewed expectations of additional hikes by central banks triggered a sell-off in both US and European equities on Friday. The S&P 500 fell back -1.05% on Friday, finishing off the week down -2.67% and marking its worst weekly performance so far this year. The Nasdaq similarly retreated, down -3.33% last week (-1.69% on Friday), its largest weekly down move since mid-December. European equities fell back too, with the STOXX 600 retreating -1.42% last week (-1.04% on Friday). This sell-off was echoed across fixed income markets, with 10yr Treasury yields up +6.6bps on Friday and +12.8bps over the course of last week. 2yr Treasuries significantly underperformed, as yields rose +11.6bps on Friday and +19.7bps over the week, reaching their highest level since July 2007. It was a similar story in Europe, with the 2yr German yield up +11.7bps on Friday in their largest up move since December and hitting their highest level since October 2008. Over the course of the week, that left them up +15.3bps at 3.03%. In the meantime, 10yr bund yields rose +9.7bps last week (+5.9bps on Friday) to 2.54%, and the German 2s10s curve inverted to -50bps after it fell -5.6bps on Friday, which made up nearly the entirety of the -5.8bps flattening last week. Finally, commodity markets fell back most of last week before a rally in oil on Friday (WTI +1.23% & Brent +1.16% Friday) left WTI crude down just -0.03% on the week at $76.32/bbl and Brent crude up +0.19% at $82.16/bbl. On the other hand, metals saw continued selling on Friday, with copper futures falling back -3.81% overall (-2.64% on Friday), and nickel down -4.93% last week (-3.33% on Friday). Looking at the market more broadly, the Bloomberg Industrial Metals Index fell back -3.17% over the course of last week (-2.44% on Friday). All this likely down to some concerns that the Chinese reopening isn't quite as smooth and bouyant as hoped. Tyler Durden Mon, 02/27/2023 - 08:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 27th, 2023

Chinese military gear may not be enough to bail out Russia"s poorly led troops, former top US general in Europe says

Chinese hardware won't do much to fix the Russian military's "bad leadership, bad execution, and bad skills," Philip Breedlove said this week. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Shanghai in May 2014.Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin The US is again warning China not provide military support to Russia for its war in Ukraine. Russia's military has structural problems that foreign gear can't fix, a retired US general says. Russia and Ukraine face similar supply issues and are seeking support for major operations this year. The US has renewed its warnings to China about providing military support to Russia in response to what officials say are signs that Beijing is considering supplying "lethal" aid to Moscow, but Chinese hardware may not be enough to fix the Russian military's structural issues, according to a former commander of US forces in Europe.Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the new warning to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during a meeting on February 18, warning Wang "about the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion," the State Department said afterward.Blinken then went public, saying in interviews that the US has "growing concern" that China "is considering providing lethal support" to Russia — comments echoed by allies, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stotlenberg, who told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Western officials "have seen some signs" that China "may be planning" to provide Russia with arms or other support.US officials have not specified what they have seen or what they consider "lethal" aid. On Wednesday, deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said Chinese officials haven't taken such aid "off the table" but avoided "characterizing" what it would consist of or what "consequences" China would face for providing it. (US officials are reportedly considering releasing the intelligence on which their accusations are based.)Putin and Wang meet in Moscow on February 22.ANTON NOVODEREZHKIN/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty ImagesBut more hardware may not tilt the balance if Russia's military remains unable to employ its troops effectively, according to Philip Breedlove, a retired US Air Force general who led US European Command from May 2013 to May 2016."Clearly, if China brings industrial mass to the problem, that's going to be a problem for Ukraine, but I still want us to have a sober view of what Russia can do, because they now have structural problems in their ability to effectively act as a unit on the battlefield," Breedlove said Tuesday during an event hosted by American Purpose and the American Enterprise Institute.Russian forces have struggled with command-and-control throughout the war, facing issues ranging from tactical-level communications problems to a force-wide lack of experienced enlisted troops and junior officers, the latter of which has been exacerbated by heavy losses.Russia has scrambled to replace those losses. In September, Moscow called up several hundred thousand troops, many of them older reservists or inexperienced conscripts, in a "partial mobilization." The Kremlin has also relied more on mercenaries, particularly the Wagner Group, which has stoked infighting among Russian commanders."You can't build a leader overnight, so even if they have huge mobilizations, they're missing those junior officers," said Breedlove, who also served as NATO's top officer. "Remember, they don't have an NCO corps like we have an NCO corps, and this sort of density of ability to lead, think, and fight independently is not something that Russia is demonstrating on the battlefield."A US Army instructor briefs Ukrainian soldiers at a training center in Ukraine in April 2017.Oklahoma Army National Guard/Sgt. Anthony JonesUkraine's military has benefited from Western training, including training to develop noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, and has adapted its tactics throughout the war, but Russia's military appears to not be applying battlefield lessons across its force."In terms of Russia as a learning organization, the evidence isn't very good for the Russian side. We keep seeing them make similar mistakes," Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said at a think tank event Wednesday.While lower-level Russian units have been able to adapt, "I think the big problem in the Russian military is that the culture is not very conducive to" learning, added Lee, an expert on Russia's military. "It's very top-down. It's not bottom-up, and so when when there's developments at the bottom level, those do not make it the top level" because Russian generals are not "open to learning."Russian military leadership failings and inability to perform under fire will limit the utility of whatever hardware Beijing may provide, Breedlove said."You can pile stuff on top of bad leadership, bad execution, and bad skills, and yes, the mass will have some ability, but I think the real limit now of the Russian military is their soldiers and the leaders of their soldiers and the strategic leaders of the leaders of their soldiers," Breedlove said. "They have demonstrated a lack of capability and proficiency on the battlefield."While China has generally avoided violating international sanctions on Russia, Beijing has provided consistent political and economic support and rejected Western criticism of its close ties with Russia.Chinese armed police and Russian national guards during a joint counter-terrorism drill in China in December 2017.REUTERS/StringerAsked about Blinken's warning at a press conference on February 20, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said it was "the US, not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield. The US is in no position to tell China what to do."While US officials have not specified what military support China may provide, there are signs Russia is using artillery ammunition more sparingly. Russia's missile stocks also appear to be dwindling, prompting it to repurpose air-defense and anti-ship missiles to attack ground targets in Ukraine, often inaccurately.Moscow has looked abroad for supplies, using drones and missiles from Iran and reportedly seeking rockets and artillery rounds from North Korea. The US released photos in January that it said showed North Korean "material" on its way to Russia.Ukraine faces similar supply issues. While Ukrainian leaders have secured hundreds of Western-made tanks and are looking to acquire Western-made fighter jets, Western officials say that air-defense systems and ammunition, particularly artillery ammunition, are still top priorities for the ongoing aid effort.Both sides are now preparing for major operations this year — a Russian offensive appears underway already — and support from their partners will be central to how the war unfolds in the coming months."A lot of this depends on foreign support," Lee said Wednesday. "A lot depends on artillery ammunition and availability, and those things are really hard to predict six months in the future because who knows if China, North Korea, NATO, how much they'll provide and how much they can provide."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 23rd, 2023

Rolling Stone Argues In Favor Of Authoritarian Cancel Culture – Here"s Why They"re Wrong

Rolling Stone Argues In Favor Of Authoritarian Cancel Culture – Here's Why They're Wrong Rolling Stone has never been considered a serious journalistic establishment, but at the very least, they have been know in the past as “edgy” when dealing with the mainstream taboos of the 20th century.  It's hard to pretend like you're a revolutionary, though, when your side is now allied with power elite.   This is a great conundrum these days for the political left, which has long prided itself on the liberal roots of the 1960s hippie movement, rock n' roll, drug culture and comedy that seeks to offend.  The leftist fold spent decades thinking they were “fighting against the man” and now they find that with the help of corporations, globalist think-tanks and government leaders, they ARE the man.   Though the woke left represents a small minority within America, they still have the backing of every major center of influence imaginable.  The Democratic Party fast-tracks their agenda and many moderate Democrats go along to get along for fear of being ostracized (canceled).  And what has the woke movement done with this newfound power?  They have gone insane, abusing it in a frothing fervor of rage, fear, envy and desire, just like any despot would.   In the meantime, leftists continue to act as if they are still fighting a revolution against an unseen and ambiguous “patriarchy” that is supposedly holding them down.  They are willing to do anything, including lie, cheat, steal, disrupt and sabotage to gain absolute control and they feel exonerated because they insist they are being “oppressed.”  Good luck finding actual concrete examples of this oppression, however. Rolling Stone, a property of Penske Media Corporation, is the latest in a long line of corporate spin doctors to publish materials justifying cancel culture and the exploitation of mob power to assert dominance over the public.  In a recent article titled 'Why Cancel Culture Is Good For Democracy' the magazine launches into a tirade of victimhood, a tall tale in which millions of oppressed people turn to cancel culture as their only defense against a society of white supremacists bent on holding them down.  It's utter nonsense, and here's why: Democracy Is Anti-American The political left uses the word “democracy” often and they do this quite deliberately.  The America they envision in the future is a pure democracy, and democracy is based on mob rule.  This is not how our nation was founded.  As James Madison noted: “Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.” And as Alexander Hamilton stated: “It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” America was founded as a Republic, not a democracy, which means individual liberties are supposed to be protected  regardless of what the majority says.  This is not how the left understands governance, though.  They obsess over garnering a majority vote or a majority opinion even if they have to fabricate it through fraud.  They do this because they actually believe that 51% of the population should have control over the other 49%. This is tyranny by the mob.  Cancel culture is an exact expression of this dynamic.  Rolling Stone is right when they say "cancel culture is good for democracy", it's just not good for freedom or for America.  The Mob Is Not The Free Market Rolling Stone notes:  “...Straight white men and other people with power aren’t used to getting pushback for the ways they conduct themselves—and cancel culture has reset the ways society can react. Those who fear cancel culture may claim they fear suppression of speech, but it’s accountability that they want to avoid.” But who gets to determine accountability?  This argument is an extension of the old leftist claim that cancel culture is just the “free market” determining what behavior is acceptable in society.  But whose “society” are we talking about?  Because at least half the country has something different to say about what is acceptable and who should really be held accountable. It's hard to tell if leftists are too stupid to understand how real free markets work or if they are deliberately misrepresenting the concept.  In a free market, you are welcome to take your money and your interest elsewhere if a company or individual offends you.  You are not welcome to shut them down and silence them in order to stop them from interacting with the people who are interested. Leftists don't just want to walk away from the people who offend them, they also want the ability to stop everyone else from engaging with a canceled person.  They don't want to take their ball and go home, they want to drop napalm on the entire playground.       Personal Offense Is Not An Excuse For Authoritarianism Rolling Stone's contributors and people like them have declared themselves the arbiters of society and the dictators of what constitutes “bigotry” and “hate.”  No one gave them permission to take on this role, they merely pronounced that they would be the ultimate purveyors of speech.  They anointed themselves the thought police because, as Rolling Stone's article laments, government is not yet doing it for them: “Right now, bigots are protected under the First Amendment to fuel disgusting rhetoric without state-sanctioned consequence. The America that tolerated white supremacy in their policies and laws is the same country that wants to remind us how such forms of hate are still legal via free speech. Cancel culture is the poison to those in power that have benefited from unchecked free speech.” What the political left has done is conjure up a Trojan horse to deliver authoritarianism in the form of victim group entitlement.  They assert that there are simply certain things you cannot say or do because they hurt the feelings of specific designated groups and diminish their "equity."  Who chooses this list of taboos?  They do.  Who chooses the groups that get protection from offense?  They do.  And each year the list grows longer. Cancel culture is a methodology very similar to what Josef Stalin applied during his “Great Purge”.  The concept of mass shunning and un-personing was integral to the Marxist/Communist dynamic as a means to frighten individuals into conformity.  You might be able to think whatever you want privately, but if you even whisper against the collective, the power elites and the gatekeepers could swiftly mobilize their mindless drones to attack you or to cut you off from access to the economy.  You face possible death, and the communists pretend as if they are acting on the values of freedom of association. In other words, the cancel culture mob believes they should have the “freedom” to destroy your access to society, thus destroying your freedoms in the process.  They can technically say that they're not censoring people's speech because they aren't putting you in prison or holding a gun to your head (yet), but you risk the destruction of your future if you speak up.  This insidious dynamic obviously leads to self censorship.  Not only that, but the population is also weaponized against each other, for if a person does not support the cancellation of a designated enemy, they might be labeled an enemy. Cancel Culture Targets The Defiant, Not The Powerful The big lie at the core of the Rolling Stone article's premise is that cancel culture is about giving the common citizen a means to hold the powerful accountable, but this does not happen.  Powerful corporations, globalist think tanks, politicians and money elites all engage in corruption and criminality daily with impunity and leftists don't blink an eye.  The only people who get canceled are people who question the woke ideology.   Cancel culture is not about “justice,” it's about revenge and sterilization.  It's about making an example of the left's political enemies.  The purpose is to erase oppositional thinking and speech and inoculate future generations from considering contrary views.  Rolling Stone gaslights its own readers with the claim that cancel culture serves to fight against enabling the mob to oppress: “The fact that people—both powerful and less so—have been put on notice that whatever move they make can now be checked, not only by the courts, law enforcement, or government but by the people, means cancel culture has essentially won the cultural wars. Although still rich and influential, the most powerful have now been humbled by the digital accessibility of everyday people whom they once could simply dismiss or silence.” This is a delusional conclusion because it overlooks an important factor – Cancel culture is nothing without the support of the same powerful people leftists say they are fighting against.  They have influence because Big Tech conglomerates are mostly run by globalists that see leftists as useful fodder for attacking conservatives.  As we have witnessed with social media sites like Twitter, leftist power was throttled as soon as the old management (that worked closely with the government) was removed.  The fight has to be one-sided for the mob to gain an advantage because they cannot compete on a balanced battlefield of ideas.     The only way for cancel culture to survive is if all power centers and all major communications networks like social media are controlled and rigged in favor of the political left.  And who is almost universally targeted by social media for cancellation?  Regular conservatives and anyone else that defies the woke cult.  The release of the Twitter Files confirmed this beyond a shadow of a doubt.             Cancel culture is not concerned with the powerful, they are concerned with the free thinkers, the skeptics that don't bow to the whims of zealots.  It's not civic engagement and it's not protest, it's a tiny minority of degenerates and narcissists using the internet to manufacture consensus and consent. It's about innocent people being afraid of losing their job, their livelihood and their reputation because they said something against the high priests of social justice. In reality, the influence of cancel culture is diminishing as the public grows irritated and tired of perpetually entitled and outraged leftists.  They have become an international joke.  This is why the woke movement tried to deny the existence of cancel culture for a time; it was making them look bad and they knew it.  Now, Rolling Stone's commentators suggest that the political left embrace cancel culture and own it proudly.  It's an act of desperation for an exposed ideology.  The only thing keeping the woke alive is their alliance with corrupt corporations and establishment elites – we will see how far that really gets them in the long run.   As history shows us, when the elites are done with useful idiots, they tend to do away with them quickly.    Tyler Durden Wed, 02/22/2023 - 20:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 22nd, 2023

This is the M1 Abrams, the powerful US battle tank that Kyiv wants but can"t have

Lots of armored vehicles, including Western-made tanks, will soon be on their way to Ukraine, but the US hasn't offered up its powerful Abrams tanks. An M1A2 Abrams main battle tank from the Minnesota National Guard races through a breach in a barbed wire obstacle during the 116th eXportable Combat Training Exercise at the Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho.US Army photo NATO allies and partners are sending lots of armored vehicles to Ukraine. Kyiv has even been promised Western-made tanks, specifically the British Challengers. But German Leopards and American Abrams tanks are still off the table. The US has guaranteed Ukraine tens of billions of dollars in military aid, including just about everything from artillery to armored vehicles, but the powerful M1 Abrams tanks have been left out of the aid packages, despite Kyiv's requests for tanks."I just don't think we're there yet," Colin Kahl, undersecretary for defense policy, said this week, "The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment," he argued. "It's expensive. It's hard to train on. It has a jet engine."Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said that given the cost to maintain the Abrams,  it "just doesn't make sense to provide that to the Ukrainians at this moment," arguing that the British Challenger tanks and German Leopard tanks were better alternatives.The UK has already offered to send Kyiv some of its Challenger 2 tanks, but Germany has opposed calls to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine or allow others to do so. Defense ministers discussed the tank issue Friday, but there was no movement on either the German or American tanks.This is the M1 Abrams Kyiv wants but so far has been unable to get its hands on.An M1A2 Abrams Tanks from A Company, 2-116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team (CBCT), Idaho Army National Guard run through field exercises on Orchard Combat Training Center (OCTC).Thomas Alvarez/Idaho Army National GuardThough Ukraine's defense ministry humorously suggested renaming the Abrams a "recreational utility vehicle" to alleviate any potential US concerns about sending tanks, this heavy tracked vehicle, the main US battle tank, isn't on its way to Ukraine.—Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) January 12, 2023The M1 Abrams tank, a heavy armor product of what is now General Dynamics Land Systems but was Chrysler Defense, was developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the Army's older M60 tanks. It first entered service in 1980, but it didn't see combat until the Gulf War in the early 1990s.Just over 2,000 Abrams tanks were deployed with combat units during the war, and only 23 were damaged or destroyed. Of the nine that were destroyed, none were lost as a result of enemy action.A Government Accountability Office report on the performance of the Abrams tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in that conflict said that Abrams crews reported taking direct frontal hits from Soviet-era T-72s and sustaining only minor damage.In the aftermath of the Gulf War, the US military developed the M1A2 Abrams, which has steadily been upgraded over the past two decades. The Abrams tank also saw extensive combat early in the Iraq War and was used to some extent in Afghanistan.US Army troopers assigned to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fire the M1A2 SEPV3 Main Battle Tanks as part of gunnery qualification, Sept. 22, 2022, on Mielno Tank Range, Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles PorterThe modern M1A2 weighs more than 70 tons, is powered by the AGT1500 gas turbine engine providing 1,500 horsepower for speeds up to 42 mph, and is armed with a 120mm main gun, a M2 .50 caliber machine gun, and a pair of M240 7.62mm machine guns.Crewed by a team of four soldiers, specifically the gunner, loader, driver, and commander, the Abrams can deliver the mobility, firepower, and, perhaps most importantly, shock effect needed to exploit weak points in enemy lines and pursue offensive breakthroughs.When engaging the enemy, the Abrams is protected by Chobham composite armor improved with depleted uranium meshing. Its protection can be upgraded with explosive reactive armor blocks.General Dynamics Land Systems is currently in the process of developing the next-generation Abrams, the so-called Abrams X main battle tank, which will rely on a smaller crew supported by artificial intelligence to deliver increased combat capability with better fuel efficiency.US Army troopers assigned to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fire the M1A2 SEPV3 Main Battle Tanks as part of gunnery qualification, Sept. 22, 2022, on Mielno Tank Range, Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles PorterMultiple partner countries have in recent weeks offered to send armored vehicles to Ukraine. The US, Germany, France, and Sweden have promised infantry fighting vehicles, while the UK has said it will send its Challenger tanks, but leadership in Kyiv says that is not enough as Ukraine receives praise for its successes thus far in its fight against Russia.Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy said this week at Ramstein Air Base that "hundreds of thank yous are not hundreds of tanks."Jeffrey Edmonds, a Russia expert at the Center for Naval Analyses and former US Army armor officer, says the US should do what it needs to do to get Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but he acknowledged that there are hurdles that make it a challenge."The maintenance problem, with all it's components, that is the real challenge," Edmonds said, pointing to the thousands of tiny parts, some of which are essential to keeping the vehicle running properly, that Ukraine has to be able to get its hands on and use in the field.Troopers with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division prepare test fire the U.S. Army’s new M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle Tank, Fort Hood, Texas, August 18, 2020.US Army photo by Sgt. Calab Franklin"The other thing that people don't really talk about is how well the crews will be trained and how well they use the tanks," he said, noting that "fighting in a tank is kind of an art."But if Ukraine can maintain and operate them properly, "they're great for the Ukrainian force," Edmonds said, explaining that "the whole reason tanks were created was to make a static situation fluid."The situation along the front lines in Ukraine is brutal, with battles turning into grinding exchanges of artillery with minimal gains on either side.Powerful modern tanks like the Abrams, Leopards, and Challengers the Ukrainians have sought, along with all the other armor and weaponry heading that way, could be just what Kyiv needs to fuel an offensive and break through Russian lines, but for now the Abrams is off the table.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 21st, 2023

Take a look at the Bradley, the battle-tested armored fighting vehicle the US is sending to Ukraine

The US, Germany, and France all announced this week that they intend to send Western-made armored vehicles to Kyiv. Here's what the US is sending. A M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle assigned to 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment “Iron Rangers,” 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division moves toward an objective during a multinational situational training exercise in Cincu, Romania, Sept. 23, 2021.US Army photo by Spc. Joshua Cowden, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment Western-made armored vehicles are heading to Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded. The US, Germany, and France all announced this week that they intend to send systems to Kyiv. The US plans to provide Bradley fighting vehicles — take a look at what these are.  Ukraine's military is going to finally get its hands on Western armor, something it has long wanted as its forces fight to repel Russia's invasion.The White House announced Thursday that it intends to send Bradley fighting vehicles to Ukraine, joining other NATO countries that have also pledged to send armored vehicles. Washington's decision to send Bradleys to Ukraine came as German leadership revealed plans to transfer Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv and after French President Emmanuel Macron told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy he would provide Ukraine with AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles.These three systems are expected to boost Ukraine's mobile firepower and ground combat capabilities and help the country conduct offensive operations. Take a look at the M2A2 Bradley — 50 of which will be headed Kyiv's way.What is the Bradley? It's not a tank.An M2 Bradley assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, traverses muddy terrain after successfully completing crew qualifications at the Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, on March 20, 2018.US military photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew KeelerThe Bradley infantry fighting vehicle is an armored vehicle that is capable of transporting troops on the battlefield and providing fire support, as well as reconnaissance missions.These vehicles, which are quick and highly maneuverable, are operated by a three-person crew consisting of a driver, the commander, and a gunner and can carry up to half a dozen fully equipped soldiers.The Bradley has at times been misidentified as a tank, even as military experts and government officials try to set the record straight. When asked to describe how the weapon is different from a tank, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters at a briefing on Thursday that it's "not a tank, but it's a tank killer.""A Bradley is an armored vehicle that has a firepower capability that can deliver troops into combat," he further explained.Ryder's comments reflect those made by Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general who described the vehicle's capabilities on social media Wednesday and said these armored vehicles could be a "tank killer" and "troop carrier."Proven in battleUS soldiers load up into their M2 Bradley Fighting vehicle after clearing their first objective during a fire team live-fire certification training as part of Exercise Combined Resolve II at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, June 20, 2014.Photo courtesy of US Department of DefenseThe Bradley was designed and manufactured by BAE Systems and has been in service since the early 1980s. It was initially developed in response to a family of Soviet infantry fighting vehicles. The M2A2 was introduced in 1988.Like a tank, the Bradley is tracked rather than wheeled, and it has an operational range of around 300 miles and can travel at just over 40 miles per hour, according to vehicles saw action during the Gulf War of the early 1990s and in the following decade during the Iraq War.A 1992 Government Accountability Office report on Bradley performance during the Gulf War said that "the Bradley proved to be lethal, as crews reported that its 25-mm automatic gun was effective against a variety of targets and that its Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missile system was able to destroy tanks."Hertling, the retired general who identified himself as a former Bradley commander, said on social media that the Bradley doesn't have a lot of complicated issues with its engine or turret and is low maintenance. Guns, missiles, and armorA US Army M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division fires its weapon at Trzebien, Poland, Feb. 22, 2022.US Army National Guard photo by Spc. Hassani RiberaThe Bradley is armed with a 25 mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun and a 7.62 mm M240C machine gun, according to It can also carry multiple TOW anti-tank missiles — a more powerful armament that can hit targets a few miles away.In announcing a new security package for Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Friday that the US will send 500 TOW missiles and 250,000 rounds of the 25 mm ammunition. Jeffrey Edmonds, a Russia expert at the Center for Naval Analyses and former CIA military analyst, told Insider that the firepower provided by the Bradley is substantially more than that provided by individual or crew-served weapons. "It depends on how you use them, but especially against lighter armored vehicles, a Bradley is deadly," Edmonds said. As a defense against various munitions, such as certain armor-piercing rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, the Bradley is protected by explosive reactive aluminum armor and steel skirts, and it carries smoke grenade launchers able to create defensive screens.Delivering firepower, mobility, and shock in UkraineUS soldiers dismount from their M2 Bradley Fighting vehicle during a fire team live-fire certification training as part of Exercise Combined Resolve II at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, June 17, 2014.Courtesy photo US Department of DefenseIn Ukraine, Edmonds told Insider that the Bradleys will bring a handful of capabilities — along the lines of firepower, mobility, and shock — to the table. When covering lots of terrain, the Bradley's small size and quick speed can help Ukrainian forces take advantage of counteroffensive breakthroughs and exploit successes along Russian lines, Edmonds said. "They're fast and quite mobile," he added. "And then there's shock effect, which can be significant, especially in a war where morale is precarious."Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Thursday the Bradleys will "provide a significant boost to Ukraine's already impressive armor capabilities, adding that "we're confident that it will aid them on the battlefield." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 7th, 2023

Chris Hedges: Stop Worrying & Love the Bomb

Chris Hedges: Stop Worrying & Love the Bomb Authored by Chris Hedges via, I have covered enough wars to know that once you open that Pandora’s box, the many evils that pour out are beyond anyone’s control. War accelerates the whirlwind of industrial killing. The longer any war continues, the closer and closer each side comes to self-annihilation.  Unless it is stopped, the proxy war between Russia and the U.S. in Ukraine all but guarantees direct confrontation with Russia and, with it, the very real possibility of nuclear war.` Bombs Away – by Mr. Fish. U.S. President Joe Biden, who doesn’t always seem to be quite sure where he is or what he is supposed to be saying, is being propped up in the I-am-a-bigger-man-than-you contest with Russian President Vladimir Putin by a coterie of rabid warmongers who have orchestrated over 20 years of military fiascos. They are salivating at the prospect of taking on Russia, and then, if there is any habitation left on the globe, China. Trapped in the polarizing mindset of the Cold War — where any effort to de-escalate conflicts through diplomacy is considered appeasement, a perfidious Munich moment — they smugly push the human species closer and closer toward obliteration. Unfortunately for us, one of these true believers is Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Putin is saying he is not bluffing. Well, he cannot afford bluffing, and it has to be clear that the people supporting Ukraine and the European Union and the Member States, and the United States and NATO are not bluffing neither,” E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned. “Any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated.” Annihilated. Are these people insane? Josep Borrell in 2019. (European Parliament, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)  You know we are in trouble when former Donald Trump is the voice of reason. “We must demand the immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, or we will end up in world war three” the former U.S. president said. “And there will be nothing left of our planet — all because stupid people didn’t have a clue … They don’t understand what they’re dealing with, the power of nuclear.” I dealt with many of these ideologues — David Petraeus, Elliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland — as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Once you strip away their chest full of medals or fancy degrees, you find shallow men and women, craven careerists who obsequiously serve the war industry that ensures their promotions, pays the budgets of their think tanks and showers them with money as board members of military contractors. They are the pimps of war. If you reported on them, as I did, you would not sleep well at night. They are vain enough and stupid enough to blow up the world long before we go extinct because of the climate crisis, which they have also dutifully accelerated. If, as Joe Biden says, Putin is “not joking” about using nuclear weapons and we risk nuclear “Armageddon,” why isn’t Biden on the phone to Putin? Why doesn’t he follow the example of John F. Kennedy, who repeatedly communicated with Nikita Khrushchev to negotiate an end to the Cuban missile crisis? Kennedy, who unlike Biden served in the military, knew the obtuseness of generals. He had the good sense to ignore Curtis LeMay, the Air Force chief of staff and head of the Strategic Air Command, as well as the model for General Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove,” who urged Kennedy to bomb the Cuban missile bases, an act that would have probably ignited a nuclear war. Biden is not made of the same stuff. Retired General Curtis LeMay in 1987. (U.S. National Archives, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons) Why is Washington sending $50 billion in arms and assistance to sustain the conflict in Ukraine and promising billions more for “as long as it takes”? Why did Washington and Whitehall dissuade Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky, a former stand-up comic who has been magically transformed by these war lovers into the new Winston Churchill, from pursuing negotiations with Moscow, set up by Turkey? Why do they believe that militarily humiliating Putin, whom they are also determined to remove from power, won’t lead him to do the unthinkable in a final act of desperation? Moscow strongly implied it would use nuclear weapons in response to a “threat” to its “territorial integrity” and the pimps of war shouted down anyone who expressed concern that we all might go up in mushroom clouds, labeling them traitors who are weakening Ukrainian and Western resolve. Giddy at the battlefield losses suffered by Russia, they poke the Russian bear with ever greater ferocity. The Pentagon helped plan Ukraine’s latest counteroffensive, and the C.I.A. passes on battlefield intelligence. The U.S. is slipping, as we did in Vietnam, from advising, arming, funding and supporting, into fighting.  U.S. President Joe Biden during a briefing by his national security team, Aug. 18, 2021. (Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons) None of this is helped by Zelensky’s suggestion that, to deter the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, NATO should launch “preventive strikes.” “Waiting for the nuclear strikes first and then to say ‘what’s going to happen to them.’ No! There is a need to review the way the pressure is being exerted. So there is a need to review this procedure,” he said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the remarks, which Zelensky tried to roll back, were “nothing else than a call to start a world war.”  The West has been baiting Moscow for decades. I reported from Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. I watched these militarists set out to build what they called a unipolar world — a world where they alone ruled. First, they broke promises not to expand NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany. Then they broke promises not to “permanently station substantial combat forces” in the new NATO member countries in Eastern and Central Europe. Then they broke promises not to station missile systems along Russia’s border. Then they broke promises not to interfere in the internal affairs of border states such as Ukraine, orchestrating the 2014 coup that ousted the elected government of Victor Yanukovich, replacing it with an anti-Russian — fascist aligned — government, which, in turn, led to an eight-year-long civil war, as the Russian populated regions in the east sought independence from Kiev. They armed Ukraine with NATO weapons and trained 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers after the coup. Then they recruited neutral Finland and Sweden into NATO. Now the U.S. is being asked to send advanced long-range missile systems to Ukraine, which Russia says would make the U.S. “a direct party to the conflict.” But blinded by hubris and lacking any understanding of geopolitics, they push us, like the hapless generals in the Austro-Hungarian empire, towards catastrophe. The West calls for total victory. Russia annexes four Ukrainian provinces. The Westhelps Ukraine bomb the Kerch Bridge. Russia rains missiles down on Ukrainian cities. The West gives Ukraine sophisticated air defense systems. The West gloats over Russian losses. Russia introduces conscription. Now Russia carries out drone and cruise missile attacks on power, sewage and water treatment plants. Where does it end? “Is the United States, for example, trying to help bring an end to this conflict, through a settlement that would allow for a sovereign Ukraine and some kind of relationship between the United States and Russia?” a New York Times editorial asks. “Or is the United States now trying to weaken Russia permanently? Has the administration’s goal shifted to destabilizing Putin or having him removed? Does the United States intend to hold Putin accountable as a war criminal? Or is the goal to try to avoid a wider war — and if so, how does crowing about providing U.S. intelligence to kill Russians and sink one of their ships achieve this?” No one has any answers. The Times editorial ridicules the folly of attempting to recapture all of Ukrainian territory, especially those territories populated by ethnic Russians. “A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal,” it reads. “Though Russia’s planning and fighting have been surprisingly sloppy, Russia remains too strong, and Mr. Putin has invested too much personal prestige in the invasion to back down.” But common sense, along with realistic military objectives and an equitable peace, is overpowered by the intoxication of war. On Oct. 17, NATO countries began a two-week-long exercise in Europe, called Steadfast Noon, in which 60 aircraft, including fighter jets and long-range bombers flown in from Minot Air Base in North Dakota are simulating dropping thermonuclear bombs on European targets. This exercise happens annually. But the timing is nevertheless ominous. The U.S. has some 150 “tactical” nuclear warheads stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.  Admiral Rob Bauer, chair of NATO Military Committee, during a meeting of NATO defence ministers on Oct. 13. (NATO) Ukraine will be a long and costly war of attrition, one that will leave much of Ukraine in ruins and hundreds of thousands of families convulsed by lifelong grief. If NATO prevails and Putin feels his hold on power is in jeopardy, what will stop him from lashing out in desperation? Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of tactical nukes, weapons that can kill tens of thousands if used on a city. It also possesses nearly 6,000 nuclear warheads. Putin does not want to end up, like his Serbian allies Slobodan Miloševic and Ratko Mladic, as a convicted war criminal in the Hague. Nor does he want to go the way of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. What will stop him from upping the ante if he feels cornered? Russian President Vladimir Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, Feb. 27. (Kremlin) There is something grimly cavalier about how political, military and intelligence chiefs, including C.I.A. Director William Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, agree about the danger of humiliating and defeating Putin and the specter of nuclear war. “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said in remarks at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta, who also served as defense secretary under President Barack Obama, wrote this month that U.S. intelligence agencies believe the odds of the war in Ukraine spiraling into a nuclear war are as high as 1-in-4. The director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, echoed this warning, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in May that if Putin believed there was an existential threat to Russia, he could resort to nuclear weapons.  “We do think that [Putin’s perception of an existential threat] could be the case in the event that he perceives that he is losing the war in Ukraine, and that NATO in effect is either intervening or about to intervene in that context, which would obviously contribute to a perception that he is about to lose the war in Ukraine,” Haines said. “As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength … Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences,” Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier wrote in the Defense Intelligence Agency’s threat assessment submitted to the same Armed Services Committee at the end of April. Given these assessments, why don’t Burns, Panetta, Haines and Berrier, urgently advocate diplomacy with Russia to de-escalate the nuclear threat? This war should never have happened. The U.S. was well aware it was provoking Russia. But it was drunk on its own power, especially as it emerged as the world’s sole superpower at the end of the Cold War, and besides, there were billions in profits to be made in arms sales to new NATO members. In 2008, when Burns was serving as the ambassador to Moscow, he wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”  Sixty-six U.N. members, most from the Global South, have called for diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine, as required by the U.N. Charter. But few of the big power players are listening. If you think nuclear war can’t happen, pay a visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These Japanese cities had no military value. They were wiped out because most of the rest of Japan’s urban centers had already been destroyed by saturation bombing campaigns directed by LeMay. The U.S. knew Japan was crippled and ready to surrender, but it wanted to send a message to the Soviet Union that with its new atomic weapons it was going to dominate the world. We saw how that turned out. 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 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. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/30/2022 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 30th, 2022

Liz Shuler: We Will See A Continued Incline In Unionization

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler at CNBC Work Summit, which took place today, Wednesday, October 26th. Video from the interview will be available at Interview With AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler  YLAN MUI: Tyler, thank you so much. And President Shuler, thank you so much for […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler at CNBC Work Summit, which took place today, Wednesday, October 26th. Video from the interview will be available at Interview With AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler  YLAN MUI: Tyler, thank you so much. And President Shuler, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today for this important and timely conversation because Tyler’s right – labor right now is resurgent. And I know that the AFL-CIO has made mobilization one of its key priorities. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. So I'd like to start our conversation today by playing a little bit of what we aired yesterday during the CNBC Work Summit. It was a chat between my colleague Kayla Tausche and the labor secretary Marty Walsh, in which he said that public opinion of unions is shifting. Take a listen. Interview with Marty Walsh from October 25: All of this interest in unionization right now in the country that we are seeing, you know, polling, I think it's like 65, 70% of Americans that look favorably upon unions is the past – the highest in 50 years. I don't think you'll see the benefit of that organizing until probably 2023, 2024. MUI: So President Shuler, a lot of momentum right now. But maybe will take some time to come to fruition. What do you think your runway is? SHULER: Well, thank you for having me on the show, Ylan. I just want to say Secretary Walsh is a card-carrying union member. And so we appreciate the work that he's doing over at the Department of Labor and waking up every morning thinking about working people. But what he says is true in some ways, because when you organize a union, workers come together, talk to each other. Employers have the ability to voluntarily recognize them off the spot, but that doesn't always happen as we know. And then there's a contract negotiation process that goes on. So there is a bit of a runway there, but the benefits build over time, and especially as you negotiate a contract, that next contract, and so on and so on. So, we've been making those kinds of investments in the labor movement for decades, and I would argue that the resurgence that you're seeing in worker voice and people wanting to form unions, is because they see unions out there fighting for them. And so no matter what kind of runway we have for the benefits, it's an ongoing process. And I think now is the time because working people are finding their voice. MUI: Do you think union membership will ever reach the levels that it was back in the 1970s, for example, or how are you going to measure the success of your organization and mobilization efforts? SHULER: Well, we have throughout history, we've been organizing – workers have been coming together obviously for over 100 years, into unions. And throughout history, we've seen ebbs and flows of unionization primarily because of the laws and how people can or cannot form unions depending on, you know, the law, the economy, how it's doing. The desire of working people and what their needs are in the workplace. All of those are factors in how we see those numbers climb or not. And right now, we are – as Secretary Walsh – at an incredible moment where it's actually 71% of the public supports unions. It's the highest in almost 60 years. And it's a moment unlike any other. So, I believe we will grow, we will see a continued incline in unionization primarily because of the way the workforce is changing and the workplace is changing. We know the future of work is now and especially coming out of the pandemic, how work has been changing. People want a voice. They want a seat at the table to be able to shape the workplace and especially when it comes to the workplace. of the future. MUI: You mentioned the law and the economy as key factors in sort of driving the outlook on unionization and the membership for unions. So I want to drill down on both of those issues. In terms of the law, of course, the midterms are just less than two weeks away now and there's a lot of debate over which party is going to control Congress. I'm not going to ask you for your political prognostication here, but it does seem likely that we're going to have some level of divided government. So what are the priorities that the AFL-CIO can pursue that you think could get support from both Republicans and Democrats? SHULER: Well, issues like good wages, retirement security, health care benefits, predictable schedules, those are not issues that are Democrat or Republican. They're working people's issues. So regardless of what happens in terms of control of Congress, you know, working people are going to make their voices heard and that's what they're out doing. We're mobilizing and examining the issues, seeing which candidates support working people heading into these midterm elections. But certainly, we want to work with whatever politician is going to support working people and really approaching that through an issues based lens. And right now, you know, working people are struggling. We're seeing it day in and day out. People are trying to put food on the table. They're trying to fill up their gas tanks. They're trying to make sure that they can have enough time with their families and not be working unsustainable hours, and have more predictable schedules. And so, those issues are what's really driving workers. And no matter what district you represent in the country in Congress, those working people are going to be in your ear. And so, I think that working people are watching, they're motivated, they're fed up, they're fired up coming out of the pandemic, especially being treated as essential workers one day and then treated as expendable the next. And so, now is the time and these midterm elections will definitely be a referendum on how people are feeling they're being heard. MUI: The other issue you mentioned was the economy and while Washington is focused, of course, on the midterms Wall Street has been talking a lot about the potential for another recession. After the pandemic, what we heard from business leaders over and over again was how hard it was for them to find workers and the length they were having to go to to attract those employees and to make their businesses a place where people wanted to come and work. Are you concerned that if we are in an economic downturn and the unemployment rate starts to rise again, that workers lose some of that upper hand? SHULER: Well, it's certainly been a moment in terms of the economy where everyone's looking for talent. And I've heard it from several of your guests on this program, that everyone is looking for talented workers. And the way you find talent, the way you keep talent, is by treating people well, giving them a voice and shaping their workplace. And, you know, looking at sustainable models, we don't necessarily want to see these business models where you have this churn and burn kind of mentality. We want to look to sustainability. And attracting a talented workforce definitely depends on, you know, the kinds of wages you're providing, the type of health care benefits and job security. But more than that, we're finding it's the intangibles, the workplace culture issues. People are tired of toxic environments. They're tired of being treated poorly and not having a say in how their workplace is being shaped or changed. So, I think that that will be evergreen no matter how the economy is faring, but certainly when labor markets are tight, working people feel empowered. And that's what we're seeing is that people are finally saying, You know what, enough is enough. I don't have to just take it anymore. I can do better for myself. And so that's the other reason people are coming together in unions because they know that their voice is more powerful when they come together collectively than if they're individually in the office or in a workplace. So, I think that the future absolutely looks bright for more working people continuing to leverage their power and their voice and doing that through a union. MUI: You mentioned some of the intangibles that it becomes so important to workers, especially as we come out of the pandemic, like workplace culture. How do you negotiate for that? In other words, you're saying it's not just about the wages that people get paid anymore. There's a whole host of other things that are important to the way that they work. Not just what they get paid. How do you include that in a contract negotiation? What are ways that workers are trying to demand some of those intangible factors play into their workplace? SHULER: Well, the beauty of a union is it is a democracy and so the members get to decide what's most important to them in the workplace. And then to have a contract, where you can actually sit at a table with your employer, talk about what matters, what's important and work through that together. Labor and management negotiating together and against each other in some cases, right? Because often there's a tension there where working people want more of a say in the workplace and want to be heard, and sometimes employers don't like that. But I think the issues are certainly the tangibles as we discussed, you know, the wages, hours and benefits. But on the intangible side, I've seen so much creativity in using this tool we call collective bargaining, where working people are talking about, you know, time off, talking about how the workplace is going to look if you're remote working, to be able to have a say in how that's set up, especially as there's more surveillance in the workplace. I've even seen workers come together to negotiate their company's carbon footprint or environmental protections where they're seeing something happen on the front lines in a workplace and they know it can be done more efficiently or more eco eco-friendly. They're using their collective bargaining agreements to negotiate. So those are the kinds of things that we're seeing that this tool of unions and collective bargaining has become modern, and it's become more relevant than ever in the workplace. MUI: And certainly, it's spread across more industries, maybe than it had historically been in. I think a lot of business leaders, a lot of companies look at what's happening at Amazon, looked at what's happening at Starbucks, and they wonder what this means for their own relationship with their employees. What's your advice for business owners, for managers, who say How should I be potentially rethinking the way that I interact with my workforce? SHULER: Well, absolutely, and I would say to any business person listening that unions can be thought partners, they can actually be solutions driven and make your workforce more productive and then you more profitable. So, the idea here is it's a partnership. And that, you know, it knows no bounds like you were saying working people in every sector of the economy are looking at this idea of coming together, making their voices more powerful collectively through a union. And so whether it's video game developers, or minor league baseball players who just joined the AFL-CIO, graduate researchers at the University of California – the workplace is the workplace no matter what kind of work you do, and it's working people coming together, having that conversation that forms a union. And businesses don't need to be afraid of that. They can see it not in a stereotypical way that I think a lot of business people do from the, you know, models of the past that it has to be adversarial, that it's only for certain types of work. Absolutely not. The labor movement is a modern movement. We are fighting for a more inclusive workplace and want to continue to be solutions driven. MUI: Yeah, you've actually pointed to Microsoft in the past as an example of a successful relationship. What about that worked? SHULER: Well, I think Brad Smith is a pioneer in so many ways, but he saw the trends. He saw working people and so many industries saying you know what, this is something we want to see in our workplace. So he said if this is what the people want, we should allow them to make that choice for themselves. And right now under the law, it really is written to allow working people to form unions, it just doesn't always happen so easily because of employer interference. And employers break the law with impunity, you know, obviously harassing and intimidating workers who often want to form a union. But Microsoft decided, you know what, if this is what our workforce thinks is most effective for them, to bring their voices to the table, then we're not going to stand in the way. So that's really all people want is a neutral position from companies to allow working people to make that choice themselves. MUI: Are there certain industries or other companies that you see as right for that level of organizing? SHULER: Well, as I said earlier, really every workplace can and should form a union primarily – MUI: Across the board? SHULER: Yeah, across the board, because it's really about that seat at the table. And so, no matter what type of work you do, we've seen it in the professional sector where, you know, people in the medical field, doctors are forming unions because of what they went through during the pandemic and not feeling safe to really raise the issues around safety and health without having the safety of their coworkers behind them in their contract giving them that voice. We're seeing it as I said, in the tech industry. Google workers just formed a union in the south of all places. And so, it really knows no bounds. And it really is just, you know, workers coming together, talking to each other and standing up for themselves. MUI: And you all have leaned into – the AFL-CIO has leaned into the use of technology to help workers come together and organize. Can you talk a little bit about some of the new tools you're using to foster that type of community? SHULER: Well, of course, using technology for organizing is absolutely what we're seeing. But nothing ever replaces the good old fashioned face-to-face conversation as we know and in fact, I think more of that needs to take place because we are in our tech kind of bubbles often and not talking to each other. But you know, we're seeing tools like TikTok and Reddit and, you know, we have a tool called Action Builder that we use in terms of relationship mapping. So, we're actually seeing more technology use than ever before because it's a way for people to communicate without fear. Without, you know, that kind of looking over your shoulder and, you know, using the traditional methods. So, we're absolutely modernizing the way we can communicate with workers and, you know, workers talking to workers is what this is all about. MUI: And final quick question for you, President Schuler, we are all trying to create the new normal here as we come out of the pandemic. Everyone's wondering, what's going to stick? What did we learn from the pandemic? What do you see sticking for workers? SHULER: Well, coming out of the pandemic, I think people are seeing work like never before. We used to take it for granted. We used to go about our day and expect that things were just going to be there that the working people that provided the grocery stores being stocked, you know, the folks who were driving public transportation and getting us to our jobs, were just going to be there. And I think that that was an awakening that people finally can appreciate and see the value of working people that really make this country move. So, that's my hope that that's not just a temporary thing, that working people continue to rise up, find their power, demand what they deserve and make this the most productive economy that we continue to see. MUI: President Shuler, thank you so much for taking the time and for talking to me today. SHULER: Thanks, Ylan......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 26th, 2022

Multipolar World Order – Part 4

Multipolar World Order – Part 4 Authored by Iain Davis via, Part 1 of this series looked at the various models of world order. Part 2 examined how the shift towards the multipolar world order has been led by some surprising characters. Part 3 explored the history of the idea of a world ordered as a “balance of power,” or multipolar system. Those who have advocated this model over the generations have consistently sought the same goal: global governance. In Part 4 we will consider the theories underpinning the imminent multipolar order, the nature of Russia and China’s public-private oligarchies and the emergence of these two nations’ military power. THE WIDER CONTEXT OF THE UKRAINE WAR There is no evidence to suggest that the war in Ukraine is, in any sense, “fake.” The political and cultural differences among the populace of Ukraine are older than the nation-state, and the current conflict is rooted in long-standing and very real tensions. People are suffering and dying, and they deserve the chance to live in peace. Yet, beyond the specific factors that led to and have perpetuated the conflict in Ukraine, there is a wider context that also deserves discussion. The so-called leaders in the West and in the East have had ample opportunity and power to bring both sides in the Donbas war to the negotiating table. Their attempts to broker ceasefires and to implement the various Minsk agreements over the years were weak and half-hearted. Both sides, it seems, chose instead to play politics with Ukrainian lives. And both sides ultimately fuelled the conflict. The West has done little but exacerbate the situation. And, though it faced a tough economic choice, the Russian government could certainly have leveraged its commanding position in the European energy market to better effect. If, that is, avoiding war were the objective. Whatever else it is, the war in Ukraine is the fulcrum for a transition in the balance of geopolitic power. Like the pseudopandemic that immediately preceded it, the war is accelerating the polarity shift. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was right to observe that the Ukraine war is “a gift to NATO.” Just as the West has delivered the Russian government’s monetary policy to them, so Putin’s administration has rescued NATO from vanishing relevance. Both poles are strengthened, if for different reasons. At the same time the European Union (EU) is capitalising on both the war and the sanctions it imposed in order to reinvigorate its push towards EU military unification. The UK is involved in this push, even though in 2016 its population elected, via referendum, to leave the EU, specifically because a majority of voters did not want to give “national sovereignty” away to the union leadership. But, as we can see, it doesn’t matter what the people vote for or against. Despite having supposedly left the EU, the UK’s newly unelected Prime Minister has just signed up the UK as a “Third State,” bound by Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) agreements, under the direct military command of Brussels. As the UK partly hands its independent defence capability to the EU, it is playing its part in assisting the emergence of another pole. The International Monetary and Financial System (IMFS), which has thus far underwritten unipolar domination, is being transformed now that it’s reaching the end of its life cycle. Economic growth is being deliberately stifled in the West via sanctions but encouraged in the East. Energy flows and consumption patterns are being redirected eastward. Simultaneously, effective military power is being “rebalanced.” During the pseudopandemic, we saw much evidence of global coordination. Most unusually, almost every government acted in lockstep. China, the US, Russia, Germany, Iran, the UK and many other nations followed the same false narrative. All participated in shutting down global supply chains and limiting world trade. Most countries assiduously heeded the World Economic Forum’s preferred path of global “regionalisation.” The few that resisted were considered international pariahs. What has happened since then? We’re told the war in Ukraine has reintroduced the same old East-vs-West division that most of us are more familiar with. Yet in nearly every other significant way nations remain strangely in total agreement. It seems The war in Ukraine is practically the only dispute. MULTIPOLAR THEORY The proposed multipolar world order does not constitute a defence of the nation-state. We have already discussed how the multipolar model dovetails quite precisely with the “Great Reset” (GR) agenda, so it should come as little surprise that multipolar theory also rejects the suggested Westphalian concept of national sovereignty. Russia has numerous think tanks and GONGOs (government organized non-governmental organizations). Just as in the West, these are funded and influenced by both the public and private sectors, working in partnership. As noted by the Swedish Defense Research Agency, Russian think tank funding “part comes from the government and the rest from private actors and clients, usually big business.” Katehon is the “independent” think tank established by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofyev (Malofeev), who has been sanctioned by the US since 2014 for his support of Ukrainian Russians, first in Crimea and then in the Donbas. The Katehon board includes Sergey Glazyev, the economist and politician who is the current Commissioner of Macroeconomic Integration for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In 2018, Katehon pointed out that, despite all talk to the contrary, multipolarity had largely been defined as opposition to unipolarity. That is, expressed in terms of what it isn’t rather than what it is. Katehon sought to rectify this, offering its Theory of the Multipolar World (TWM): Multipolarity does not coincide with the national model of world organization according to the logic of the Westphalian system. [. . .] This Westphalian model assumes full legal equality between all sovereign states. In this model, there are as many poles of foreign policy decisions in the world as there are sovereign states [. . .] and all of international law is based on it. In practice, of course, there is inequality and hierarchical subordination between various sovereign states. [. . .] The multipolar world differs from the classical Westphalian system by the fact that it does not recognize the separate nation-state, legally and formally sovereign, to have the status of a full-fledged pole. This means that the number of poles in a multipolar world should be substantially less than the number of recognized (and therefore, unrecognised) nation-states. Multipolarity is not a system of international relations that insists upon the legal equality of nation-states[.] The unipolar world doesn’t protect the nation-state any more than the multipolar model does, Katehon observed. According to Katehon, the Westphalian model, in its application, has always been a myth. We might say it is just another “idea” political leaders peddle to delude us into accepting the policy goals they create. They occasionally exploit “nationalism” because it is useful. EURASIANISM In their efforts to cast Vladimir Putin as a comic book villain, the Western mainstream media (MSM) has attempted to personally link him to the controversial Russian political-philosopher and strategist Aleksandre Dugin. They have labelled Dugin Putin’s Rasputin or Putin’s “brain” and have alleged that Putin considers Dugin a close ally and his favourite philosopher. There was never any foundation to these stories, however. Speaking in 2018, Dugin said “I do not hold an official position within the state apparatus. I don’t have a direct line with Putin, I’ve never even met him.” In 2022, the Western MSM’s allegations prompted Alain de Benoist, Dugin’s political and philosophical collaborator and friend of more than 30 years, to observe: Putin’s “brain!” The fact that Dugin and Putin have never met once face-to-face is a good measure of the seriousness of those who use this expression. [. . .] Dugin undoubtedly knows Putin’s entourage well, but he was never one of his intimates or his “special advisers.” [. . .] The book he wrote a few years ago on Putin is far from being an exercise in admiration: Dugin on the contrary explains both what he approves of in Putin and what he dislikes. Although Dugin has no special relationship with the Kremlin, this doesn’t mean his ideas aren’t influential there. He has acted as an advisor to the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, and to the Chairman of the State Duma, Gennadiy Seleznyov, so he certainly has political connections and is heard by the Russian political class. Dugin is perhaps the leading modern voice for Eurasianism. In a 2014 interview, he explained his interpretation of both Eurasianism and its place within multipolarity this way: Eurasianism is based on the multipolar vision and on the rejection of the unipolar vision of the continuation of American hegemony. The pole of this multipolarism is not the national state or the ideological bloc, but rather the great space (Grossraum) strategically united within the borders of a common civilization. The typical great space[s] [are] Europe, the unified USA, Canada and Mexico, or united Latin America, Greater China, Greater India, and in our case Eurasia.[. . .] The multipolar vision recognizes integration on the basis of a common civilization. [. . .] Putin’s foreign policy is centred on multipolarity and the Eurasian integration which is necessary to create a truly solid pole. Neither the oligarchs nor the global political class are deluded enough to believe that they can simply commend one political philosophy or another, or one cultural ideology or another, and thereby control the behaviour and beliefs of humanity. There will always be the need for some Machiavellian skulduggery. Putin has frequently espoused Eurasianist ideas. Conversely, Dugin is among those who have criticised Putin for his lack of a clear ideology: He must translate his individual intuition into a doctrine intended to secure the future order. He just doesn’t have a declared ideology, and that’s becoming more and more problematic. Every Russian feels that Putin’s hyper-individual approach poses a huge risk. In 2011, Putin announced his plan to create the Eurasian Union, much to the delight of Dugin and other the Eurasianists like Malofyev and Glazyev. Putin published an accompanying article: We suggest a powerful supranational association capable of becoming one of the poles in the modern world and serving as an efficient bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. [. . . .] It is clear today that the 2008 global crisis was structural in nature. We still witness acute reverberations of the crisis that was rooted in accumulated global imbalances. [. . .] Thus, our integration project is moving to a qualitatively new level, opening up broad prospects for economic development and creating additional competitive advantages. This consolidation of efforts will help us establish ourselves within the global economy and trade system and play a real role in decision-making, setting the rules and shaping the future. Alexander Dugin Putin pointed towards a global crisis that led to the claimed need for a supranational body that could act as a pole for decision-making in a global system based upon a balance of power. What he said follows a pattern; all those who extol global governance have used the same rhetorical trick. This pattern is currently being repeated again. Irrespective of any other beliefs he may hold, Putin’s commitment to resetting the global polity is clear. Eurasianism renders the Russian Federation a “partner” within a wider union. Currently the Eurasian Union only exists in the economic sense, and Russia is overwhelmingly dominant within it. Similarly, Russia’s permanent position in the UN Security Council affords Russia relative dominance within the UN. Nonetheless, while the Russian government may hope to benefit from such unions and councils, by forming “poles” in a multipolar system and setting policies influenced by ideas like Eurasianism, it has diluted and declared a plan to eventually cede Russian “national sovereignty” to the union—to the pole. Putin’s pursuit of Eurasianism and multipolarity doesn’t necessarily indicate anything other than pragmatism. Nor does it represent a defence of the Russian nation-state. We can only guess, but Putin’s preference for Eurasianism and multipolarity is unlikely to be rooted in any particular ideology. Rather, it serves a purpose, providing his government and its partners a bigger stake in “the game.” TIANXIA Putin’s notion of “Eurasian integration” jibes with the Chinese ideology of “tianxia,” which can be translated as “everything under heaven.” In Chinese antiquity, tianxia placed the empire at the pinnacle of a global moral hierarchy. Confucian universal care dictates that a civilised state cares for its own, first and foremost, but cannot consider itself civilised if it doesn’t care for others, too. Other states are considered civilised if they care for their citizens and barbaric if they don’t. Therefore, all civilised states should care more for the interests of other peaceful and civilised states than they do for the needs or desires of barbaric states. Consequently, bonds are naturally formed between caring states, creating a kind of organic geopolitical order, as each state places its own people at the centre of a network of civilised relationships. In tianxia, the practice of Confucian universal care also operates within all institutions that comprise a state. For instance, civilised individuals naturally care for their families and their immediate communities more than they care for people outside those circles. However, no one is to act selfishly at the expense of other citizens, no matter where they reside, without falling into barbarism themselves. This is a model of state that is not based upon ethnic or “blood” ties or even national borders, but rather upon a hierarchical system of morality. Tianxia has been promoted by a few Western commentators as a “beautiful” idea. Like a philosophical Mandelbrot set it suggests a perfect moral symmetry at both at the micro and the macro scale. The multipolar world order, supposedly with tianxia at its heart, is therefore recommended as a wonderful new model of global governance and is frequently described as “win, win cooperation.” Academics like Professors Zhao Tingyang and Xiang Lanxin have said that the global adoption of tianxia would establish a “post-Westphalian world.” This view stems from their assessment that the Westphalian order is ideologically stagnant, limited to nothing more than an expedient balance of power system wherein “might is right.” The criticism from these tianxian scholars is not a fair reflection of the moral precepts expressed by the Peace of Westphalia—treaties that extolled the Christian values of forgiveness, tolerance and peaceful cooperation. The scholars’ assessment is, however, a reasonable appraisal of the actual conduct of Western states that only pretend to honour Westphalian principles. Professor Lanxin points out that China “has no ontological tradition.” That is, philosophically tianxia doesn’t ask “what is this?” but rather “what path does this suggest?” If tianxia were applied to China’s strategic foreign policy, it would be ambivalent to ideas like national sovereignty. Much like the moral foundations of Westphalian international relations, tianxia is professed but not practised. Currently, for example, China is arming the UAE and the Saudi regimes to wage war in Yemen and is also stealing Yemen’s natural resources. Is this tianxia? Where is the “win” for the Yemeni people in China’s behaviour? The drawback of noble ideas is that they can be exploited by hard-nosed geostrategists to sell any policy agenda they like. The theories of tianxia and Eurasianism provide a grounding for multipolarity. The philosophy isn’t the problem, it is its exploitation by the engineers of multipolar global governance. They don’t care what the intent of an idea is. They care only how they can use that ideology or philosophy to justify their actions if anyone asks. If philosophical thought suggests some useful strategies, all the better. When global governance over a multipolar system is the goal, then tianxia, like Eurasianism, certainly is “beautiful.” Consider the words of Professor Zhou: [Some are] concerned that tianxia would lead to “Pax Sinica” replacing “Pax Americana.” However, this concern is misplaced because under tianxia, there would be no place for a king — the system itself is king. In this sense, it would be a bit like Switzerland, where various language groups (French, German, Italian, Romansh) and local cantons all coexist in a commonwealth of roughly equal parts where the center in Bern is essentially a coordination point with a rotating president whose power is so constrained that some Swiss citizens can’t even name the person occupying the post. Tianxia relegates the political voice of the people to an irrelevance. It is multipolar, defining political power as a networked system that is not limited by national sovereignty or unipolar authority but rather operates “constrained” centres of power. For those who manipulate geopolitics covertly, it is perfect: the system itself is king. Tianxia may be a serene philosophy, but what really matters is how the theory is applied to policy. The 2017 authorised publication titled Forge Ahead under the Guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Thought on Diplomacy by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi gives us a glimpse of the kind of thing China’s political class and others call “win, win cooperation.” Xi Jinping […] puts forward new propositions on security, development and global governance. […] Xi Jinping […] has underscored China’s role and contribution to world peace and development and to upholding the international order. […] China has […] played a leading role in the Asia-Pacific cooperation, the G20’s transformation and the course of economic globalization[.] […] China has promoted the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the BRICS New Development Bank, and has taken an active part in the formulation of rules governing such emerging areas as marine and polar affairs, cyberspace, nuclear security and climate change. […] The [Belt and Road] initiative has been widely commended for lending impetus to global growth and boosting confidence in economic globalization. […] We have taken an active part […] and worked with other countries to tackle global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cyber security and refugees. […] We advocated the formulation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and became the first country to release its national plan on implementation. It turns out that the alleged application of tianxia means upholding the international order, international financial and monetary system reform, Agenda 2030, counterterrorism, controlling human capital, exercising global cybersecurity, economic globalization and, of course, global governance. It seems Xi Jinping’s tianxia-inspired “thoughts” are just the same as the thoughts of the Rockefellers, Vladimir Putin, Klaus Schwab and all other members of the multipolar sales team. RUSSIA – THE FUSION OF THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE OLIGARCHY The Russian government and its think tanks and and oligarchs are not alone in advocating a “regionalized” world of poles. With its five “groups,” a nascent multipolar world order already exists in the form of the G20. The G20’s enthusiasm for a single global tax system demonstrates the intention to move toward a much firmer system of global governance. Previously we noted that Putin purged the oligarch collaborators of the West in fairly short succession after becoming President. Much has been written about his war against the “5th columnists.” This often infers that Putin is somehow opposed to the power of oligarchs. That isn’t true at all. The Russian government has no problem with people making huge amounts of money and then using it to exercise political power. It is just that political power must promote the Russian government’s aspirations. In fact, one of the perks of being in Putin’s circle is the opportunity to become fabulously wealthy. We have already discussed the obscene levels of wealth inequality in Russia, particularly in terms of its concentration in the hands of the oligarchs. Putin hasn’t put an end to this elitism; he has facilitated it on a grand scale. To put the matter in perspective: when Putin became President in 1999—that is, “elected” in 2000—there were a handful of Russian billionaires and oligarchs. Today, according to Forbes, there are more than 100. Perhaps it is just another coincidence, but the sanctions have provided an impetus for Russian oligarchs living overseas to return to the motherland, a trend that has effectively strengthened the Kremlin’s bond with its oligarch “partners.” In 1999, Putin inherited a Russian economy that had been holed out. Between 1999 and 2014, he oversaw a remarkable Russian economic recovery. Living standards improved significantly, GDP rose from $200 billion in 1999 to $2.2 trillion in 2014. Putin led Russia from the 20th largest economy in the world to the 7th (now 11th). It seems that luck—or price fixing!—may have played a part in this apparent economic miracle. Russia’s GDP growth tracks the global oil price quite precisely. While the Russian people benefited from some of this growth, fuelling a consumer boom, the same period also saw a huge increase in wealth inequality. A new class of Russian oligarchs hoovered up a disproportionate share of Russia’s national wealth. During his 2000 campaign to be formally anointed as President, when a radio journalist asked Putin how he would define “oligarch” and what he thought of them, he said: [The] fusion of power and capital — there will be no oligarchs of this kind as a class. Once secured in power, though, Putin’s team constructed a crony capitalist regime that is the epitome of the “fusion of power and capital.” He and his entourage effectively inverted the Western model of oligarch control, where capital is converted into political power. In Russia, political power enables the accumulation of capital, creating an almost unique class of oligarchs. Gazprom, the world’s largest publicly listed gas company, provides a case study demonstrating how the Russian oligarchy functions. Dmitry Medvedev and Alexei Miller worked in St Petersburg alongside Putin during the 1990s. Medvedev was the mayoral campaign manager for Anatoly Sobchak, who subsequently co-authored the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Putin was an advisor and then deputy to Sobchak. Miller served on the mayor’s Committee for External Relations. When Putin became President, he gave Medvedev the highest civil service rank in Russia and made Miller the Deputy Minister of Energy. Meanwhile, Putin decreed that Gazprom was a “national champion”—meaning a “private” corporation the Russian government considers essential to the Russian economy. Through various funds, the Russian government retained its 50.2% controlling interest in Gazprom, which makes Gazprom a public-private partnership. Putin appointed Medvedev and Miller to the Gazprom board. Medvedev acted as chairman until 2008, when he was selected as the nominal President of the Russian Federation, while Putin temporarily acted as Prime Minister for a few years. Miller was appointed as Gazprom CEO in 2001 and is still in that post. In 2006, Gazprom released the construction cost of its Altay pipeline from West Siberia to China. The same year it also released the expenditure figures for its Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline. The per-kilometer cost of the Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline was four times higher than the comparable Altay pipeline or similar pipelines, such as the OPAL pipeline in Germany. In 2008, the Russian firm PiterGaz Engineering estimated the total construction cost of the Sochi pipeline to be $155 million—at the current exchange rate. Yet Gazprom paid the present-day equivalent of $395 million. This inflated price prompted the East European Gas Analysis (EEGA) to note: Russian pipeline engineering institutions, including the corresponding divisions of Gazprom, give realistic estimations of pipeline construction costs, comparable with those of western projects. However, it looks like, on the way to the top management of Gazprom, these cost estimations get at least tripled. [. . .] Apparently, after getting a realistic cost estimation, Gazprom executives add a generous margin for contractors and brokers, so the total project cost gets 3-4 times higher. Such slush funds are found in every sector of the Russian economy, most notably in defence, infrastructure development and healthcare. The proceeds are then doled out to loyal oligarchs. They are “oligarchs” in the fullest sense of the word. Their wealth is dependent upon their partnership with the political state. In return, they use their wealth to forward the policies of the state. Their capital couldn’t be more “political.” For example, Alexey Mordachov owns the steel giant Servestal that supplies gas pipeline to Gazprom for its development projects, such as the Yakutia-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline (aka the China–Russia East-Route). Other oligarchs profiting from the scheme include Putin’s personal friends Gennady Timchenko, who owns the OAO Stroytransgaz construction company, and Arkady Rotenberg, whose Stroygazmontazh (S.G.M. Group) forms Russia’s largest gas pipeline and power grid construction company. The oligarchs are profiting from the construction of the Arctic Silk Road. They deploy their resources to ensure that the Russian government’s foreign policy objectives are realised. The Russian oligarchs and the Russian political class are in a symbiotic relationship: a public-private partnership constructing the multipolar world order. In so doing, they are engaging in the Great Reset, implementing the Rockefellers’ vision and fulfilling the dreams of Carroll Quigley’s Anglo-American network. The Russian state is more than just a public-private partnership. Moving beyond mere contractual arrangements and shared strategic goals, Russia’s government has fused the corporate and the political into a single public-private nation-state. Despite the slaughter going on in the Ukraine war and all sides’ refusal to unconditionally negotiate, Russia’s “state-owned” private energy corporation Gazprom has apparently settled its dispute with Ukrainian “state-owned” energy corporation Naftogaz and is pumping 42.4 million cubic meters of natural gas a day through Ukraine to Western Europe energy markets. The Russian Federation is paying the Ukrainian government substantial transit fees. It is effectively funding Ukraine’s war effort. The war is only for the little people. CHINA – THE FUSION OF THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE OLIGARCHY The only major developed economy in the world to have gone further than Russia in fusing the public and private sectors is China. China is a neo-fuedal capitalist state operating as a technocracy under the leadership of an oligarch dynasty. The great military and political leaders of Mao Zedong’s revolution who later successfully evaded Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) were collectively referred to as the “eight immortals.” When the Rockefellers and the Trilateral Commission dispatched Henry Kissinger to prepare the ground for US President Nixon’s visit to China in the early 1970s, seven of the immortals decided to throw their collective political weight behind fellow immortal Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms. Deng Xiaoping The process of opening up China’s economy began in earnest following Mao’s death in 1976. Prominent Trilateralists such as then-US President Bill Clinton, global investment firms, Western-based multinational corporations and private investors stepped up foreign direct investment to assist China’s immortals in modernising the country’s economy, financial sector, military, industrial and technological capability. The modernisation enabled the rise of China’s oligarchy. For example, the immortal General Wang Zhen supported Deng’s economic liberalism but also sliced off huge chunks of China’s state assets and placed them in trust to his son, Wang Jun. Subsequently, Wang Jun collaborated with Deng’s economic advisor, Rong Yiren, to seed his now private capital into Citic Group Corp, which then became China’s “state-owned” investment company. Citic Group is a public-private partnership that today has significant influence over China’s financial services, advanced manufacturing technology, production of modern materials and urban development. In this way the immortals effectively created a public-private dynasty in China. Their immensely wealthy offspring are now collectively referred to as the “Princelings.” The Princelings can broadly be divided into three groups, each influencing important Chinese sectors and industry: political Princelings, such as Xi Jinping, manage the public sector military Princelings manage the defence and national security sectors entrepreneur Princelings manage the private sector. As a group, they have huge influence over China’s domestic and foreign policy. China is a one-party state but has not abandoned politics. The selection of Xi Jinping as Paramount Leader in 2012 marked an effective power-shift toward the Princelings, who many consider to represent the “elite.” They are “opposed” by the “Tuanpai,” whose power base stems from the Communist Youth League movement established by former president Hu Jintao. The Tuanpai are broadly popularist and more focused on the issues of working Chinese people. Other factions, such as the “Shangai Gang” and the “Tsinghua Clique,” add to the political mix. Technocracy controls citizens through the allocation of resources. China leads on the technocratic aspects of the Great Reset. It is the world’s first operational Technate, wherein the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) oversees the surveillance and control of the population through its social credit system: The establishment of a social credit system is an important foundation for comprehensively implementing the scientific viewpoint of development. [. . .] Accelerating and advancing the establishment of the social credit system is an important precondition for promoting the optimized allocation of resources. The idea is that citizens can be rewarded for good behaviour and penalised for bad. Speaking to French Television, one of the lead developers of China’s social credit system was asked how French adoption of it might have impacted the Yellow Vest protests in France. Lin Jinyue replied: I really hope that we will manage to export it in a capitalist country. [. . .] I believe that France should quickly adopt our system of social credit, to regulate their social movements. [. . .] If you had had the system of social credit, the Yellow Vests would never have been. Coincidentally, social credit-style surveillance has been greatly enhanced as a result of the pseudopandemic that began in China. To travel on public transport, enter civic buildings, be admitted to the workplace and so on, it is necessary for China’s citizens to scan their COVID Pass QR code. Green allows them to move freely; Red prevents their free movement. Biometric identification via facial recognition scanning is required to register a sim card in China. The biometric data system allows the NDRC to track the movements of every citizen and allows biosecurity to be enforced nationally. Covid QR codes, combined with digital ID, means that China’s Technate is on its way to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 16. SDG 3 reads: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks And SDG 16 says: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration “Legal identity” is UN code for digital identity. The Chinese technocratic oligarchy is also ahead of other countries in its development and implementation of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Bo li recently vacated his position as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of China to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as its Deputy Managing Director. Speaking at the IMF’s Central Bank Digital Currencies for Financial Inclusion: Risks and Rewards symposium, Bo Li discussed the claim that CBDC would improve so-called “financial inclusion”: CBDC can allow government agencies and private sector players to program [CBDC] to create smart-contracts, to allow targetted policy functions. For example[,] welfare payments [. . .], consumptions coupons, [. . .] food stamps. By programming, CBDC money can be precisely targeted [to] what kind of [things] people can own, and what kind of use [for which] this money can be utilised. For example[,] for food. So this potential programmability can help government agencies precisely target their support to those people who need support. So, in that way we can also improve financial inclusion. Perhaps so—although the improvement will only be afforded tothe citizen who obeys the”government agencies and private sector players”—the Princelings. Engage in “bad” behaviour and and CBDC will be used to target you for financial “exclusion.” With CBDC in place, there would be no need to switch people’s QR code to red to stop them from attending a protest. Simply program their CBDC to prevent train ticket purchases or the use of money more than a mile from home. Physical lockdowns of Covid days are replaced by CBDC lockouts, which are much easier to enforce. Bo Li speaking at the IMF symposium THE MULTIPOLAR MILITARY DIMENSION Global economic and financial power is backed up by military force. So if the powers-that-be are serious about building a new system of super-powered poles, they need to have the muscle to hold their respective positions. After all, a multipolar world order cannot be stabilised and enforced unless each pole presents a genuine military threat to the other. For most of the post-WWII period, the US-led unipolar NATO alliance possessed the most advanced military technology. Not only did the West dominate monetarily, financially and economically, it had the military advantage to go with it. Yet, just like every other aspect of former Western dominance, that, too, has disappeared, and military power has blossomed elsewhere. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, Russia is claiming technological military supremacy. It is now ahead in the arms race. The US has confirmed that Russia used a functioning hypersonic missile in Ukraine, a fact that Joe Biden called “consequential” and frankly admitted “is almost impossible to stop.” China, too, has fired a hypersonic missile. It apparently circled the globe. It then dispatched a hypersonic glide missile that struck its target in China. Again, confirmation came from senior US military officials, who called the technological advance “stunning.” Now China says it may soon be able to arm its navy with these superior weapons. Meanwhile, the West’s dunderheads, who until relatively recently dominated militarily, simply can’t wrap their minds around the ramjet engine technology (or scramjet) that powers this new breed of missiles. While China has confirmed global flight tests and pinpoint hypersonic accuracy and Russia has actually used them in the battlefield, the Pentagon and the US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and its private-sector partners like Raytheon are still fumbling about with limited tests, hoping they might be able to develop the same operational capability sometime soon. If you can believe that! The British can’t build ships that function in warm water, and their aircraft carriers can’t sail more than a few nautical miles without breaking down. The US Navy can’t sail its ships at all. And no one in the West can build a fighter aircraft that actually works. Yet Russia has taken submarine technology to a new level, and everyone is pretty sure China has developed AI “intelligentized” fighting capability. The West’s sudden inability to stay in, let alone lead, the technological arms race certainly seems to mark a polar shift in the global military balance of power. It is likely that the Western military-industrial complex is kicking itself after spending the last 30 years handing its military technology over to the East. Now look what they’ve done! CONCLUSION The Russian government and the Chinese government are not “worse” than the US, the UK or the French government. They are just governments doing what governments do. They represent the interests of those who can keep them in power—or remove them. The multipolar world order ends the last vestiges of national sovereignty. It is the geopolitical Great Reset: the culmination of the oligarch’s longstanding plan to establish a system of global governance that affords them dominion over all. If the multipolar system proceeds, which seems likely, the 193 nations—give or take—of the world will eventually be incorporated into a few global poles. Who knows how many, but probably no more than half a dozen or so. There are some potential benefits to multipolarity. Perhaps tianxia will break out, thus reducing the risk of conflict. A “balance of power” between global poles of states could limit aggression. But if we consider how this might be achieved and who is supposedly leading it, there is reason for concern. Assuming that the Pax Americana, Pax Europa, Pax Eurasia and Pax Sinica poles, or whatever, don’t intend to disarm, wouldn’t this logically infer a proliferation of armaments globally, including hypersonic nuclear weapons? How will these poles maintain internal security? What is to stop warfare from breaking out within each pole as disputes emerge? Will other poles have to, or choose to, intervene? Let’s be honest. The omens don’t look too encouraging. We are accelerating towards the multipolar world order due in large part to a war currently being waged by one of multipolarity’s leading proponents. Similarly, the activities of the other leading proponent—in places like Yemen, for instance—hardly inspire confidence. There is no evidence to suggest that the conduct of either Russia or China is or will be intrinsically “better” than the conduct of the leading nations of the previous “order.” By far the most concerning aspect of the multipolar world order is that fewer “poles” will empower global governance. The consistent trajectory, throughout history, toward the centralisation of power hasn’t just happened by accident. The strategy of diminishing the clique of people who exercise control over the global population is a purposeful one. Were it not, it wouldn’t have been engineered in the first place. The goal of these technocrats is to possess unopposed power. We know what they desire to do with that power should they ever achieve it: enhanced biosecurity population control population surveillance digital IDs social credit systems AI automated censorship Universal Basic Income control of the food supply, of water, of energy, of housing, of education ultimately, the total control and enslavement of humanity through Central Bank Digital Currency, or some variation of it. The nation-states advocating the new multipolar world order don’t reject these control mechanisms. On the contrary, they are leading in of their development. The multipolar system is one giant leap toward global technocratic tyranny, a system they fully endorse. In Part 1, we noted that US geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski had identified Eurasia—”extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok”—as the setting for what he called “the game.” He observed: America must absolutely take over Ukraine, because Ukraine is the pivot of Russian power in Europe. Once Ukraine is separated from Russia, Russia will no longer be a threat. US-led Western powers, having orchestrated the 2014 Euromaidan Coup and having failed to seize control through the Ukrainian ballot box, have since then demonstrated their intent to incorporate Ukraine into the West’s strategic orbit by any means. Conflict of some sort became inevitable from that point onwards. The next eight years saw an escalating proxy conflict unfold, with virtually no serious attempts to stop it, which has led to this entirely predictable Ukraine War. The people of Ukraine and the people in the new Russian republics and oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson are viewed as expendable pawns. The conflict is all too real for them, as they fight and die and long to live in peace without the perpetual threat of violence. Yet neither the “great powers” nor their puppet leaders care about the lives of the people beyond their strategic value. The war in Ukraine is a deadly tactical ploy. The point is to fight it out, down to the last Ukrainian, if necessary, in order to facilitate the transition to the multipolar world order, thus enabling the abhorrent Great Reset and finally delivering full-blown global governance. The vulnerable ones who will freeze to death in Europe this winter—and they could number in the thousands—are mere collateral damage in “the game.” Yet war needn’t get in the way of business as usual: Russia continues to supply gas to Europe, if in greatly reduced quantities and at elevated prices, through Ukrainian pipelines. The mainstream media and much of the alternative media, in both the West and the East, market the Ukraine war as a battle for “freedom,” “sovereignty” or some such drivel. As the death toll mounts among those forced to fight for their existence, we in the wider international community, taking one side or the other, fall for the same old monstrous lies. We plant our little flags, online and off, and argue about our respective delusions, imagining that we are participating in the war, in our own small way. We act like jeering football crowds who cheer on our side to win. Globalist think tanks have long considered war a strategic catalyst for change, a point we should have learned from Norman Dodd’s investigation and report for the Reece Committee on Foundations in 1954. We are being hopelessly naive if we imagine the war in Ukraine couldn’t possibly lead to a horrific global conflict. We have no reason to “trust” the lunatics whom we allow to remain in charge. Equally, we should recognise that we are being manipulated by tactics designed to produce fear. Nuclear brinkmanship should always be seen in its fear-inducing context. The oligarchs of the world are united as they seek to establish a regionalized, multipolar system of global governance that will rule the nation-states we live in. Our political leaders, wherever they exert their claimed authority, are wholly complicit with the oligarchs’ agenda. They are selling us all out as they vie for a better seat at the table while breaking our backs in their obsequious desire to polish it. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/25/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 26th, 2022

Whitehead: All The Ways In Which Our Rights Have Been Usurped

Whitehead: All The Ways In Which Our Rights Have Been Usurped Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” - Abraham Lincoln It’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation. We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news. It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail. So where does that leave us? Benjamin Franklin provided the answer. As the delegates to the Constitutional Convention trudged out of Independence Hall on September 17, 1787, an anxious woman in the crowd waiting at the entrance inquired of Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.” What Franklin meant, of course, is that when all is said and done, we get the government we deserve. Those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of its citizens. It is there to protect, defend and even enhance our freedoms, not violate them. Unfortunately, although the Bill of Rights was adopted as a means of protecting the people against government tyranny, in America today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned. “We the people” have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties. The bogeyman’s names and faces have changed over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, a viral pandemic, and more to come), but the end result remains the same: in the so-called name of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded with the support of Congress, the White House, and the courts. A recitation of the Bill of Rights—set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, vaccine mandates, lockdowns, and the like (all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, and the courts)—would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess. What we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Sadly, most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights. Here is what it means to live under the Constitution, twenty-plus years after 9/11 and with the nation just emerging from two years of COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates. The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone. Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being persecuted for exercising their First Amendment rights and speaking out against government corruption. Activists are being arrested and charged for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a so-called government forum. The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against red flag gun laws, militarized police, SWAT team raids, and government agencies armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited to the battlefield. The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with heavily armed SWAT teams, military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil. The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or encroaching on your private property unless they have evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of governmental police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance (corporate and otherwise), and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors. The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights. The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that “we the people” retain the power to ultimately determine what laws are just. The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether. The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so. As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts. Thus, if there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded. It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.” As the Preamble proclaims: We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America. In other words, it’s our job to make the government play by the rules of the Constitution. We are supposed to be the masters and they—the government and its agents—are the servants. We the American people—the citizenry—are supposed to be the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity. Still, it’s hard to be a good citizen if you don’t know anything about your rights or how the government is supposed to operate. As the National Review rightly asks, “How can Americans possibly make intelligent and informed political choices if they don’t understand the fundamental structure of their government? American citizens have the right to self-government, but it seems that we increasingly lack the capacity for it.” Americans are constitutionally illiterate. Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights. And our educational system does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For instance, a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that a little more than one-third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, while another one-third (35 percent) could not name a single one. A survey by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that only one out of a thousand adults could identify the five rights protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, more than half (52%) of the respondents could name at least two of the characters in the animated Simpsons television family, and 20% could name all five. And although half could name none of the freedoms in the First Amendment, a majority (54%) could name at least one of the three judges on the TV program American Idol, 41% could name two and one-fourth could name all three. It gets worse. Many who responded to the survey had a strange conception of what was in the First Amendment. For example, a startling number of respondents believed that the “right to own a pet” and the “right to drive a car” were part of the First Amendment. Another 38% believed that “taking the Fifth” was part of the First Amendment. Teachers and school administrators do not fare much better. A study conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis found that one educator in five was unable to name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment. Government leaders and politicians are also ill-informed. Although they take an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution against “enemies foreign and domestic,” their lack of education about our fundamental rights often causes them to be enemies of the Bill of Rights. So what’s the solution? Thomas Jefferson recognized that a citizenry educated on “their rights, interests, and duties”  is the only real assurance that freedom will survive. As Jefferson wrote in 1820: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of our society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” From the President on down, anyone taking public office should have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and should be held accountable for upholding their precepts. One way to ensure this would be to require government leaders to take a course on the Constitution and pass a thorough examination thereof before being allowed to take office. Some critics are advocating that students pass the United States citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school. Others recommend that it must be a prerequisite for attending college. I’d go so far as to argue that students should have to pass the citizenship exam before graduating from grade school. Here’s an idea to get educated and take a stand for freedom: anyone who signs up to become a member of The Rutherford Institute gets a wallet-sized Bill of Rights card and a Know Your Rights card. Use this card to teach your children the freedoms found in the Bill of Rights. A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to do more than grouse and complain. As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, “we the people” have the power to make and break the government. The powers-that-be want us to remain divided over politics, hostile to those with whom we disagree politically, and intolerant of anyone or anything whose solutions to what ails this country differ from our own. They also want us to believe that our job as citizens begins and ends on Election Day. Yet there are 330 million of us in this country. Imagine what we could accomplish if we actually worked together, presented a united front, and spoke with one voice. Tyranny wouldn't stand a chance. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/14/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 15th, 2022

The army Putin spent 2 decades building has been largely destroyed in Ukraine, and Russia"s "strategic defeat" could threaten his regime

"You're starting to see rumblings — both on TV and at the local grassroots level — of discontent with his leadership," one expert told Insider. Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the hall during the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum, on September 7, 2022 in Vladivostok, Russia.Getty Images Russia's military will have to be rebuilt as a result of the war in Ukraine, experts say.  The war has "dramatically" altered perceptions of Russia's military strength, one expert told Insider. Putin's regime could also now be in jeopardy, as it faces rare examples of dissent.  Over the roughly two decades that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power, he's dedicated a lot of time and money to building up and modernizing Russia's military. In the process, Putin garnered a reputation as a force to be reckoned with and was widely viewed as one of the most powerful leaders in the world. But the war in Ukraine has decimated the Russian military that Putin spent years building, while raising questions about his grip on power, Russia experts and military analysts told Insider. "Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been a strategic defeat. So far the Kremlin has not been able to achieve its strategic level objectives and it has incurred significant costs. Russia's military is going to have to be rebuilt," George Barros, a military analyst with the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), told Insider."The conventional ground army ground force that the Kremlin has spent the last two decades on creating — seeking to create a modern military — that force has been just largely degraded and in a large part destroyed in the past six months of war in Ukraine," Barros added. "It's very true to say that the conventional Russian ground force has taken a significant beating in Ukraine. It will have to be rebuilt."Though it's difficult to confirm death tolls with the fighting ongoing, US military estimates last month put Russian casualties as high as 80,000. Among the dead have been senior officers, including generals.  Barros said that it will likely take "a generation to recreate" the Russian officer corps, which is "definitely going to have a long-term strategic impact on the net assessment for Russia's conventional military."And though Putin has so far avoided declaring a general mobilization to make up for significant troop losses in Ukraine, the Russian leader in August ordered the military to increase its ranks by 137,000 starting in 2023, an ambitious goal seen by some as unachievable and one of many signs that the Russian military is being hollowed out by the war in Ukraine.A recent intelligence update from the British defense ministry said that the elite 1st Guards Tank Army and other Western Military District units have suffered heavy casualties, indicating that "Russia's conventional force designed to counter NATO is severely weakened." The ministry added that "it will likely take years for Russia to rebuild this capability."The Russian military has also seen the damage, destruction, and abandonment of astonishing amounts of equipment in Ukraine. It is estimated to have lost thousands of armored vehicles since the war began in late February. These losses have forced the Russian military to resort to pulling obsolete, Soviet-era equipment, such as T-62 tanks, out of storage.A destroyed Russian main battle tank rusts next to the main highway into the city on May 20, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.Christopher Furlong/Getty Images'Not nearly as powerful as we thought'Russia's military has generally been ranked as the second most powerful in the world — surpassed only by the US.But Russia's disastrous performance in the Ukraine war is "going to change the assessment of Russia's military strength dramatically," Robert Orttung, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University whose research focuses on Russia and Ukraine, told Insider.The Russian military is "not nearly as powerful as we thought it was," he said.A few years ago, Russia appeared to be winning the war in Syria and "Russian strategy seemed to be outsmarting Western strategy in the Middle East," Orttung said, and it provided a major boost to Moscow's propaganda about its military strength. "A lot of their ability to make their propaganda effective was based on their actual battlefield prowess, which seemed to be quite strong in place like Syria," Orttung said. "Now, basically unable to achieve their goals, unable to show that there's integration between the guys fighting on the ground, the air force, and the other units — it's definitely going to knock them down. The fact that they haven't been winning in the field is going to make their propaganda much less effective."Before the invasion began, Russia was expected to conquer Kyiv in a matter of days. But Ukrainian forces, with the help of Western-supplied military equipment, put up a far stiffer resistance than Moscow anticipated. Russia's forces failed to take the Ukrainian capital and instead turned their attention to the eastern Donbas region. Though a war had raged in that region between Kremlin-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces since 2014 — the same year that Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea — Russia only made gradual progress in its campaign to take over the Donbas. Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in recent days, pushing the Russian forces into retreat and retaking an astonishing amount of territory in the country's south and east. The Ukrainian government said its forces have recaptured around 3,000 square miles in September so far.Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor head Anna Popova at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 14, 2022.GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images'Wouldn't write off Putin now'Between devastating troop losses and Russia's forces now being on the run, Putin is in an increasingly precarious position."Strength is the only source of Putin's legitimacy," Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Putin, told the New York Times. "And in a situation in which it turns out that he has no strength, his legitimacy will start dropping toward zero." Gallyamov told the Times that if Ukrainian forces "continue to destroy the Russian army as actively as they are now," then it could "accelerate" calls from elites for Putin's successor to be chosen. Some Russia watchers now believe Putin's regime is in jeopardy. Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, on Wednesday tweeted, "Putin overreached in Ukraine. It's the beginning of the end for Putinism in Russia."Local Russian lawmakers are calling for Putin to be removed from power over Ukraine, taking the potentially fatal risk of openly criticizing a leader with a reputation for ruthlessly squashing dissent. Even the Kremlin's propagandists on Russian state media are struggling to continue offering positive assessments of how the war is going. "You're starting to see rumblings — both on TV and at the local grassroots level — of discontent with his leadership and a realization that the war is not going in Russia's favor," Orttung said. Taken together, Orttung said these developments "raise question marks about [Putin's] image among the people and his ability to exert that image of competence."Despite such challenges, and the damage done to perceptions of Russia's strength, Orttung is not convinced that this is the end for Putin."I wouldn't write off Putin now," he said. "A lot of people, including me, have been predicting he's going to leave power or his demise is imminent. But he does have a lot of strengths — the main strength being that he's eliminated any possible, reputable alternative to him." "It's not clear who would replace him and all the people around him — they depend on him being in power for their own power. They have a stake in him staying there. And he survived more than 22 years fighting in a quite difficult environment, which is the Russian political scene," Orttung added, underscoring that "most of the elites think that they're probably better off with Putin there."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 14th, 2022

Modern American Policy: Stupid Or Sinister?

Modern American Policy: Stupid Or Sinister? Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via, American policy has been acting in ways which suggest either a desperate ignorance or a sinister restructuring of the national narrative. Surveying the Senseless The USA is now staring down the barrel of four-decade high inflation, an inverted yield curve and the highest debt levels in its history as Wall Street recently enjoyed the strongest relief rally since 2020 on the bad news of yet another Fed rate hike (75bp) into a percolating liquidity crisis. Huh? In a Fed-led dystopia marked by years of printed rather than earned liquidity, bad news is now good news to markets who nervously seek pretexts for central bank stimulus rather than actual earnings or GDP. In such distorted landscapes, positive jobs data creates sell offs and crippling rate hikes induce rising stocks. For almost 2 years, while we and other candid market observers were warning of crippling inflation, our central bankers were describing it as “transitory” with a dishonesty similar to the current recession is not a recession meme. Huh? Meanwhile in DC, we see growing signs of a political culture less about public service and more about self-service. Wealth disparity in the home of the brave has passed the highest levels ever recorded and points directly to the slow and empirical death of the American middle class. The suburbs around DC are growing richer with lobbyist and polo-playing defense contractors buying concessions and second homes from politicians who openly sell votes for reelection in a democracy that more resembles an auction house than a house of representation. A former tobacco tsar at the FDA, for example, recently took an executive role at Phillip Morris while an executive at Raytheon (America’s second largest defense contractor) just took a key post at the Department of Defense. Alas, the foxes not only guard the hen house, they run it. The Land of the Free? If fascism is defined as “the perfect merger of the state and corporate powers” (See Mussolini circa 1936), then the USA may still be the land of the brave, but it no longer resembles the land of the free. JP Morgan, led by a $35M/year Jamie Dimon, just paid a $96M “fine” for a $20B profit garnered from openly manipulating the gold market. Huh? At the same time, once great (and now police-defunded) cities like Chicago, NYC, and San Francisco are seeing tumbleweeds blowing past office vacancy rates as high as 40% following an historically disastrous COVID lockdown policy which did far more psychological, criminal and financial damage ($7T and counting) to America than a flu with less than a 1% Case Fatality Rate. Huh? Turning to foreign policies, having failed to deliver “freedom and democracy” to Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan at the cost of America’s best sons and daughters, one wonders why the US has spent another $60B to bring “freedom” to the Ukraine when millions of US children live in poverty. All Americans hate to see civilians suffer in needless wars. But many who blindly wave Ukrainian flags in moments of ad-water, instant-virtue signaling from a government-led media can’t place Ukraine on a map nor bother to examine the complex history of its Russian tensions which date back to the 1750s. Furthermore, sending an IQ, history and geography challenged Kamila Harris to pre-war Ukraine with a NATO narrative only accelerated the February drums of war (and the financially disastrous sanctions that followed) in the same way that Pelosi’s recent trip to Taiwan seems to be more about flaming rather than cooling the war hawks. Does the US, with over 800 military bases in 70 countries actively seek war, or does it seek peace? Thousands are dying in the East for what many professional US statesmen believe was an easily avoidable war. Has the military industrial complex, against which Eisenhower (no stranger to war) warned in January of 1961, hi-jacked American politics? Meanwhile, as American monetary and fiscal policy reached new levels of open insanity in the seemingly deliberate fear-campaign led by “experts” like Fauci in the dramatically-described “war against COVID,” the latest boogieman out of DC is an equally unaffordable war against an equally-hyped climate change. If passed, “The Inflation Adjustment Act of 2022,” now sitting on Biden’s desk (or pillow), seeks further dollars that America does not earn yet which the White House assures won’t be inflationary. Huh? Do the foregoing samples of questionable policy failures evidence open stupidity, or is there something more systemic at play? The Fed: “Advancing the Few at the Expense of the Many” My take on the Fed is only that: My take. It is based upon the premise (and bias) that the Fed is driven, as Andrew Jackson warned, to serve the few and not the many. This presumption comes not only from personal observations, but a careful study of the Fed’s illegitimate practices and origins, far too complex to unpack here but detailed in Gold Matters. The Ongoing Inflation Lie As I’ve been writing and saying for months, the Fed’s current inflation narrative as well as “solution” is as openly bogus as a 42nd Street Rolex. There is little about the current inflation narrative that compares to the 1970’s, and hence little about Powell’s current policies which remotely compare to the so-called Volcker era of 1980, which ended, by the way, in a recession. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by the extensive time, brain-power and pundit attention given to explaining current inflation. Fancy concepts from “demand-pull” to “supply shocks,” or “extraneous shocks” and “accelerants” to even “black swans” are used to explain a 9.1% CPI inflation scale (which, if DC truly wishes to be “Volcker-like,” is closer to 18% using the metrics of his era…). The Simple Inflation Truth Inflation, which was already steadily rising pre-Putin and percolating pre-COVID, is nothing more than the direct consequence of USD debasement driven by: 1) years of openly addictive mouse-click money (>10X since 2008) from the Eccles Building and, 2) fatal fiscal spending from the White House, be it red or blue. In just the last 24 months, the Fed created 50% more mouse-click money than all the money that ever existed in the 256 years of its national existence. Such numbers are a tad “inflationary,” no? Alas, costs are rising because our grotesquely inflated/de-valued dollar is tanking. Between 1776 and the un-immaculate conception of the Fed in 1913, a USD was once a USD. Since 1913, however, a USD is really (worth) nothing more than a Nickle. Why? Broken Faith vs. Store of Value Because when a central bank creates trillions of those dollars out of thin air with no link to an underlying real asset or an equivalent exchange for a good or service (as Germans like Alfred Lansburgh, Austrians like von Mises and Americans like Andrew Dickson White argued), that dollar is nothing more than a symbol of broken faith rather than a store of genuine value. Like a glass of wine filled with a swimming pool of water, the dollar is diluted; it’s flavor, color and value ruined. Since 1971, and when measured against a single milligram of gold, the USD, like all other fiat currencies, has lost greater than 95% of its value. The Fed: Blaming vs. Accountability Rather than confess the toxic reality (and complicity) of the fatal and inflationary expansion of the broad money supply, the DC elites first tried to call it “transitory,” and when that failed, they tried to call it “Putin’s inflation.” Really? There’s no doubt that the sanctions against Putin sent gas prices and the CPI higher—especially in Europe. And there’s also no doubt that the trillions of fiscal and monetary dollars used to “fight” COVID were CPI tailwinds. But a tailwind does not mean a cause. Take the “war on COVID” and the $7T+ in combined fiscal and monetary dollars used to combat it. I’m not here to end the COVID debate with medicine or science, of which I’m clearly no expert. But many of us (including Rand Paul or Christine Anderson) would agree that neither was Fauci, the CDC, the WHO or the NIH. Almost everyone (vaxed or un-vaxed, masked or un-masked) has already caught the virus; it’s fairly clear that locking the country down for well over a year did nothing but cost money and freedoms while destroying businesses who deserved to choose for themselves whether to stay open or shut. There will be others who disagree, but in my legally, historically and financially educated mind, not since the oxy-moronic Patriot Act have I seen a greater crime (or psy op) against a nation’s own citizens and their once inalienable rights and civil liberties as that which was embodied by the 2020 lockdowns. As Ben Franklin warned, a nation which surrenders its freedoms in the name of security deserves neither. Critical Thinking Locked Down As a kid who won athletic scholarships to some of the finest schools (from Choate to Harvard) in America, I learned the trade of critical thinking, which any of us can acquire, with or without a shiny diploma. What particularly sickened me, however, was that the very schools (prep to grad level) who taught me the history, laws and methods of thinking critically, independently and openly, were the same knee-bending schools who collectively insulted those same principals by shutting their doors to the un-vaxed and censoring alternative views from professors and students who thought differently. Were these lockdowns proof of humanitarian concern or were they test-drives for increasingly centralized control over national and international markets, currencies and populations? From the very beginning of the pandemic, expert virologists, physicians and even vaccine creators (as evidenced by the meetings at the AIER in Great Barrington) with equal if not far superior credentials than Dr. Fauci, were openly censored, gas-lighted and criminalized by the media as flat-earth “conspiracy theorists”—the now favorite term of art for anyone who disagrees with DC’s often comically official narrative on anything from WMD to the current definition of a recession. Thus, when considering the current inflation narrative and its causes, was the US merely stupid in imposing financially crippling lockdowns or were there sinister forces engineering fear as a means of pushing the masses into dependency while the Fed printed more dollars for the repo and bond markets (a hidden “bailout’) than for Main Street? Saudi Did It? Others may want to blame the Saudis and the high oil prices for the inflation we see today. It’s worth reminding, however, that today’s oil price is roughly the same as it was in April of 2020. The Solution Narrative As far as combatting inflation, that too creates a great deal of space for debate, error and comedy. Many, including the Fed’s James Bullard, Lael Brainard or Neel Kashkari have been arguing for aggressive rate hikes to kill inflation. But with inflation already at 9.1%, such “above-neutral” would require the Fed to follow the IMF’s recommendation that interest rates be at least 1% above inflation rates. In an honest world, that would require a 10.1% interest rate policy, which would immediately bankrupt Uncle Sam. Instead, Powell is boasting of an “aggressive” 2.25-50% Fed Fund Rates to fight 9.1% inflation, the policy equivalent of storming the beaches of Normandy with squirt-guns. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Fed, as per my recent articles, is using dishonest math to publicly claim positive 1% real rates despite the fact that when measuring even a 3% yield on the 10Y UST against a 9.1% inflation rate, the USA is in fact living in a world of at least -6% rather than +1% real rates. Like the CPI scale itself, the Fed is openly lying about negative real rates. Sadly, such clever math is now the new DC normal. The Fed won’t say what the rest of us know, namely: The only tool to fight Fed-made inflation is a Fed-made recession, which they will deny in plain sight. The Recession Narrative The latest lie from on high, of course, is the valiant attempt by Powell, Biden and Yellen to downplay 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP as a non-recessionary “transition” despite such data effectively confirming the very definition of a recession. Instead, DC would now have us believe that positive labor and unemployment data is non-recessionary. In particular, the BLS is boasting 528,000 newly created jobs in July (and 2M year-to-date), which places US unemployment at an admirable 3.5%, the lowest level seen in 50 years. Unfortunately, a little bit of honest math indicates that those “new jobs” don’t represent new folks finding work, but sadly, just folks already-employed who are taking on second or third jobs to survive rising inflation costs. The July labor force participation rate actually went down, which means there are less not more people in the work force. In April of 2019, I did a more extensive report on the DC math used to artificially puff US labor data (U3 and U6) which is far worse than officially reported. But who needs real math or honest data when DC’s comforting words feel so much better? Such consistent trends of sanctioned dishonesty, however, force us to question the intelligence and desperation of our so-called “leadership.” From Fake Math to Real Wars I’ve written and spoken extensively about the avoid-ability of the war in Ukraine as well as the foreseeable stupidity of the Western sanctions against Putin, all of which have empirically backfired at every level– from the slow collapse of the petrodollar (and hence USD) to the slow rise of a stronger, Eastern-lead trading block among the BRICS. The petrodollar is no laughing matter. Since de-coupling from the gold standard, the US relies on the forced global purchase of oil in US Dollars to prevent this already debased currency from losing even more demand, and hence value and power. Only two global leaders have since tried to stand up to the petrodollar power in the past. Saddam Hussein wanted to buy oil in euros and Khaddaffi wanted to buy oil in gold; and just look what happened to them… Unfortunately for the US, both China and Russia have nuclear weapons. Hence, the US playbook of fighting wars or indirectly eliminating leaders to keep its financial interests secure got a little bit messier this February when poking at Putin. The Dollar Fairytale: Another Open Lie from On High Despite openly objective evidence of an increasingly unloved USD, DC continues to boast of the relative strength of the USD on the DXY. What DC won’t say, however, is that this “strength” is only measured against a tanking yen and euro, two debt-soaked currencies who don’t have enough reserve currency clout to afford a currency-boosting rate hike. Against the Chinese Yuan, however, the US has less of which to boast… In short, the USD is anything but strong. As discussed above, its inherent purchasing power has been neutered by over a century of devaluation and is little more than the best horse in the Western glue factory. Profitable War Drums Given the failings and open lies above, from inflation realism and recessionary word-smithing to dying currencies and rising, unpayable debts, why on earth would the US now be saber rattling over the Ukraine or pinching the Chinese bear over Taiwan? Is it to spread democracy and freedom by helping the underdog, whatever the sacrifice? Well, one of our most famous underdogs, military generals and presidents, George Washington, warned over 2 centuries ago to precisely avoid such foreign entanglements. “Truly enlightened and independent patriots,” he argued, focused on prosperity within their borders not peripheral wars outside them. Despite such warnings, the US has spent a lot of time fighting outside its borders rather building unity within them. Why? One sad but empirically proven argument is that war is historically good for tanking GDP and struggling stock markets. In March of 2018, I penned an eerily prescient analysis of how US stocks love global war, and warned of escalations against Russia and China. In particular, I addressed the historical data of the “war dividend,” which tracked US markets reacting favorably to de-stabilization outside its borders. Thus, even if Generals Washington and Eisenhower warned against such conflicts, Wall Street and the defense contractors who lobby DC love a good war. Why? Because war feeds US markets. Conflicts overseas create massive capital flows into the relative safety of the US. During the Iraq War, hundreds of billions in Middle Eastern assets rushed into US markets while NATO bombs landed in Iraq. Between 2003 and 2008, the Dow rose steadily upwards. During the Vietnam War (which killed 58,000 Americans and 1.2 million Vietnamese), the Dow gained 53%. When the war ended, the markets promptly fell, and fell hard. During the Great War of 1914-1918, the Dow nearly doubled. As for WW2, the Dow rose by 164% between Pearl Harbor in 1941 and VJ day in 1945. Given such numbers, was the recent idea of sending a kindergarten-level intellect like Kamila Harris to negotiate peace (?) with Putin in early 2022 deliberately set up to fail? Was Pelosi’s recent flight to Taiwan a commitment to ensure freedom? Or is there a more sinister, yet hidden, motive to push for war in a time of economic disaster at home? Is America Heading in the Opposite Direction of Its Founding Fathers? History confirms that every debt crisis leads to a financial crisis, a market crisis, a currency crisis, social unrest, a political crisis, and ultimately extreme authoritarian and centralized control from the far political left of right. Given how increasingly centralized our openly broken yet centrally controlled markets, economies and politics have become, and given the acceleration and scope of the open lies, backfiring polices and unpayable costs and debts which have emerged in the post-COVID and post-sanction new normal, is it possible that the USA is headed toward a similarly authoritarian fate? Is it possible that the by ignoring the clear warnings of figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin and Dwight Eisenhower, that America is heading in the opposite direction of its founding principles? Is it possible that the openly failing inflation, recessionary, domestic and foreign polices listed above are more than just a list of stupid mistakes, but indicators of a set-up for something more sinister? Are our markets, economies, currencies and individual freedoms being sacrificed to the altar of order, control, safety and security? Is DC creating an intentional class of American lords and serfs, in which the former hand out stimulus checks to prevent the later from reaching for pitch forks? As we learned in the Europe of the 1930’s or the lockdowns of the 2020’s, fear (be it viral, militant or economic) is a potent tool of control—it turns revolutionary anger into malleable subservience. Just a thought. Tyler Durden Thu, 08/11/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 12th, 2022

21 fascinating books being adapted to movies and shows this year that you should read first, from "The Summer I Turned Pretty" to the "Game of Thrones" prequel

Read the books before seeing actors such as Florence Pugh, Ana de Armas, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert De Niro bring the stories to life. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Read the books before catching their screen adaptations starring actors like Dakota Johnson, Florence Pugh, Ana de Armas, and more.Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider Every year, beloved books and series get turned into movies and TV shows. Below are 21 popular books that will be released as a movie or TV series in 2022. Need more reading suggestions? Here are 19 new books to read in 2022, based on your favorite TV show Part of the joy of digging into a great new book is knowing that you'll be rewarded with hours of enjoyment. If it's one of the increasingly numerous books adapted for the big screen or a series (possibly with a stacked cast à la "Big Little Lies"), you can double the fun by reading them first.Below, you'll find 21 well-loved books slated to be released as a show or movie in 2022 (and some recent releseases), plus where to find them. Big premieres run the genre gamut, from new works in the "The Lord of the Rings" and "A Game of Thrones" universes to Sally Rooney's "Conversations with Friends."  While book adaptations can help launch lesser-known actors' careers, you might see some of your favorite big names this year: "Daisy Edgar-Jones in "Where The Crawdads Sing," Dakota and Elle Fanning in "The Nightingale," Florence Pugh in "The Wonder," Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in "Blonde," and more. 21 books to read before they become movies or TV shows in 2022:Descriptions provided by Amazon and edited for length and clarity."Pachinko" by Min Jin LeeAmazonFormat: Series (Apple TV+), starring Lee Min-Ho, Jin Ha, Jung Eun-chae, Youn Yuh-jung, and moreRelease date: March 25, 2022"There could only be a few winners — and a lot of losers. And yet, we played on because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones."In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generationsRichly told and profoundly moving, "Pachinko" is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters — strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis — survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history."Anatomy of a Scandal" by Sarah VaughanAmazonFormat: Series (Netflix), starring Sienna Miller, Rupert Friend, Michelle Dockery, and moreRelease date: April 15, 2022Some people's secrets are darker than others.Sophie Whitehouse has a lovely home, two adorable children, and a handsome, successful husband. In other words, she has the "perfect" life. But everything changes the night her husband James comes home and confesses an indiscretion. Suddenly, her neat, ordered world is turned upside down. Did she ever really know the man she married?And, as it turns out, James's revelation is just the tip of the iceberg. He stands accused of a terrible crime. But, the truth is even more shocking than anyone ever could have thought. Is James the guilty perpetrator or an innocent victim of a toxic agenda?"Heartstopper" by Alice OsemanAmazonFormat: Series (Netflix), starring Kit Connor, Joe Locke, Yasmin Finney, and moreRelease date: April 22, 2022Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they've never met... until one day when they're made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance.But, love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realized."The Shining Girls" by Lauren BeukesAmazonFormat: Series (Apple TV+), starring Elisabeth Moss, Wagner Moura, Phillipa Soo, Chris Chalk, and moreRelease date: April 29, 2022Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future. Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens onto other times.At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of these shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He's the ultimate hunter, vanishing without a trace into another time after each murder — until one of his victims survives.Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on an impossible truth…"Conversations With Friends" by Sally RooneyAmazonFormat: Series (BBC, Hulu), starring Joe Alwyn, Jemima Kirke, Sasha Lane, Alison Oliver, and moreRelease date: May 15, 2022Frances is a cool-headed and darkly observant young woman vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend and comrade-in-arms is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, Frances and Bobbi catch the eye of Melissa, a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into Melissa's world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman's sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband, Nick. However amusing and ironic Frances and Nick's flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy, and Frances' friendship with Bobbi begins to fracture. As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally, terribly, with Bobbi."The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey NiffeneggerAmazonFormat: Series (HBO), starring Rose Leslie, Theo James, Kate Siegel, and moreRelease date: May 15, 2022A most untraditional love story, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate."The Summer I Turned Pretty" by Jenny HanAmazonFormat: Series (Amazon), starring Lola Tung, Jackie Chung, Rachel Blanchard, Christopher Briney, and moreRelease date: June 17, 2022Some summers are just destined to be pretty.Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They're the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer— they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer — one wonderful and terrible summer — the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along."Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia OwensAmazonFormat: Movie, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, and moreRelease date: July 15, 2022For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens."Persuasion" by Jane AustenAmazonFormat: Movie (Netflix), starring Cosmo Jarvis, Dakota Johnson, Henry Golding, and moreRelease date: July 15, 2022Jane Austen's "Persuasion" concerns Anne Elliot, a young Englishwoman of 27 years, whose family moves to lower their expenses and reduce their debt by renting their home to an Admiral and his wife. The wife's brother, Navy Captain Frederick Wentworth, was engaged to Anne in 1806, but the engagement was broken when Anne was "persuaded" by her friends and family to end their relationship. Anne and Captain Wentworth, both single and unattached, meet again after a seven-year separation, setting the scene for many humorous encounters as well as a second, well-considered chance at love and marriage for Anne in her second "bloom.""Bullet Train" by Kotaro IsakaAmazonFormat: Movie, starring Brad Pitt, Joey King, Hiroyuki Sanada, and moreRelease date: August 5, 2022Satoshi — The Prince — looks like an innocent schoolboy but is really a stylish and devious assassin. Risk fuels him, as does a good philosophical debate, such as questioning: Is killing really wrong? Kimura's young son is in a coma thanks to The Prince, and Kimura has tracked him onto a bullet train heading from Tokyo to Morioka to exact his revenge. But Kimura soon discovers that they are not the only dangerous passengers on board.Nanao, also nicknamed Ladybug, the self-proclaimed "unluckiest assassin in the world," is put on the bullet train by his boss, a mysterious young woman called Maria, to steal a suitcase full of money and get off at the first stop. The lethal duo of Tangerine and Lemon are also traveling to Morioka, and the suitcase leads others to show their hands. Why are they all on the same train, and who will make it off alive?"Fire & Blood" by George R.R. MartinAmazonFormat: Series (HBO), starring Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy, Matt Smith, and moreRelease date: August 21, 2022Centuries before the events of "A Game of Thrones," House Targaryen — the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria — took up residence on Dragonstone. "Fire & Blood" begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart."The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. TolkienAmazonFormat: Series (Amazon), starring Robert Aramayo, Morfydd Clark, Markella Kavenagh, and moreRelease date: September 2, 2022"The Lord of the Rings," J.R.R. Tolkien's three-volume epic, is set in the imaginary world of Middle-earth — home to many strange beings, and most notably hobbits, peace-loving "little people," cheerful and shy. Since its original British publication in 1954-55, the saga has entranced readers of all ages. It is at once a classic myth and a modern fairytale."Salem's Lot" by Stephen KingAmazonFormat: Movie, starring Lewis Pullman, Makenzie Leigh, William Sadler, and more Release date: September 9, 2022Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work.In fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town."Blonde" by Joyce Carol OatesAmazonFormat: Movie (Netflix), starring Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Sara Paxton, and moreRelease date: September 23, 2022In one of her most ambitious works, Joyce Carol Oates boldly reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker — the child, the woman, the fated celebrity, and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. In a voice startlingly intimate and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story of an emblematic American artist — intensely conflicted and driven — who had lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood's myth and an extraordinary woman's heartbreaking reality, "Blonde" is a sweeping epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great 20th-century American star."The School for Good and Evil" by Soman ChainaniAmazonFormat: Movie (Netflix), starring Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Jamie Flatters, and moreRelease date: September 2022With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed — Sophie's dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?"She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement" by Jodi Kantor and Megan TwoheyAmazonFormat: Movie, starring Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, Andre Braugher, and moreRelease date: November 18, 2022For many years, reporters had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women. Rumors of wrongdoing had long circulated. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power. During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees, and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed. Nothing could have prepared Kantor and Twohey for what followed the publication of their initial Weinstein story on October 5, 2017. Within days, a veritable Pandora's box of sexual harassment and abuse was opened. Women all over the world came forward with their own traumatic stories. Over the next 12 months, hundreds of men from every walk of life and industry were outed following allegations of wrongdoing. But did too much change — or not enough?"Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David GrannAmazonFormat: Movie (Apple TV+), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, and moreRelease date: November 2022In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.In this last remnant of the Wild West, many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than 24, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization's first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. Together with the Osage, they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. "The Nightingale" by Kristin HannahAmazonFormat: Movie, starring Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, and moreRelease date: December 23, 2022France, 1939 - In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything.Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious 18-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can… completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life to save others."Daisy Jones & the Six" by Taylor Jenkins ReidAmazonFormat: Series (Amazon), starring Riley Keough, Sam Claflin, Suki Waterhouse, Camila Morrone, and moreRelease date: 2022Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity… until now.Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it's the rock 'n' roll she loves most. By the time she's twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she's pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend."The Wonder" by Emma DonoghueAmazonFormat: Movie (Netflix), starring Niamh Algar, Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, and moreRelease date: 2022In this masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of "Room," an English nurse is brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle — a girl said to have survived without food for a month — and soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life."The Wonder" works beautifully on many levels — a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil."The Power" by Naomi AldermanAmazonFormat: Series (Amazon), starring Auliʻi Cravalho, John Leguizamo, Toheeb Jimoh, and moreRelease date: 2022In "The Power," the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family.But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effects. Teenage girls now have immense physical power: they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 19th, 2022

Ukraine: A New Narrative As Europe Unravels?

Ukraine: A New Narrative As Europe Unravels? Authored by Bill Blain via, “When Italy tells you it is irrevocably committed to the relationship, it’s time to hire divorce lawyers..” May markets are finishing on a dead-cat bounce – things could get more unstable through June. The outcomes in Ukraine are looking less favourable, and Europe will struggle with sanctions. The weakest link is unsurprisingly Italy. A bigger crisis in terms of famine will shortly become apparent in North Africa.   There is a famous song that suggests “things can only better”. What if they don’t? Europe failed to agree new sanctions on Russia over the weekend. Talks will continue this week, but Hungary is stalling about quitting Russian oil. Sanctions are one of the aspects of its’ non-statehood the EU needs unanimity upon. The US is closed today. Stocks bounced back last week, but it had the whiff of a deceased feline. I suspect May 2022 will still go down as the month the Market Bubble popped. It’s easy to blame Central Banks for not acting earlier to hike rates to combat inflation. Hah. Their attempts to paint inflation as transitory now look laughable – but the reality is there is little central banks could have done earlier to combat galloping inflation pressures and inflationary shocks from sweeping across the economy. All they can do now is go with the flow and try to moderate the effects of the inflation tsunami: higher raw material and commodity prices, higher transport costs, higher energy costs, higher producer prices and, coming soon, rising social unrest and strikes as pay demands heat up. Worse is yet to come. Next month the UK will be effectively closed as the rail workers strike. Germany and France are both heading towards industrial relations crisis as the unions demand large wage hikes which could further crush their already lethargic economies. Policy is in disarray. In Germany, the government has given into demands for a massive hike in minimum wages. In the UK, Rishi Sunak is belatedly learning that popular chancellors garner popularity from giving away money. Trying to take it back… less so. He looks like he’s been bounced into the Windfall tax and consumer energy handouts – with the Labour Party looking likely to get much of the credit. Inflation, recession and negative growth are all on the cards. In such a situation its hardly surprising the temptation to try to lessen the economic damage being done across Europe by soaring energy prices on the back of Russian sanctions is rising. The edifice of a solid and united Europe standing firm behind the plucky Ukrainians is only a couple of microns deep. There is a very real chance it will crack in the coming weeks. June could be the month it happens and becomes apparent, potentially making a bad situation dramatically worse. The news out of Ukraine is not good. Russia has a history of starting wars badly. The parallel everyone cites is the Winter War against Finland in 1940. They lost thousands of men unprepared for winter or the Finns, were forced to retreat before effectively starting again and forcing Helsinki to concede. There is no doubt the Russians have taken a pasting in Ukraine as a result of flawed intelligence, the corruption of the FSB (where the team charged with a $2 bln hearts and minds campaign simply trousered the money themselves), and a lack of logistics planning. Umpteen generals later, and they are learning the hard way. They are now focused. The recent advances in the Donbas are still plodding, costly, slow and utterly destructive, but they are being described as solid by the military commentators who know these things. The Ukrainians are exhausted after 3 months of intense conflict. Trying to keep the economy going, and harvest crops is a significant call on manpower. They are desperately short of basic war stocks. Much of the aid promised by the west has been delivered, but troops then need to be trained to use it when they are needed on the front lines. And, many weapons promised to Kyiv have simply not arrived or are so old and worn out as to be unusable. Ukraine needs more modern weapons now to simply to hold the line – but the West remains frightened of escalation. The pendulum is swinging to Moscow. After their initial surprise, befuddlement and lack of a war-plan, the Russians now see a way to win. If they can keep Ukrainian defending forces pinned in place on the Donbas lines, then there is the possibility of encircling them to win a massive propaganda victory. The alternative is for Ukraine is to retreat – giving up the ground they’ve held at such high cost since 2014 – which again would be a massive propaganda coup for Moscow. The Russians don’t care whether Ukraine retreats or suffers a battlefield defeat. It’s all about the optics and the narrative. If they can score a propaganda win, it will reinforce calls from Europe’s weak links for an immediate ceasefire and negotiated peace. Italy is the weak link. But, also watch Greece and Hungary. Since Putin jailed the FSB’s leadership for their light-fingered approach to Ukraine, their successors have been spending Russian’s black propaganda money more carefully, targeting Italian politicians and looking for delivery on the “special relationship” they’ve been paying for decades. Berlusconi has failed to directly criticise his good old buddy Putin, and even said in Naples: “Europe should try to persuade Ukraine to accept Putin’s demands”, before backtracking the statement. Matteo Salvini’s League has condemned the Russian invasion, but Salvini himself has not named Putin in any of his bland statements. Italian media has proved unwilling to challenge or counter many of the outrageous statements peddled by Moscow about their “special military operation” – appearing to give Putin’s mouthpiece Sergeio Lavrov as much credence as statements out of Kyiv. It reflects the ownership of the media, its closeness to political interests and the fact much of the Italian establishment finds itself kompromated. Italy’s Confindustria business group is forcasting a 2% hit to Italian GDP in the back of slowing gas imports from Russia. 40% of Italy’s gas comes from Russia. Attempts to negotiate new supply and sources will take years to deliver. How easy it would be to turn the gas taps on. The US and UK will be watching carefully – explaining the rising number of stories in Italy about US spies active against Italian interests. If Italy cracks, then what’s to stop the German’s following them, taking to opportunity to relight its industrial pre-eminence with Russian Gas? Whatever the stories and the narrative being spread about Putin being ill, or of regime change in Moscow, it all hear-say, and unlikely according to the spooks. That leaves the possibility of a less than committed Europe and the Russian narrative to the rest of the World (which is largely unbothered about Russia’s invasion of a European neighbour) that it’s fighting a defensive action against the bellicose Anglo-Saxons being strengthened. However, although the current ructions in Europe are all about Energy, that is likely to be overwhelmed in June as the North African food crisis becomes very real. Without Russian and Ukraine food exports, famine is pretty much nailed on, triggering political upheaval, and critically for Europe (Greece, Hungary and Italy) a renewed refugee crisis. In short, June is looking… troubling. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/30/2022 - 08:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 30th, 2022

Gave: The End Of The Unipolar Era

Gave: The End Of The Unipolar Era Authored by Louis-Vincent Gave via Gavekal Research, Investors today must deal with the effects of not one, but two wars, as my Gavekal-IS colleague Didier Darcet pointed out in April (see Tick,Tock Tick,Tock). The first is the one we can see playing out each day on our television screens, with all the tanks, deaths and human suffering. The second is a financial war, with the unprecedented weaponization of the Western banking system and Western currencies aimed at bringing Russia to its financial knees (see CYA As A Guiding Principle (2022)). To the surprise of most people in the West, resistance against both of these war efforts has proved far stronger than expected. Almost 11 weeks into the war on the ground in Ukraine, Russian troops still seem to be taking heavy losses for relatively small territorial gains. And a little over six weeks after US president Joe Biden boasted that the ruble had been “reduced to rubble” by Western sanctions, the Russian currency is close to a two-year high against the US dollar and near a post-Covid high against the euro. At this point, both the euro and the yen appear to be bigger casualties of the Ukraine war than the ruble. The US boast that the ruble had been “reduced to rubble” is looking premature  In this paper, I shall review the implications of this stronger-than-expected resistance - both on the battlefield and in the financial markets - and attempt to draw some salient conclusions for investors. The evolution of warfare In October 1893, some 6,000 highly-disciplined warriors of King Lobengula’s Ndebele army launched a night-time attack on a camp occupied by 700 British South Africa Company police near the Shangani river in what is now Zimbabwe. It was a massacre. The BSAC “police” killed more than 1,500 Ndebele for the loss of just four of their own men. A week later, they did it again, killing some 3,000 Ndebele warriors for just one policeman dead. These one-sided victories were not won by courage or superior discipline, but because the British were armed with five machine guns and the Ndebele had none. As Hillaire Belloc wrote in The Modern Traveller: “Whatever happens, we have got / The Maxim gun, and they have not”. The technological superiority of the machine gun allowed Britain, and France, Germany and Belgium, to subjugate almost all of Africa, even though outnumbered by the Zulu, Dervish, Herero, Masai and even Boer forces they opposed. All were rendered helpless by the machine gun’s firepower. I revisit this ancient history to illustrate how military technology is a lynchpin of the geopolitical balance. Dominance of military technology is also a key factor underpinning the strength and resilience of a reserve currency. Today, one of the main reasons why Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others keep so much of their reserves in US dollars is that the US is widely regarded as being a generation (if not more) ahead of the competition in the design and production of smart bombs, anti-missile systems, fighter jets and naval frigates. In short, the superiority of US weaponry has been one of the principal factors underpinning the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. However, recent events raise important questions about whether the US can retain this superiority. In September 2019, drones allegedly deployed by Yemeni Houthi forces took out the Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq. Between late September and early November 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The conflict ended in near-total victory for the Azeris. This result stunned the military world. Observers had assumed that Armenia, with a bigger army, larger air force, more up-to-date anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, and a history of Russian support, would easily triumph. But all Armenia’s expensively-acquired military “advantages” were quickly taken out in the early days of the fighting by Azerbaijan using Turkish-made drones costing no more than US$1mn each. On successive occasions between March 2021 and March 2022, Houthi drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil facilities, notably the giant terminal at Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf. In December 2021, Turkish-made drones allowed the Ethiopian government to tip the balance in a civil war that until then had been going badly for government forces. In January 2022, Houthi drones hit oil facilities in the UAE.  Now, imagine being Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Over the years you have spent tens, if not hundreds, of billions of US dollars purchasing anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems from the US. Now, you see relatively cheap drones penetrating these defense systems like a hot knife through butter. This has to be frustrating. What is the point of spending up to US$340mn on an F-35c (and US$2mn on pilot training), or US$200mn on an anti-aircraft system, if these can be taken out by drones at a fraction of the cost? This evolution in warfare may help to explain the impressive resilience of the Ukrainian army in the face of Russia’s onslaught. When the Russian troops marched into Ukraine, consensus opinion was that the Ukrainian forces would crumble before the Russian military juggernaut. It is always hard to know what is happening on the ground amid the fog of war. But judging by the number of tanks destroyed, warships sunk and the apparent failure of the Russian air force to establish control over Ukraine’s skies, it seems the invasion of Ukraine is proving far more costly in terms of blood and treasure than Russian president Vladimir Putin had imagined. Could this be because Putin failed to factor the impact of drones into his military outlook? It may be premature to jump to that conclusion. But judging from afar, it appears inexpensive Turkish drones have helped level the battlefield in the Ukrainian-Russian David versus Goliath confrontation— the biggest and bloodiest on European soil since World War II. This helps to explain why the US military assistance package for Ukraine Biden announced this month included 700 Switchblade drones. These are surprisingly cheap—the Switchblade 300 reportedly carries a price tag as low as US$6,000—yet highly effective. In essence, they are single-use kamikaze drones. Apparently, they fly faster than the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones that the Ukrainians, like the Azeris before them, have used to such devastating effect. This suggests the Switchblades should be able to evade the air defenses that Russia has attempted to maintain over its troops. The US military deployed Switchblades sparingly in Afghanistan, so it is hard to know whether these will perform as billed in combat conditions. But before this shipment to Ukraine, only the UK was permitted to purchase Switchblades. This implies that the Pentagon considers the Switchblade a valuable and potent weapon. David Petraeus, the former Central Intelligence Agency director who, as a four star general, commanded the US campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, singled out the weapon in a recent interview with historian Niall Ferguson: “I’ll mention one item in particular: the Switchblade drone. It’s a loitering munition that takes a one-way trip. The light version can loiter for 15 to 20 minutes. Heavy version, 30 to 40 minutes with a range of at least 40 km. The operator selects a target, it locks on and it follows. Then it strikes when the operator gives that order. This is extraordinarily effective because you can’t hear it on the ground. The first time the enemy knows it’s there is when it blows up. If we can get enough of those into Ukraine, they could be a true game-changer.” However, I digress. Returning to the discussion about why drones might matter for financial markets: 1) If ever-cheaper and more readily available drones are going to revolutionize war, much as the Maxim gun did 140 years ago, then it is questionable whether it still makes sense to invest in tanks, airplanes, anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems. If it does not, what does this mean for the value of the large, listed death-merchants? Cheap drones are bad news for the stocks of defense giants Historically, buying the merchants of death after a big rally in oil made sense, if only because so much of the world’s high-end weapon consumption occurs in the Middle East. But in the world of tomorrow, will Middle Eastern oil kingdoms still line up to buy multibillion US dollar systems from Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed and the like, if those systems are vulnerable to attacks from relatively cheap drones? 2) Talking of Middle Eastern regimes, the deal prevailing in the Middle East for the past five decades has been that oil would be priced in US dollars, and that the oil-exporting regimes in Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Kuwait would use these US dollars to buy US-made weapons (and US treasuries). With this bargain, the US implicitly guaranteed the survival of the Gulf Arab regimes. Fast forward to 2022, and following the invasion of Ukraine, countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have failed to condemn Russia. What’s more, Saudi Arabia let it be known that it might start to accept payment for its oil in renminbi. Perhaps this makes sense if Saudi Arabia feels it no longer needs US$340mn F-35s, but instead more US$1mn Turkish-made drones? 3) If, as the Azeri-Armenian and the Ukrainian-Russian wars suggest, drones have radically leveled the battlefield in war, this profound development has a multitude of implications. Does it undermine the long-held superiority of vastly expensive armament systems, tilting the balance in favor of much cheaper and much more widely-available weapons? If so, does this mean another pillar supporting the US dollar’s reserve currency status is crumbling in front of our eyes? In a world where military might is no longer the monopoly of a single superpower, or the duopoly of two, does the world become, de facto, multipolar? In such a world, would there still be a compelling reason for trade between Indonesia and Malaysia to be settled in US dollars, rather than in their own currencies? Wouldn’t trade between China and South Korea now be settled in renminbi and won? Drone tactics are a radically different form of warfare, and they are evolving fast. So, it would be premature to offer any definitive conclusions about the extent to which drones will dominate warfare in the future. However, their recent use in Ukraine (and Yemen, Azerbaijan and Ethiopia) means that investors have to be open to the idea that drones will change the battlefield of the future. Because if they are going to change the battlefield of the future, then they will also change the economic and financial realities of today. In this sense, drones might well be the modern-day equivalent of aircraft carriers. In World War II, aircraft carriers made big-gun battleships and other traditional naval warships obsolete, or at least highly vulnerable. Two early Pacific battles proved the point. The Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, generally considered by historians to have been a draw, was the first naval engagement ever fought in which the opposing fleets never made visual contact with each other. Carrier-based aircraft drove the action. A month later, the far more consequential Battle of Midway established the new reality beyond all doubt. The Imperial Japanese Navy was ambushed northwest of Hawaii and lost the bulk of its carrier force in a single action. It would be on the defensive for the rest of the war. With hindsight, Midway marked the start of US dominance over the world’s oceans. In short order, this translated into US dominance over global trade. But with the nature of warfare again changing, is this dominance of the oceans and of other battlefields guaranteed to last? Investors need to consider the uncomfortable possibility that it might not. The dramatic shift in the global financial landscape We are all the offspring of our own experiences. One important formative event in my own modest career was the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Witnessing how quickly things could unravel left a deep mark. I highlight this because I am not alone in having lived through the shock of 1997-98. Pretty much every emerging market policymaker aged 50-75 (which is most of them) went through a similar trauma. Seeing your country’s entire middle class wiped out in the space of a few weeks—which is what happened in Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Argentina and others in the period from 1997 to 2000—is bound to leave a few scars. Among emerging market policymakers these scars took the form of a deepseated conviction of “never again” (see Our Brave New World). To ensure their countries’ middle classes were never again wiped out, they adopted a straightforward set of policy prescriptions that in the early 2000s Gavekal dubbed the The Circle Of Manipulation. It went something like this: 1) To avoid a future crisis, your central bank needs to maintain a healthy safety cushion of hard currency bonds, mostly US treasuries and bunds.   2) The more you become integrated with the global economy, the larger this cushion should be. 3) To build up this safety cushion, you need to run consistent and large current account surpluses. 4) To run consistent large current account surpluses, you need to maintain an undervalued currency. Among the results of these policy prescriptions were charts looking like this: By all previous standards, this was an odd state of affairs: an economic arrangement under which poorer countries with high savings rates and vast infrastructure investment needs ended up subsidizing consumption in rich countries with low savings rates and ever-accelerating twin deficits. To cut a long story short, for the last 25 years, we have lived in a world in which undervalued currencies in emerging markets allowed Western consumers to buy attractively priced goods and services imported from developing countries. Meanwhile, the individuals, companies and governments in the emerging markets which earned capital from these sales largely recycled their earned capital into Western assets—because Western assets were perceived to be “safe.” But this perception of safety may now be changing in front of our eyes. Consider the following changes: 1) Developed economy government bonds have proved anything but safe. As stresses of increasing severity have affected the world economy over the last 12 months, investors in local currency Indonesian and Brazilian government bonds and in gold have generated positive returns of between 3% and 4% in US dollar terms. Chinese government bonds are up by just over 1.5%. Meanwhile, Indian and South African government bonds have lost -4%. These performances contrast with US treasuries, which have lost -9%, and the train wrecks suffered by investors in eurozone bonds and Japanese government bonds, which are down anywhere between -17% and -23%. Of these, which can be considered the safest? 2) The confiscation of Russia’s reserves. I will not repeat here arguments I have made at length elsewhere (see What Freezing Russia’s Reserves Means). But in a nutshell, the decision to freeze Russia’s central bank reserves has been the most important financial development since US president Richard Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. From now on, any country that is not an outright US ally—China, Malaysia, South Africa and others—and even some historical friends—Saudi Arabia? The UAE? India?—will think twice before reflexively accumulating US treasuries from fear they may get canceled. Over the course of a weekend, with no discussion in the US Congress, and no discussion with the Federal Reserve, the US administration unilaterally turned the US treasury market on its head. From that moment on, the whole nature of a US treasury security would depend entirely on who owned it. 3) Running roughshod over property rights. It is hard to pin down what the West’s single most important comparative advantage might be. Having the world’s strongest military? Being the seat of almost all the world’s greatest universities? Issuance of the world’s reserve currencies? The list goes on. But surely somewhere near the top of the list should be the sanctity of property rights, guaranteed by rock-solid “rule of law.” The main reason Chinese tycoons for years purchased Vancouver real estate, the Emirati central bank bought US treasuries and Saudi princes parked their wealth in Zurich was the knowledge that, whatever happened, and wherever you came from, you were guaranteed property rights, and a fair trial to ascertain those rights, in any courtroom in New York, London, Zurich or Paris. Better still, since the implementation over the last 850 years in the West of habeas corpus and various bills of rights, you have been able to have confidence that you would be judged as an individual. One of the fundamental tenets of Western democracies’ legal systems is that there is no such thing as a collective crime—or collective punishment. You can only be held responsible and punished for what you have done as an individual. Unless - all of a sudden - you are a Russian oligarch. This is a dramatic development, if only because every Chinese tycoon, Saudi prince, or emerging market billionaire will now wonder whether he will be next to get canceled. If the wealth of Russian oligarchs can be confiscated so abruptly, then why not the assets of Saudi princes? Stretching this a little further, maybe it shouldn’t just be Saudi princes or Chinese billionaires who should be worried. If wealth can be seized without any trial, but simply because of guilt by association, maybe in the not-too distant future Western governments could confiscate the wealth of anyone who mined coal or pumped oil out of the ground. Don’t they have blood on their hands for causing tomorrow’s climate crisis? And while we are about it, perhaps we should also confiscate the wealth of social media barons for failing to prevent a mental health crisis among our youth? 4) Russia’s counter-attacks. Older readers may remember how in the days that preceded the Lehman bust, US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson walked around proclaiming that he had “a big bazooka,” and that if the market pushed too hard, he would fire this bazooka and blow shortsellers out of the water. Unfortunately, with Lehman it became obvious to all and sundry that Paulson’s bazooka was firing blanks. Today’s situation is similar. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US decided to go for full weaponization of the US dollar, proclaiming the ruble had been turned to rubble. Last week, the ruble hit two-year highs against both the US dollar and euro. Biden’s financial bazooka seems to have been no more potent than Paulson’s. Why? Because Russia decided to fight back, requiring buyers from “unfriendly” countries to pay for their purchases of Russian commodities in rubles. And in effect, the only way unfriendly customers can acquire rubles is by offering gold to the Russian central bank (see The Clash Of Empires Intensifies). This has created a sudden and profound shift in the global trading and financial architecture. For decades, global trade was simple. If Russia produced commodities that China needed, then China first had to earn US dollars by selling goods and services to the US consumer. Only in this way could it acquire the US dollars it needed to purchase commodities from Russia. But what happens now that China or India can purchase their commodities from Russia or Iran for renminbi or Indian rupees? Obviously, their need to earn and save US dollars is no longer so acute. Conclusion Warfare is changing and the financial system has been weaponized like never before. However, the weaponization of the financial system has so far failed to deliver the intended results. At this point, investors can adopt one of two stances. The first might be described as “nothing to see here; move along.” The second is to accept that the world is changing rapidly, and that these changes will have deep and lasting impacts on financial markets. Different war, different world, different consequences For now, there are some clear takeaways. 1) The Ukraine war may be telling us that modern history’s unipolar age is now well and truly over. As big as the Russian army is, and as powerful as the US Treasury might be, the current crisis has demonstrated that neither is powerful enough to impose its will on its perceived enemies. This includes even relatively weak enemies; Ukraine’s army was hardly thought of as formidable, while Russia was supposed to be a financial pygmy. 2) This is a very important message. In an age of drones and parallel financial arrangements, there is no longer such a thing as absolute power—nor even the perception of absolute power. The pot has been called, each player has had to show his cards, and all are sitting with busted flushes! The fact that military and financial dominance may be harder to assert in the future opens the door to a much more multipolar world. 3) For 25 years, emerging market workers have subsidized consumption in developed markets, as emerging market policymakers kept their currencies undervalued and recycled their current account surpluses into “hard” currencies. If this arrangement now comes to an end, then the developed market consumer will struggle while the emerging market consumer will thrive. 4) Much consumption in emerging markets tends to occur at the “low end” of the product chain. This plays into a theme I have been harping on about for the last year: that investors should focus on companies that deliver products that consumers “need to have” rather than products that are “nice to have.” 5) Over the last two years, US treasuries and German bunds have failed in their job of providing the antifragile element in portfolios. There are few reasons to think that this failure is about to reverse any time soon. Today, investors need to look elsewhere for antifragile attributes. Precious metals, emerging market government bonds, high-yield energy assets and foodstuffs are all leading candidates. 6) High-end residential real estate in Western economies will lose the emerging market money-recycling bid and will struggle. 7) New safe destinations for emerging markets’ excess capital will emerge. Obvious candidates include Dubai, Singapore, Mauritius, and perhaps even Hong Kong (should China eventually decide to follow the rest of the world and to live with Covid). It is hard to be too bullish on these destinations. They are so small that even a marginal, influx of financial and human capital will have a disproportionate impact. The world’s unipolar era is over. Few portfolios reflect this reality - and definitely not the indexed portfolios that are today massively overweight an overvalued US and a desperately ill-omened Europe. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 23:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 23rd, 2022

For The Narrative-Creators, The Play Is You... And You Are Not Real

For The Narrative-Creators, The Play Is You... And You Are Not Real Authored by 'Mr.Smith' via, Shakespeare’s famously gory “Titus Andronicus” is replete with violence, including fourteen deaths. Yet it continues to be performed, and audiences continue to sign up for a frisson of fear and pity, because this is not real. After the play, the actors get up, wash off the fake blood, and join the playwrights and directors for drinks or dinner. If, like me, you’ve been wondering about why things are the way they are in today’s world, and how this relates, this is my explanation: For the actors, writers and directors who create real world narratives, the play is you. And you are not real. Actors and Reality Much has been made of the jarring dissonance between the heroic stand of the president and the people of Ukraine and the facile signaling of the Social Justice crowd. Feel free to pick your favorite exemplar, from the merely stupid banning of Russian cats and renaming of White Russian cocktails to the more sinister cancelling of Russian performers, or the horrific threats and vandalism to places serving Russian food. There’s no shortage of content here. And, as we’ll get to shortly, that’s the point. Ukraine’s policy goals do not map fully to those of the United States (think Azov Battalion, for starters), and we can and should carefully consider our response with that awareness. But this does not change Ukrainian heroism. Zelensky wants planes, a no-fly zone, and he would no doubt love NATO boots on the ground. Prudence may dictate we provide him none of these, but it is worth noting that any of us in his circumstances would likely be asking for the same things. Any of us who stayed during the onslaught, that is. Clearly, Putin’s bet from the beginning included Zelensky on the first plane out to serve as the leader of the Ukrainian government in (comfortable) exile, after which the dismemberment of that nation would rapidly become a fait accompli. Zelensky was having none of it. He stayed, and continues to stay, at great personal risk to himself and his family. He is, unquestionably, a hero. It is the contrast between these two extremes (the banning of Russian-themed menus et al vs. Zelensky’s stand) that provides ample opportunity to reflect on the idea that many Americans are just not serious people. Unsurprisingly, their response to events in Ukraine has been to simply cut and paste from the outrage-of-the-week playbook: change profile picture, use a hashtag, find some people to cancel, and congratulate oneself on how virtuous one is. In the real world, rational people are tempted to say, “None of this ‘support’ matters”. It’s just empty signaling. So why is it happening, why has it become so pervasive, and how should we contend with it? Examination of a few high-salience topics can shed some light. Consider this first in the context of Covid and the by now well-known case of the Lab Leak Theory. Peter Daszak of the Eco-Health Alliance was the prime mover behind the infamous Lancet Letter branding any lab leak speculation uninformed conspiracy. This makes perfect sense when considering his incentives. Daszak (and Fauci, and others) had something to lose here. Perhaps a lot to lose. U.S. funding of Gain of Function research in Chinese labs resulting in a global pandemic is, to put it mildly, not a very good look and could be costly both financially and criminally. Explaining is not excusing. But while we can wish for better, observing actors respond to their incentives is nothing if not proof that the world works in an orderly way. Indeed, the conservative position that we are and should be a nation of laws, norms, and standards implicitly concedes the point that our better angels are not always ascendant. If some people had enormously large reasons to attempt a coverup of something, it’s hardly controversial that some would choose to do so. And that’s where those laws, norms, and standards come in. In an environment with many disinterested actors, those entities without skin in the game would easily out-produce the relatively small number of individuals invested in a particular narrative. In that environment, the idea that zoonotic transmission and escape from a biolab in the same city where researchers were known to be working on bat viruses were both very real possibilities would be obvious. But that is not at all how it went down. Instead, the idea that it might be prudent to investigate what role the lab in Wuhan may have played in the pandemic became roughly equivalent to arguing Flat Earth Theory. What the hell was going on here? Did everyone in the American media landscape owe Daszak a favor? Did Fauci have a secret cache of compromising emails and photos to dangle J. Edgar Hoover style over the heads of troublesome journalists? Why on earth would hundreds or thousands in the media run cover for these guys and for the Chinese government to the extent of making claims that mere investigation of the possibility of a lab leak was racist? More puzzling still is the idea that there is nothing about either potential source of the pandemic that presupposes an explicitly liberal or conservative position. Indeed, one could easily flip the script and imagine a campaign urging people to “follow the science” rather than resorting to xenophobic tropes about savages in wet markets. Until, that is, Donald Trump and other conservatives brought it up, which was like Christmas came early for Daszak and his co-conspirators. For the progressive left, the endorsement of anything by President Trump was more than sufficient cause to oppose it, and thus the wheels began to turn. None of this should be surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention. At its heart, this is an expression of the luxury of operating without consequences. The luxury of not having to think operationally. To be clear, what I am saying is that Daszak and his cronies were able to leverage a system in which those with the loudest megaphones literally did not and do not care where and how Covid originated. For them, it just doesn’t matter. The pandemic is just background noise. That may seem like a strong statement. So, why and in what sense did they not care? Gain Not Trust In a recent episode of Bari Weiss’ podcast Honestly, journalist and academic Yuval Levin articulated a theory of the change from institutions-as-formational to institutions-as-platforms. In his view, institutions of all types formerly served to develop the individuals inside them. If for example, you worked at the New York Times as a young journalist, you would be shaped by the ethos of that institution, informed by the repository of values developed over time within that structure. According to Levin, this has been replaced by the notion of institution-as-platform, the idea is that these structures exist as a launching pad for one’s personal brand. Understood from this perspective, the great Lab Leak crackdown suddenly makes a great deal of sense. One of the baseline branding positions operating was “not-Trump.” I am completely persuaded that if Trump had spoken out in favor of the wet market theory, we’d all have been loudly advised to “follow the science” in precisely the opposite direction. It is also worth noting that these personal brands are rivalrous goods. Having a “take,” even the right one, is necessary, but not sufficient. Your take must outcompete the other signals in the marketplace in order to claim disproportionate attention. And this explains why the Lab Leak Theory had to be, “conspiracist,” “anti-science,” and eventually, of course, “racist.” The more extreme the position is, the more effective it is in gaining audience-capture. And this is not part of the story; it’s the entire story. There is effectively nothing behind the curtain. Because of these powerful incentives, what has happened without us realizing it is the creation of a public dialogue between a small, privileged elite that is fixed on in-group signaling and status-capture. The policy concerns or post-pandemic reforms that should differentially apply depending upon the origin of the disease diminish in importance to the extent that they functionally do not matter at all. And people impacted by those decisions by extension do not matter either. They are extras and scenery. The Damaging Script This goes a long way toward explaining the persistence of the otherwise bewildering advocacy that has permeated American life. Democratic New York Mayor Eric Adams noted that the Defund the Police crowd “are a lot of young white affluent people.” Of course they are. Poll after poll reveals that those who live in high-crime neighborhoods want more police, not less. Like any other sane person, those citizens also want their police officers to be professional and not corrupt, but “I want my police officers to fight crime and be professional” is just not an exciting take. From this perspective, insanity like Defund the Police isn’t surprising, but rather inevitable. It is the position pushed to its logical extreme. And that is why arguing with this group is useless. If you wonder why the obvious fact that increased crime disproportionally affects black and brown people remains unpersuasive to them, the reason is maybe scarier than you think. It is not that they are stupid; it is that they just don’t care, and they never will. They are completely unconcerned about the consequences of implementing this policy in the real world. And to take it a step further, they don’t even care about the policy itself. The proclamation and the signaling is the whole story. In a fundamental sense, any person killed or otherwise victimized by increased crime is just not real. Extras and scenery. Nothing to see here. Perhaps nothing is more indicative of this trend than the increasingly unhinged claims emerging from the trans-activist community, as LGB became LGBT and now for some is properly expressed as LGBTQQIP2SAA, in order to be “inclusive” to intersex, pansexual, asexual, and two-spirit people. For an outsider, it can all seem like satire. How could anyone engage in these abbreviation acrobatics unironically? It is no surprise that all of this has continued to expand since the 2015 Obergefell ruling which legalized gay marriage. Effectively, the war was over, and the gay community won. Resoundingly. Despite that, it is instructive to note here that there’s no incentive to just take the W, as the kids say, and move on. Satisfaction, and even victory, simply does not move the needle. Outrage is the play when competing for eyeballs and clicks, and thus we have incomprehensible acronyms, death threats to J.K. Rowling, of all people, for having the temerity to state flatly that men and women are different, and an epidemic of medical intervention involving children is something for which future societies will likely judge us very harshly, with good reason. For outsiders, the criticism seems insane. That is because, once again, we are not the audience. What we are seeing is a process of in-group jousting for status, where increasingly bizarre formulations become predictable and indeed necessary to gain attention. “I disagree with J.K. Rowling” is hardly a winning message, especially compared with “J.K. Rowling threatens my right to exist!” Thus, once again, appeals to reason, biology, or even compassion for a generation of children we are harming irrevocably do not and will not work. No one affected by these positions exists in any meaningful way because, again, they are not real. By far the best example of this phenomenon is Black Lives Matter, a marketing triumph that proved beyond all doubt that these tactics can work, work well, and most importantly, be monetized. The familiar script is here, but no one has ever executed it better, as activists turned their rallying cry into a movement indistinguishable from religion. No nuance or difference of opinion was tolerated. Even to remain silent was proof of apostacy. The net result? More than $60 million, most of which remains unaccounted for, and a series of high-end real estate purchases by the activists behind the whole thing. No policy achievements of any kind, because of course those were never the point from the beginning, as was obvious to anyone paying attention. Inside BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ million-dollar real estate buying binge. Photo source: New York Post An attempt at real policy change involves engaging stakeholders, broadening your base, creating consensus, and finding ways to deliver wins for various groups in your coalition. Which to be fair, is a lot of work. It’s much easier to simply use any police shooting of a black citizen, regardless of the circumstances, as a fundraiser. Does anyone seriously believe BLM grifters wanted fewer police shootings? On the contrary, I promise you they wanted more, because each shooting represented an economic event. As in the examples above, BLM created an extremely effective in-group dialogue that served to funnel money into their pockets without any requirement to pursue or achieve any tangible outcomes. And the downstream impacts have been significant, as reduced public trust in law enforcement and plummeting morale among officers have contributed to a dramatic increase in crime which, again, disproportionately affects minority communities. The response to this from BLM? Condemn the black reporter who exposed their murky finances and questionable real estate transactions as racist, smear the black Harvard economist as a sexual predator, and suggest that even the financial reporting required of non-profits is, you guessed it, racist. It’s not that hard to parse this: BLM activists are not friends or allies of black communities whatsoever. Instead, we come back to the same point: everyone outside of the in-group are just extras and scenery. Including those for whom they purport to advocate. None of them are real. Luxury Beliefs Rob Henderson calls all of this a symptom of “Luxury Beliefs.” According to Henderson, these are “ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost while taking a toll on the lower class.” What we have is a catechism, a portfolio of dogma that operates as a signaling mechanism among the elite. And so, in addition to “Follow the Science” on Covid, “Trans Women are Real Women”, and “Black Lives Matter”, we have a host of other statements expressed as moral imperatives, including things like “Healthy at Any Size”, “All Family Structures are Equal”, “Open Borders”, etc. All of this can be considered an unexpected and unwelcome consequence of our own success. The complex, exquisitely-tuned supply chains that funnel us goods and services have become so remarkably effective they are essentially invisible. Elites don’t have to worry about how things get done, how X leads to Y, or how thing A gets to place B. It just happens. Magically. Invisibly. How the sausage is made is a question for smaller minds. In my view, Henderson gets one thing wrong about his theory. Luxury Beliefs are not in fact, the provenance of the rich, but rather of the educational elite, some of whom are also rich in the bargain. Journalists, other media members, academics, and activists typically have little to no experience in actual business and even less incentive to ever gain any. The effortless flow of goods and services they experience allows them the freedom from having to think operationally or consequentially. Over the past two years, COVID revealed and supercharged the insular status of these elites. If you talk to business owners, no matter how wealthy they may be, who vitally need to think operationally and consequentially every day, you find considerably less support for these elitist notions. All of this is bad enough when locked in some academic ivory tower, but as we’ve seen, this has escaped into the American Wild with terrifying effect. Crime, inflation, record border crossings, education, and more. Pick your topic, as the list goes on and on. The Final Act Which brings us back to Ukraine as the setting for the ridiculous virtue signaling and posturing by these same luxury elites. It is jarring when juxtaposed against actual tanks and soldiers, but it is just more of the same. I stated earlier that these are not serious people, but that is not entirely accurate. They are extremely serious, just not about anything other than their own internal conversations. Which then brings us back to “Titus Andronicus” and the reason behind the reason. These people will not change, and they will not be persuaded by your arguments, your statistics, and your facts. Because the people who make any of the things elites consume and the people elites purport to stand up for are all equally irrelevant. Performance is the point. The performance is the whole thing, and the actors, playwrights and directors aren’t taking suggestions from you, the extras and the scenery. Which leads us to the final act: maybe it’s time to think about shutting down the whole play. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 25th, 2022