Saturday, December 18, 2010
The JFK Assassination is the key to understanding what is currently transpiring in the United States. One of the reasons why President John F. Kennedy was murdered is that he wanted to end the Cold War through negotiation with the Soviet Union rather than “win it” [which was the position of the war hawks in his own administration as well as the private corporations which were then part of the military industrial complex (MIC)]. Then as now the defense contractors were making incredible sums of money on armament production and loathed the idea that it might come to an end.
Today the so-called Global War on Terror (GWT) has replaced the “Cold-War” as a justification for continued massive military/intelligence spending that still inures to the benefit of the MIC (now the MIMIC). The basic arrangement is the same. The Regime creates a plausible justification for placing the country on a constant war footing and then proceeds to invent reasons why the war(s) must continue.
The actual reason a state of constant war has become "necessary" is that given our loss of traditional manufacturing base the US economy is critically dependent on creating a demand for the production of armaments. Munitions manufacturing after all is the only industry in which the US still leads the world. Virtually everything else has already been off-shored and out-sourced to third world countries where slave labor wages are utilized by US multinational corporations for the creation of immoral and obscene profits, the ill-gotten gains obtained in large part from the killing of innocent non-combatants in foreign wars.
The US economy then, is being artificially propped-up through the continual starting and prosecuting of unnecessary and immoral wars of aggression. The current situation benefits the private armament manufacturers and insures that no nation or combination thereof is able or willing to challenge American hegemony, thus perpetuating the status quo. This scenario will continue until the USA is recognizably bankrupt as a result of its total inability to service the now astronomically massive national debt. The powerful elites will then simply move on to another geographical location (read host nation) where they can repeat their rapacious activities having long since moved their bounteous personal assets off-shore. This is the real meaning of the vaunted "New World Order."
By Nathan Diebenow
December 17, 2010 "Raw Story" -- America's military and economic empire could collapse at any time, but predicting the precise day, week or month of its potential demise is unattainable, according to a former New York Times war correspondent who spoke with Raw Story.
"The when and how is very dangerous to predict because there's always some factor that blindsides you that you didn't expect," Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges said in an exclusive interview. "It doesn't look good. But exactly how it plays out and when it plays out, having covered disintegrating societies, it's impossible to tell."
He explained that he learned this lesson as events unfolded around him in the fall of 1989. Then, members of the opposition to the Soviet Empire told him that they predicted travel across the Berlin Wall separating East from West Germany would open within the year.
"Within a few hours, the wall didn't exist," he said.
Hedges was one of roughly 135 activists who participated in an act of civil disobedience that resulted in their arrests outside the White House yesterday, even as Obama was unveiling a new report on progress of the war in Afghanistan.
Speaking to Raw Story on Wednesday night, he said the signs of US collapse are plain to see and compared the country's course through Afghanistan to Soviet Russia's.
"We're losing [the war in Afghanistan] in the same way the Red Army lost it," he said. "It's exactly the same configuration where we sort of control the urban centers where 20 percent of the population lives. The rest of the country where 80 percent of the Afghans live is either in the hands of the Taliban or disputed."
One day after this interview was conducted, reports hit the global media noting the CIA's warning to President Obama, that the Pakistan-supported Taliban could still regain control of the country.
Hedges predicted that President Obama's war report released Thursday would "contradict not only [US] intelligence reports but everything else that is coming out of Afghanistan."
His prediction came startlingly true: the CIA's own assessment was said to stand in striking contrast with President Obama's report. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, insisted that the US controlled more territory in Afghanistan than it did a year ago.
"Foreigners will not walk the streets of Kabul because of kidnapping, and journalists regularly meet Taliban officials in Kabul because the whole apparatus is so porous and corrupt," he said.
'A corporate coup d'état in slow motion'
Hedges said he attended the protest and planned to get arrested because he is against the corporate powers that have enveloped the nation.
"We've undergone a corporate coup d'état in slow motion," he said. "Our public education system has been gutted. Our infrastructure is corroding and collapsing. Unless we begin to physically resist, they are going to solidify neo-feudalism in this country."
"If we think that Obama is bad, watch the next two years because these corporate forces have turned their back on him," Hedges warned.
Hedges, author of "Death of the Liberal Class," said that his vision of America is one with a functioning social democracy, which stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of the corporate state.
"American workers, as they are repeatedly told, will have to become competitive with prison labor in China," he said. "That's where we're headed, and all the pillars of the liberal establishment are complicit in this."
"At least if you get sick in the UK, you don't go bankrupt or die," he added.
Hedges said that another pressure point is the US dollar, which he pointed out had been dropped by Russia and China in favor of modified ruble/renminbi exchanges.
"A few more deals like that, and our currency becomes junk," he said.
Hedges continued, "As long as we have relative stability, these lunatic fringe movements can be held at bay, but if we don't undertake serious structural reform, which we're not doing, then it is inevitable that we will come to a tremendous crisis - economic and political as well as environmental."
December 14, 2010
"...Public confidence in US markets has steadily eroded as one scandal follows the other and the people involved are never held accountable. So far, not one CEO or CFO of a major investment bank or financial institution has been charged, arrested, prosecuted, or convicted in what amounts to the largest incident of securities fraud in history. In the much-smaller Savings and Loan investigation, more than 1,000 people were charged and convicted. As Volcker points out, the system is broken and the old rules no longer apply. The small gains that were recently made in Dodd-Frank financial regulation, are now under attack by the new majority in congress. The GOP has pledged to either roll back entire provisions of the bill or do what they can to make the law unenforceable." MORE...
Friday, December 17, 2010
December 16, 2010 "Haaretz" -- Peace may be a dream - but it is not our dream. The time has come to recognize the fact that Israel uses the rhetoric of peace, but does very little on the practical level toward achieving it. Anyone still clinging to the axiom that "we'll leave no stone unturned" needs to take a good look in the mirror. Is Israel truly laboring with determination and persistence to reach peace?
The announcement by both the United States and Israel that the efforts to renew direct negotiations failed, less than six months after being launched in Washington, is direct proof that Israel is not doing so. This country deserves most of the blame: History will not forgive those who considered the issue of extending the construction moratorium in the settlements, even for three months, more important than continuing the talks and reaching a diplomatic solution.
One could, of course, blame U.S. President Barack Obama on the grounds that he did not lean hard enough on the two sides, particularly Israel, and that he did not sufficiently exercise the economic and political leverage at his disposal to "persuade" them of the benefits of continuing the talks. But history teaches that no peace, or even a framework for negotiations, has ever succeeded unless the warring parties were actually ready for genuine dialogue.
The peace with Egypt and with Jordan, the Oslo Accords and the talks over the years with Syria and other parties took place and moved forward based on the interests of the adversaries themselves, with the superpowers generally playing the role of conciliator and mediator. Incentives offered by the mediator were effective only when the parties themselves were willing to reach an agreement.
Thus it is the rival sides who bear the blame, but not equally. There is no doubt that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet are largely responsible for the latest failure. The prime minister is a hard nut to crack: In his kickoff speech to the talks, delivered in Washington in September, Netanyahu twice repeated the following phrase: "History has given us a rare opportunity to end the conflict between our peoples." He also used the word "peace" 14 times during that address. While it is clear that politicians use rhetoric to promote their agendas, these measures and this language create a dynamic of expectations that, when not met, lead to frustration and eventually to a breakdown.
To a great extent, Netanyahu and his cabinet are representative of Israeli society today. Public opinion polls point to increasing extremism, bordering on racism, in Jews' opinion of Arabs, as well as to alienation and a distrust of the other side's goals and intentions. Given these circumstances, it's no wonder there is no public pressure on the government to advance the peace process and that there was no significant public response to the dramatic announcement that the talks had been suspended.
When it comes to peace, Israel's position today is similar to its position after the wars of 1948 and of 1967: The potential for negotiations was there, but the cost was considered too high. Now, too, maintaining the status quo appears to be preferable to making changes that Israelis perceive as threatening, even if they do not necessarily pose a genuine danger.
In the past decade, Israel has faced a number of Arab initiatives: the Arab League peace plan, Syrian offers to negotiate, Palestinian willingness to move forward and even moderate declarations from Hamas. Successive Israeli governments responded to all of them with restraint and icy indifference (with the exception of the waning days of Ehud Olmert's term as prime minister ).
Israel's listless response to these proposals cannot be understood as coincidental or circumstantial; it is a pattern of behavior. And Israel has never proffered its own initiative that would indicate a desire for peace. This leads us to the unhappy conclusion that Israel - both its government and its people - are not really interested in peace; at most, they make the sounds of peace, but that is not enough (editor's bold emphasis throughout).
The writer is a professor in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
This short clip by Michael Hudson is one of the most accurate and truthful yet easily understandable explanations I have ever heard of the financial crisis facing America.
Hudson has concluded as I have written on this site in the past that the oligarchs are attempting to ring every last dime out of the sytem in the form of huge bonuses now before the entire system imploads due to failure to service the massive debt which has been created. They are moving more and more of their money off-shore and will be in position to simply flea the country before the "ship of state" finally sinks beneath the waves of time.
Those Americans who have the ability to do so must at least consider emigrating before it is too late. No one in the ruling Regime will tell us that however. They prefer we remain onboard the listing vessel until it is no longer possible to escape. Think of it this way. They have the last remaining available life-boats already commandeered. We will have to find other ways to exit the scene if we wish to survive.
In the alternative, those who must remain will need to begin insuring that their food and other necesssities of life are available through the creation of local networks and cooperatives by which they can subsist as long as necessary. This should include material articles of value which could be bartered such as precious metals, preserved foodstuffs etc.
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
Michael Hudson: Deficit Hawks Want a One Two Punch Against the Economy.
By Real News
December 16, 2010
Professor Hudson Says:
"The rats (Financial Services Industry) are jumping ship."
"American workers are now one paycheck away from homelessnes."
"All the growth has gone exclusively to the banking industry."
"Instead of industrial captalism, we have fianance capitalism which is nothing but neo-feudalism."
"The financial sector is a dumb parasite; the host is the US economy. The financial sector wants to bring on a depression by driving down wages."
"The financial sector also wants to cut taxes and social spending and to get rid of the progressive policies of Roosevelt."
"Most of the QE 2 (second round of quantitative easing) money has gone abroad primarily to the BRIC countries. Major US banks are investing their capital almost completely overseas."
"The game is over; the ability to pay debts is virtually nil."
"The Fed has said we need to restore the bubble economy. Greenspan said that debt has cured the labor problem in that it has created steadily decreasing wages."
"Real wages have actually gone down for the past 25 years. All the increase in productivity has gone to managment."
"The current situation is not sustainable, the banking parasites (if left unchecked) will devour their American host and then move on to new hosts" elswhere e.g. Asia, allowing the US economy to completely implode."
December 16, 2010 "Raw Story" - -The chairman of the House judiciary committee defended Wikileaks on Thursday, arguing that the controversial actions of the anti-secrecy outlet are protected under free speech.
Speaking at a hearing to explore whether Wikileaks violated the Espionage Act -- which the Obama administration claims its editor-in-chief violated -- Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said that "America was founded on the belief that speech is sacrosanct" and dismissed calls for censorship of media outlets publishing leaked documents.
"As an initial matter, there is no doubt that WikiLeaks is very unpopular right now. Many feel that the WikiLeaks publication was offensive," Conyers said, according to prepared remarks. "But being unpopular is not a crime, and publishing offensive information is not either. And the repeated calls from politicians, journalists, and other so-called experts crying out for criminal prosecutions or other extreme measures make me very uncomfortable."The Obama administration and members of Congress from both parties have called for the prosecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after the unauthorized leak of State Department cables, portraying him as a threat to national security.
But legal experts have pointed out the extraordinary difficulties in legally targeting the anti-secrecy outlet, and warned that doing so would set a dangerous precedent in which newspapers could be prosecuted for revealing unflattering information about the government.
"And so whatever you think about this controversy, it is clear that prosecuting Wikileaks would raise the most fundamental questions about freedom of speech, about who is a journalist, and about what the public can know about the actions of its own government," Conyers said.
The crime Wikileaks would be charged with involves obtaining classified government information and disseminating it to the public, which journalists have done in the past without being prosecuted (editor's bold emphasis throughout).
In a parallel example, the leak of the Pentagon Papers -- passed to the New York Times by government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg -- was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1971 case New York Times Co. v. United States.
Calls for prosecuting Wikileaks have picked up steam in Washington, and a majority of the US public deems the leak of diplomatic cables harmful to public interest and supports legal action against Assange, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Tuesday.
"But let us not be hasty, and let us not legislate in a climate of fear or prejudice," Conyers closed, referring to the calls for new laws criminalizing the actions of Wikileaks. "For, in such an atmosphere, it is our constitutional freedoms and our cherished civil rights that are the first to be sacrificed in the false service of our national security."
Thursday, December 16, 2010
By: Dylan Ratigan
The Huffington Post
December 15, 2010 10:36 AM
It's time, America. Americans need work. Americans need jobs. And right now, our government's main job must be to help create these jobs. The unemployment rate has lingered 9 percent for 19 straight months; the longest postwar stretch on record. And with our list of challenges ranging from overpriced health care to evaporating manufacturing, where can we start? Here are four steps our country must take now to get Americans back to work. Each tackles a bottleneck to jobs that must be fixed now:
Fair Trade, Not "Free" Trade
First, we must balance our trade deficit by making trade fair. Some of our trading partners, China for example, have become our trading enemies by devaluing their currency, basically giving us their unemployment problem in return for buying our debt. Putting pressure on China to end their currency manipulation and illegal trade practices will immediately lead to more U.S.-based manufacturing -- jobs we desperately need back. I did an interview with Dr. Peter Morici to discuss how our trade and banking policies are costing us jobs.
Make Banking the Practice of Lending to Businesses, Not Gambling or Buying Treasuries
Banks no longer make money from lending to American businesses. With massive bank consolidation due to deregulation, as well as massive bailouts, we now have four mega-banks that couldn't be less interested in lending to businesses. Borrowing has declined 7 straight quarters while bank profits (and bonuses) are at all time highs. We have to break the bankers to bring back jobs. Listen to my Radio Free Dylan with Barry Ritholz and Josh Rosner for more on this problem.
Control Health Care and College Tuition Costs
The US spends 16 percent of GDP (twice as much as countries like the UK) but have worse health care. Much of the brunt of paying for this inefficient health care comes from US-based companies that are (unlike their foreign counterparts) mandated to pay employee health care. The price of college tuition and fees are skyrocketing as well, rising over 439 percent (adjusted for inflation) over the past 25 years.
Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade as prices jumped 8 percent last year alone, meaning college may soon be out of reach for many Americans. Meanwhile, there aren't enough jobs for these students to pay off the debt, with high unemployment and over 17 million college graduates currently doing menial jobs. Listen to my interview with CEPR Director Dean Baker for more on this problem.
Reform the Tax Code
Right now, Warren Buffett's secretary pays a higher percentage of income to taxes than Warren Buffett. That's a very big problem for anyone who isn't the child of a billionaire. We need to reorganize the tax code to promote US investment instead of rewarding overseas investment and aristocracy. Listen to my interview with tax expert and bestselling author David Cay Johnston for more on this problem.
When you have problems as we do, surely there is opportunity for work solving them. But first we must correctly identify the root causes and activate the necessary debate around the actual problems that are costing America its jobs.
For the next three days, I'm going to be traveling the country for the Steel on Wheels tour. We're having a conversation about how to make things in this country again. Join us. We'll be holding Town Halls on each leg of the tour, starting tonight at the University of Rochester. And let me know what you think we need to do to put America back to work on our new collaborative website at SteelOnWheels.com!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I think this piece by professor Kozy is spot on although I disagree with his conclusion as follows:
"All the moral codes mentioned in this piece are Western in origin; yet none now plays a role in how the people of this civilization behave. When a civilization abandons its morality, no rationalization can be devised to justify its continued existence. It is likely that many reasons can be given for this abandonment, although I am convinced that one predominates—the expansion of law."
Professor Kozy should have argued that when a civilization abandons its morality, nothing but great suffering follows including eventual destruction of the civilization entirely. However, in the meantime, more and more draconian laws are required in order to prevent widespread illegal/immoral activity. The "expansion of law" is the necessary substitute for the self-control and virtuous behavior which once existed--the goal of morality writ large after all. The increasingly restrictive laws are the consequence of a loss of societal morality that is, morally illicit behavior in the aggregate not the cause of the abandonment of morality, as Professor Kozy argues.
I agree that when a civilization abandons morality its existence cannot be justified. This however is more a matter of the natural moral law than any premeditated notion/action of bringing the civilization to an end. Immoral societies are simply incapable of flourishing for any great length of time as they do not promote the "common good" but rather are directed at the enrichment of the few over the many. Under such a scenario there is no societal cohesiveness. The end result is that the society of necessity comes apart.
The situation in contemporary America is one in which traditional morality has been abandoned. What we are witnessing is the expected dissolution of the nation. The rate of destruction will likely increase as the total societal moral depravity increases.
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
By Prof. John Kozy
Global Research HERE...
December 12, 2010
Numerous critics of classical economics over the past two centuries have argued that it is immoral when judged by any of the recognized moral codes. Major aspects of it clearly violate the Golden Rule. It violates many, perhaps all, of the Ten Commandments. It conflicts with various teachings of Jesus. Aristotle's Ethics can be used to demonstrate its viciousness. It violates Kant's Categorical Imperative and Mill's Utilitarianism. Yet some of its proponents continue to argue that The Wealth of Nations is not inconsistent with moral principles. Clive Cook and Gavin Kennedy recently made such a claim, but what they cite as evidence doesn't withstand scrutiny.
First of all, they base the claim on Smith's earlier book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which he argues that conscience results from observing the condition of others, generating sympathy, which then serves as the basis of moral judgments.
Although I have no doubt that different communities view this book differently, the philosophical community has generally considered it sophomoric. In my decades as a professor of philosophy, not once did I see the book included in the standard philosophical curriculum. Most philosophy professors I knew had little knowledge of the book's existence. So even if someone could cogently argue that The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations are philosophically consistent, that argument would have little bearing on whether classical economics is moral.
Smith has never been recognized in philosophical circles as a major thinker. As a matter of fact, he's hardly recognized at all. And even some economists have noticed the sophomoric nature of his thinking. One highly respected, renowned economist, whose name I shall let the reader guess at, said this:
"His very limitation made for success. Had he been more brilliant, he would not have been taken so seriously. Had he dug more deeply, had he unearthed more recondite truth, had he used more difficult and ingenious methods, he would not have been understood. But he had no such ambitions; in fact he disliked whatever went beyond plain common sense. He never moved above the heads of even the dullest readers. He led them on gently, encouraging them by trivialities and homely observations, making them feel comfortable all along."
Yet Kennedy lists the elements of morality that Smith included in The Wealth of Nations. "[Smith] was no libertarian. . . . His idea of 'natural liberty' was almost the opposite of what it is usually taken to mean (namely, 'do as you wish'). He was at pains in both books to emphasize the importance of self-control, of regard for the opinions of others, and of an expansive role of government in providing security, rule of law, and economic infrastructure. Way ahead of his time, he was even in favor of compulsory schooling." An interesting list, but not one that justifies the view that Smith's view of the economy is moral. A moralist would have expected to see something about poverty, hunger, and suffering, all of which are absent.
A serious, irrefutable proof of the immorality embodied in The Wealth of Nations and classical economics in general is easily devised.
Classical theorists like Smith aver that products derive their value from the labor that goes into producing them, and that labor, itself, is bought and sold. Wages, which are the price of labor, have a natural price which is the price needed to enable labor to subsist and to perpetuate itself without either increase or decrease. These dogmas are known as the labor theory of value and the subsistence theory of wages respectively. Some revealing implications can be derived from them. First notice this oddity: labor produces products and the amount of labor expended determines their value. But labor is paid not the value of the products it produces but merely a subsistence wage. I defy anyone, economist or not, to justify that principle on moral grounds. Can Cook or Kennedy find an application of sympathy in this principle?
Second, the subsistence theory of wages describes a condition similar to that used by animal husbands in dealing with livestock. Classical economics treats labor as animal husbandry treats cows. Can treating a fellow human being as a farm animal ever be morally justified? Where is sympathy found in this? Working people, labor, those who create all the culture's wealth, are nothing but farm, factory, and when necessary, cannon fodder.
But economists will say that these aspects of classical economics are not paid much attention any more. Perhaps, but what economists pay attention to and what goes on in the economy are different things. The Wall Street Journal's report that 70 percent of people in North America live paycheck to paycheck demonstrates conclusively that the subsistence theory of wages is still being applied; our economists are just not honest enough to tell us about it.
If a subsistence wage is all that this economy pays working people, how would the culture determine how to treat those people not in the workforce—the aged, the infirm, and the handicapped, even the unemployed? Classical economics has no answer to this question because classical economics does not exist to provide for people generally. Classical economics divides the populace into two groups—capital and labor. Anyone not in one of these groups is somehow irrelevant, which explains why the President and other governmental officials always speak of the upper class and the middle class but never mention the lower class. Yet no one seems to notice that speaking of an upper and middle class without speaking of a lower class is meaningless.
The upshot is that if the dogmas of classical economics are applied consistently, there is no need for any people not capable of functioning in the workforce. So, in keeping with this implication, Andrew Mellon, President Herbert Hoover's treasury secretary recommended that Hoover fight the depression by ”liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers, and driving down wages."
Of course, if this were openly advocated, the outrage would be uncontrollable and the system would be torn asunder. So this fact is obscured by the provision of "safety nets" that provide little safety, since what they are comprised of cannot exceed or even equal the subsistence wage. So Americans have social security which provides no security, unemployment compensation which is too meager to subsist on, welfare which is really illfare, and chancy access to healthcare at best. Yet those who promote this economy can, it seems, always find money to buttress business, create killing machines, and fight continual wars. What few seem to realize is that these consequences are logical implications of the dogmas of classical economics and come straight out of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Livestock, when unneeded, are routinely shipped to slaughter.
The United States and much of the so-called Western World are wallowing in widespread budgetary and sovereign debt crises, and the world's financial elite are forcing many European nations into severe austerity programs much to the chagrin of European peoples. Some of these nations have been referred to by the acronym PIGS, which is apt since pigs are a species of livestock. So what we have, of course, is swineherds sacrificing their livestock for the benefit of the international financial community which cares nothing for people or even the nations they reside in. These financiers validate Jefferson's view that merchants have no country. They also have no morality, not even a smidgen. Neither do the economists who promote this economy.
Signs that the American swineherds are preparing to abandon their own herd by imposing an austerity program on it are displayed in the report of Obama's Deficit Reduction Commission and the insistence of our Republican Congressmen that spending on "entitlements" either be reduced or paid for while spending on wars, foreign aid, and the military be allowed to continue and even increase without any provisions whatsoever for paying for them. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that warfare and foreign aid are necessary economic principals while the American people have fallen into that group of economically irrelevant people that those like Andrew Mellon would have the government liquidate. So the unemployed should be allowed to starve, and the ill should be allowed to perish—both of which principles are perfectly consistent with the "morality" of classical economics.
Yet the most difficult thing to understand is what the proponents of this economy believe the purpose of it all is. What is the goal of all of this destruction, suffering, and killing? Does it give them some kind of deranged pride? Does a banker really feel good when he is told his bank evicted hundreds of families in the past week? Does a general rejoice when he is told that dozens of the enemy and scores of his own troops have been killed in the battle just fought? Does a legislator drink a toast to progress when it is learned that hundreds of children in her/his district go to bead hungry each night? If so, what kind of human beings are they? If not, just what can they possibly be thinking?
All the moral codes mentioned in this piece are Western in origin; yet none now plays a role in how the people of this civilization behave. When a civilization abandons its morality, no rationalization can be devised to justify its continued existence. It is likely that many reasons can be given for this abandonment, although I am convinced that one predominates—the expansion of law. Law once governed various kinds of behavior. It has now encroached upon various kinds of speech and is even being applied to the realm of belief. If there is a single aspect of human life that is not now circumscribed by law, I do not know of it. So when someone is accused of having done something wrong, the reply offered usually is something like, "What was done complied with all legal requirements." But "right" has never been defined as "conforms to law," because thoughtful people have long noticed that the law itself can be a great crime, and that the worst criminals in a culture can be its lawgivers, as the people of Ireland, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, and Great Britain are now finding out. Americans will soon find it out too.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Phillip F. Nelson has written a book published in 2010 entitled LBJ: The Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination which states categorically that LBJ was indeed the mastermind behind the JFK Assassination. As far as I am aware, this is the first major work to make such a claim. MORE...
Michel Chossudovsky raises a very interesting point in his piece part of which is posted here. See the link provided below for the remainder of his essay.
The question being posed is whether Wikileaks is a sophisticated kind of pyshological operation (psy-ops) promulgated by US intelligence as a way of allowing a form of apparent yet controlled dissent. This would be another example of the Hegelian dialectic in action.
It may be that the Wikileaks disclosures will serve as a coordinated attack aimed at censoring the internet. That could be the actual goal here. The only real opposition to the MIMIC at present is found among the independent researchers, writers etc who primarily publish their work on line. This possibility must be entertained as the situation develops further.
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
By Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, read full article HERE...
December 13, 2010
..."The Global War on Terrorism"
The leaks quoted by the Western media reveal the support of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia to several Islamic terrorist organization, a fact which is known and amply documented.
What the reports fail to mention, however, which is crucial in an understanding of the "Global War on Terrorism", is that US intelligence historically has channelled its support to terrorist organizations via Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. REF: These are covert intelligence operations using Saudi and Pakistani intelligence as intermediaries.
The use of the Wikleaks documents by the media tend to sustain the illusion that the CIA has nothing to do with the terror network and that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are "providing the lion's share of funding" to Al Qaeda, the Taliban Lashkar-e-Taiba, among others, when in fact this financing is undertaken in liaison with their US intelligence counterparts.
"The information came to light in the latest round of documents released Sunday by Wikileaks. In their communiques to the State Department, U.S. embassies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states describe a situation in which wealthy private donors, often openly, lavishly support the same groups against whom Saudi Arabia claims to be fighting."
--Wikileaks: Saudis, Gulf States Big Funders of Terror Groups - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News)
Similarly, with regard to Pakistan:
"The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations, make it clear that underneath public reassurances lie deep clashes [between the U.S. and Pakistan] over strategic goals on issues like Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and tolerance of Al Qaeda,..."
--"Wary Dance With Pakistan in Nuclear World", The New York Times December 1, 2010
The corporate media's use and interpretation of the Wikileaks cables serves to uphold two related myths:
1) Iran has nuclear weapons program and constitutes a threat to global security.
2) Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are state sponsors of Al Qaeda. They are financing Islamic terrorist organizations which are intent upon attacking the US States and its NATO allies.
The CIA and the Corporate Media
The CIA's relationship to the US media is amply documented. The New York Times continues to entertain a close relationship with not only with US intelligence, but also with the Pentagon and more recently with the Department of Homeland Security.
"Operation Mocking Bird" was an initiative of the CIA's Office of Special Projects (OSP), established in the early 1950s. Its objective was to exert influence on both the US as well as foreign media. From the 1950s, members of the US media were routinely enlisted by the CIA.
The inner workings of the CIA's relationship to the US media are described in Carl Bernstein's 1977 article in Rolling Stone entitled The CIA and the Media:
[M]ore than 400 American journalists who [had] secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. [1950-1977]Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. ... Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners,... Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work....;
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.
--"The CIA and the Media" by Carl Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 1977
Bernstein suggests, in this regard, that "the CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress" (Ibid).
In recent years, the CIA's relationship to the media has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. We are dealing with mammoth propaganda network involving a number of agencies of government.
Media disinformation has become institutionalized. The lies and fabrications have become increasingly blatant when compared to the 1950s. The US media has become the mouthpiece of US foreign policy. Disinformation is routinely "planted" by CIA operatives in the newsroom of major dailies, magazines and TV channels:
"A relatively few well-connected correspondents provide the scoops, that get the coverage in the relatively few mainstream news sources, where the parameters of debate are set and the "official reality" is consecrated for the bottom feeders in the news chain."
--Chaim Kupferberg, "The Propaganda Preparation of 9/11", Global Research, September 19, 2002
Since 2001, the US media has assumed a new role in sustaining the Global War on Terrorism and camouflaging US sponsored war crimes. In the wake of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), or "Office of Disinformation" as it was labeled by its critics: "The Department of Defense said they needed to do this, and they were going to actually plant stories that were false in foreign countries -- as an effort to influence public opinion across the world."
--Interview with Steve Adubato, Fox News, 26 December 2002; see also michel Chossudovsky, "War Propaganda", January 3, 2003.
Today's corporate media is an instrument of war propaganda, which begs the question as to why the NYT would all of a sudden promote transparency and truth in media, by assisting Wikileaks in "spreading the word"; and that people around the World would not pause for one moment and question the basis of this incongruous relationship.
On the surface, nothing proves that Wikileaks was a CIA covert operation. However, given the corporate media's cohesive and structured relationship to US intelligence, not to mention the links of individual journalists to the military-national security establishment, the issue of a CIA sponsored PsyOp must necessarily be addressed.
Wikileaks Social and Corporate Entourage
Wikileaks and The Economist have also entered into what seems to be a contradictory relationship. Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange was granted in 2008 The Economist's New Media Award.
The Economist has a close relationship to Britain's financial elites. It is an establishment news outlet, which has consistently supported Britain's involvement in the Iraq war. It bears the stamp of the Rothschild family. Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild was chairman of The Economist from 1972-1989. His wife Lynn Forester de Rothschild currently sits on The Economist's board. The Rothschild family also has a sizeable shareholder interest in The Economist.
The broader question is why would Julian Assange receive the support from Britain's foremost establishment news outfit which has consistently been involved in media disinformation?
Are we not dealing with a case of "manufactured dissent", whereby the process of supporting and rewarding Wikileaks for its endeavors, becomes a means of controlling and manipulating the Wikileaks project, while at the same time embedding it into the mainstream media.
It is also worth mentioning another important link. Julian Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), a major London elite lawyer, happens to be the legal adviser to the Rothschild Waddesdon Trust. While this in itself does prove anything, it should nonetheless be examined in the broader context of Wikileaks' social and corporate entourage: the NYT, the CFR, The Economist, Time Magazine, Forbes, Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), etc.
Wikileaks has the essential features of a process of "manufactured dissent". It seeks to expose government lies. It has released important information on US war crimes. But once the project becomes embedded in the mould of mainstream journalism, it is used as an instrument of media disinformation:
"It is in the interest of the corporate elites to accept dissent and protest as a feature of the system inasmuch as they do not threaten the established social order. The purpose is not to repress dissent, but, on the contrary, to shape and mould the protest movement, to set the outer limits of dissent. To maintain their legitimacy, the economic elites favor limited and controlled forms of opposition... To be effective, however, the process of 'manufacturing dissent' must be carefully regulated and monitored by those who are the object of the protest movement "
--See Michel Chossudovsky, "Manufacturing Dissent: the Anti-globalization Movement is Funded by the Corporate Elites", September 2010)
What this examination of the Wikileaks project also suggests is that the mechanics of New World Order propaganda, particularly with regard to its military agenda, has become increasingly sophisticated.
It no longer relies on the outright suppression of the facts regarding US-NATO war crimes. Nor does it require that the reputation of government officials at the highest levels, including the Secretary of State, be protected. New World Order politicians are in a sense "disposable". They can be replaced. What must be protected and sustained are the interests of the economic elites, which control the political apparatus from behind the scenes.
In the case of Wikileaks, the facts are contained in a databank; many of those facts, particularly those pertaining to foreign governments serve US foreign policy interests. Other facts tend, on the other hand to discredit the US administration.
All these facts are selectively redacted, they are then "analyzed" and interpreted by a media which serves the economic elites.
While the numerous facts contained in the Wikileaks data bank are accessible, the broader public will not normally take the trouble to consult and scan through the Wikileaks databank. The public will read the redacted selections and interpretations presented in major news outlets.
A partial and biased picture is presented. The redacted version is accepted by public opinion because it is based on what is heralded as a reliable source, when in fact what is presented in the pages of major newspapers and on network TV is a carefully crafted and convoluted distortion of the truth.
Limited forms of critical debate and "transparency" are tolerated while also enforcing broad public acceptance of the basic premises of US foreign policy, including its "Global War on Terrorism". With regard to a large segment of the US antiwar movement, this strategy seems to have succeeded: "We are against war but we support the "war on terrorism".
What this means is that truth in media can only be reached by dismantling the propaganda apparatus, --i.e. breaking the legitimacy of the corporate media which sustains the broad interests of the economic elites as well America's global military design.
In turn, we must ensure that the campaign against Wikileaks in the U.S., using the 1917 Espionage Act, will not be utilized as a means to wage a campaign to control the internet. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)
Monday, December 13, 2010
Short-range missile program gets $205m. allocation in Congressional resolution.
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
December 11,2010 "Jerusalem Post" -- -WASHINGTON – Despite freezing funding for most aspects of the US government at 2010 levels, the US House agreed Wednesday evening to increase military aid to Israel substantially.
Most significantly, the House added $205 million in first-time funding for the Iron Dome project, a short-range rocket defense system. The money was pledged by President Barack Obama last May, but had been stalled until now.
In addition, military aid allocations from Israel should increase from 2010 levels of $2.775 billion to $3b. for fiscal year 2011, while those for Egypt and Jordan will hold constant from 2010. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)
That increase is dictated by the 10-year memorandum of understanding the US has negotiated with Israel, but it could have been frozen along with other spending increases since the House passed a continuing resolution for 2010 budget levels as a stopgap funding measure so government didn’t shut down, after Congress failed to pass a FY2011 spending bill through the normal process.
Other expenditures for Israel, including more than $200m. for the Arrow long-range missile defense system and the medium-range David’s Sling, will also keep the same amounts as their 2010 levels.
The continuing resolution with its increased funding for Israel was passed 212-206 by the House and still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by Obama.
“Given the scrutiny that our nation is appropriately giving to every dollar expended for all purposes – including the defense of the United States and its allies – it is a mark of the great importance of these projects that they were included in this funding bill,” said Rep. Steve Rothman, a New Jersey Democrat, who helped shepherd through the additional money. “This funding sends a strong message, to both our enemies and allies, by providing more total dollars than ever before toward these rocket and missile defense programs.”
© The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2010
December 11, 2010
The tragic attacks of September 11, 2001 have resulted in almost ten years of perpetual war. September 11, 2001 was the first drum beats, or the opening salvos, of a much wider conflict. The deployment of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan has secured a bridgehead into the Eurasian Heartland, which is geographically positioned on or near the borders of Iran, China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Was Afghanistan the starting battle of a global war? The invasion of Afghanistan can be compared to the landing of the Western Allies, specifically the Americans, in North Africa as a bridgehead into Italy and Europe. At the same time NATO has been pushing from Europe towards the Eurasian Heartland, like the landing of the invading forces of the Western Allies in France.
Was September 11th, 2001 the start of the Third World War?
Historically speaking, it should be noted that distinctions between times of war and peace are not always clear-cut and conflicts do not always correspond to the dates set and standardized by historians. War was not even declared in the cases of many past conflicts, such as in the early 1700s when Augustus II of Saxony-Poland invaded Livonia or when Frederick IV of Denmark invaded Holstein-Gottorp. Also, in the cases of many conflicts, attempts were always made to cloak or hide the nature of the conflict as being a war or an act of aggression. The Romans and other imperial powers regularly engaged in this type of conduct.
Examples in history are the abstract chronological dates customarily used by historians to note important points in the Second World War and the start of the Cold War. In Western Europe and North America, the starting date for World War II is considered to be September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. For the former Czechoslovakia, March 16, 1939 (the date Germany invaded Czechoslovakia) was the starting date for the Second World War. In Russia and the former U.S.S.R. the start date of the Second World War is 1941, the date the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. Even the end date for World War II in Europe is different, because Germany officially surrendered to the Western Allies (namely the U.S., Britain, and France) on May 8, 1945 and to the Soviet Union on May 9, 1945.
The above dates are all set from an ethnocentric European perspective, which leaves out Asia. The history of World War II starts much earlier in Asia. Many consider the start of the Second World War to have been when Japan invaded China in the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, two years before 1939. Even before 1937, since 1931 the Chinese and Japanese were in conflict and 1931 too can be seen as the start of World War II.
The various dates and events for the start of the Cold War also vary, because of the identification of various events as the Cold War’s opening salvo(s). The 1945 American-Soviet tensions over the occupation of the Korean Peninsula, the Azerbaijan Crisis (1947-1948) arising from the Soviet occupation of Iranian provinces, the near wins for the Communists in national elections held in France and Italy (1947-1948), the struggle for power between the Communists and the non-Communists in Czechoslovakia (1947-1948), and the West Berlin Blockade (1948-1949) are also viewed as starting dates for the Cold War. Even events taking place during the Second World War, such as the Yalta Conference, the Tehran Conference, and the dropping of the atom bomb on the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by President Harry Truman as a threat to the Soviets (about U.S. supremacy in the post-war order) are considered as the starting dates of the Cold War.
This question about dates also gives rise to another point in historiography. The nature of history is seamless and not the arbitrary one unintentionally made out by historians and history textbooks. One set of events leads to another. Just as how the First World War led to the Second World War and the Second World War led to the Cold War, the Cold War has led to the “Global War on Terrorism.”
The point is that in retrospect, historical dates and events are defined by people in the future and that sometimes people need to stand back to see the bigger picture.
The NATO and Anglo-American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are clearly tied to September 11, 2001. These events are also related to the military threats directed against Iran and Syria, the tensions in Lebanon and East Africa, as well as U.S. and NATO threats directed against China and Russia. In this regard, the historians of the future may say that World War III could have started on September 11, 2001 or that the tragic events on September 11, 2001 were a prelude to World War III.
Revelations from the U.S. Media on the Dawn of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War: Are We in a World War?
As a note on the subject of whether World War III is currently being waged, the U.S. media watchdog Media Matters for America made a note that much of the mainstream media was touting that the U.S. was in the midst of a global war days after Israel began its war against Lebanon. Media Matters for America reported as follows on July 14, 2006:
Most recently, on the July 13  edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly said “World War III ... I think we’re in it.” Similarly, on the July 13  edition of MSNBC’s Tucker, a graphic read: “On the verge of World War III?” As Media Matters for America has noted, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck began his program on July 12  with a discussion with former CIA officer Robert Baer by saying “we’ve got World War III to fight,” while also warning of the “impeding apocalypse.” Beck and [former] officer Robert Baer had a similar discussion on July 13 , in which Beck said: “I absolutely know that we need to prepare ourselves for World War III. It is here.” 
The mainstream media serves as a tool for the economic and political elite. It falls into line in propagating and supporting state domestic and foreign policy. In this sense the mainstream media is a vital component of a military-industrial-financial-media complex that helps shape the views of what the sociologist C. Wright Mills has termed a mass society.
It is clear that a World War III scenario was possible in 2006. The Israeli attack on Lebanon could have expanded into Syria. This would have seen Iranian intervention, which would have seen the U.S. and NATO entering the war to come to the aid of Tel Aviv as combatants. This could have resulted in a dangerous global war scenario arising from the Middle East, which will be examined later.
The dangers of a military intervention by the U.S. and NATO were very real. The Pentagon had planned to launch a NATO invasion of Lebanon, which would have included the deployment of U.S. Marines to fight the Lebanese Resistance. This has also been confirmed by Alain Pellegrini, the former military commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), in an interview with the newspaper As-Safir.
The Weekly Standard, in the following month after September 11, 2001, ominously went on to outline the broader military campaign that was to come in an editorial by Robert Kagan and William Kristol published on October 29, 2001:
When all is said and done the conflict in Afghanistan will be to the war on terrorism what the North Africa campaign was to World War II: an essential beginning on the path to victory. But to what looms over the horizon — a wide-range war in locales from Central Asia to the Middle East and, unfortunately, back again to the United States — Afghanistan will prove but an opening battle. 
The Weekly Standard editorial, like a script, went on to clearly state that the multi-front war that was in the works would develop to become or resemble the “Clash of Civilizations” post-Cold War conflict model outlined by Samuel P. Huntington:
[T]his war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid. And it is going to put enormous and perhaps unbearable strain on parts of an international coalition that basks in contented consensus. 
In 2001, both Robert Kagan and William Kristol were well aware of the conflagration of war in Eurasia. Both men are U.S. political insiders that were aware of what direction U.S. foreign policy would take the U.S. military. After all Kagan and Kristol were associates with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz through the political think-tank the Project for a News American Century (PNAC) that outlined a global military roadmap for a “new American century.”
World War III in the Horizon?
Since the invasion of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan war has spread from Central Asia to the Middle East, Pakistan, the Caucasus, and East Africa. What is looming in the horizon? Is the “Global War on Terror” another name for the “Great Game?”
The “Great Game” for control of all Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to Central Asia, is underway. International tensions are building. In Eurasia and worldwide there is geo-political rivalry between a U.S. led military alliance and bloc and a Russian-Chinese-Iranian counter-alliance.
There are numerous fronts that can ignite a global war, but the Middle East has the highest risk. If Israeli attacks in 2006 threatened to lead to a global war, what would an attack on Iran lead to? An Israeli-U.S. attack against Iran and its allies could develop rapidly into a global war with the use of nuclear weapons. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
 “Right-wing media divided: Is U.S. now in World War III, IV, or V?”, Media Matters for America, July 14, 2006:
 Robert Kagan and William Kristol, “The Gathering Storm”, The Weekly Standard, October 29, 2001, p.13.
Economics of Slaughter: It really is us against them
By William Bowles
December 12, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- MPs fiddling expenses and leaked diplomatic cables: what connects them and is the game finally up for capitalist ‘democracy’?
“Julian Rush is on the case but it already really does look as if there is an evolving war online between the organic anarchy of the web, as represented currently on the one hand by WikiLeaks and an assorted group of internet activists, and on the other hand by both the old and new icons of the corporate capitalist order, credit card and web commerce companies.” – Channel 4 Email, 9 December, 2010
Aside from having their ‘little secrets’ exposed, British MPs just as with their compatriots in the diplomatic service have had their way for so long that they look like a force of nature. But no more. What the complicit media echoes so faithfully and fearfully, ‘we have to restore faith in the system’ reveals just how frightened they are and just how tenuous their hold on power really is. It all rests on our belief in the system and once that connection is broken the state has two choices: repression or dissolution.
Wikileaks was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was simply a step too far for the political/media class to take. It had to be neutralized and the real meanings in all those cables buried or people are going to start connecting the dots together.
Of course the meanings embedded in the cables are not being reported but they are written by people whose function is to enact the strategies of their paymasters. It doesn’t matter how they say it. It doesn’t matter who they talk about, or even if they get their ramblings totally wrong. What matters is that specific policies are carried through and much rests on the state’s diplomats. Diplomats are essentially human extensions of the state, embodying many of the legal characteristics of a state such as diplomatic immunity or a diplomatic passport.
What the cables reveal are the inner workings of empire. Remember the Nixon tapes? ‘Motherfucker this and motherfucker that’ all over the place as Nixon ranted on about his ‘enemies’, tripping on some kind of drug-induced haze through the White House. These are our leaders, who we are meant to look up to?
“Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera has posted all U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that pertain to Bolivia on his official website."
“He told reporters Wednesday he wants people to know the “barbarities and insults” of what he called Washington’s “interventionist infiltration.”" — ‘Bolivia hosts Wikileaks Mirror’, Bolivia Rising
We need to see the ruling elite for what it is and what better way than when their servants think they’re talking alone together?
The state/media argues that when engaging in foreign relations, if diplomatic notes are to be effective they have to be private. Okay, aside from around 250,000, they are. Carry on with whatever it is you’re doing but bear in mind we know what you really think. You’re not a special breed, apart from the rest of us and you do things in our names allegedly endorsed by a vote every few years. A vote that gives state policies the stamp of our approval. Remember, these are the same people that supply information that contributes to people being blown up somewhere in the endless wars being waged by capital around the planet.
It was Robert McNamara, thousands of miles from the battlefield, sitting in an office in the Pentagon using a spreadsheet to calculate the total tonnage of bombs to drop on North Vietnam in order to bring the country to its knees. The calculus of murder expressed in numbers of bombs needed, the fuel, the pilots. Ultimately it’s the economics of slaughter.
But to be dictated to by a state that lies to its citizens and steals our wealth from us ‘legally’ and hands it over to a handful of transnational banks and to add insult to injury fiddles its own expenses? I think not. Issues have gotten to be too critical to be left in the hands of a cabal of self-serving careerists, who are simply incapable of seeing beyond their own immediate interests. We don’t need people like this allegedly running things!
The publication of these formerly private conversations when taken collectively reveals a state intent on meddling anywhere it sees its interests involved or threatened and in the process revealing their arrogance and disdain for those who see things differently. But then that’s how empires behave– with impunity.
The release of these cables is an historic event for they forever transform the relationship between the state and its citizens. They blow away the illusion that our leaders are honourable men and women rather than mere servants of capital.
And, as events unfold here and elsewhere in the ‘developed’ world, what we see is a state in dissarray and on the defensive but unfortunately as yet anyway, no alternative is on hand to offer our beleaguered citizens. Wikileaks is a wakeup call for us to do something before it’s too late. The Empire must be destroyed!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
December 11, 2010 "The Nation" - - A soft landing for America 40 years from now? Don’t bet on it. The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines. If Washington is dreaming of 2040 or 2050 as the end of the American Century, a more realistic assessment of domestic and global trends suggests that in 2025, just 15 years from now, it could all be over except for the shouting.
Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.
Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America's downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.
But have no doubt: when Washington's global dominion finally ends, there will be painful daily reminders of what such a loss of power means for Americans in every walk of life. As a half-dozen European nations have discovered, imperial decline tends to have a remarkably demoralizing impact on a society, regularly bringing at least a generation of economic privation. As the economy cools, political temperatures rise, often sparking serious domestic unrest.
Available economic, educational, and military data indicate that, when it comes to US global power, negative trends will aggregate rapidly by 2020 and are likely to reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
Significantly, in 2008, the US National Intelligence Council admitted for the first time that America's global power was indeed on a declining trajectory. In one of its periodic futuristic reports, Global Trends 2025, the Council cited “the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way, roughly from West to East" and "without precedent in modern history,” as the primary factor in the decline of the “United States' relative strength—even in the military realm.” Like many in Washington, however, the Council’s analysts anticipated a very long, very soft landing for American global preeminence, and harbored the hope that somehow the US would long “retain unique military capabilities… to project military power globally” for decades to come.
No such luck. Under current projections, the United States will find itself in second place behind China (already the world's second largest economy) in economic output around 2026, and behind India by 2050. Similarly, Chinese innovation is on a trajectory toward world leadership in applied science and military technology sometime between 2020 and 2030, just as America's current supply of brilliant scientists and engineers retires, without adequate replacement by an ill-educated younger generation.
By 2020, according to current plans, the Pentagon will throw a military Hail Mary pass for a dying empire. It will launch a lethal triple canopy of advanced aerospace robotics that represents Washington's last best hope of retaining global power despite its waning economic influence. By that year, however, China's global network of communications satellites, backed by the world's most powerful supercomputers, will also be fully operational, providing Beijing with an independent platform for the weaponization of space and a powerful communications system for missile- or cyber-strikes into every quadrant of the globe.
Wrapped in imperial hubris, like Whitehall or Quai d'Orsay before it, the White House still seems to imagine that American decline will be gradual, gentle, and partial. In his State of the Union address last January, President Obama offered the reassurance that “I do not accept second place for the United States of America.” A few days later, Vice President Biden ridiculed the very idea that “we are destined to fulfill [historian Paul] Kennedy's prophecy that we are going to be a great nation that has failed because we lost control of our economy and overextended.” Similarly, writing in the November issue of the establishment journal Foreign Affairs, neo-liberal foreign policy guru Joseph Nye waved away talk of China's economic and military rise, dismissing “misleading metaphors of organic decline” and denying that any deterioration in US global power was underway.
Ordinary Americans, watching their jobs head overseas, have a more realistic view than their cosseted leaders. An opinion poll in August 2010 found that 65% of Americans believed the country was now “in a state of decline.” Already, Australia and Turkey, traditional US military allies, are using their American-manufactured weapons for joint air and naval maneuvers with China. Already, America's closest economic partners are backing away from Washington's opposition to China's rigged currency rates. As the president flew back from his Asian tour last month, a gloomy New York Times headline summed the moment up this way: “Obama's Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage, China, Britain and Germany Challenge US, Trade Talks With Seoul Fail, Too.”
Viewed historically, the question is not whether the United States will lose its unchallenged global power, but just how precipitous and wrenching the decline will be. In place of Washington's wishful thinking, let’s use the National Intelligence Council's own futuristic methodology to suggest four realistic scenarios for how, whether with a bang or a whimper, US global power could reach its end in the 2020s (along with four accompanying assessments of just where we are today). The future scenarios include: economic decline, oil shock, military misadventure, and World War III. While these are hardly the only possibilities when it comes to American decline or even collapse, they offer a window into an onrushing future.
Economic Decline: Present Situation
Today, three main threats exist to America’s dominant position in the global economy: loss of economic clout thanks to a shrinking share of world trade, the decline of American technological innovation, and the end of the dollar's privileged status as the global reserve currency.
By 2008, the United States had already fallen to number three in global merchandise exports, with just 11% of them compared to 12% for China and 16% for the European Union. There is no reason to believe that this trend will reverse itself.
Similarly, American leadership in technological innovation is on the wane. In 2008, the US was still number two behind Japan in worldwide patent applications with 232,000, but China was closing fast at 195,000, thanks to a blistering 400% increase since 2000. A harbinger of further decline: in 2009 the US hit rock bottom in ranking among the 40 nations surveyed by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation when it came to “change” in “global innovation-based competitiveness” during the previous decade. Adding substance to these statistics, in October China's Defense Ministry unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A, so powerful, said one US expert, that it “blows away the existing No. 1 machine” in America.
Add to this clear evidence that the US education system, that source of future scientists and innovators, has been falling behind its competitors. After leading the world for decades in 25- to 34-year-olds with university degrees, the country sank to 12th place in 2010. The World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly half of all graduate students in the sciences in the US are now foreigners, most of whom will be heading home, not staying here as once would have happened. By 2025, in other words, the United States is likely to face a critical shortage of talented scientists.
Such negative trends are encouraging increasingly sharp criticism of the dollar's role as the world’s reserve currency. “Other countries are no longer willing to buy into the idea that the US knows best on economic policy,” observed Kenneth S. Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. In mid-2009, with the world's central banks holding an astronomical $4 trillion in US Treasury notes, Russian president Dimitri Medvedev insisted that it was time to end “the artificially maintained unipolar system” based on “one formerly strong reserve currency.”
Simultaneously, China's central bank governor suggested that the future might lie with a global reserve currency “disconnected from individual nations” (that is, the US dollar). Take these as signposts of a world to come, and of a possible attempt, as economist Michael Hudson has argued, “to hasten the bankruptcy of the US financial-military world order.”
Economic Decline: Scenario 2020
After years of swelling deficits fed by incessant warfare in distant lands, in 2020, as long expected, the US dollar finally loses its special status as the world's reserve currency. Suddenly, the cost of imports soars. Unable to pay for swelling deficits by selling now-devalued Treasury notes abroad, Washington is finally forced to slash its bloated military budget. Under pressure at home and abroad, Washington slowly pulls US forces back from hundreds of overseas bases to a continental perimeter. By now, however, it is far too late.
Faced with a fading superpower incapable of paying the bills, China, India, Iran, Russia, and other powers, great and regional, provocatively challenge US dominion over the oceans, space, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, amid soaring prices, ever-rising unemployment, and a continuing decline in real wages, domestic divisions widen into violent clashes and divisive debates, often over remarkably irrelevant issues. Riding a political tide of disillusionment and despair, a far-right patriot captures the presidency with thundering rhetoric, demanding respect for American authority and threatening military retaliation or economic reprisal. The world pays next to no attention as the American Century ends in silence.
Oil Shock: Present Situation
One casualty of America's waning economic power has been its lock on global oil supplies. Speeding by America's gas-guzzling economy in the passing lane, China became the world's number one energy consumer this summer, a position the US had held for over a century. Energy specialist Michael Klare has argued that this change means China will “set the pace in shaping our global future.”
By 2025, Iran and Russia will control almost half of the world's natural gas supply, which will potentially give them enormous leverage over energy-starved Europe. Add petroleum reserves to the mix and, as the National Intelligence Council has warned, in just 15 years two countries, Russia and Iran, could “emerge as energy kingpins.”
Despite remarkable ingenuity, the major oil powers are now draining the big basins of petroleum reserves that are amenable to easy, cheap extraction. The real lesson of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was not BP's sloppy safety standards, but the simple fact everyone saw on “spillcam”: one of the corporate energy giants had little choice but to search for what Klare calls “tough oil” miles beneath the surface of the ocean to keep its profits up.
Compounding the problem, the Chinese and Indians have suddenly become far heavier energy consumers. Even if fossil fuel supplies were to remain constant (which they won’t), demand, and so costs, are almost certain to rise—and sharply at that. Other developed nations are meeting this threat aggressively by plunging into experimental programs to develop alternative energy sources. The United States has taken a different path, doing far too little to develop alternative sources while, in the last three decades, doubling its dependence on foreign oil imports. Between 1973 and 2007, oil imports have risen from 36% of energy consumed in the US to 66%.
Oil Shock: Scenario 2025
The United States remains so dependent upon foreign oil that a few adverse developments in the global energy market in 2025 spark an oil shock. By comparison, it makes the 1973 oil shock (when prices quadrupled in just months) look like the proverbial molehill. Angered at the dollar's plummeting value, OPEC oil ministers, meeting in Riyadh, demand future energy payments in a “basket” of Yen, Yuan, and Euros. That only hikes the cost of US oil imports further. At the same moment, while signing a new series of long-term delivery contracts with China, the Saudis stabilize their own foreign exchange reserves by switching to the Yuan. Meanwhile, China pours countless billions into building a massive trans-Asia pipeline and funding Iran's exploitation of the world largest natural gas field at South Pars in the Persian Gulf.
Concerned that the US Navy might no longer be able to protect the oil tankers traveling from the Persian Gulf to fuel East Asia, a coalition of Tehran, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi form an unexpected new Gulf alliance and affirm that China's new fleet of swift aircraft carriers will henceforth patrol the Persian Gulf from a base on the Gulf of Oman. Under heavy economic pressure, London agrees to cancel the US lease on its Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia, while Canberra, pressured by the Chinese, informs Washington that the Seventh Fleet is no longer welcome to use Fremantle as a homeport, effectively evicting the US Navy from the Indian Ocean.
With just a few strokes of the pen and some terse announcements, the “Carter Doctrine,” by which US military power was to eternally protect the Persian Gulf, is laid to rest in 2025. All the elements that long assured the United States limitless supplies of low-cost oil from that region—logistics, exchange rates, and naval power—evaporate. At this point, the US can still cover only an insignificant 12% of its energy needs from its nascent alternative energy industry, and remains dependent on imported oil for half of its energy consumption.
The oil shock that follows hits the country like a hurricane, sending prices to startling heights, making travel a staggeringly expensive proposition, putting real wages (which had long been declining) into freefall, and rendering non-competitive whatever American exports remained. With thermostats dropping, gas prices climbing through the roof, and dollars flowing overseas in return for costly oil, the American economy is paralyzed. With long-fraying alliances at an end and fiscal pressures mounting, US military forces finally begin a staged withdrawal from their overseas bases.
Within a few years, the US is functionally bankrupt and the clock is ticking toward midnight on the American Century.
Military Misadventure: Present Situation
Counterintuitively, as their power wanes, empires often plunge into ill-advised military misadventures. This phenomenon is known among historians of empire as “micro-militarism” and seems to involve psychologically compensatory efforts to salve the sting of retreat or defeat by occupying new territories, however briefly and catastrophically. These operations, irrational even from an imperial point of view, often yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the loss of power.
Embattled empires through the ages suffer an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle. In 413 BCE, a weakened Athens sent 200 ships to be slaughtered in Sicily. In 1921, a dying imperial Spain dispatched 20,000 soldiers to be massacred by Berber guerrillas in Morocco. In 1956, a fading British Empire destroyed its prestige by attacking Suez. And in 2001 and 2003, the US occupied Afghanistan and invaded Iraq. With the hubris that marks empires over the millennia, Washington has increased its troops in Afghanistan to 100,000, expanded the war into Pakistan, and extended its commitment to 2014 and beyond, courting disasters large and small in this guerilla-infested, nuclear-armed graveyard of empires.
Military Misadventure: Scenario 2014
So irrational, so unpredictable is “micro-militarism” that seemingly fanciful scenarios are soon outdone by actual events. With the US military stretched thin from Somalia to the Philippines and tensions rising in Israel, Iran, and Korea, possible combinations for a disastrous military crisis abroad are multifold.
It’s mid-summer 2014 and a drawn-down US garrison in embattled Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is suddenly, unexpectedly overrun by Taliban guerrillas, while US aircraft are grounded by a blinding sandstorm. Heavy loses are taken and in retaliation, an embarrassed American war commander looses B-1 bombers and F-16 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of the city that are believed to be under Taliban control, while AC-130U “Spooky” gunships rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire.
Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques throughout the region, and Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse. Taliban fighters then launch a series of remarkably sophisticated strikes aimed at US garrisons across the country, sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, US helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops in Kabul and Kandahar.
Meanwhile, angry at the endless, decades-long stalemate over Palestine, OPEC’s leaders impose a new oil embargo on the US to protest its backing of Israel as well as the killing of untold numbers of Muslim civilians in its ongoing wars across the Greater Middle East. With gas prices soaring and refineries running dry, Washington makes its move, sending in Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf. This, in turn, sparks a rash of suicide attacks and the sabotage of pipelines and oil wells. As black clouds billow skyward and diplomats rise at the UN to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back into history to brand this “America's Suez,” a telling reference to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of the British Empire.
World War III: Present Situation
In the summer of 2010, military tensions between the US and China began to rise in the western Pacific, once considered an American “lake.” Even a year earlier no one would have predicted such a development. As Washington played upon its alliance with London to appropriate much of Britain's global power after World War II, so China is now using the profits from its export trade with the US to fund what is likely to become a military challenge to American dominion over the waterways of Asia and the Pacific.
With its growing resources, Beijing is claiming a vast maritime arc from Korea to Indonesia long dominated by the US Navy. In August, after Washington expressed a “national interest” in the South China Sea and conducted naval exercises there to reinforce that claim, Beijing's official Global Times responded angrily, saying, “The US-China wrestling match over the South China Sea issue has raised the stakes in deciding who the real future ruler of the planet will be.”
Amid growing tensions, the Pentagon reported that Beijing now holds “the capability to attack… [US] aircraft carriers in the western Pacific Ocean” and target “nuclear forces throughout… the continental United States.” By developing “offensive nuclear, space, and cyberwarfare capabilities,” China seems determined to vie for dominance of what the Pentagon calls “the information spectrum in all dimensions of the modern battlespace.” With ongoing development of the powerful Long March V booster rocket, as well as the launch of two satellites in January 2010 and another in July, for a total of five, Beijing signaled that the country was making rapid strides toward an “independent” network of 35 satellites for global positioning, communications, and reconnaissance capabilities by 2020.
To check China and extend its military position globally, Washington is intent on building a new digital network of air and space robotics, advanced cyberwarfare capabilities, and electronic surveillance. Military planners expect this integrated system to envelop the Earth in a cyber-grid capable of blinding entire armies on the battlefield or taking out a single terrorist in field or favela. By 2020, if all goes according to plan, the Pentagon will launch a three-tiered shield of space drones—reaching from stratosphere to exosphere, armed with agile missiles, linked by a resilient modular satellite system, and operated through total telescopic surveillance.
Last April, the Pentagon made history. It extended drone operations into the exosphere by quietly launching the X-37B unmanned space shuttle into a low orbit 255 miles above the planet. The X-37B is the first in a new generation of unmanned vehicles that will mark the full weaponization of space, creating an arena for future warfare unlike anything that has gone before.
World War III: Scenario 2025
The technology of space and cyberwarfare is so new and untested that even the most outlandish scenarios may soon be superseded by a reality still hard to conceive. If we simply employ the sort of scenarios that the Air Force itself used in its 2009 Future Capabilities Game, however, we can gain “a better understanding of how air, space and cyberspace overlap in warfare,” and so begin to imagine how the next world war might actually be fought.
It’s 11:59 p.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday in 2025. While cyber-shoppers pound the portals of Best Buy for deep discounts on the latest home electronics from China, US Air Force technicians at the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) on Maui choke on their coffee as their panoramic screens suddenly blip to black. Thousands of miles away at the US CyberCommand's operations center in Texas, cyberwarriors soon detect malicious binaries that, though fired anonymously, show the distinctive digital fingerprints of China's People's Liberation Army.
The first overt strike is one nobody predicted. Chinese “malware” seizes control of the robotics aboard an unmanned solar-powered US “Vulture” drone as it flies at 70,000 feet over the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan. It suddenly fires all the rocket pods beneath its enormous 400-foot wingspan, sending dozens of lethal missiles plunging harmlessly into the Yellow Sea, effectively disarming this formidable weapon.
Determined to fight fire with fire, the White House authorizes a retaliatory strike. Confident that its F-6 “Fractionated, Free-Flying” satellite system is impenetrable, Air Force commanders in California transmit robotic codes to the flotilla of X-37B space drones orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, ordering them to launch their “Triple Terminator” missiles at China's 35 satellites. Zero response. In near panic, the Air Force launches its Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle into an arc 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean and then, just 20 minutes later, sends the computer codes to fire missiles at seven Chinese satellites in nearby orbits. The launch codes are suddenly inoperative.
As the Chinese virus spreads uncontrollably through the F-6 satellite architecture, while those second-rate US supercomputers fail to crack the malware's devilishly complex code, GPS signals crucial to the navigation of US ships and aircraft worldwide are compromised. Carrier fleets begin steaming in circles in the mid-Pacific. Fighter squadrons are grounded. Reaper drones fly aimlessly toward the horizon, crashing when their fuel is exhausted. Suddenly, the United States loses what the US Air Force has long called “the ultimate high ground”: space. Within hours, the military power that had dominated the globe for nearly a century has been defeated in World War III without a single human casualty.
A New World Order?
Even if future events prove duller than these four scenarios suggest, every significant trend points toward a far more striking decline in American global power by 2025 than anything Washington now seems to be envisioning.
As allies worldwide begin to realign their policies to take cognizance of rising Asian powers, the cost of maintaining 800 or more overseas military bases will simply become unsustainable, finally forcing a staged withdrawal on a still-unwilling Washington. With both the US and China in a race to weaponize space and cyberspace, tensions between the two powers are bound to rise, making military conflict by 2025 at least feasible, if hardly guaranteed.
Complicating matters even more, the economic, military, and technological trends outlined above will not operate in tidy isolation. As happened to European empires after World War II, such negative forces will undoubtedly prove synergistic. They will combine in thoroughly unexpected ways, create crises for which Americans are remarkably unprepared, and threaten to spin the economy into a sudden downward spiral, consigning this country to a generation or more of economic misery.
As US power recedes, the past offers a spectrum of possibilities for a future world order. At one end of this spectrum, the rise of a new global superpower, however unlikely, cannot be ruled out. Yet both China and Russia evince self-referential cultures, recondite non-roman scripts, regional defense strategies, and underdeveloped legal systems, denying them key instruments for global dominion. At the moment then, no single superpower seems to be on the horizon likely to succeed the US.
In a dark, dystopian version of our global future, a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral forces like NATO, and an international financial elite could conceivably forge a single, possibly unstable, supra-national nexus that would make it no longer meaningful to speak of national empires at all. While denationalized corporations and multinational elites would assumedly rule such a world from secure urban enclaves, the multitudes would be relegated to urban and rural wastelands.
In Planet of Slums, Mike Davis offers at least a partial vision of such a world from the bottom up. He argues that the billion people already packed into fetid favela-style slums worldwide (rising to two billion by 2030) will make “the 'feral, failed cities' of the Third World… the distinctive battlespace of the twenty-first century.” As darkness settles over some future super-favela, “the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression” as “hornet-like helicopter gun-ships stalk enigmatic enemies in the narrow streets of the slum districts… Every morning the slums reply with suicide bombers and eloquent explosions.”
At a midpoint on the spectrum of possible futures, a new global oligopoly might emerge between 2020 and 2040, with rising powers China, Russia, India, and Brazil collaborating with receding powers like Britain, Germany, Japan, and the United States to enforce an ad hoc global dominion, akin to the loose alliance of European empires that ruled half of humanity circa 1900.
Another possibility: the rise of regional hegemons in a return to something reminiscent of the international system that operated before modern empires took shape. In this neo-Westphalian world order, with its endless vistas of micro-violence and unchecked exploitation, each hegemon would dominate its immediate region—Brasilia in South America, Washington in North America, Pretoria in southern Africa, and so on. Space, cyberspace, and the maritime deeps, removed from the control of the former planetary “policeman,” the United States, might even become a new global commons, controlled through an expanded UN Security Council or some ad hoc body.
All of these scenarios extrapolate existing trends into the future on the assumption that Americans, blinded by the arrogance of decades of historically unparalleled power, cannot or will not take steps to manage the unchecked erosion of their global position.
If America's decline is in fact on a 22-year trajectory from 2003 to 2025, then we have already frittered away most of the first decade of that decline with wars that distracted us from long-term problems and, like water tossed onto desert sands, wasted trillions of desperately needed dollars.
If only 15 years remain, the odds of frittering them all away still remain high. Congress and the president are now in gridlock; the American system is flooded with corporate money meant to jam up the works; and there is little suggestion that any issues of significance, including our wars, our bloated national security state, our starved education system, and our antiquated energy supplies, will be addressed with sufficient seriousness to assure the sort of soft landing that might maximize our country's role and prosperity in a changing world.
Europe's empires are gone and America's imperium is going. It seems increasingly doubtful that the United States will have anything like Britain's success in shaping a succeeding world order that protects its interests, preserves its prosperity, and bears the imprint of its best values. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)
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