The Weekly Steve Lendman Column #2

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published the week of August 20th, 2012 on the Steve Lendman Blog

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Saving a Failed System

by Stephen Lendman
 
Combining 17 dissimilar countries under one monetary/fiscal system assured disaster waiting to happen. One size fits all rules don’t work. Euro expert Bernard Connolly knew it before the euro’s 1998 introduction.
 
Saying so cost him his job as EU monetary affairs department head. He called the euro system a harebrained idea doomed to fail. He was years ahead of his time.
 
Since 2008, one crisis conditions deepened. Stopgap solutions buy time but nothing else. Massive money printing keeps wobbly Europe afloat but for how long. Bailouts, rescue plans, debt monetization, and other forms of money manipulation haven’t made sick economies healthy.
 
Prosperity remains elusive. Money used for zombie banks and speculation sacrifices growth and millions of households with it. Debt problems can’t be solved by adding more to existing amounts.
 
Financial expert Martin Weiss calls the West’s financial crisis a debt monster. America and Europe face similar problems. Current US debt levels are three times what they were four years ago, six times greater than in the mid-1990s, 10 times mid-1960s levels, and hundreds of times compared to earlier periods.
 
There’s no way to hide or fix it with bad policies. It exceeds GDP. Washington owes about $1.05 for every product and service dollar produced by all local governments, companies and individuals.
 
America is “passing a point of no return,” says Weiss. It’s “beyond which any new government initiative to end the crisis will probably just make it worse.” Festering financial problems constitute “the definitive crisis of our generation.”
 
Instead of responsibly addressing them, bipartisan complicity assures worsening, not improving conditions. Western economies are declining, not prospering. Europe’s worse off than America.
 
ECB policy failed dismally. Throughout 2011, it intervened in bond markets. LTRO (Long-Term Refinancing Operation) 1 and 2 schemes provided over one trillion euros to troubled EU banks. They also got other liquidity windows.
 
Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland got bailouts. Much more is needed. In the process, the ECB ballooned its balance sheet above 3 trillion euros. It’s 30% more than Germany’s economy. It’s Europe’s largest.
 
Everything tried so far failed. Time alone was gained. Crisis conditions aren’t resolved. Solutions aren’t rocket science. They’re avoided to give zombie banks more money and keep failed economies afloat but not fixed.
 
Greece’s debt crisis exploded in early 2010. Billions poured in to help. Conditions now are worse than earlier. Athens faces another major budget shortfall. It’s greater than previously estimated.
 
Germany’s coalition government rejects additional bailouts beyond ones already approved. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble also rejects more aid. “We can’t put together yet another new program,” he said. “It is not responsible to throw money into a bottomless pit.”
 
If tiny Greece can’t be saved, how can Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and other troubled Eurozone nations combined?
 
ECB President Mario Draghi promised whatever it takes to preserve the euro system. Earlier policies tried failed. What new tricks hasn’t he tried? Perhaps none but he dare not say.
 
He can keep binge money printing. He can’t buy sovereign debt without European Stability Mechanism (ESM) authority. It’s proposed, but not in place. If created, it’s a permanent bailout fund.
 
Creation depends on Germany’s Constitutional Court and parliament. Judges must agree to change German constitutional law. At issue is will they or won’t they without required national referendum approval.
 
If approved, parliament must then act. In mid-September, another moment of truth approaches. Legislators will act one way or the other.
 
Massive money printing means future inflation and a much weaker currency. German officials strongly propose monetary madness.
 
Eurobonds issuance is another possible scheme. Angela Merkel said no “as long as (she) live(s). She means it. Doing so violates Germany’s constitution. Doing so may cost her reelection. Germany’s AAA credit status would also be at risk.
 
It’s debt/GDP ratio already is too high at around 90%. Hundreds of billions of backdoor bailouts exacerbated its problems. Germany’s pockets aren’t deep enough to endlessly supply more.
 
At the same time, if its parliament ratifies the ESM, it’s on the hook for nearly another 200 billions euros as well as around one trillion in committed bailouts. Germany’s GDP is around 3.5 trillion euros. It’s heading for its own solvency crisis.
 
Europe is a disaster waiting to happen. Central banks aren’t omnipotent. They can print money. They can’t save the world. They’ve let crisis conditions fester and grow to save zombie banks. They need to be nationalized, broken up or closed.
 
Economics Professor Yanis Varoufakis accuses the ECB of being complicit in a macro-financial crisis. Pre-2008, it featured “Ponzi growth.” Now it’s “Ponzi austerity.”
 
Toxic money schemes created “irreversible” insolvent banks. Bailouts conditional on austerity delay inevitable defaults. In theory, the ECB was created to be “the only serious” Eurozone institution. Its mandate is to protect and guard the euro’s credibility. It failed dismally before and after 2008.
 
It’s “part and parcel of this crime against the peoples and spirit of Europe.” Now that chickens are coming home to roost, Draghi pledges whatever it takes to save things. So far, deeds haven’t backed up words.
 
Some analysts think he’s bluffing. Varoufakis attributes ECB failure to “its most powerful constituent part, the Bundesbank.” It hasn’t so far agreed to two potentially normalizing operations:
 
(1) capping peripheral country spreads via unlimited bond purchases, and
 
(2) an EFSF/ESM (European Financial Stability Facility/European Stability Mechanism) banking license with a commitment to recapitalize banks directly.
 
The Bundesbank slammed Draghi’s plan. It said bond purchases entail “considerable risks for stability.” Perhaps it’s signaling that Germany’s monetary soul matters more than saving Greece and other peripheral countries.
 
German banks refuse to submit to ECB “scrutiny.” It’s inevitable under ECB EFSF/ESM mandates if adopted.
 
Draghi “is participating in a huge game of (Ponzi austerity) deception.” He signaled readiness to sidestep Bundesbank objections provided Angela Merkel agrees. His scheme “is bound to fail.”
 
He doesn’t have enough ammunition to bail out troubled PIIGS countries, let alone all Europe. Draghi is “hapless,” says Varoufakis. He’s forced to choose between “a walk-on part in the unfolding tragicomedy of Ponzi austerity and a bond purchasing scheme whose failure is foretold.”
 
Instead of adopting workable policies, why is he hardline for measures sure to fail? One reason is that Germany and other surplus nations (Finland, Austria, the Netherlands) won’t approve policies that bind them irreversibly to the euro.
 
It’s not about not wanting to stay. They won’t surrender bargaining power and option to leave. One day perhaps they’ll have no choice.
 
Germany is Europe’s strongest economy. It’s the ECB’s most important backstop. It doesn’t have the capital or inclination to prop up all Europe. It won’t risk hyperinflation doing it.
 
Neither can Draghi on his own rescue Europe. Saying he will is bluff. Markets rally as much on hope as reality. Eventually one catches up with the other. Expect day of reckoning time to be painful.
 
Troubled EU countries may topple like tenpins. Expect sickest ones to tumble hard. The longer real solutions are delayed, the harder they’ll fall. If Spain and Italy go, watch out.

 

Trillions Stashed in Tax Havens
 
by Stephen Lendman
 
A new Tax Justice Network (TJN) USA report reveals an estimated $21 – $32 trillion of hidden and stolen wealth stashed largely tax-free secretly.
 
Titled “The Price of Offshore Revisited,” it explains what financial insiders know but won’t discuss. Many of them have their own hidden wealth.
 
TJN describes a “subterranean” systemic “economic equivalent of an astrophysical black hole.” The higher estimate above exceeds US GDP twofold.
 
It’s mind-boggling. It’s hard imagining a tiny percent of privileged elites control this much wealth secretly. It’s worse knowing it’s largely tax free. It’s appalling that governments let them get away with it.
 
Wall Street and other major banks manage it. Their business is fraud and grand theft. Private banking operations yield huge profits. Keeping funds secreted tax free attracts rich clients. Private capital globally is attracted. It’s welcome from anyone, “no questions asked.”
 
Government policies protect them. Societal costs are huge. Tax justice is absent. Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley once said only little people pay taxes. TJN’s report bears her out.
 
A vast “global offshore industry” is explained. It’s largely tax-free. It’s controlled by the world’s richest, most powerful elites. Estimating amounts secreted takes tedious data mining.
 
Previous estimates relied more on rough judgments. TJN used several methods. They include available data sources, estimation methods, and core assumptions. They’re open to peer review and public scrutiny.
 
Four key approaches were used:
 
(1) A “sources-and-uses” country-by-country model.
 
(2) An “accumulated offshore wealth” model.
 
(3) An “offshore investor portfolio” model.
 
(4) Best-guess estimates of offshore assets held by the world’s top 50 private banks.
 
Familiar Wall Street, European, and other global financial institutions comprise them.
 
Current data gotten from global central banks, the World Bank, IMF, UN, and national accounts were used. Other evidence includes:
 
(1) “Transfer mispricing” data.
 
(2) Demand for cross-border liquid “mattress money” data.
 
(3) Current research data on the offshore private banking market’s size.
 
TJN believes its work comprises the “most rigorous and comprehensive” data ever produced. It challenges anyone to contest it.
 
In overall size through 2010, it estimates hidden global wealth at from $21 – $32 trillion. It’s invested “virtually tax-free” through a still-expanding black hole of more than 80 secret jurisdictions. It calls estimates conservative.
 
Developed countries don’t face debt problems. They’ve got huge offshore tax evasion ones. Repatriation would reduce debt substantially. Doing so would bring it well within tolerable levels.
 
Only financial wealth is included. Much else isn’t measured. It includes real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold, art, and other categories not easily quantified.
 
The offshore economy alone has an enormous negative impact on the domestic tax bases of affected countries. They’ve had significant private capital outflows for years, decades or longer.
 
TJN focused on 139 countries. They’re mainly “low-middle income” ones. The World Bank and IMF maintain data on them.
 
Since the 1970s, private bankers let rich elites accumulate trillions in hidden wealth. At the same time, these nations experienced structural adjustment harshness.
 
They became debt-entrapped. Some borrowed themselves into insolvency. They sold off public assets at fire sale prices. They impoverished their people. They colluded with big money interests at their expense.
 
Through 2010, they accumulated over $4 trillion in debt. Minus foreign reserves invested in First World securities, it’s $2.8 trillion. Including hidden wealth, they’re net lenders.
 
Key is that assets of these countries are held by wealthy elites. Ordinary people bear the burden of debts.
 
In the 1980s, an unnamed Fed official said:
 
“The problem is not that these countries don’t have any assets. The problem is they’re all in Miami” and other global cities. They’re home to private financial institutions.
 
Hidden offshore wealth correlates positively with loan amounts to indebted countries. Large amounts of borrowed capital were secreted lawlessly in global tax havens.
 
Local elites continue “vot(ing) with financial feet.” At the same time, their public sectors borrow heavily and ordinary people go begging.
 
Although First World countries borrow most, they and elites in them remain global financiers.
 
Wealth is concentrated in select private hands “in a handful of source countries.” Many are regarded as debtors.
 
Through 2010, 50 top private banks managed over $12 trillion in cross-border assets from individual clients,  trusts and foundations.
 
Smaller banks, investment firms, insurers, and non-bank intermediaries like hedge funds and independent money managers handle additional amounts up to an overall $32 trillion estimate.
 
TJN calls these enablers part of a global “tax injustice system.” Complicit governments let them operate at the expense of their own people.
 
“Since the late 1970s, investigative journalists, tax authorities, drug enforcement officials, terrorist trackers, national security experts,” and others became aware about vast amounts of money stashed in “offshore” tax havens.
 
Private banking “professional enablers” manage it. They make fortunes doing it. The term “offshore” refers less to physical locations than virtual ones anywhere. They’re often “networks of legal and quasi-legal entities and arrangements.” They operate in the interests of money managers.
 
Physical locations can be anywhere. Legal structures typically are assets owned by anonymous offshore companies in one jurisdiction. Trusts are in another. Trustees are in multiple places globally.
 
Clients are rich elites, companies, and criminals. They include real estate speculators, technology tycoons, oil sheiks, underworld millionaires, heads of state, despots, and drug lords, among others. Their common needs include:
 
(1) Anonymity and confidentiality.
 
(2) Minimizing or avoiding taxes.
 
(3) Skilled money management.
 
(4) Ability to access and manage their wealth anywhere.
 
(5) Secure places to reside, visit, or hide.
 
(6) Assured financial security no matter what’s happening in the real world.
 
Skilled professionals provide these services globally. Money management happens in a virtual world. They live under one set of rules. Another exists for all others. It’s gone on for decades. Global banks thrive on it. It’s one of their most profitable operations.
 
Physical locations operate from Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Nauru, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, and elsewhere.
 
Over 3.5 million paper companies, thousands of shell banks and insurers, more than half the world’s registered commercial ships above 100 tons, and tens of thousands of shell subsidiaries of giant global banks, accounting firms, and various other companies operate there.
 
Nonetheless, conventional havens are misleading. Despite their vast financial infrastructure, most super-rich elites want more security. They also need easy access to First World capital markets, competent attorneys and accountants, independent judiciaries, and laws protecting them.
 
Professional “enablers” provide all needed services. Managing vast wealth is complex. Many skills are required. They include financial, economic, legal, accounting, and insurance. Super-rich elites demand and get the best.
 
Haven locations offer more than tax avoidance. Almost anything goes on. It includes fraud, bribery, illegal gambling, money laundering, human and sex trafficking, arms dealing, toxic waste dumping, conflict diamonds and endangered species trafficking, bootlegged software, and endless other lawless practices.
 
It’s impossible to estimate total lawful and illegal wealth from all sources. It’s vastly more than estimates within the parameters of TJN’s study. Credit Suisse tried.
 
Through mid-2011, it puts total financial and non-financial global wealth at $231 trillion. It’s a best guess. It’s tenfold TJN’s top figure. It’s mind-boggling. It’s roughly 3.5 times global GDP. In 2011, it was about $65 trillion.
 
Imagine the good a small percent of global wealth could do for billions of disadvantaged people. Imagine its ability to stabilize and recapitalize troubled countries. Imagine a world where everyone shares its wealth. Imagine one worth living in.
 
Global wealth represents low-hanging fruit out of reach. Instead of everyone benefitting, few do at the expense of all others. Injustice that great begs for transformational change. From the bottom up is the only way possible. Shedding light on what’s dark is a good way to start.
 
War of Words on Iran

 
by Stephen Lendman
 
If words could kill, imperial Washington long ago would have returned Iran to its nightmarish Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi days.
 
Propaganda wars rage daily. Tehran is wrongfully called an existential threat. Imagine a country wanting peace accused of belligerent intents. Repeating it enough times gets people to believe it. Big lies have impact.
 
London’s Telegraph supplied the latest. More on it below. Perhaps it’s connected to what’s shaping up to be an impressive August 26 – 31 Non-Alignment Movement Tehran meeting.
 
Officials from over 100 countries will attend. On August 22, the Tehran Times said over 50 “will participate….at the level of president, prime minister, king, and vice president and this number will probably increase.”
 
So far, around 150 delegations will attend. They’ll be joined by representatives from about 20 international organizations. “Special guests” are also expected.
 
Top officials coming include Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Cuban leader Raul Castro, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Hugo Chavez, Hamid Karzi, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Azerbaijani President IIham Aliyev, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe among others.
 
Despite heavy Israeli and Western pressure not to come, the UN News Centre said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend. According to his spokesman:
 
“The Secretary-General looks forward to the Summit as an opportunity to work with the participating Heads of State and Government, including the host country, towards solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda including follow-up to the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development, disarmament, conflict prevention, and support for countries in Transition.”
 
“With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people.”
 
“These include Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”
 
Like Kofi Annan, Ban is an imperial tool. He represents Western interests. He had to go or look foolish. NAM is a major international organization. An unnamed UN official said “Ban has no choice but to attend an event of this size and importance.”
 
He’ll use the occasion to lecture Iran on its “international obligations.” Last week, he rebuked accurate Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Israeli criticism.
 
Ahmadinijad called Zionism a “cancerous tumor” and Israel an “insult to all humanity.” Khamenei repeated the sentiment, saying “the big powers have dominated the destiny of the Islamic countries for years….and installed the Zionist cancerous tumor in the heart of the Islamic world.”
 
He added that “Zionism will disappear from the map.” Indeed it will one day by self-destructing.
 
Speaking uncomfortable truths and confronting abusive power draws rebukes. Through his spokesman, Ban criticized “offensive and inflammatory statements.” US and EU officials called them “hateful.”
 
They accurately reflect the region’s real existential threat along with America’s imperial presence.
 
On August 19 during Eid al-Fitr prayers, marking the end of Ramadan, Khamenei addressed worshipers at Tehran University. He urged world Muslims to remain vigilant. He discussed anti-Islamic conspiracies, saying:
 
“The issues of the Muslim world at the current juncture are unprecedented ones. These developments that have occurred in the Muslim world are peculiar, shocking and determine the course of the Muslim Ummah in the future.”
 
He called America and Israel enemies of Muslim nations. He cautioned against erroneously misunderstanding their intentions. He expressed hope that Muslim countries follow “proper measures.”
 
He said a new era had begun. Muslim states are experiencing “a new situation. It will affect other nations worldwide.” He supported Palestinian resistance. He called their struggle “fundamental and important” for world Muslims.
 
Like Ban, The New York Times represents imperial interests. It’s more voice of America than legitimate news and information service. On August 22, it headlined “UN Visit Will Set Back a Push to Isolate Iran,” saying:
 
US and Israeli efforts “to isolate Iran suffered a setback” when word came Ban will attend. Iran “trumpeted” his coming “as a vindication of its defiance and enduring importance in world affairs.”
 
According to US-based independent Iranian scholar Farideh Farhi:
 
“The extraordinary effort that the Iranian leaders have put into the summit is intended to showcase Iran’s global role and offer concrete evidence that the US policy of isolating Iran has failed.”
 
“A case is being made that it is not the ‘global community’ that has problems with the Islamic republic, as repeatedly asserted by U.S. officials, but merely a U.S.-led-and-pressured coalition of countries.”
 
“And ironically the Obama administration is conceding the point by trying to pressure various leaders from attending the meeting.”
 
Reacting to Ban and Egyptian President Morsi’s announced attendance, Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev conceded:
 
“If (they’re) going there, if you’re paying homage to the leaders of Iran, what kind of diplomatic isolation is that?”
 
Washington’s National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said:
 
“We think that Iran is going to try to use the event for propaganda purposes and to try to cover up the extreme isolation Iran is feeling politically and economically.”
 
“That said, if people choose to participate, we believe they should take the opportunity of any meetings that they have with Iran’s leaders to press them to comply with their international obligations without further delay.”
 
Like the Times, the Washington Post represents wealth and power issues. Doing so betrays its readers. On August 14, it headlined “UN chief should boycott Tehran conference,” saying:
 
Tehran’s summit “promises to be” an anti-American “festival.” Iran intends to defend its sovereign rights. They include its peaceful nuclear program and call for a non-nuclear Middle East.
 
Post editors say that’s hostile. They also repeated earlier long ago discredited canards. Truth takes a back seat to propaganda. Beating up on nations Washington wants isolated, ravaged and plundered is policy.
 
Ban “will be forced to endure public lectures from the Iranian leaders about their right to enrich uranium and” anti-Israeli rants.
 
“By attending the Tehran conference, Mr. Ban will dignify a bacchanal of nonsense, undermine the work of the Security Council and probably get nothing in return.”
 
Post editors give readers reason to boycott the broadsheet and denounce its shameless commentaries. They long ago wore thin. They almost make earlier yellow journalism look respectable.
 
On August 22, London’s Telegraph delivered the latest anti-Iranian broadside. It headlined “Iran’s supreme leader orders fresh terror attacks on West.”
 
Never mind what he may have done, said and meant. Western propaganda calls it its way. Writer Con Coughlin cited unnamed Western intelligence officials, claiming:
 
“Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to the elite Quds Force unit following a recent emergency meeting of Iran’s National Security Council in Tehran held to discuss a specially-commissioned report into the implications for Iran of the Assad regime’s overthrow.”
 
“Intelligence officials say the report concludes that Iran ‘cannot be passive’ to the new threats posed to its national security, and warns that Western support for Syrian opposition groups was placing Iran’s ‘resistance alliance’ in jeopardy, and could seriously disrupt Iran’s access to Hizbollah in Lebanon.”
 
Indeed Khamenei and other Iranian officials are concerned. Failure to address serious threats would be irresponsible. Claiming Tehran plans confronting Western belligerence with its own continues an anti-Iranian war of words.
 
Doing so is spurious, unconscionable propaganda. Corroborating evidence is absent. So are names and convincing specifics.
 
Instead, unnamed intelligence sources claim Khamenei issued a directive to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Allegedly it ordered him to step up Western attacks.
 
Coughlin unjustifiably accused Iran of other anti-Western terror attacks. No evidence whatever proved Iranian involvement in any of them. All had Mossad and/or CIA fingerprints.
 
Suggesting more is an obvious ploy to blame Tehran for planned false flags. Perhaps something big is coming. Spuriously accusing Iran advances the ball for war. Washington’s had plans to attack for years. So does Israel. Timing alone is unknown.
 
Pretexts are needed. So is softening up propaganda. Enlisting public support is key. Getting it depends on convincing people of an existential threat too grave to ignore. Reality doesn’t matter, just accusations repeated enough times to sound convincing.
 
The latest scam claims Iran plans “retaliat(ing) for what they regard as the West’s attempts to influence the outcome of the Syrian unrest.”
 
Expect lots more ahead. Know the source, purpose, and longstanding US/Israeli aims. Ignore baseless accusations by sources too shamefaced to go public. They lack credibility.
 
At stake is ravaging independent nations, controlling their resources, plundering them, and exploiting their people. Peace and stability are verboten. War is the option of choice.
 
A Final Comment
 
On August 21, convicted Iran/Contra criminal Elliot Abrams headlined his Weekly Standard article “Time to Authorize Use of Force Against Iran.”
 
Abrams is one of Paul Ryan’s advisors. He’s tutoring him on foreign policy. Topic one is waging war on independent states. Ryan is a George Bush adherent. He calls himself a “defense hawk.” He’s committed to mass slaughter and destruction. So is Abrams, saying:
 
“At the moment, no one is persuaded that the United States will use force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That situation worries Israelis and emboldens Iranians, not the outcome we want.”
 
“A clear statement now that is backed by the nominees of both parties and elicits widespread support in Congress would demonstrate that, whatever the election results, American policy is set.”
 
Post-9/11, Congress gave Bush a blank check to wage war. It approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”
 
Bush took full advantage. Permanent wars rage. Abrams wants more. So do other neocon hawks. Iran is target one. Plans call for full-blown Syrian escalation. Exposing and denouncing imperial schemes is essential. What greater priority than that.
 
Risking Nuclear Armageddon

 
by Stephen Lendman
 
Irresponsible leaders risk the unthinkable. Media scoundrels cheerlead mindlessly. So do neocon think tanks. Ordinary people are more concerned about mundane trivia than survival.
 
Nero didn’t fiddle while Rome burned. The violin wasn’t invented for another 1,500 years. Today’s officials go where earlier ones wouldn’t dare. They risk regional or global disaster. War on Syria and/or Iran may ignite more than leaders bargain for.
 
Imagine blowing up the world to control it. Imagine forces able to stop it staying sidelined. Imagine the unimaginable. Imagine it before it’s too late to matter.
 
World War II weapons were toys compared to today’s. Before war ended, tens of millions died. Estimates range from 50 – 70 million. No one knows for sure. Preventing war would have saved them. Hoped for never again became perpetual conflicts.
 
Obama replicates hardline neocon extremism. He did what supporters thought impossible. He surpassed the worst of Bush. Imagine what’ll do in a second term.
 
He’s risking the unthinkable. He’s lurching toward potential nuclear war. He’s mindless about likely consequences.
 
Only America used nuclear weapons. It’s not working to avoid potential catastrophe. It wants advantageous geopolitical positioning and dominance. Mutually assured destruction so far worked. Fail safe days may be ending.
 
Attacking Syria risks Russian and perhaps Chinese intervention. War on Iran entails that risk and more. Washington’s arsenal includes weapons too dangerous to use.
 
One around for several years is called “the Mother of All Bombs (massive ordinance penetrator, or MOP).” At 30,000 pounds, it’s able to penetrate 200 feet of concrete before exploding. It’s America’s most powerful non-nuclear weapon. Use will cause horrific casualties and destruction.
 
Tactical nuclear weapons may also be used. Called bunker busters, their explosive power ranges from less to more than bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
 
Using them assures retaliation. Prime targets include Israel’s nuclear sites, US bases, and America’s nuclear armed vessels. Imagine the potential consequences. Armageddon is risked. The unimaginable may become reality.
 
Plans have been in place for years. Washington and Israel have them. Perhaps coordinated strikes are planned. Russian and Chinese intervention ups the catastrophic odds.
 
Dangerous signals are increasing. On August 19, Obama promised US military intervention if Syria repositions or uses chemical or other nonconventional weapons. At a White House news conference he said:
 
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.”
 
“That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
 
At the same time, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) said US, UK and French special forces are positioned in Israel, Jordan and Turkey. They’re on standby to seize Syrian chemical weapons.
 
Doing so means invasion. DF said they’ll “engage Syrian troops attempting to” reposition nonconventional weapons. Allegedly it’s to prevent them from falling into insurgent hands or supplying them to Hezbollah.
 
Obama, Britain’s David Cameron, and France’s Francois Hollande “wrap(ped) up the details of their combined operation….” They plan direct intervention. Air strikes are involved.
 
DF said “American reconnaissance teams are already on the ground, marking out landing sites and setting up bridgeheads for the incoming US, British and French special forces.”
 
Direct US intervention began. Stepped up actions will follow. Obama’s acting on his own. Congress remains on summer recess until early September. Republicans hold their national convention from August 27 – 30. Democrats have theirs the following week.
 
All’s quiet on the home front. What better time perhaps for more war. National attention will be minimal. Perhaps Obama thinks he can wrap things up and declare victory before most people notice. He hasn’t been able to do it for over 18 months.
 
No end of conflict is imminent. Attacking Syria may involve Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and China. Imagine then what follows. All-out war repercussions can’t be predicted. Embroiling the entire region and beyond is possible.
 
Syria won’t use chemical weapons except in self-defense. It won’t give Washington pretext to intervene. Its statements left no ambiguity. On August 24, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said:
 
“We, for our part, have already worked with the Syrian government and have raised this issue. We have been given very strong assurances that everything possible will be done to stop it happening. Guarantees were also given that the chemical weapons will remain in their current place.”
 
“They assured us that very serious control is being exercised over the safety of these weapons, and there is no threat today that something could happen to them or the situation could get out of control.”
 
At the same time, Gatilov expressed concern about Washington perhaps instigating insurgent nonconventional weapons use blamed on Assad. Doing so gives America pretext for war.
 
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France will help enforce no-fly zone authority. Doing so without Security Council approval is lawless. It also involves bombing Syrian air defenses and command and control sites.
 
Libya 2.0 may be imminent. Imagine the horrific casualty count and devastation. War with Syria assures it. Planners, of course, say nothing. Media scoundrels suppress what everyone needs to know.
 
Another nonbelligerent nation is on America’s target list for total destruction. Imagine public inattention while it’s happening.
 
Attacking Iran may follow or occur simultaneously. On August 24, Haaretz headlined “Heading for an iceberg called Iran,” saying:
 
Netanyahu/Barak want support to attack. Cabinet members are evenly split pro and con. Shimon Peres went public. He’s concerned about something too dangerous to risk. Unfortunately he thinks so only if Israel acts unilaterally  He calls going solo potentially suicidal. Alone or otherwise is madness.
 
Fourteen ministers comprise Israel’s security cabinet. Eight have most say. Currently Netanyahu/Barak favor war. Two others support them – Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. Four others are opposed.
 
Netanyahu/Barak need one more on their side. How all cabinet members feel is important. Six want war. Another six don’t, and two remain undecided. Decisions this grave should be no-brainers. Mindless officials risk possible armageddon Haaretz spelled out as follows:
 
Though unlikely, if Israel goes it alone, Washington will be “furious. The price of oil soars. Thousands of missiles strike Tel Aviv, Haifa, Dimona and other Israeli cities. The economy collapses.”
 
“Hundreds are killed, thousands wounded. A mass flight of Israelis abroad. Tent cities. In this scenario, a senior figure in the ruling party said this week, Netanyahu will certainly lose the next election. Not even avowed Likudniks will vote Likud.”
 
Does Netanyahu know the risks? “Of course,” said a senior unnamed source. “He is not stupid.” He just acts that way. “He sees the whole picture and all its parts.”
 
Will that give him pause? “No. He believes that this is his reason d’être in life.” That’s why he was elected, he thinks. He and Barak are committed. Others are worried for good reason.
 
Haaretz downplayed potential disaster. At issue is irradiating Israel, causing vast destruction, killing thousands, injuring many more, and putting the entire population and others in neighboring countries at risk.
 
Nightly anti-war demonstrations target Barak’s home. Former adviser Eldad Yaniv participates. He said Yitzhak Rabin made a mistake allowing them weekly where he lived. They affected public opinion.
 
Yaniv thinks if he and others persist nightly, they’ll become “permanent fixture” enough perhaps to prevent war. He and other believe it’s too important not to try.
 
Hawks say waiting ups the dangers. Inflammatory reports lacking credibility and/or designed to enlist public support circulate.
 
On August 23, Reuters headlined “Iran expands nuclear capacity in underground bunker – sources,” saying:
 
More underground uranium enrichment ability “potentially pav(es) the way for a significant expansion of work the West fears is ultimately aimed at making nuclear bombs.”
 
Doing so “de(fies) international demands to curb its nuclear program.”
 
Unnamed sources lack credibility. Inflammatory reports advance the ball for war. Reuters shares guilt with other media scoundrels.
 
On August 23, The New York Times ran the same story in more detail with more deception. Writer David Sanger’s been waging war on Iran. Instead of truth and full disclosure, he features pro-Western misinformation.
 
He calls Iran’s peaceful nuclear program “a direct threat to the US.” He lied but won’t admit it. He’s at it again stoking fear instead of allaying it.
 
IAEA head Yukiya Amano will soon report more on Iran. He’s a pro-Western tool. Washington got him installed to serve its interests. He’ll say what Obama officials want to hear. He’ll stoke more baseless Iranian threats.
 
He’ll stop short of saying Iran decided to produce nuclear weapons. Perhaps he’s saving this type punchline for a later time. Claiming it doesn’t wash. It won’t deter him saying anything to debase Tehran unjustifiably.
 
Nonetheless, he’ll likely “renew the debate over Iran’s intentions at a time when Israeli officials are stepping up their warnings that the window to conduct a preemptive military strike is closing.”
 
His views may affect US voters in November. In July, Romney said Obama wasted time negotiating. Iran took full advantage, he claimed.
 
Inflammatory reports make negotiated solutions less likely. Sanger and others like him increase chances for war. They’d feel otherwise if bombs fell on them. They’re brain-dead about human costs of war. Proliferating propaganda only matters.
 
Amano plays the same dirty game. He’ll say Iran made substantial enriched uranium progress. They’ve got enough to produce five or more bombs.
 
Ordinary people have enough power with their bare hands to inflict harm. Few go around doing it. Headline stories don’t suggest they might. Spurious reports mischaracterize Iranian intentions.
 
Amano’s bottom line is how close is Tehran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons? Every nation operating commercial reactors can do so if they wish. Only Iran is called threatening. Accusers have other fish to fry.
 
At issue is regime change. Pretexts are easy to contrive. Repetition stokes fear. Public support for what’s unthinkable may follow. Imagine a worst case scenario. Imagine leaders risking it.
 
Imagine fears becoming reality. At that point it’s too late to matter. What better reason to stop potential catastrophe before it happens.
 
Obama’s bully pulpit can prevent it. Instead, he’s furthering belligerence, not deterring it. On March 7, House Congressional Resolution (HCR) 107 was introduced. It was referred to committee. No further action was taken.
 
It “(e)xpress(es) the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
 
It states:
 
“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
 
What greater crime than aggressive war. Obama and other US leaders are guilty. Invoking constitutional power more than ever is urgent to prevent the unthinkable. If saving humanity isn’t reason enough, what is?

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