France

Terror Types & Political Pandemonium

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on July 16, 2016

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Much going on over the last two days in the World of Collapse.  2 days ago we had the Truck Massacre in Nice, today there is ongoing an attempted Military Coup d'Etat in Turkey.  You just can't keep up anymore with all the shit going down!  I'm going to have to start publishing an article more than once a week!

Let's go in chronological order here and start with the Truck Massacre.  It occured in France, on Bastille Day, big Holiday like July 4th in the FSoA.  Tradition has it that people gather together and blow off fireworks in a simalcrum of the actual firefights that took place during the original wars/revolutions/battles for independence.  The National Anthem of the FSoA even celebrates this in the lyrics:

And thy rocket's red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/~/media/images/gmcvb/miamiandbeaches/featured%20articles/fourth%20of%20july/fireworks-display-from-seafair-yacht-612x338.jpg

However, generally speaking these fireworks are not dangerous now, although a few Darwin Award Winners each year succeed in blowing off various parts of their own anatomy.  Still, they ARE a celebration of the Violence & War that it took to create their beloved Nation-State.

Problem here now is this violence is getting real again, and with lots of firecrackers going off and chinese rocket explosions, can the revelers tell the difference between them and guns or bombs going off?  Probably not, leading to mass confusion on the street in a large crowd of people.

In this case also, while apparently the perp had a gun and was firing out the window of his truck as he mowed people down, the main vector for death in this case was the truck he was driving.  This speaks to the issue of Gun Control and whether it would really make a significant difference in Terrorist Death Toll if the French or the FSoA succeeded in "banning guns", or at least the kind of semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 often used in these events.

In all likelihood, this would NOT make a huge difference, since those interested in delivering Death to unsuspecting people would find other means of doing it.  The Killer Truck is one example.  Car Bombs and Pipe Bombs another.  Arson where many people congregate such as Hotels, Theaters and Nightclubs another.  The commuter rail system also is highly vulnerable.  All you need to cause a derailment of a packed commuter train is a Crowbar on a section of track in the wee hours before rush hour.

On the other hand, will making more gunz freely available to the public to Open Carry stop or at least slow down the mass killings done by terrorists with their own gunz?  That depends to a large extent on the type of event it is and how smart or stupid the perp is.

In all cases, the perp has the element of SURPRISE against those he intends on shooting.  They don't know it's coming until the first shot fires off.  In the case of Orlando where the Shooter was actually mixed in with the crowd, a few people Packing Heat might have made a difference in the the final tally of Dead People.  In the case of the Dallas Cop Massacre, it would have made no difference whatsoever.  In that case, the shooter took an elevated position in a parking garage and it probably took a couple of minutes just to figure out where the shots were coming from.  Most of the dead cops probably were hit in the first 2-3 minutes, and you don't even need semi-auto for that, a bolt action with a clip would do the trick.  You gotta aim before you fire anyhow if you want Kill Shots, you can't just spray bullets willy nilly unless in the middle of a crowd.  Then the cops still standing had to figure out how to get to the guy, and even armed to the teeth themselves they didn't think they could do it by standard means, so they improvised a Robot to go in and blow the perp to Kingdom Come.  Even with CC permits, nobody is going to have a robot with them to do that job.

In the incident in Nice, there were plenty-o-cops around, France is after all still under a "State of Emergency" (aka Martial Law) since the last big attack in November and Charlie Hebdo before that.  However, it takes time to react to a truck careening through a large crowd of people, and then the cops gotta get in position to shoot through the windshield in order to take out the driver.  The Killing Field apparently was around 1 mile long, and the driver was doing maybe 30 mph during the spree.  That means he covered the whole mile in around 2 minutes.  There is no way to stop that, short of having Truck Control Laws and preventing people from driving trucks, which obviously would not be good for commerce.  If the truck had a Tesla Autopilot on it, it could have gone on even LONGER mowing people down even AFTER the perp was taken out!

http://news.images.itv.com/image/file/1039395/stream_img.jpg

Which then speaks to yet another method of mass killing, which is using RC Drones.  This has mainly been a Goobermint/Military sponsored method of MK to date, but the technology of RC is quite available to anyone.  Most consumer drones don't have power to carry much payload, but you can certainly adapt the controls to an Ultralight Aircraft capable of carrying a 200 lb load of explosives.  Such Ultralights can be built from motorcycle engines in the 250cc category for around $5000.  DEATH FROM ABOVE on the cheap!

So it is unlikely that a gun ban will do a lot to stop mass killing among those motivated to do so, by one means or the other.  How much being able to CC will help also is quite debatable.  It has a real DOWNSIDE in a crowd situation where it might be effective, which is that the cops don't know who is Friendly Fire and who the perps are?  So in all likelihood in a real melee, lots of the Good Guys shooting to help the cops would get shot by the cops!

This is why in all historical wars, the opposing sides wear UNIFORMS, and why the cops themselves wear uniforms.  In a battle, this identifies Friend from Foe.  In this type of assymetric warfare, the cops don't know WHO is friend or foe.  On the other hand, if the perps consider the cops as foe, they can easily be identified by their uniforms.  This of course puts the cops at a significant disadvantage in such a melee, especially in the case of multiple shooters targeting them specifically.  So far such a situation has not yet occured in the FSoA, but it is a regular feature of life for the Mexican Police Force.  The Drug Dealers know who they are, but they don't know who all the drug dealers are.  So they are targets, sitting ducks essentially.

Finally on this topic for today is a DISTINCTION which is not being made in the Media or by the Pols issuing out statements "condemning" the massacre.  This Dog & Pony Show is just STUPID, what would anyone do but 'condemn" this, unless they happen to side with the shooter?  Condemning the acts doesn't do a fucking thing to address the causes or to reduce them in frequency and in death toll.

The distinction not made is between Terrorist Acts pulled off by a Lone Wolf with his own personal grudges or unstable psychology and those pulled off by one or more perps who are motivated Politically and may be affiliated with some Terrorist Organization like Daesh.  Both types are the outcome of a collapsing civilization; both types can result in a relatively large death toll in a given event, but they have a different nature and the ability to deal with them in any effective manner as a result also varies quite a bit.

In the case of the Terrorist Attack in Paris in November where numerous targets were hit by numerous perps, this was pretty clearly a part of an Organization.  So in the aftermath of that, French & Belgian police went full on arresting the Usual Suspects in both countries until they could nail down who was in these cells and go after them.

In the case of all the other recent attacks mentioned, Orlando, Dallas and Nice, they all appear to have been pulled off by Lone Wolf Nut Jobs.  They may have expressed "allegiance" with the goals of Daesh, but that doesn't mean they have any contact with or direction from the center of this movement.  It just means they are looking for something to justify their actions and a Peer Group.  As individuals they have much in common with the organized Daesh in MENA.  They are also members of the underclass, they also have little opportunity for success wherever they live and they are also Muslims.  So it is convenient to align with Daesh, but they are not really part of an "International Terrorist Organization".

However, every time such a Lone Wolf successfully pulls off a Mass Murder, it gets attributed first to Daesh, and then second to Muslims in general, and the psychotic behavior of these individuals is then transferred through the mass media and the politicians as being attributable to ALL Muslims, and Islam in general as a brutal and medieval sort of religion.  Which all the main ones are really, they all developed well before modern industrial culture did.

What this does is to take the responsibility off your own Local Failures and then ascribe to "the other", who are demonized by Pols and the Media as responsible for the mayhem.  The fact is though, the local Home Grown Lone Wolves are simply reacting to the failures within their own local communities.  They are ALWAYS the underclass, at best they hold an hourly payheck job they can lose on any day, with no savings to carry them over.  They never made enough money to have any significant savings.  They often have Marital Problems, because when you have financial problems, marital problems and arguments quickly follow.  They often have drug and alcohol problems, because when your life is a mess and seems like it will be a mess as far on the horizon as you can see, you rely on alcohol and drugs to blot out the pain.  Often enough those are even Prescription Drugs, anti-depressants to keep you from getting too depressed about your situation, but that doesn't actually change your situation.  Whatever it is making you depressed is still there, you are just too wasted to realize it.

So in reality here, this really has little to do with religion, or even Organized Terror.  It's a social response to a collapsing civilization, and the folks "going nuts" or "getting violent" first are the folks at the bottom end of the society, the people with NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE.  There are more of those being manufactured by Industrial Civilization every day, so we can expect a whole lot more of this type of behavior moving into the future.  At least until somebody in power actually addresses the underlying problems of Resource Depletion and Population Overshoot, which is unlikely to occur anytime too soon.

Much more left to elucidate as far as the Roots of Terrorism are concerned, but in close follow-up to the events in Nice we had the SURPRISE  attempted Military Coup d'Etat occur in Turkey on Friday, conveniently enough after the markets closed for the weekend.  LOL.  So now let us move on to the second half of this discussion which to some people might not seem related, but in truth is very closely related to both types of Terrorism.

Turkey while it has seemed "stable" at least relative to places like Syria and Iraq is centrally located between just about all the major players here.  They have Iran on one side, Mother Russia on another and then NATO operating in Iraq.  They have their own internal divisions with Haves and Have Nots as well, the Kurds being the main Have Not and target inside Turkey for repression.

Then they have an incredibly corrupt regime in power run by Erdocrook, double dealing with ISIL on one side to buy oil and so keep money flowing into Erdocrook's Swiss Bank Account while at the SAME TIME theoretically "battling" the same folks over in Syria, where both NATO and the Ruskies drop the DEATH FROM ABOVE  every day, in the hope they might actually hit something besides women, children and hospitals so they can take out important people and WIN THE WAR!

Far as the Turkish military is concerned, who is it that actually has to cross the border into Syria and engage…somebody.  Said somebodies probably are not wearing any uniforms, and there are a lot of somebodies from different factions here.  So who do you shoot, and who will shoot at you?  You see the similarity with the CC carry problem in a demonstration with police present and shooting I trust.  I'll tell you who has to cross the border and do this insane sort of warfare where nobody is quite sure who the Enemy is, it is the typical Turkish Grunt, and he is probably even less happy about this shit than the truckloads of Amerikan Grunts returning from this Hell Hole and commiting suicide.  Not only can't they figure out who the enemy on the ground really is, they ALSO got Ruskie and NATO bombers dropping down the Death from Above, and based on history their targeting is not always so good.

So one can imagine here the morale amongst the Rank & File Turkish soldier is not so good, and they are not too happy about going out as Cannon Fodder in an Endless War that enriches Erdocrook while their own families at home are STARVING.  Eventually this dissention works its way up to the upper ranks of the military, they start finding it hard to get these grunts to Follow Orders.  Even though Erdocrook did a full purge of the military leadership a few years back, the folks he installed are likely under a lot of pressure from the ranks below.  Instead of a Mutiny within their own ranks jeopardizing their own leadership positions, they risk a Mutiny against Erdocrook themselves.

Besides Rank & File pressure, there's also various types of international pressure Erdocrook is under.  First he has been aligning mostly with the Saudis and attempting to set up an Islamic style Caliphate rather than the secular type of Goobermint Turkey has been running under since the days of Kamal Attaturk.  Second he has all the Refugee problems between Syria & Turkey, and then between Turkey & Greece, and Greece of course is now turning into just about as big a Concentration Camp for MENA refugees as Turkey itself is.  The rest of the Northern Europeans now don't want to let anyone out of those concentration camps, so the problem is backing up.

In a sense, this is not real different than what is going on in the Oil Market these days, now there is a glut in the distillates of diesel and gasoline, and they are running out of storage room as the demand continues to be less than the supply being dragged up, even if that supply is diminishing.  So at some point here a Firesale is going to be necessary.  EVERYTHING MUST GO!  90% OFF!

http://i.usatoday.net/money/_photos/2011/03/24/tips-liquidation-salex-large.jpg

While you can do a liquidation sale of petroleum products pretty easily, liquidation of a large portion of the Human Population is significantly more difficult and brings with it significantly more problems, such as we have witnessed in the last few weeks from Orlando, to Dallas, to Nice and to Turkey.  These are not unrelated and separate problems, they are all manifestations of a Collapse Dynamic that is ongoing and accelerating, which we have been tracking on the Diner for the last 5 years.  None of this is unexpected, the only thing that is real hard to put a finger on is the timeline.

Until the leadership acknowledges and owns up to the underlying problems, no real solutions are possible.  Even once you do own up to the problem, the possible solutions are mostly unpalatable, particularly those in power who wish to hold onto their perks in the current society.  In theory, a downspin and a transition to a lower per capita energy future could be managed, but not with the current leadership and not with the current system of maldistribution.  Both are a recipe for mayhem, and both must be removed before we can address our problems in an intelligent manner.

War of the Lefts

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Published on RT on May 27, 2016

A striking French labour union EDF employee stands near a burning barricade that blocks the entrance of the depot of the SFDM company near the oil refinery to protest the labour reforms law proposal in Donges, France, May 27, 2016 © Stephane Mahe

A striking French labour union EDF employee stands near a burning barricade that blocks the entrance of the depot of the SFDM company near the oil refinery to protest the labour reforms law proposal in Donges, France, May 27, 2016 © Stephane Mahe / Reuters

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France paralyzed by the ‘War of the Lefts’

Paris burns as Hollande fiddles. Take it as shorthand for nationwide protests in France against a proposed labor “reform” while the President poses at the G-7 in Japan as if he’s one of the Masters of the Universe.

France is semi-paralyzed – from dockworkers in the port of Le Havre (a key trade hub) to workers in refineries, oil depots, nuclear power stations (accounting for 75 percent of the national electricity supply), airports, and the metropolitan Paris rail system. This has translated into panic at myriad petrol stations – with much of the French transportation system brought to a standstill.

All this because the cataclysmically unpopular, nominally “socialist” Hollande administration has introduced a draft law that drastically modifies the French labor code and essentially adopts Anglo-Saxon neoliberal “hire and fire” in a deeply regulated, regimented nation where workers’ rights and protections are taken extremely seriously. Hollande and his astonishingly mediocre Prime Minister Manuel Valls defend it as the best way to fight chronic unemployment.

Scrap the bill to unblock the nation

May 2016 in France is certainly no May 1968 remix. It features a vortex of complicating factors, such as the “terra terra terra” psychosis (Paris is in a semi-disguised state of siege); the ongoing Nuit Debout movement at the Place de la Republique – the French version of Occupy Wall Street; and police with their nerves on edge complaining, and even demonstrating, that they are not getting all the love they need from the general population.

May 2016 is essentially configured as a battle between the socialist government and French unions. It’s bound to get nastier. Police figures suggest 153,000 strikers/demonstrators this past Thursday – a huge mobilization day that touched public services and air transport; unions claim there were almost 300,000. The executive is beginning to use force to unblock key refineries. Panic at empty petrol stations is becoming the norm.

The Hollande-Valls duo has gone hardcore; the labor reform bill must be approved, otherwise that’s the end of the government. Valls’ red line is that if the bill goes, he also goes. Yet he’s already been forced to (slightly) backtrack; he’s now allowing “modifications” and “improvements” to the bill.

So this is essentially a battle of the French Lefts – a radical, working-class branch against a nominally social-democratic one in power, actually neoliberal. It’s also a dialogue of the deaf. The Prime Minister is not exactly a participant of social dialogue. For him these two Lefts are irreconcilable. You don't need to be a reader of Barthes or Deleuze to infer that France is running the risk of reaching degree zero of social democracy.

After the eighth day of demonstrations, the secretary-general of the powerful CGT union, Philippe Martinez, is now demanding to be received by the President and the President only – actually throwing Valls into the dustbin. From Japan, Hollande emitted a laconic “I’m being briefed.”

A case can be made that the Hollande-Valls duo is so disconnected from the street pulse that they had no idea this bill would be met with so much hostility. They should have gone for a wider reach – and should have previously invested in a lot of dialogue, not to mention semantic niceties, with the unions.

So what does the French public think about this mess? Essentially, three-quarters of the population is against the bill. And you can’t “modernize” France without the French. Yet this being France, subtle nuances matter. According to one of the latest polls, 69 percent are in favor of the bill being scrapped, to avoid the nation being paralyzed. Another poll shows that 62 percent consider the strikes “justified” despite parts the country being paralyzed. So a sound cross-pollination of these polls tells us that social movements are legitimate even as most people don’t want to see the nation paralyzed.

In a lighter vein, Paris café talk now rules that the Socialist Party better not even try to stage an upcoming presidential campaign; what’s going on is proof that the working class hates their guts. It’s a fact that the current état d’urgence – as in the French version of the US Patriot Act – plus the neoliberal drive made the Socialist Party (PS) lose the votes of artists and intellectuals as well as ‘bobos’ (bourgeois bohemians) which used to be the mainstay of their electoral base. And all this while CEOs so much courted by the PS will continue to vote for the right.

Time to be an ‘indignado’ with a cause

So what next? The sound money is on some sort of compromise; the text of the bill will be amended by the Senate next month, before coming back to the Assembly. This means it will be “retouched” – as even the government is now admitting; and that will mean a victory for social movements. Whatever happens the War of the Lefts won’t be over. And the final result may even come up in the form of a collective suicide – to the benefit of the Right.

Meanwhile, growth in France remains feeble at best. Euro 2016 starts in only two weeks, on June 10. France may expect to receive as many as 1.5 million foreign tourists and profit to the tune of €1.3 billion. The fan zone under construction in front of the Eiffel Tower will attract at least 100,000 people daily.

If there is no solution in the coming days, the Hollande-Valls duo will have to back down. The French security system won’t be able to cope, simultaneously, with a high terrorist alert and policing myriad demonstrations (a huge one is already scheduled for June 14). A lot is riding on the success of the Euro football, not the currency. Football, in this case, is far from politically neutral; if the whole show is a major success, it’s Hollande who will reap the benefits.

Socialists in France, meanwhile, could do worse than take a look at neighboring Spain.
In Spain under Franco, communists and socialists were at the vanguard of democratic resistance, incorporating in their struggle those who created Workers’ Commissions and some of the best intellectuals of the times.

But then came the recent neoliberal drift of the European socialist parties – which led them to lose their historical hegemony. They have not adapted to being able to defend their social base – and the welfare state – and at the same time satisfy the harsh requirements of the financial casino system as well as a European Commission economic policy of fiscal austerity as demanded by Germany and financialization as influenced by Britain.

During Franco and the Cold War, it was common to use “communist” and “socialist” as a disqualification of any political argument. What reigned was the politics of fear. France, for its part, was way more sophisticated politically (and not under a fascist regime.)

What’s left for the ‘Lefts’ in Europe is to pay close attention to the emerging path opened by social movements, bent on rebuilding the welfare state and creating worthy forms of employment; all that has been denied by market fundamentalism and the austerity TINA (There Is No Alternative) mindset.

Among the Spanish ‘indignados’ one finds anarchists, communists, socialists – a microcosm of modern history in Spain rooted in the indignation against dictatorship and social injustice, all trying to reinvent themselves while neoliberalism flounders. If only the French Lefts would pay attention.

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Pepe Escobar
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

 

 

Coal, Wars, and Beautiful Women

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on February 22, 2016

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Why in Italy we speak Italian and not French

 

 

Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, 1837-1899. Portrait by Michele Gordigiani. The following text is part of the talk that I gave in Paris on Feb 12, at the Momentum Institute (h/t Yves Cochet, Agnes Sinaï, and Mathilde Szuba)

In the study of history, it is fashionable to use quantitative data as much as possible. We speak of financial and economic factors, of the competition for natural resources, of population unbalances, of the effects of climate, and more. And, yet, sometimes history goes on according to the whim of one or another ruler making colossal mistakes; from Napoleon to Saddam Hussein. In that case, human factors become predominant and only in some cases we can have a glimpse of what may have passed in the mind of the people at the top. One such case may have been that of countess Virginia Oldoini, femme fatale of the 19th century, mistress of the French Emperor Napoleon III, and, perhaps, the origin of the Italian unification of 1860. Beautiful woman, indeed, and hard to describe using system dynamics models!

Let's go back to the early 19th century. At that time, the industrial revolution was in full swing; fueled by the coal mines of Northern Europe, mainly in England, France, and Germany. This revolution had created an economic unbalance, making the Northern countries much richer and more powerful than the Southern ones. It was not just a question of having or not having coal. It was a question of transporting it. Coal is heavy and bulky and, at that time, the only practical way to carry it over long distances was by the sea. Sailing ships could take coal everywhere in the world but, when it was a question of taking it inland, waterways were needed. No waterways, no coal. No coal, no industrial revolution. That was the reason of the unbalance: the Southern European countries, just as the North-African ones, could have no waterways because of the lack of water. Hence, they could not industrialize and they remained economically and militarily weak.

Here is the situation as it was in 1848.
 

At this date, the only Mediterranean regions that had waterways and could industrialize were France and Northern Italy, and Piedmont in particular. Of the two, France was by far the most powerful and, already in 1848, you can see how France had occupied Algeria, snatching it away from the weak Ottoman Empire. The rest of the North-African region was ripe for the taking and even the Kingdom of Naples, in Southern Italy, was militarily and industrially weak; an easy prey for any industrialized country. So, what could have stopped the French from turning the whole Mediterranean sea into a French lake? That had been, apparently, Napoleon's idea when he had invaded Egypt, in 1798. It had not worked out at that time, but it had been a good strategic intuition that later French governments could have carried out.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the British. In the great strategic game of the 19th century, they had sighted Egypt, that they would occupy in 1882, but there was little or nothing that they could do to stop France from occupying the whole Northern African shore, all the way to Egypt and perhaps farther than that. Nothing direct, that is, but what if they could create a strategic counterweight to balance the French power? And what could that counterweight be? Italy, of course, if it could be unified and transformed into a single country, out of the plethora of statelets it was at that time.

So, in mid 19th century, the strategic pieces of the Mediterranean game were all in their places, as if on a giant chessboard. The British objective was shared by Piedmont: unify Italy as soon as possible and stop France from further expansion. On the other side of the chessboard; France's objective was also clear: avoid at all costs the unification of Italy and take as much as possible of North Africa, as soon as possible.

Clear; perfectly clear. And easy for France. They had almost nothing to do; just keep Piedmont in check; which they could do easily. It is true that Piedmont was a small industrial powerhouse for its times, but it was no match for the much larger and much more powerful neighboring France. But the French president and emperor of that time, Louis Napoleon, or "Napoleon III" did exactly the opposite, even engaging the French army in support of the expansion of Piedmont in Northern Italy in a series of bloody battles against the Austrians, in 1859. Not that France helped Piedmont for nothing, of course. In exchange, the French obtained a slice of land on the Western side of the Alps, formerly part of Piedmont. It was a territorial gain but, in strategical terms, it was nothing in comparison to what France was losing.

One year later, Piedmont, with the support of the British, sent an army led by Giuseppe Garibaldi to invade the Southern Kingdom of Naples. The Neapolitans put up a spirited resistance, but, alone, they couldn't cope and Napoleon III did nothing to help them. With the collapse of the Southern Kingdom, the complete unification of Italy became unavoidable, despite a last-ditch attempt by Napoleon III in 1867, when he sent troops to Italy to stop Garibaldi from taking Rome.

So, Italy was. And it still is. The curious thing is that it had not to be. Had Napoleon III stopped Garibaldi in 1860 in the same way as he did in 1867, probably we would still have a kingdom of Naples and the country that today we call "Italy", would be mainly a French protectorate. And, most likely, French would be the dominant language in most of the country.

Instead, France had lost a historical occasion to become the dominant Mediterranean power. Later on, the Franch still managed to carve out some more pieces of North Africa, occupying Tunisia in 1881 and Morocco in 1904, but all further advances in the Mediterranean region were stopped when, in 1911, Italy claimed what Italians saw as their rightful slice of the declining Ottoman Empire: the region that we call Libya today.

So, how was it that Napoleon III made such a colossal strategic mistake? In a way, we can say that it is rather normal: Rulers of states are often awfully incompetent at their job (just think of our George W. Bush). But, for Napoleon III, there may have been a reason that goes beyond simple incompetence.

The French have invented the phrase "Cherchez la femme" ("look for the woman") as an explanation for many otherwise inexplicable events. And, in the story of the unification of Italy, there is a woman involved: Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione. She was the cousin of Count Cavour, prime minister of Piedmont at that time, and she was sent to Paris by him, it seems, with the specific idea of influencing Napoleon III. She was a faithful Italian patriot and she understood very well what was to be her role as mistress of the French president and emperor. She was to convince him to do something that the French should never have allowed: help Piedmont to invade and conquer the rest of the Italian peninsula. According to what we can often read in history books, she fulfilled her role and, from the portraits and the photographs we have of her, maybe we can also understand how.

Of course, we can legitimately think that this story is just a legend. But could it be that Virginia Oldoini really convinced Luis Napoleon to do what he did? In this case, the Countess should be considered as one of the most influential women in modern history. But we will never be able to know: by now, she is on the other side of the mirror, perhaps watching us from there and laughing at us.

 

For a fictional tale of what could have happened had Napoleon III been smarter (or Virginia Oldoini less beautiful) see "The Tipping points of History" on the "Chimeras" blog.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Massacre: Circle of Mayhem

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on November 20, 2015

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The Massacre in Paris last Friday has already had much of the expected Blowback.  France is under Martial Law, 1000s of Police, National Guard and Military units are patrolling the streets in Camo outfits and Black Robocop Gear.  The Ruskies have joined the Frogs to send their long range Bombers and Cruise Missiles in to further bomb Syria back to the Stone Age.  They do this because this method has clearly been so successful for the FSoA in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Right. Roll Eyes

The Saber Rattling is reaching deafening proportions as everyone from Hollandaise Sauce to Marine LePew  to The Donald first want to Glaze over the whole neighborhood there with Nukes, and after that Deport all the Muslims currently living in Eurotrashland or Amerika back to the nuclear wasteland!

Clearly, this Circle of Mayhem could only be treated properly with a RANT.

Snippet

In terms of asymmetric warfare, if in fact it's true that ISIS is responsible and has smuggled in 4000 Allah Akbars to wreak mayhem around Europe, then they should be following up with more attacks in other cities. Otherwise it smells more like a 9-11 style false flag, providing a good excuse for Euro countries to try to close their borders and refuse more incoming refugees.

 

Newz now also is that France has deployed their ONLY Nuke powered Aircraft Carrier to the waters off the Syrian coast. The purpose of which is to do precisely WHAT? The Ruskies are bombing in Syria and so is NATO already. One Frog aircraft Carrier here will make a big difference? What? More bombs dropped just means more refugees and more radicalized terrorists. Besides, their real problems aren't in Syria anyhow, they are right at home in Frogland, and Krautland and the Limeyland too!

French Surveillance Law Amid Terror of Own Creation

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on May 15, 2015

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Can a new surveillance law help stop terrorists the government is already tracking and simply choosing not to stop? 

May 15, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – France has announced that in the wake of the so-called "Charlie Hebdo Shooting," it will be passing a controversial new bill granting security agencies unprecedented powers to tap the communications of France's population without judicial overview.

Impossible to pass without having first provoked fear, hatred, division, and hysteria across the French population, and still facing stiff resistance from civil liberty activists, the bill's passage raises further suspicions regarding the fatal January 2015 shooting in regards to who organized the incident and who stood most to benefit.

The Guardian in its article, "France passes new surveillance law in wake of Charlie Hebdo attack," would report:

The French parliament has overwhelmingly approved sweeping new surveillance powers in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in January that killed 17 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris. 

The new bill, which allows intelligence agencies to tap phones and emails without seeking permission from a judge, sparked protests from rights groups who claimed it would legalise highly intrusive surveillance methods without guarantees for individual freedom and privacy.

The Guardian would also claim that:

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, defended the bill as “necessary and proportionate”, saying that to compare it to the mass surveillance Patriot Act introduced in the United States after the 9/11 attacks was a lie. 

He said that the previous French law on wiretapping dated back to 1991, “when there were no mobile phones or internet,” and the new bill was crucial in the face of extremist threats.

Not a Lack of Surveillance 

As seen in nearly every recent terror attack both in Europe and North America including the "Charlie Hebdo shooting" and the more recent Garland, Texas attack, the alleged suspects behind the attacks all have one thread in common – they were all already under the watch of security agencies for years, some even imprisoned one or more times for terror-related and/or other violent offenses, some even having traveled overseas to fight alongside Western-backed terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and beyond.


The Guardian itself admits that the French government alone has over 1,400 people under watch, including hundreds of terrorists who have recently returned from fighting alongside Western-backed terrorists including Al Qaeda and its regional franchise, the "Islamic State" (ISIS) in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Among these monitored potential risks were in fact the suspects behind the "Charlie Hebdo shooting."

Slate Magazine would report in their article, "The Details of Paris Suspect Cherif Kouachi’s 2008 Terrorism Conviction," that:

Kouachi was arrested in January 2005, accused of planning to join jihadists in Iraq. He was said to have fallen under the sway of Farid Benyettou, a young "self-taught preacher" who advocated violence, but had not actually yet traveled to Iraq or committed any acts of terror. Lawyers at the time said he had not received weapons training and "had begun having second thoughts," going so far as to express "relief" that he'd been apprehended.

Kourachi and his brother would be reported to have traveled to the Middle East to receive training from Al Qaeda, then to have fought in Syria in a war backed in part by France, before returning home and carrying out their grisly terror attack, all while being tracked by French intelligence.

 
If Kouachi previously could be arrested for "association with wrongdoers with the intention of committing a terrorist act," why wasn't he arrested immediately upon his return to France for having received and employed military training by a terrorist organization?

 

 

CNN would report in an article titled, "France tells U.S. Paris suspect trained with al Qaeda in Yemen," that:

Western intelligence officials are scrambling to learn more about possible travel of the two Paris terror attack suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, with new information suggesting one of the brothers recently spent time in Yemen associating with al Qaeda in that country, U.S. officials briefed on the matter told CNN. Additional information from a French source close to the French security services puts one of the brothers in Syria.

To explain how terrorists well-known to France's legal system and intelligence community could simply "disappear," the Wall Street Journal in an article titled, "Overburdened French Dropped Surveillance of Brothers," would attempt to claim:

The terror attacks in Paris that have killed 17 people over three days this week represent one of the worst fears—and failures—of counterterrorist officials: a successful plot coordinated by people who had once been under surveillance but who were later dropped as a top priority. 

The U.S. provided France with intelligence showing that the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo massacre received training in Yemen in 2011, prompting French authorities to begin monitoring the two brothers, according to U.S. officials. But that surveillance of Said and Chérif Kouachi came to an end last spring, U.S. officials said, after several years of monitoring turned up nothing suspicious.

Image: Terrorists waging the West's proxy war in Syria have been provided cash, weapons, and equipment by several European nations, chief among them, France. 
 
It is a narrative that begs to be believed – considering the brothers had already tangled with the law, already traveled to Yemen to receive training from Al Qaeda, and with evidence suggesting they were indeed still being tracked since it is now known they have recently returned from Syria. The Wall Street Journal would also claim that France depends heavily on US intelligence, contradicting US intelligence officials who have said their information came from their French counterparts.

 

 

France reportedly has over 1,000 citizens under surveillance who have recently traveled to Iraq and Syria, believed to have fought alongside terrorists France itself has been arming. In an NBC article titled, "French Intelligence Is Tracking 1,000 Who Have Been to Iraq, Syria: Expert," it is reported that:

"French intelligence is mostly focused today on more than 1,000 French citizens that traveled to Syria and Iraq since 2012," said Jean-Charles Brisard, the author of "Zarqawi: The New Face of Al-Qaeda." 

He added that one-fifth of them were being tracked around the clock. "This is a problem of resources," he added. "We cannot follow everyone." 

Brisard said the brothers had been "well known to French intelligence [for] several years now."

The problem that led up to the "Charlie Hebdo shooting" was clearly not a lack of intelligence or surveillance. French security agencies more than adequately identified the "Charlie Hebdo shooting" perpetrators as potential threats and tracked them for years beforehand. The problem was what appears to be a deliberate effort to keep these terrorists roaming freely among society. Free to join French-backed mercenary forces abroad, and free to commit heinous acts of terror at home, both serving the singular agenda of expanding Western hegemony abroad while preserving the primacy of select special interests at home.
New Surveillance is For Crushing Freedom, Not Terror 
 
As already explained in painstaking detail, had the French government been interested in actually stopping terrorism, including the flight of its own citizens to the Middle East to participate in a war the French government itself is backing, it could have done so easily. Existing laws and France's current security agencies successfully identified the impending threat that led to the "Charlie Hebdo shooting," but willfully failed to stop it – with certain factions of French intelligence having even played a potential role in executing it. 
 
Image: French planes took part in the utter devastation of Libya in 2011, leaving the nation in ruins and handing it over to Al Qaeda, whom NATO, with French assistance, provided air cover and even weapons, cash, and political backing to. 
 
Therefore, clearly the solution to stopping terrorism is in fact evicting the criminal special interests occupying power throughout the French government, and more broadly, from across the Western World. However, such an eviction will now become exponentially more difficult to execute, thanks to France's new surveillance laws that give them virtually unhindered access to their citizenry's data, granting them an unparalleled strategic advantage. 

Indeed, France's new surveillance laws will not stop terrorism at home nor quell the legions of terror they are backing, ravaging lands abroad – instead – they will ensure the uncontested expansion of terror used to coerce the French population at home while justifying and carrying out extraterritorial conquest abroad.  
 
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why NATO Is Terrified of Russia

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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naryshkin-nato-oust-states.si.si

Originally published in RT on May 1, 2015

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The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.

Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.

All about PGS

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.

We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.

Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.

Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.

The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.

The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.

This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”

US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.

Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.

SWIFT changes

The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.

This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.

As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.

As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

EuroSoap

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on March 20, 2015

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TSIPRAS/MERKEL SUMMIT: You thought Greek politics complicated? Wait until you tot up the seismic splits in the EU

Take a close look at the timeline since Thursday night’s mini-summit marathon between Alexis Tsipras and Angela Merkel.

After a 3am Friday finish, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the meeting as “good and constructive,” but warned that the Greek government will have to meet commitments before it can access EU money. She gave Syriza exactly seven days to offer fully detailed “reform” proposals to Troika2, and then left clutching several haunches of Venison and 683 sausages for her beloved fridge.

A few hours later, however, Jean-Claude Juncker – the President of the European Commission (EC) – announced a completely unconditional 2 billion euro contribution immediately available to Greece to boost growth, tackle youth unemployment and help with the “humanitarian crisis”. Juncker said the cash for this would come from “unused EU development funds”.

When I called the EC press office this afternoon and asked how this circle might be squared, there was much scurrying about and promises of getting back to me…none of which materialised.

Those EU schisms in full

This is what’s really going on here: pissed off by the degree to which Germany and the Troikanauts are increasingly adopting the Führerprinzip in relation to EU affairs, the EC as led by J-CJ is doing everything in its power to be good-cop to Greece in general, and Tsipras in particular. This is a good old-fashioned Nazi Party power struggle, and there is every opportunity for Athens to exploit it.

But equally, we must remember that on another level entirely, Francois Hollande of France got away almost scot-free last week on deficit failures that far outweigh those of Greece….but was forced to bring in Troika-demanded laws about tax evasion…and ECB diktats about bank liquidity. This has not gone down well in his Party.

The Parti Socialiste de France doesn’t like this crap because (like many of us) they foresee the wholesale handing over of millions of votes to Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale.

So then: we have the EC at war with Berlin and Troika2, plus France at war with Frankfurt. But just when you thought you had it sussed, more fractures appear.

For Wolfgang Schäuble is at war with Merkel over his single-minded obsession to become Supreme Leader of the as yet unformed Fiskalunion…and fighting a second front against Mario Draghi’s ECB, which in turn is fighting on another front entirely with Jens Weidemann and the German Central Bank…who rightly think that Draghula is working not for the euro, but a planned eurodollar spookily approaching parity with, um, the euro. And Merkel too distrusts the ECB boss’s motives….preferring as she does to keep her options open on the subject of which way to jump in the Dollar v Rublenimbi chasm.

Confused? You will be after this latest episode of Eurosoap. But there are far more plot lines and faultlines to develop before your confusion is comprehensively constructed.

There is the coming UK election, and the increasing likelihood of the ‘biggest’ Party needing to do a deal with EU-secessionists. There is the growing secessionist and europhobic tendency in Italy. There is Podemos support in Spain growing with every act of defiance from Greece. There is the Austro-German bank collapse epidemiology threatening everyone from Santander to Deutsche. And there remains the implacable unwillingness of Viktor Orban in Hungary to have anything to do with globalism in general, or the euro in particular.

Face facts: the EU is imploding.

 

From Minsk to Brussels, it’s all about Germany

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks to France's President Francois Hollande during a meeting with the media after peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks to France’s President Francois Hollande during a meeting with the media after peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)

Originally published in RT on February 13, 2015

Germany holds the key to where Europe goes next. A fragile deal may have been reached on Ukraine, but there’s still no deal with Greece. In both cases, there’s much more than meets the eye.

Let’s start with the grueling Eurogroup negotiation in Brussels over the Greek debt.

Greek officials swear they never received a draft of a possible agreement leaked by Eurogroup bureaucrats to the Financial Times. This draft, crucially, referred to an agreement “amending and extending and successfully concluding,” the current austerity-heavy bailout.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cut off “amending”. This is the draft that was leaked. But then Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called Prime Minister Tsipras – and the statement, still not signed, was rejected. So this was a top Tsipras decision.

Tsipras could not possibly balk – not after previously raising the stakes – as in promising to boost the Greek minimum wage and halt privatizations. He’s still betting the house that the Troika won’t allow a ‘Grexit’. Yet he may be wrong; the possibility of ‘Grexit’ is hovering around 35 percent to 40 percent, and it will be much higher if no deal is reached on the next crunch meeting, Monday.

Tsipras and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem at least agreed that Greek officials and the Troika (EC, ECB, IMF) should start talking “at a technical level.” Translation: they will be comparing the current austerity nightmare with new Greek proposals.

Athens essentially has only two choices. Either the Troika accedes to some form of debt repudiation – real or as a sleight of hand (that’s Syriza’s proposal – an arrangement that fosters growth); or ‘Grexit’ ensues, with Athens creating its own central bank and currency as an independent nation. There’s no third choice; a debt of 175 percent of Greece’s GDP is totally unpayable.

As much as the Troika and its institutional derivatives spin ‘Grexit’ won’t be a big deal, the fact is a Greek debt default could have a more devastating effect than the Lehman Brothers case. It was not the fundamentals at Lehman that caused widespread panic when it went down; but the fear that their derivative exposures would bring down the system.

And cutting through all the spin, what remains, essentially, is what European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Le Figaro a few days ago; it’s out of the question to suppress the Greek debt and, most of all, “there can be no democratic option against European treaties.” There it is, crystal clear: EU institutions work against democracy.

Plan B remains a distinct possibility. Moscow has already invited Tsipras to meet with Putin. And Beijing has invited Tsipras to meet with Prime Minister Li Keqiang. These are the “R” and the “C” in BRICS in action.

It’s worth remembering Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos when he articulated if not a majority view, at least a substantial perception among Greek public opinion; “We want a deal. But if there is no deal, and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow Europe apart, then we will have to go to Plan B… We have other ways of finding money. It could be the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries.”

Alea jacta est. Troika or RC?

And it’s all about NATO

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses a news conference after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Francois Lenoir)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses a news conference after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Francois Lenoir)

Then there’s Minsk. What was achieved after nearly 17 hours of a grueling marathon is not exactly, in French President Francois Hollande’s words, a “global” agreement and a “global ceasefire” in Ukraine.

There’s every possibility the ceasefire will be nullified only a few minutes after its implementation at midnight this Saturday – irony of ironies, at the end of Valentine’s Day. Significantly, the final statement bears no important signatures: Putin, Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko.

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier was cautious, warning Minsk 2.0 is not exactly a breakthrough, but at least de-escalates matters. Merkel preferred to spin that Putin had to pressure the Eastern Ukraine federalists of the DNR and the LNR to agree to the ceasefire.

Predictably, like clockwork, even before the ceasefire, the IMF – under Washington’s orders – suddenly announced it would continue to rape, sorry, help bailout bankrupt, failed state Ukraine with a tranche of$17.5 billion, part of a large $40 billion, four-year “rescue” package. Translation: Kiev’s goons now have fresh cash to throw at a war they don’t want to give up on.

Poroshenko himself took no time to torpedo the ceasefire – spinning there’s no autonomy granted to the areas controlled by the federalists, and refusing to confirm Putin’s assertion that Kiev has agreed to terminate the vicious economic blockade of Donbass.

The precise contours of the demilitarized zone – bordering one frontline in September and a very different frontline five months later – remain a mystery. And Washington immediately turned the “withdrawal of foreign forces” clause into a joke. The Pentagon has already announced it will begin training Ukraine’s National Guard next month.

Minsk 2.0 hardly qualifies as a band-aid. Ukraine is unredeemable. It would only come back from the dead if a tsunami of cash – almost equivalent to the cost of German reunification – were poured in. Needless to add, no one in Europe wants to dish out even a few devalued euro.

This was, remains, and will continue to be, essentially about NATO expansion. Washington and the Kiev marionettes will never allow any constitutional reform that lets the Donbass block NATO embedded in Ukraine. So the ‘Empire of Chaos’, in a nutshell, won’t cease from using Ukraine to bully Russia. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ is not exactly in the business of nation building – quite the contrary.

Crossing the German bridge

And that brings us to the crucial role played by Germany – with France as sidekick.

Chancellor Merkel had to go to Moscow to negotiate with Putin because she saw which way the wind was blowing – counterproductive sanctions; Ukrainian economy in free fall; Kiev’s goons defeated on the battlefield. That was as much an imperative as a crucial demarcation away from the imperial NATO expansion obsession.

As Immanuel Wallerstein has observed Moscow is pursuing “a careful policy. Not totally in control of the Donetsk-Lugansk autonomists, Russia is nonetheless making sure that the autonomists cannot be eliminated militarily. The Russian price for real peace is a commitment by NATO that Ukraine is not a potential member.”

So Merkel may have defused the Obama administration’s drive to weaponize Kiev – but only for a moment. There’s no evidence – yet – that the Obama administration and its embedded neo-con cells have admitted that the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) are essentially “lost” to Kiev’s influence.

Hollande provided the perfect cover for Merkel. It was Hollande who publicly supported autonomy – as in federalization – for the DPR and the LPR. At the same time, both Merkel and Hollande know that Kiev will never de facto accept it (and even a substantial portion of the Donbass only accepts federalization as a stepping stone to eventual secession and union with Russia.)

Merkel – at least in terms of German public opinion – did manage to achieve her goal, emerging as a victor (“The world chancellor,” as the tabloid Bild coined it) after her frequent-flyer marathon. Putin also emerged a victor of sorts – as Merkel essentially rehashed proposals he made months ago. So yes, whichever angle we look at it, this was in fact a Moscow-Berlin deal.It’s easy to see who is extremely disgruntled and will do everything to bomb it; Washington, Kiev, London, Warsaw and the hysterical “Russia is invading” Baltic states.

Last but not least, let’s call attention to the monumental white elephant in the room. Minsk 2.0 was conducted in the total absence of the ‘Empire of Chaos’ and the (increasingly irrelevant) “special relationship” British minions.

Slowly but surely, public opinion across Europe – and especially Germany – is experiencing a tectonic shift. The obsession by the ‘Empire of Chaos’ to further weaponize Kiev has horrified millions – resurrecting the specter of a war in Europe’s eastern borderlands. Not only in Germany but also in France, Italy, Spain, there is a growing continental consensus against NATO.

Even at the height of a vicious Russia demonization campaign unleashed by virtually the whole German corporate media, a Deutschland Trend survey revealed that most Germans are against NATO troops in Eastern Europe. And no less than 49 percent would rather see Germany position itself as a bridge between East and West. The leadership in Beijing definitely took note.

So it’s tempting to hop on the Merkel/Hollande peace train as the heart of Europe finally exercising their sovereignty and frontally defying the ‘Empire of Chaos’. Perhaps that could be the embryo of a German-French partnership for peace in Europe and even beyond, from the Middle East to Africa.

That would frontally antagonize NATO’s screenplay – which implies the ’Empire of Chaos’ ruling uncontested over Europe, the Middle East and even across Eurasia, with continental European powers, especially Germany, France and yes, Russia, at the margins.

Sooner or later European politicians will have to wake up and smell the coffee; the notion of a German-French-Russian pan-European peace/trade partnership is way more popular than reflected in failed corporate media.

Now it’s up to Germany to clean up its act on Greece. The choice is stark. The EU may embark on a quadruple-dip recession as the ECB further destroys what is left of the European middle class. Or Germany, reflecting the thinking among its captains of industry, may tell the EU – Troika included – that the way to go is to shift the strategic, trade and political focus from West to the East. That would start by stuffing the corporate US-devised TTIP treaty – that’s NATO on trade. After all, this is going to be the Eurasian century – and this train has already left the station.

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Charlie Hebdo: Signs of False Flags

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on January 8 & 10, 2015

False_Flag

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Paris Shooters Just Returned from NATO’s Proxy War in Syria

Shooters were radicalized in Europe, sent to Syria, returned, have been previously arrested by Western security agencies for terrorism and long on the watch-list of French and other Western intelligence agencies. Yet “somehow” they still managed to execute a highly organized attack in the heart of Europe.

January 8, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – In an all too familiar pattern and as predicted, the shooters involved in the attack in Paris Wednesday, January 7, 2015, were French citizens, radicalized in Europe and exported to Syria to fight in NATO’s proxy war against the government in Damascus, then brought back where they have now carried out a domestic attack. Additionally, as have been many other domestic attacks, the suspects were long under the watch of Western intelligence services, with at least one suspect having already been arrested on terrorism charges.

USA Today would report in an article titled, “Manhunt continues for two French terror suspects,” that:

The suspects are two brothers — Said, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32, both French nationals — and Hamyd Mourad, 18, whose nationality wasn’t known, a Paris police official told the Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

USA Today would also report (emphasis added):

The brothers were born in Paris of Algerian descent. Cherif was sentenced to three years in prison on terrorism charges in May 2008. Both brothers returned from Syria this summer.

The implications of yet another case of Western-radicalized terrorists, first exported to fight NATO’s proxy war in Syria, then imported and well-known to Western intelligence agencies, being able to carry out a highly organized, well-executed attack, is that the attack itself was sanctioned and engineered by Western intelligence agencies themselves,. This mirrors almost verbatim the type of operations NATO intelligence carried out during the Cold War with similar networks of radicalized militants used both as foreign mercenaries and domestic provocateurs. Toward the end of the Cold War, one of these militant groups was literally Al Qaeda – a proxy mercenary front armed, funded, and employed by the West to this very day.

Additionally, in all likelihood, the brothers who took part in the attack in Paris may have been fighting in Syria with weapons provided to them by the French government itself.  France 24 would report last year in an article titled, “France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms,” that:

President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a few months ago.”

Deflecting blame for the current attack on “radical Islam” is but a canard obscuring the truth that these terrorists were created intentionally by the West, to fight the West’s enemies abroad, and to intimidate and terrorize their populations at home.
We Must Sidestep the Canards 
As with any false flag attack engineered by a government for the purpose of manipulating public perception and pushing through otherwise unjustifiable policy both foreign and domestic, a series of canards are erected to distract the public from the true nature of the attack.In the recent attack in Paris, France, the canards of “free speech,” “condemning radical Islam,” “tolerance,” and “extremism” have all taken center stage, displacing the fact that the terrorists who carried out the attack were long on the leash not of “Islamic extremists” but Western intelligence agencies, fighting in a Western proxy war, as a member of a well-funded, armed, and trained mercenary force that has, on record since as early as 2007, been an essential component of Western foreign policy.
Indeed, Al Qaeda and its various rebrandings are not the creation of “Islamic extremism,” but rather Western foreign policy using “extremism” as part of indoctrinating the rank and file, but directed by and solely for the purpose of serving an entirely Western agenda.
As exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article,  “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda

To this day, the US, its NATO partners including Turkey, and regional partners including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are arming, funding, harboring, training, and otherwise perpetuating these “Islamic extremists” within and along both Syria and now Iraq’s borders.
In reality, without Western backing, “laundered” through the Persian Gulf autocracies and manifesting themselves in a global network of mosques jointly run by Persian Gulf and Western intelligence agencies, there would be no “Islamic extremism” to speak of. To focus on “extremism” as a cause, rather than as a means used by the true perpetrators of this global-spanning campaign of Western-sanctioned terrorism, is not only to perpetuate such canards, but to invite the perpetuation of this very terrorism we are shocked and horrified by.

West Apparently Maintaining Domestic Radicalization/Recruitment Centers 


The recent Sydney cafe hostage crisis featuring an Iranian dissident granted Australian asylum and featured in anti-Iranian propaganda, exposed a vast network of radicalization and recruitment run in the Australian city of Sydney, used to organize support and fighters to be sent to the West’s proxy war in Syria. The network included many notorious individuals, well known to Australian law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and many of whom had traveled to Syria, taken part in fighting alongside known terrorist organizations, and were allowed to return and continue their political activities in Australia.The Daily Mail’s article, “Why did police ask former terror suspect for an ISIS flag?” would state:

Counter terrorism police have contacted Sydney man and one time terror accused Zaky Mallah and asked him for an ISIS flag. 

Just over four hours into the Martin Place siege, officers the NSW Police Joint Counter Terrorism Team and asked him if he could give them an ISIS flag. 

Zaky Mallah, 30, from Westmead in western Sydney offered the Counter Terrorist police the flag that hangs on the wall of his apartment, the moderate Islamic Front flag, but ‘they weren’t interested’. 

The article would also state:

Two years ago Mr Mallah travelled to Syria and lived with the FSA rebels engaged in the bloody civil war against Muslim hardliner President Bashar el Assad ‘before it got crazy over there’. After returning home, he encouraged young people to go to Syria and engage in jihad to experience the freedom fight taken up against El Assad… 

As in Australia, France apparently also has a stable of former terrorists who had traveled to Syria and returned, all while on their watch lists – and in Australia at least – some of these terrorists are literally on security agency speed dials and are clearly a part of a network the intelligence community both monitors and in fact, maintains.

Such networks have turned out thousands of recruits to fight in NATO’s war in Syria. The BBC would report in an article titled, “Islamic State crisis: ‘3,000 European jihadists join fight’,” that:

The number of Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has risen to more than 3,000, the EU’s anti-terrorism chief has told the BBC. 

Gilles de Kerchove also warned that Western air strikes would increase the risk of retaliatory attacks in Europe.

How exactly is the public expected to believe that such a vast number of terrorists can migrate overseas to fight alongside terrorist forces the West is currently, allegedly, fighting, without the West being able to stem such a tide? Clearly, just as arming Al Qaeda in Syria was done intentionally, so to have the floodgates been open, allowing European terrorists to both join NATO’s proxy war in Syria, and to return home and join NATO’s growing war against its own people.

Operation Gladio on Steroids 

Such networks don’t just mirror NATO’s “stay behind networks” formed during the Cold War, supposedly created to activate in the wake of a full-scale Soviet invasion of Western Europe, but instead used as a covert front of political and terroristic provocation – such networks today are a continuation of NATO’s secret armies.

NATO’s provocateurs used during the Cold War were a mixture of nationalists, anti-communists, former Nazi SS officers, and extremists of every stripe. Their particular beliefs were, however, ultimately irrelevant since they were used for a singular agenda defined not by these beliefs, but by NATO’s own agenda.

Many of the militants and extremists NATO used were liquidated upon the completion of the many false flag attacks NATO organized at the cost of hundreds of innocent European lives. Likewise, today, many of the gunmen or bombers involved in the long string of suspicious domestic attacks carried out by NATO’s modern “stay behind network” are either killed on sight, or imprisoned and forgotten.

While NATO’s Cold War operations appeared confined to conducting terrorism upon its own people, today’s networks are used to carry out both proxy wars overseas as well as to carry out terrorist attacks at home. The expansive nature of this network and the threat it poses to global peace and stability should be at the center of the Paris attack debate – not the alleged beliefs, religion, or supposed agenda of the attackers who, just like their Cold War counterparts, were nothing more than patsies and pawns amid a much larger and insidious game.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Paris Shooting Suspects Under French Radar for YEARS

Image: Dead men don’t talk. French security agencies successfully liquidate
all suspects in the recent Paris shooting.

January 10, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The Paris shooting suspects were no strangers to the French government and its security and intelligence agencies. One suspect, Cherif Kouachi, was arrested by French police in 2005, tried and sentenced to 3 years in prison for “association with wrongdoers with the intention of committing a terrorist act,” but his sentence would later be suspended.

Slate Magazine would report in their article, “The Details of Paris Suspect Cherif Kouachi’s 2008 Terrorism Conviction,” that:

Kouachi was arrested in January 2005, accused of planning to join jihadists in Iraq. He was said to have fallen under the sway of Farid Benyettou, a young “self-taught preacher” who advocated violence, but had not actually yet traveled to Iraq or committed any acts of terror. Lawyers at the time said he had not received weapons training and “had begun having second thoughts,” going so far as to express “relief” that he’d been apprehended.

Strange then that Kourachi and his brother would then be reported to have traveled to the Middle East to receive training from Al Qaeda, then to have fought in Syria in a war backed in part by France, before returning home and carrying out this most recent terror attack, all while being tracked by French intelligence. If Kouachi could be arrested for “association with wrongdoers with the intention of committing a terrorist act,” why wasn’t he arrested immediately upon his return to France for having received and employed military training by a terrorist organization?

CNN would report in an article titled, “France tells U.S. Paris suspect trained with al Qaeda in Yemen,” that:

Western intelligence officials are scrambling to learn more about possible travel of the two Paris terror attack suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, with new information suggesting one of the brothers recently spent time in Yemen associating with al Qaeda in that country, U.S. officials briefed on the matter told CNN. Additional information from a French source close to the French security services puts one of the brothers in Syria.

To explain how terrorists well-known to France’s legal system and intelligence community could simply “disappear,” the Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “Overburdened French Dropped Surveillance of Brothers,” would attempt to claim:

The terror attacks in Paris that have killed 17 people over three days this week represent one of the worst fears—and failures—of counterterrorist officials: a successful plot coordinated by people who had once been under surveillance but who were later dropped as a top priority. 

The U.S. provided France with intelligence showing that the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo massacre received training in Yemen in 2011, prompting French authorities to begin monitoring the two brothers, according to U.S. officials. But that surveillance of Said and Chérif Kouachi came to an end last spring, U.S. officials said, after several years of monitoring turned up nothing suspicious.

It is a narrative that begs to be believed – considering the brothers had already tangled with the law, already traveled to Yemen to receive training from Al Qaeda, and with evidence suggesting they were indeed still being tracked since it is now known they have recently returned from Syria. The Wall Street Journal would also claim that France depends heavily on US intelligence, contradicting US intelligence officials who have said their information came from their French counterparts.


France reportedly has over 1,000 citizens under surveillance who have recently traveled to Iraq and Syria, believed to have fought alongside terrorists France itself has been arming. In an NBC article titled, “French Intelligence Is Tracking 1,000 Who Have Been to Iraq, Syria: Expert,” it is reported that:

“French intelligence is mostly focused today on more than 1,000 French citizens that traveled to Syria and Iraq since 2012,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, the author of “Zarqawi: The New Face of Al-Qaeda.” 

He added that one-fifth of them were being tracked around the clock. “This is a problem of resources,” he added. “We cannot follow everyone.” 

Brisard said the brothers had been “well known to French intelligence [for] several years now.”

Image: France helped NATO successfully hand Libya over to Al Qaeda
terrorists who – with NATO support – would use it as a springboard to attack
Syria. The ultimate goal is to use Al Qaeda terrorists to overrun Iran, then
southern Russia and western China. 
It is almost certain that the suspects were not only being tracked by French and US intelligence, but selected as prime candidates for pulling off the provocative attack in Paris last week – as part of a greater agenda of manipulating public perception to further crush civil liberties at home and expand hegemonic wars overseas. France is already occupying several of its former colonies in Africa, had participated in the destruction of Libya and its subsequent handover to Al Qaeda terrorist, who with NATO backing, used it as a springboard to attack Syria.
In fact, it is now confirmed that France had provided weapons to terrorists fighting the Syrian government since 2011. France 24 would report last year in an article titled, “France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms,” that:

President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a few months ago.”

It is likely that if the Paris shooters were indeed in Syria, they may likely have been holding French-supplied weapons as they honed their skills later to be used to spill French blood in Paris.

Three Possibilities – All Damning  
There are really only three possibilities left for France, NATO, and the greater Western World. First, the attacks were known to be impending and were willfully allowed to be carried out with an insidious agenda lined up to fully exploit the public hysteria to follow. Second, the attacks were prodded along by French, US, or other Western or Western-aligned intelligence agencies. Or third, the global spanning surveillance state the West is erecting with the promise of making the world safe at the expense of our freedom has left us both unsafe, and without our freedom.

Determining the degree to which this attack was influenced or engineered by Western intelligence agencies will be difficult to establish. However, considering that NATO itself has been exposed in the past to have used extremist groups to carry out deadly terrorist attacks almost identical to the recent Paris shooting, means that Western intelligence agencies should be prime suspects until otherwise ruled out.

The shooters were well known to Western intelligence, were part of a Western proxy war in Syria, were under surveillance, most likely handled before and perhaps even during the attack last week, and were all subsequently “liquidated,” just as was done amid a wave of NATO-sponsored  terror attacks against Western Europe during the Cold War, now known as “Operation Gladio.”

Al Qaeda is NATO’s Mercenary Foreign Legion 
Even if these attacks were organized by “Al Qaeda,” the fact still remains that Al Qaeda was intentionally selected, armed, funded, and to this day backed in nations like Syria by the West, including France, in an effort to overthrow Damascus by proxy.

As exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article,  “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda

Since 2007, it is clear that the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) and various franchises of Al Qaeda operating in Syria are harbored in NATO-member Turkey, with convoys originating from Turkish territory supplying terrorists operating in Syria with an unending torrent of supplies. So even as the US feigns to be striking at the source of ISIS power – allegedly seized Syrian oil fields – in reality, the US, along with its stalwart Persian Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar – are at the same time supplying this proxy terrorist army with billions in aid year to year – aid that is immune to US airstrikes.

NATO Extremism

Image: ISIS is supposedly an independent terror organization living off the
lands it has supposedly conquered. In reality, it is clear it is instead an
invasion originating from NATO-member Turkey, with the aid not of oil
money from seized Syrian fields, but rather cash and weapons supplied by
NATO and the Persian Gulf autocracies.

However one attempts to examine the recent Paris shooting – it is clear it is not an issue of “free speech,” “Islamic extremism,” or a need to show “tolerance,” but rather an issue involving NATO sponsorship of terrorism worldwide, and the complicity or failure of invasive surveillance networks and intelligence agencies that either helped carry out the operation, willfully allowed it to be carried out, or missed it entirely indicating unforgivable incompetence requiring punitive action against those occupying the highest offices in the French government.

Whatever the case may be, what follows will be a shameless attempt to exploit the hysteria prevailing across much of Europe. The most immediate threat is the West not backing off from its sponsorship of terrorists fighting the government of Syria, but the doubling down of the very policy that produced the killers involved in the Paris shooting. Indeed, even as Western politicians wring their hands over the loss of life in Paris this week, the Military Times would report, astoundingly, that the US is going ahead with a plan to train, arm, equip, and back a new “rebel army.” In an article titled, “Syria rebel training could start in early spring,” it states:

The long-awaited coalition program to train the Syrian moderate opposition could begin by early spring, and officials are beginning to identify individual fighters who could participate, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Apparently, despite so-called “moderate Syrian rebels” being revealed as simply Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda affiliates, with many literally turning their US, French, British and other NATO-supplied weapons over to terrorist groups, the US desires to send yet more weapons, cash, and training – in what one could only call a deliberate attempt to feign opposition to Al Qaeda while willfully expanding their ranks and armories, as well as both their tactical and strategic capabilities.

It is no wonder then, why the Western media has attempted to focus so diligently on “Islamic extremism” as the cause of the recent Paris shootings. Should the emotional raw nerves of the European people not be manipulated, and were people simply to follow the money, they would realize NATO extremism was to blame. They would also realize that the backlash in the wake of the Paris shooting was not to help stem such extremism, but to only embolden it further.

Christmas Truce of 1914

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on December 24, 2014

ChristmasTruceW-1024x769

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The Christmas Truce of 1914 – Pinhole of Light Among a Nightmare of Madness

December 24, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) In the end, we have more in common with the furthest flung foreign common man than the closest corporate-fascist that presumes dominion over our lives.During the early 1900’s, Europe was locked in the first World War. Millions would perish – tens of thousands in a single day. On one brief occasion, a pinhole of light shined through this utter madness, revealing the truth of this man-made nightmare. The men in the trenches were being driven toward each other, not by some irreconcilable difference they had with one another, but by the greed of those ruling elite residing in their respective homelands.

If only the British and Germans realized it was the greed of their own banking houses and industrialists that had them in the trenches and not some irreconcilable difference amongst themselves…

Knowledge is power, ignorance literally can mean death. When will we start being leaders in our homes, communities, counties, and provinces – driving our own destiny rather than being driven? Shall we look upon the Christmas Truce of 1914 with wonder a century on, or look toward it as evidence something was and still is tragically wrong with human civilization and work this next year with renewed vigor to resolve it?

Naming Names: Your Real Government

When dark deeds unfold, point the finger in this direction.
by Tony CartalucciThis is your real government; they transcend elected administrations, they permeate every political party, and they are responsible for nearly every aspect of the average American and European’s way of life. When the “left” is carrying the torch for two “Neo-Con” wars, starting yet another based on the same lies, peddled by the same media outlets that told of Iraqi WMD’s, the world has no choice, beyond profound cognitive dissonance, but to realize something is wrong.What’s wrong is a system completely controlled by a corporate-financier oligarchy with financial, media, and industrial empires that span the globe. If we do not change the fact that we are helplessly dependent on these corporations that regulate every aspect of our nation politically, and every aspect of our lives personally, nothing else will ever change.The following list, however extensive, is by far not all-inclusive. However after these examples, a pattern should become self-evident with the same names and corporations being listed again and again. It should be self-evident to readers of how dangerously pervasive these corporations have become in our daily lives. Finally, it should be self-evident as to how necessary it is to excise these corporations from our lives, our communities, and ultimately our nations, with the utmost expediency.International Crisis Group
www.crisisgroup.orgBackground: While the International Crisis Group (ICG) claims to be “committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict,” the reality is that they are committed to offering solutions crafted well in advance to problems they themselves have created in order to perpetuate their own corporate agenda.

Nowhere can this be better illustrated than in Thailand and more recently in Egypt. ICG member Kenneth Adelman had been backing Thailand’s Prime Minster Thaksin Shinwatra, a former Carlyle Group adviser who was was literally standing in front of the CFR in NYC on the eve of his ousting from power in a 2006 military coup. Since 2006, Thaksin’s meddling in Thailand has been propped up by fellow Carlyle man James Baker and his Baker Botts law firm, Belfer Center adviser Robert Blackwill of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, and now Robert Amsterdam’s Amsterdam & Peroff, a major corporate member of the globalist Chatham House.

With Thailand now mired in political turmoil led by Thaksin Shinwatra and his “red shirt” color revolution, the ICG is ready with “solutions” in hand. These solutions generally involve tying the Thai government’s hands with arguments that stopping Thaksin’s subversive activities amounts to human rights abuses, in hopes of allowing the globalist-backed revolution to swell beyond control.

The unrest in Egypt, of course, was led entirely by ICG member Mohamed ElBaradei and his US State Department recruited, funded, and supported April 6 Youth Movement coordinated by Google’s Wael Ghonim. While the unrest was portrayed as being spontaneous, fueled by the earlier Tunisian uprising, ICG’s ElBaradei, Ghonim, and their youth movement had been in Egypt since 2010 assembling their “National Front for Change” and laying the groundwork for the January 25th 2011 uprising.

ICG’s George Soros would then go on to fund Egyptian NGOs working to rewrite the Egyptian constitution after front-man ElBaradei succeeded in removing Hosni Mubarak. This Soros-funded constitution and the resulting servile stooge government it would create represents the ICG “resolving” the crisis their own ElBaradei helped create.

Notable ICG Board Members:

George Soros
Kenneth Adelman
Samuel Berger
Wesley Clark
Mohamed ElBaradei
Carla Hills

Notable ICG Advisers:

Richard Armitage
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Stanley Fischer
Shimon Peres
Surin Pitsuwan
Fidel V. Ramos

Notable ICG Foundation & Corporate Supporters:

Carnegie Corporation of New York
Hunt Alternatives Fund
Open Society Institute
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Morgan Stanley
Deutsche Bank Group
Soros Fund Management LLC
McKinsey & Company
Chevron
Shell

Brookings Institutewww.brookings.edu

Background: Within the library of the Brookings Institute you will find the blueprints for nearly every conflict the West has been involved with in recent memory. What’s more is that while the public seems to think these crises spring up like wildfires, those following the Brookings’ corporate funded studies and publications see these crises coming years in advance. These are premeditated, meticulously planned conflicts that are triggered to usher in premeditated, meticulously planned solutions to advance Brookings’ corporate supporters, who are numerous.

The ongoing operations against Iran, including US-backed color revolutions, US-trained and backed terrorists inside Iran, and crippling sanctions were all spelled out in excruciating detail in the Brookings Institute report, “Which Path to Persia?” The more recent UN Security Council resolution 1973 regarding Libya uncannily resembles Kenneth Pollack’s March 9, 2011 Brookings report titled “The Real Military Options in Libya.”

Notable Brookings Board Members:

Dominic Barton: McKinsey & Company, Inc.
Alan R. Batkin: Eton Park Capital Management
Richard C. Blum: Blum Capital Partners, LP
Abby Joseph Cohen: Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Suzanne Nora Johnson: Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Richard A. Kimball Jr.: Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Tracy R. Wolstencroft: Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Paul Desmarais Jr.: Power Corporation of Canada
Kenneth M. Duberstein: The Duberstein Group, Inc.
Benjamin R. Jacobs: The JBG Companies
Nemir Kirdar: Investcorp
Klaus Kleinfeld: Alcoa, Inc.
Philip H. Knight: Nike, Inc.
David M. Rubenstein: Co-Founder of The Carlyle Group
Sheryl K. Sandberg: Facebook
Larry D. Thompson: PepsiCo, Inc.
Michael L. Tipsord: State Farm Insurance Companies
Andrew H. Tisch: Loews Corporation

Some Brookings Experts:
(click on names to see a list of recent writings.)

Kenneth Pollack
Daniel L. Byman
Martin Indyk
Suzanne Maloney
Michael E. O’Hanlon
Bruce Riedel
Shadi Hamid

Notable Brookings Foundation and Corporate Support:

Foundations & Governments

Ford Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation
Government of the United Arab Emirates
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Banking & Finance

Bank of America
Citi
Goldman Sachs
H&R Block
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Jacob Rothschild
Nathaniel Rothschild
Standard Chartered Bank
Temasek Holdings Limited
Visa Inc.

Big Oil

Exxon Mobil Corporation
Chevron
Shell Oil Company

Military Industrial Complex & Industry

Daimler
General Dynamics Corporation
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Siemens Corporation
The Boeing Company
General Electric Company
Westinghouse Electric Corporation
Raytheon Co.
Hitachi, Ltd.
Toyota

Telecommunications & Technology

AT&T
Google Corporation
Hewlett-Packard
Microsoft Corporation
Panasonic Corporation
Verizon Communications
Xerox Corporation
Skype

Media & Perception Management

McKinsey & Company, Inc.
News Corporation (Fox News)

Consumer Goods & Pharmaceutical

GlaxoSmithKline
Target
PepsiCo, Inc.
The Coca-Cola Company

Council on Foreign Relations
www.cfr.org

Background & Notable Membership: A better question would be, who isn’t in the Council on Foreign Relations? Nearly every self-serving career politician, their advisers, and those populating the boards of the Fortune 500 are CFR members. Many of the books, magazine articles, and newspaper columns we read are written by CFR members, along with reports, similar to Brookings Institute that dictate, verbatim, the legislation that ends up before the West’s lawmakers.

A good sampling of the most active wings of the CFR can be illustrated best in last year’s “Ground Zero Mosque” hoax, where CFR members from both America’s political right and left feigned a heated debate over New York City’s so-called Cordoba House near the 3 felled World Trade Center buildings. In reality, the Cordoba House was established by fellow CFR member Feisal Abdul Rauf, who in turn was funded by CFR financing arms including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, chaired by 9/11 Commission head Thomas Kean, and various Rockefeller foundations.

Notable CFR Corporate Support:

Banking & Finance

Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
JPMorgan Chase & Co
American Express
Barclays Capital
Citi
Morgan Stanley
Blackstone Group L.P.
Deutsche Bank AG
New York Life International, Inc.
Prudential Financial
Standard & Poor’s
Rothschild North America, Inc.
Visa Inc.
Soros Fund Management
Standard Chartered Bank
Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
Veritas Capital LLC
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Moody’s Investors Service

Big Oil

Chevron Corporation
Exxon Mobil Corporation
BP p.l.c.
Shell Oil Company
Hess Corporation
ConocoPhillips Company
TOTAL S.A.
Marathon Oil Company
Aramco Services Company

Military Industrial Complex & Industry

Lockheed Martin Corporation
Airbus Americas, Inc.
Boeing Company,
DynCorp International
General Electric Company
Northrop Grumman
Raytheon Company
Hitachi, Ltd.
Caterpillar
BASF Corporation
Alcoa, Inc.

Public Relations, Lobbyists & Legal Firms

McKinsey & Company, Inc.
Omnicom Group Inc.
BGR Group

Corporate Media & Publishing

Bloomberg
Economist Intelligence Unit
News Corporation (Fox News)
Thomson Reuters
Time Warner Inc.
McGraw-Hill Companies

Consumer Goods

Walmart
Nike, Inc.
Coca-Cola Company
PepsiCo, Inc.
HP
Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
De Beers

Telecommunications & Technology

AT&T
Google, Inc.
IBM Corporation
Microsoft Corporation
Sony Corporation of America
Xerox Corporation
Verizon Communications

Pharmaceutical Industry

GlaxoSmithKline
Merck & Co., Inc.
Pfizer Inc.


The Chatham House
www.chathamhouse.org.uk

Background & Membership: The UK’s Chatham House, like the CFR and the Brookings Institute in America, has an extensive membership and is involved in coordinated planning, perception management, and the execution of its corporate membership’s collective agenda.

Individual members populating its “senior panel of advisers” consist of the founders, CEOs, and chairmen of the Chatham House’s corporate membership. Chatham’s “experts” are generally plucked from the world of academia and their “recent publications” are generally used internally as well as published throughout Chatham’s extensive list of member media corporations, as well as industry journals and medical journals. That Chatham House “experts” are submitting entries to medical journals is particularly alarming considering GlaxoSmithKline and Merck are both Chatham House corporate members.

No better example of this incredible conflict of interest can be given than the current Thai “red” color revolution being led by Chatham House’s Amsterdam & Peroff with consistent support lent by other corporate members including the Economist, the Telegraph and the BBC.

In one case, the Telegraph printed, “Thai protests – analysis by Dr Gareth Price and Rosheen Kabraji,” within which Price and Kabraji make a shameless attempt at defending the Western-backed, Maoist themed, violent protests. While the Telegraph mentioned that Price and Kabraji were both analysts for the Chatham House, they failed to tell readers that the Telegraph itself retains a corporate membership within the Chatham House as does the Thai protest leader’s lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam and his Amsterdam & Peroff lobbying firm.

Notable Chatham House Major Corporate Members:
Amsterdam & Peroff
BBC
Bloomberg
Coca-Cola Great Britain
Economist
GlaxoSmithKline
Goldman Sachs International
HSBC Holdings plc
Lockheed Martin UK
Merck & Co Inc
Mitsubishi Corporation
Morgan Stanley
Royal Bank of Scotland
Saudi Petroleum Overseas Ltd
Standard Bank London Limited
Standard Chartered Bank
Tesco
Thomson Reuter
United States of America Embassy
Vodafone Group

Notable Chatham House Standard Corporate Members:

Amnesty International
BASF
Boeing UK
CBS News
Daily Mail and General Trust plc
De Beers Group Services UK Ltd
G3 Good Governance Group
Google
Guardian
Hess Ltd
Lloyd’s of London
McGraw-Hill Companies
Prudential plc
Telegraph Media Group
Times Newspapers Ltd
World Bank Group

Notable Chatham House Corporate Partners:

British Petroleum
Chevron Ltd
Deutsche Bank
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Royal Dutch Shell
Statoil
Toshiba Corporation
Total Holdings UK Ltd
Unilever plc

Conclusion

These organizations represent the collective interests of the largest corporations on earth. They not only retain armies of policy wonks and researchers to articulate their agenda and form a consensus internally, but also use their massive accumulation of unwarranted influence in media, industry, and finance to manufacture a self-serving consensus internationally.

To believe that this corporate-financier oligarchy would subject their agenda and fate to the whims of the voting masses is naive at best. They have painstakingly ensured that no matter who gets into office, in whatever country, the guns, the oil, the wealth and the power keep flowing perpetually into their own hands. Nothing vindicates this poorly hidden reality better than a “liberal” Nobel Peace Prize wearing president, dutifully towing forward a myriad of “Neo-Con” wars, while starting yet another war in Libya.

Likewise, no matter how bloody your revolution is, if the above equation remains unchanged, and the corporate bottom lines left unscathed, nothing but the most superficial changes will have been made, and as is the case in Egypt with International Crisis Group stooge Mohamed ElBaradei worming his way into power, things may become substantially worse.

The real revolution will commence when we identify the above equation as the true brokers of power and when we begin systematically removing our dependence on them, and their influence on us from our daily lives. The global corporate-financier oligarchy needs us, we do not need them, independence from them is the key to our freedom.

For more information on alternative economics, getting self-sufficient and moving on without the parasitic, incompetent, globalist oligarchs:

The Lost Key to Real Revolution
Boycott the Globalists
Alternative Economics
Self-Sufficiency

Post-Eurozone Stress Test Syndrome: PESTS

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on October 27, 2014

Euro_collapse

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POST-EUROZONE STRESS TEST SYNDROME (PESTS): An update on the calumny involved

Interrogate harmonised eurobanking, and it rapidly becomes clear that the entire edifice is designed to stop capital flight. A disgruntled Slog investigates.

It’s enough to make a chap vote UKip.

You may have seen from this morning’s Slogpost that I’ve been having trouble with Ding Dong Bank – a French institution keen to profit from its totally manufactured ‘success’ in the EBA stress tests. This morning I was back in my local branch to ask why – with nearly €60,000 deposited in my accounts there – I’d been left with no liquidity during the weekend, and my bank card had been refused from Avignon to Zabalza.

The excuses for non-performance of service so far have been:

* There is a ceiling on your account withdrawals. (At €150 on €60,000?)

* The IBAN number for your transfer is wrong

* The amount you wanted to send to Poland is above the €6000 limit for foreign transfers

* For some reason, nobody raised your ceiling last time you asked us

Absent so far from any dealings with Ding Dong Bank have been “Je suis désolé” (I’m sorry). But the story changes every time I talk to these scoundrels. Today has seen yet more multivariate change of excuses:

* Your new ceiling of withdrawals was only for a month.

* You need a Gold Card to have such an account

* ALL foreign transfers have to be done personally here at the Bank.

All three have either (a) never been mentioned before now or (b) been contradicted by others in the bank.

Typically, this morning’s comment thread was full of more wiseasses telling me how daft I am to have a French bank account with more than thruppence in it. I should have assets and no money in the bank, they say. One wonders how they pay their bills, or buy the assets. In carrot futures, perhaps?

My solution (having calmed down) was simply to treat the bank as a Maginot Line: to walk round it and use people like Transferwise or UKForex. But now I discover that for euro-to-euro transfers within the EU such is impossible without paying fees to go through a bank.

Well just fancy that. Mario has introduced a fantastic new innovation called SEPA – the Single Euro Payments Area. Read this terrific blurb-bollocks from the ECB site:

‘The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a project to harmonise the way we make and process retail payments in euros….Retail payments are “everyday” payments between individuals – private persons, companies, NGOs, government agencies…..an increasing number of payments can be done entirely electronically (e.g. mobile, online banking or contactless card payments….[requiring] a clear and transparent governance structure involving all stakeholders’.

Or – reduced to two words – ‘banking monopoly’. Go to the Transferwise site, and you will see that euro2euro transfers have to use SEPA now.

This is the European Union folks – a deregulated free trade area in which there is a single currency. But the bad news is, you have to use a bank and pay their fees to send transfers from one member nation to another in euros. The only way to avoid that is to do the deal from euros to, say, Szloti, or Pounds into euros, or Dollars into Remnimbi.

Aaah, the advantages of the EU, eh? Wheelchair Wolfie Schäuble’s harmonised eurobanking system. Harmony for the bankers, cacophony for the customers.

Related recent Slogpost: The neoliberal free trade open market fascist monopoly that is Microsoft

Brussels Imperial Insanity

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on October 7, 2014

Euro_collapse

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ANALYSIS: HOW THE BRUSSELS IMPERIAL INSANITY COULD KILL THE FRENCH ECONOMY, AND LET IN LePEN

https://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/2waystreet.pngWhen the Unhinged Empire headed east, it forgot that life is a two-way street

In what seems to most people of my generation a terrifyingly rapid process, the EEC has gone from being an economic community to a political free-trade bloc and then a hopelessly botched attempt at currency and fiscal federalism. After 1990(ish) however, the EU lost its mind…and borrowed others belonging to idiots – based in Brussels, but increasingly genuflecting towards Berlin. The Belgian Rome has since morphed into the an expansionist EU…aka Empire of the Unhinged.

The degree of marble-loss became really clear when the van Rompuys and Barrosos began gaily talking of recruiting from the Arab Spring, via the introduction of Turkey into the EU. But long before that, the collapse of the USSR gave the Eunatics (prodded from behind by Washington) the chance to annexe twelve former Soviet satellites: these were Finland (1995), the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia (2004), Bulgaria, Romania (2007), and latterly Croatia (2013). They effectively whipped 11 satellites from under the Russian bear’s twitching nose in nine years.

This was about geopolitics, not sound fiscal economics and gradual organic growth. In one year – 2004 – the Euronauts added eight new East European members. One might more exactly say that this was egopolitics. And although myriad other factors were at play (of equal malignancy on both sides of the conflict) it inevitably set up and exacerbated the Ukrainian crisis.

As the egopolitics of Brussels-am-Berlin were lubricated by Washington’s energy obsessions in these early years of the new millennium, I doubt whether anyone thought much about the third dimension being added to the cage these clowns had built for themselves. Not only had they corruptly allowed far too many countries into the eurozone – and thus created the makings of a brittle, inflexible currency – they now admitted former Communist countries to EU membership: countries where the nature of living standards and marketing expertise were in almost every case several divisions below those of Western Europe. Further, they inherited a surprising number of former soviet functionaries whose only motivation was the continuation of life in a feather bed. Overnight, the Zil drivers became, variously, trade emissaries, eurofanatics and lickers merely of a Brusslin arse – as opposed to the rather more ample one in Moscow. (The ease with which these leaches made the transition says a great deal about the true nature of the EU).

But the killer effect has been the speed, vigour and commercial acumen with which the poorer central and Eastern novices grabbed the opportunity offered by free movement of labour…and the increasingly obvious advantage of not being in the euro.

As early as 2008, the world economic trade institute was writing about ‘rapidly growing [Polish] exports to western Europe’ and adding – significantly – “income disparities and rapid adoption of high-technology in Poland offer enormous opportunities for growth”. In fact, six years on, the growth centres in Warsaw, Poznan and Wroclaw – spreading to Cracow – are making huge continental share gains against Western countries in several key basic industrial sectors – multiple retailing, metal, wood, stone, plastics, decor, automotive software…and the poorer areas to the east received €2.3 billion from the EU’s structural and cohesion fund Between 2007 and 2013. For along with growth, Poland’s parallel problem has been chronic agrarian unemployment.

Brussels has handed three things to the Poles on a plate: market access minus import duty, freedom of labour movement plus welfare, and investment in the economic infrastructure. As a result, In Q1 2014, the Polish economy grew by 3.4% – and is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2014, 3.7% in 2015 and 3.9% in 2016. Since 2011, Polish exports have doubled. It is now the 6th largest economy in the Union.

In Germany, competing with those advantages is meat and drink: in France, Italy and Portugal, it isn’t. Poland’s young workforce and growing entrepreneurial class are today supplying anyone in the West who wants it with better made, cheaper, and far more reliably delivered materials….and labour that costs half the French equivalent with almost twice the productivity.

Far from blaming the former centro-eastern Soviet satellites for grabbing this opportunity, I salute them. But for those supposedly in charge of ‘running’ an EU already in need of reform, creating higher costs alongside tough margin competition before that reform had been undertaken was a crass, uncommercial and disastrous decision taken on the basis of dick size rather than left brain.

For most Western EU members, the Eastern imperial ambitions of Brussels have thus been the equivalent of taking poison with one hand and giving money away with the other.

While it is smaller and has further to climb as yet, the economic situation in Hungary is if anything even more dynamic. It has a debt/gdp ratio of 80% – which is too short term in some structural elements, but well below most Western competitors. In turn, it has the florint rising against the euro, and thus offering potential to cut that sovereign debt. And its controversial but hugely popular leader Viktor Orbán has kept the euro-sellers, IMF leaches and Banker-prodded globalists at bay.

Everything is a trade-off between competiveness and debt these days, but the Hungarian leader both knows his mind and is good at reducing his strategies to easy-to-grasp populism. Speaking last Saturday in Székesfehérvár, 60 kilometres west of Budapest, Orbán  said that the coming development period will be an era of giving Hungarian businesses with the will to expand “colossal new opportunities”. Expressing as usual his preference for local nationalism over global colonialism, he added that he expects “Hungarian businesses to grow stronger, expand, innovate and help make the create the five million jobs Hungary needs”.

Orbán thinks that Hungary’s economy will be safe from “the coming global cataclysm” if Hungary’s companies have sufficient local business power to keep the economy running. Either way, there have been some notable successes: in 2013,, economic trends developed even better than expected: budget deficits levelled off at under 3% of GDP, public debt was reduced, and in the third quarter of 2013, Hungary’s economy grew 1.8%, rising to  around 2.5% by the year end.

It has the same three advantages that Poland enjoys: an expansion of manufacturing (by 10% YOY), employees prepared to work better, harder and cheaper than the West, and a currency not tainted by the euro.

It will come as no surprise to most better-informed observers that Brussels is working very hard to destabilise the Orbán regime because it doesn’t kiss ass – and succeeds where they have failed. It has a successful mining sector, and rapidly growing exports in metallurgy, construction materials, processed foods, textiles, chemicals (especially pharmaceuticals), and cars. Again, all these are of higher quality and at lower prices than those on offer in the Western EU.

French difficulties in particular have been increased massively by imperial EU expansion. What an irony it would be if Marine LePen rides to victory in the Presidential elections by blaming the country’s ills on foreign workers and EU membership. It suits her book perfectly, and the case is easy to make. Once more, the EU’s greed will have spawned a lurch to the intolerant Right. Plus ca change, and all that.

 

Waging Progress…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

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Published on Economic Undertow on September 24, 2013



Somme 1

Unknown photographer, the French town of Péronne after being mined and shelled by combatants during the Somme offensive, 1916.

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It can be said that war begins as a lie and ends as a tragedy. The easiest lie and the most grotesque … is that war is easy, rather, the next war will be easier than any of the others … that the end will be quick, that the ‘boys will be home by Christmas …’ that the war will not cost anything or it will be profitable to our side … that you too can be a winner. There are other lies, of course, all of them are closely twined together so tightly that is almost impossible to separate the strands. If history tells us anything it is that war is never easy, that short glorious wars have echoes that reverberate decade after decade, that the shadows of the great wars never really clear. Another lie is that technology applied to war possesses a form of moral supremacy identical to the forms it takes elsewhere … that war is integral to the progress narrative: more war = more progress;

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind …

On the first of July, 1916, the British and French launched a combined offensive against the Germans along a twenty-mile stretch of front between the hamlets of Gommecourt and Rosières-en-Santerre. The Somme River divided the battlefield from east to west, where Allied armies joined; the British to the north and the French to the south. The offensive was intended to press upon the right- or northern flank of a broad salient in the German front lines that protruded toward Compiegne about 50 miles north of Paris.

In preparing for the offensive, the Allied leadership was divided. Early on, the British sought a rapid breakthrough of poorly tended German defenses leading to a rapid advance into the German rear. The French wished to draw German reserves away from the charnel house that was Verdun. The two allies were never able to completely agree; a breakthrough in the area would not expose German strategic vulnerabilities, nor was there a particular strategic aim for the offensive other than it was past time for one.

The slow pace of planning was overtaken by events. The Verdun battle that had begun in February forced the French to draw on all its available forces. In June the Russian army launched the Brusilov Offensive into Galicia. This drew German reserves to the east, preventing a spoiling attack against the English. Ultimately, the Somme offensive became part of the greater effort to boil away the opposing armies by attrition; a non-strategy of ‘Verdun everywhere’. Neither side on the Western Front had the imagination — or enough of a manpower or materiel advantage — to alter the military balance, only one side to bleed the other and hope for the best.

An eight-day long English preparatory barrage of 1,500 heavy guns signaled the beginning of the assault north of the Somme River. Artillery alerted the Germans without seriously denting their positions. The defenders retired to dugouts or withdrew out of range until the barrage ended. Many of the British shells were duds while others fell short or passed over their intended targets. Meanwhile, commanders over-estimated the effect of the barrage and ordered infantry to advance across the no-man’s land in close order with heavy packs in broad daylight leaving them easy targets for German machine gunners.

Simple errors compounded problems: British troops — particularly junior officers — were inexperienced with little ability to act on their own initiative. British command compensated by drafting a rigid timetable for the assault. The British neglected to remove wire entanglements in front of of their own lines; troops were forced to pass through single file where they were exposed to the Germans. The barrage failed to clear German wire. As the assault got underway, the British infantrymen were unable to reach the German first-line positions and silence withering small-arms fire.

July 1 was the worst day in British military history. The army suffered 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 men were killed, most of them on a six mile stretch of front between Gommecourt and the Albert-Bapaume road. Reinforcements were held up by waves of wounded streaming back toward the British line. Aid stations and field hospitals were overwhelmed. For all the bloodshed and courage of the soldiers, very little in the way of ground was gained. By the end of the day the front had been advanced only a few hundred meters around Mametz and Montauban with small gains elsewhere.

In the French sector, the artillery preparation were less deliberate, more shells were fired over a shorter period which gave the Germans less time to react. French infantry was able to quickly capture German forward positions and consolidate them. French soldiers had more combat experience than new British recruits and employed better tactics; Poilus bypassed and isolated German outposts rather than assaulting them in slow moving human waves.

Over the next four months, the offensive deteriorated into a series of bloody piecemeal attacks. When it finally petered out in November, the Germans had been pushed back to the greatest depth of about six miles. The cost was stupendous; approximately 1.2 million dead and wounded on both sides.

The 450,000 British losses represented the flower of English society, of the country’s working- and middle classes. These were the recruits enlisted into the army immediately after the war began in 1914; the Somme represented their first appearance in the trenches. The professional soldiers who had polished their craft in Britain’s numerous colonial wars were gone. The lives thrown away carelessly at the Somme were England’s fittest, most determined, best-educated and idealistic young men. The cost to Britain’s society was incalculable. On the other side, the 450,000 losses to Germany represented the flower of the Kaiser’s army; the last of its elite, peace-time trained pre-war cohort. By the harsh calculus by which wartime outcomes are measured, the Somme was a tremendous Allied success, the turning point of the war. The Allies had traded some inexperienced youths for an equal number of Germany’s better trained, more experienced veterans.

After the battle, the Germans would fill its ranks with the sorts of men that now populated the trenches of its Eastern European adversaries, the kinds of soldiers it at the beginning did not want or need: the less fit, the un-healed wounded pressed back into duty, the too-old or too-young, the shirkers, the anarchists, bohemians and revolutionaries, the criminals removed from prisons; those passed over in the first flush of recruitment as being too small, too uncertain, the workers in war-factories replaced by women and children … all those previously deemed unlikely to obey orders without question. The new soldiers were prematurely aged, skinny, haggard, sunken-chested, hollow cheeked with bad teeth; stunted from poverty and chronic ill-health, combed from the industrial ghettos and press-ganged from the Balkan margins of the expanding German Reich; they were the flower of nothing, the laborers and porters, stupid peasants and farmers, long-term exiles from gainful employment, the inmates from asylums. These were conjoined to the battlefield survivors; damaged soldiers who had learned by experience to ignore orders they did not like along with officers who had learned not to give them …

The fit and brilliant young soldiers ready to laugh at privation and danger would not be seen on the European battlefields until the Americans arrived long after the combatants had destroyed themselves, late in 1917.

A consequence of less-than-able soldiery was mutinies in the ranks. The Poilus rebelled 1917; fed up with the pointless slaughter and the apparent unconcern of the the high command that drove them to their deaths. The Austro-Hungarian army unraveled due to the strains imposed by the Brusilov campaign which in turn ended with a Russian mutiny. The French rebellion was suppressed, that in the Russian army was not; in 1917 the Tsar gave way to Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Germany’s mutiny came in 1918 after victory in the east … and crushing defeat in the trenches; it terminated the Kaiser’s rule and with it his war.

The Somme battle is noteworthy for the late appearance of the armored fighting vehicle and the deployment of large numbers of aircraft in combat roles. World War One was a technological war; there was the continuous application of the fruits of science and mechanical invention. Along with tanks and aircraft were improved rapid fire artillery and machine guns, smokeless powder and high explosives, submarines, depth charges, hand grenades, flamethrowers, wireless communications and poison gases. Technology then, as it does now, offered chances for one side or the other to end the war quickly. On the battlefield, technology increased the ability of countries to wage war … rather, wage ‘progress’ against the other side.

Advantages gained by technology ware short-lived. As soon as one side produced an invention, the other copied it or developed countermeasures. The tanks at the Somme battle were not strategically important. They broke down or caught fire, their armor plating was thin and easily punctured with light artillery or even machine guns. The vehicles were large and unwieldy, hard to see out of … they got lost on the battleground or tipped into shell craters. On level ground they were unable to keep pace with infantry. More technology would be needed before the tank would be useful as a battlefield weapon … and more countermeasures.

The first appearance of lethal gas was a little over a year earlier, on April 22, 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, when German troops released 168 tons of chlorine gas from pressurized cylinders against French Territorial forces. The attack was successful in that the Algerian and Moroccan troops fled leaving behind 3,000 dead and a large gap in the Allied lines. The attack was a failure because the Germans were unprepared for their tactical success and had few reserves to exploit the opening which was soon blocked with a Canadian division. The Canadians countered the gas by urinating on pieces of cloth and using them as ad-hoc face masks.

As the war continued, so did the onslaught of gas; there were improvements in its lethality and the facility of its use. Along with improvements came systematic countermeasures, so that the effectiveness of the different forms were of diminished even as there were vastly increased amounts deployed. The primary chemical weapon of World War I was mustard gas discharged from artillery shells. Even though gas turned out to have minimal strategic importance, gas shells made up a large percentage of bombardments by both sides. Gas casualties were low — 3% or less of the total — cost to defenders was high as victims required more convalescent care at aid stations and in the rear than did other kinds of casualties. Gas also disproportionately effected morale, the bulky countermeasures were uncomfortable and confining. At the same time, properly equipped and trained soldiers were little effected by gas.

The gases used in the first world war were irritants or vesicants (blistering agents) that were lethal only when concentrated … at the impact point of a shell or at the bottom of a trench where the heavy compounds collected. Most effective as killers were not gases but diseases — including influenza which appeared in 1918 — infection of even minor wounds, artillery bombardments and fire from small arms especially machine guns.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

After the war research began on the second generation of military gases which were designed to be lethal at once in very small quantities. At the same time governments looked to the accumulated date and measured the costs and benefits of using gas on the battlefield.

Chemical weapons were not controllable: operational success depended on the weather. Changes in the wind brought gas back onto the army that discharged it. Cold rendered some types of gas harmless. Non-persistent gases dissipated quickly leaving little time for the attacker to exploit the effects of the gas. Persistent gases left soldiers unable to advance into contaminated battlefields without casualties.

With gas weapons available, there was no way for a country to ‘opt out’ of gas warfare costs. Countries foreswearing chemical weapons would find it necessary to pursue costly countermeasures, leading to a chemical arms’ race. The scale of World War One was sobering, the numbers hard to comprehend: even a small country might field an army of a million men or more; each needing protective gear and special training … also millions or more convalescent beds. In a gas war, the care of long-term invalids would bankrupt the victors. Gas created disproportionate adverse effects on morale. Even minor exposure left soldiers incapacitated for long periods; the agonies of gas poisoning and terror behind the lines of both soldiers and civilians contributed to breakdowns in discipline and revolts. Even if the weapons themselves did not affect outcomes, the related costs did. Gas threatened to make war too expensive to fight, large countries would be unable to intimidate or invade smaller ones. There would be no victories, no conquests, no glory or spoils. A large reason for having governments in the first place would vanish, put into receivership by … chemists.

Technology such as railroads, steamships, tanks and aircraft expanded the ability of countries to wage war at lower unit cost and over a much broader scale. Chemical and biological weapons offered the revolutionary potential to disable war itself … to undermine the desire on the part of citizens to submit to military discipline or support war policies. Gas was disruptive technology carried to its logical conclusion; it wasn’t too destructive, it was too subversive. The more capable or deadly the gas arsenal the more costly and useless it would become. World War One gases were incapacitating, costs were high but survivable. Science would soon offer gases of unparalleled lethality … accompanied by infinite costs. Progress would work in reverse: unit costs would balloon, military force would be too costly to deploy, the option to wage war would narrow then disappear. In a series of treaties beginning with Versailles, the Americans and Europeans agreed to control if not prohibit outright the use of chemical and biological weapons. These agreements were not difficult to make as adversaries likewise agreed to limit the size and numbers of capital ships for similar reasons.

Chemists in Germany after the war began investigatng agents that included cyanide and organophosphates. Phosphate compounds were patented by the Germans in the early- to mid 1930s. Originally, these were intended as pesticides, their lethality suggested themselves as military weapons. The British and Russians synthesized their own varieties, all of which effect the nervous system leading to respiratory paralysis and asphyxiation. The pathway of nerve gas in the body is not limited to inhalation, the gases can be absorbed through the skin, protection is needed for the entire body. Organophosphate nerve gas analogs are commonly used today as insecticides.

In 1935, the Italians used small amounts of mustard gas against soldiers and civilians during their conquest of Abyssinia. Japan used unspecified war gases against the Chinese during the late 1930s along with biological weapons.

Once World War II began, Germany began manufacturing the phosphate gases Tabun, later Sarin and Soman in large quantities. The Germans did not use their war gases on the battlefield, they were uncertain as to the Allies capacity; they feared being inundated by Allied nerve gases.

Gases were deployed most effectively by Germany against against war prisoners, ‘undesirables’ and the infirm during WWII. The gases used were carbon monoxide from engine exhaust and cyanide/prussic acid fumigants; both were introduced into confined spaces packed with victims. The Germans built a comprehensive, systematic killing apparatus; euthanasia centers for the elderly, ‘T-4′ centers for invalids, ‘clinics’ and ‘infirmaries’ in concentration camps, gas vans, various ‘crematoria’ as adjuncts to ordinary concentration-and slave labor camps as well as purpose-built killing camps. Within the two great killing camps, at Birkenau and Treblinka in Poland more than three millions were murdered with gas. Nearly a million of these were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide at Treblinka, the rest by ‘Zyklon B’ at Birkenau. It is likely that the total number of gas deaths during the second world war were greater than all the gas casualties — killed and wounded — inflicted during the first world war.

By the harsh calculus by which wartime outcomes are measured, the German poison gas campaign against its own civilian population was a complete catastrophe. Even if Germany had been able to hold off the Allies, the consequence of mass murder and slave labor would have been diminished output and the collapse of the German regime from within … just as the same miscalculation fatally undermined the Soviet Union. In Germany, the returns on the ability to wage progress — to apply technology to solve the problem of how to kill others — had diminished to nothing. Using more gas and building more death camps would not have saved Germany from destruction, rather, doing so insured it.

After the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945, the Americans and Russians uncovered German nerve gas laboratories and stockpiles. Gases as well as bacteriological agents were soon produced in very large quantities in both countries in a sort of semi-clandestine arms’ race.

Chemical and biological agents have been used in war since the Third Century BC and perhaps earlier. Gas has been deployed against rebels in Morocco by the Spanish, against Eritreans by Ethiopia, by Iraq against Iran, by the US against the Vietnamese — and ourselves, by the Soviets against Afghan Mujeheddin, by Soviet proxies against Hmong tribesmen and Khmers in Southeast Asia, by Iraq against Kurds at Halabja and elsewhere in 1988 …

During the Vietnam War, the US dispersed thousands of tons of herbicide over large areas of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The purpose was not to kill outright but to remove cover for the enemy as well as destroy their food supply. The herbicide ‘Agent Orange’ was contaminated with dioxin and the ill effects were experienced by both civilians as well as American and Allied soldiers operating in these areas.

The more things change, the more they remain the same; a war begins as a lie. Poison gas appears to have been used recently against civilians in Syria. It is not clear who launched the gas attacks, yet the American establishment is quick to seize on this latest event as justification for a military intervention … to wage high-technology progress against unlucky Syrians. The establishment insists the world is outraged about Syrian gas which is false. What is being challenged is the bosses’ prerogative to bully smaller countries. American citizens are wise to say ‘enough!’ The establishment claims that a war in Syria would be easy; the failed US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq speak for themselves. Progress military-style has turned out to be a failure.

Here is another lie: that America has a moral responsibility to make bad matters worse in Syria … because worse is the only possible outcome.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

— Wilfred Owen; ‘It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country … ‘ Owen was killed in France a week before the Armistice was to take effect, November 4, 1918.

The End of Technocracy and Zero Government

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on February 26, 2013

Detroit Tax Map 1

Figure 1: Detroit city tax map from WDWOT (click on for interactive big), (HT Atlantic Cities): Detroit is a good model for the rest of the United States as the country sinks into post-petroleum depression. One symptom is the inability of the city to provide basic services for its citizens because of shrinking revenue. Owners in the city are unable or unwilling to pay property taxes.

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The map illustrates properties which are current, properties in arrears and those in states of foreclosure. Only a handful of neighborhoods within the city are home to owners current on their property taxes. You can adjust the map to determine the degree to which property in the city is impaired, for instance half the city looks to be in tax arrears and under threat of tax auction.

Here’s Atlantic Cities:

 

Detroit’s Property Tax Black Hole, in Map Form John MetcalfeTo get a handle on how bad of a tax mess Detroit is sitting in right now, look no further than (above) depressing map showing every property in the city suffering “tax distress.”What looks like a big hunk of moldy cheese is in fact the property-tax status of 384,861* properties, as logged by Wayne County’s online tax portal. The lighter yellow boxes represent more than 59,000 distressed buildings where the owners haven’t paid their taxes. Squished among them are a honeycomb of orange boxes, indicating that these properties have such a large backlog of delinquent taxes that they’re now subject to foreclosure. (Count those up and you arrive at about 74,000 doomed properties.) The plots shown in red, meanwhile, are the 18,246 properties that have already been foreclosed.

On the bright side, gray areas mean those places don’t have tax issues. Lucky!

 

The gray areas are highways and city streets, parkland, commercial structures that earn enough in rent to pay expenses and non-taxable city property.

Detroit does not currently have a purely technocratic city administration but one looms over the horizon. Perhaps the establishment in Michigan can rethink the process as technocracy is an endgame, it will fail in Detroit as it has in Greece and Italy.

What is technocracy? It’s an establishment- installed ‘non-political’ manager with powers to restructure a jurisdiction to protect big business interests regardless of social or political consequences. Jurisdictions that have lost the ability to borrow and thence roll-over debts and pay interest are candidates for the technocratic ‘fix’. Meanwhile, the same inability to borrow strands the technocrats who have no tools to work with.

Technocracy tends to be the last step before default/repudiation of non-payable debts. After technocracy comes ‘zero-government’; the capitulation of the establishment, its dissolution into factions and chaos. This is part of the transition to a post-petroleum economy and breakdown of the status quo. Arguably, Detroit has endured ineffective, paternalistic ‘pro-business’ leadership since World War Two: the non-government is a necessary precondition to technocracy which surrenders shortly afterward to zero-government.

Hat meet rabbit: an emergency managers cannot magically deliver the means to repay tax arrears or interest on loans. To do so requires the creation of thousands of new jobs which is never within managers’ scope of employment. Their duty is to cut jobs. Technocrats lack imagination, they are repo-men They provide administrative smokescreens behind which the creditor interests pick over and privatize remaining marketable assets that have previously been too costly to pillage. The problem is … when governments reach the technocratic inflection point assets aren’t worth anything.

Here is the current Emergency Manager of the Detroit Public School System:

 

Roy S. Roberts was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in May 2011 to serve as Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager under the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. Mr. Roberts, who was most recently Managing director at Reliant Equity Investors, has decades of managerial, financial and organizational experience, having served as the highest-ranking African-American executive in the U.S. automobile industry as Group Vice President for North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing of General Motors Corporation from July 1999 to April 2000. Prior to that, Mr. Roberts also served as Vice President and Group Executive, North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing of General Motors Corporation from October 1998 to July 1999. He was Vice President and General Manager in charge of Field Sales, Service and Parts for the Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing Group of General Motors Corporation from August 1998 to October 1998. He served as General Manager of the Pontiac-GMC Division from February 1996 to October 1998, presiding over the merger of Pontiac-GMC …

 

Do you laugh or cry? Roberts offers management expertise to a bankrupt school system gained from within the bankrupt General Motors as a glorified car salesman! Roberts is not expected to improve learning in Detroit, but to facilitate the flow of public funds toward the private sector … this is what technocrats do.

 

3.1 Salary The Emergency Manager’s salary for services rendered under this Contract shall be $250,000.00 per year, paid by the District.

 

He is additionally compensated for personal expenses. Unsurprisingly, the citizens refuse to pay taxes. Tax evasion/declining government revenue is a characteristic of technocracies: why throw good money after bad? Here’s Mike ‘Mish’ Shedlock:

 

Half of Detroit Properties Have Not Paid Taxes; Update on Detroit Bankruptcy The hollowing out of Detroit is nearly complete. All that’s left is a bankrupt shell of a city with no services and scattered citizens that do not pay taxes.The Detroit News reports Half of Detroit Property Owners Don’t Pay Taxes.“Nearly half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis, according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.

The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city’s taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library.

Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year, The News found. Many of those who don’t pay question why they should in a city that struggles to light its streets or keep police on them.

“Why pay taxes?” asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. “Why should I send them taxes when they aren’t supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came.”

 

Shedlock’s ‘solution’ is technocratic: to quash the unions and fire workers. It would be far better to fire the automobiles instead. Raising taxes in a depression is a failure, blaming the city workers is blaming the victims.

In Detroit, homeowners are broke and unable to pay, others are in dispute with the city over the amount of tax due: real estate worth has plummeted over the past 20 years and assessments are ‘uncertain’. There are questions about durable title particularly on foreclosed properties. The large banks and mortgage servicers own multiple properties they look to shift the burdens each property represents onto the taxpayers.

Many thousands of houses in Detroit are burn-outs or dilapidated and require demolition. By not paying taxes, the banks force the city to take over properties and demolish buildings at city’s- rather the banks’ expense. In Detroit, the cost of demolition is not much less than the average cost of a house.

Occasionally the government runs amok: houses in Detroit are demolished after people buy them … to save them from demolition. Why pay taxes and support ineptitude or criminals?

It is likely to be difficult for Michigan’s governor to find another car salesman willing to become Detroit’s Next Great Technocrat! Pre-failure failure in Detroit, (Huffington):

 

Asked during a short, one-on-one session with The Associated Press if any potential candidates for such a job (emergency manager) had already declined it, Snyder responded: “Oh yeah. There were quite a few people who were in that camp. Because if you think about it, and this is not to imply we’re going to do one, but it would be an extremely challenging position.” Challenging may be an understatement.Mayor Dave Bing has placed the city’s current budget deficit at about $327 million. The report given to Snyder Tuesday by the state-appointed review team said the accumulated deficit as of June 30, 2012, would have topped $900 million if Detroit leaders in recent years had not issued bonds to pay some of its bills.Long-term liabilities, including underfunded pensions, is more than $14 billion, and in recent months the city has relied on bond money from an escrow account to meet its dwindling cash flow needs and to pay city workers.

The review team also said that because of its cash deficit the city would have to either increase revenues or decrease expenditures, or both, by about $15 million per month between January and March to “remain financially viable.”

 

The ‘Blame the Victim’ Game in Detroit

 

In areas where technocracy has been installed such as Greece, both the initial conditions and the failure of the process is blamed on the inhabitants. Greeks are ‘corrupt tax-cheats and lazy’. Detroiters are ‘stupid, drug-crazed Negro savages bent on murder and destruction’, French are ‘near-communists and cowards’, Irish are ‘ugly … drunken child molesters’. The purpose of the blame game is distraction while retirement savings are stolen by the establishment. The elderly ‘deserve what they (don’t) get! The blame game hits the target by appearing to miss it.

In Detroit, the citizens didn’t chase retail stores away, they didn’t over-invest in the auto industry, they didn’t ghettoize the city with ill-conceived developments and a web of freeways, they didn’t pollute the city with lead, zinc, chromium, mercury, toxic petroleum-based chemicals, they didn’t sell the city out to billionaire developers.

The citizens didn’t pave the city over with parking lots or built thousands of monstrously ugly concrete box- buildings. Detroiters are being shot by criminals, being driven out by block busting and urban decay, losing what little property wealth they had, having already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Detroiters have been abandoned by their country not the other way around.

The US spends hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan, why not Detroit?

Detroit’s notorious crime problem appears to be the result of lead pollution from fuel additives and manufacturing residues in the soil along with fumes from burning lead paint spewed into the air from the thousands of building fires taking place every year in the city … rather than skin color.

The black establishment in Detroit has never been able to stand up to the white establishment which owns everything important, which controls the city’s budget, which anoints various city administrations, which constantly looks for opportunities to blame blacks for everything gone wrong.

Since 1920 the auto industry has run Detroit like a coal mining ‘company town’. Most of the housing stock in Detroit was sub-standard as built: cheap frame houses thrown up as rapidly as possible on an unrelenting grid. Detroiters are learning the hard way: land use and urban design matter. The citizens did not design the buildings or lay out the streets. What charm the city once possessed has been swept away for parking lots and cheap commercial and institutional ‘facilities’. The citizens did not do this, it was business interests seeking the quick buck for themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Following the Great Wave of European master craftsmen to the city in the 19th century, most of the emigres in decades following have been unskilled, uneducated agricultural workers seeking assembly-line jobs. They added little to the community other than modest paychecks and a burning desire to relocate themselves to the suburbs as soon as possible. Even in the 1950s, when the auto workers union gained touted increases in pay and benefits, the companies they worked for were shrinking, first by way of automation then by ruinous competition and business failure.

The unraveling of the US car industry has been the decline and fall of Detroit: the population has shrunk from 1.8 million to less than 700,000. Who is to live in the abandoned houses? Even without the fires and the blight, half of the ‘original city’ would be empty. Where are the jobs?

Meanwhile, the Detroiters are on the hook for tens billions of dollars of debt taken on to run the ossified city government, pay pensions, build football and baseball stadiums … arenas, improvements for casinos and retail ‘big-box’ stores. The reason Michigan keeps Detroit at arm’s length is because the state is as bankrupt as the city. If it does nothing, the city’s finance burdens will crush the state, if it tries to ‘fix’ the city the effort will crush the state just as well.

The establishment has created this mess, not the Detroiters. Meanwhile, technocracy marches over the edge of the cliff around the world:

– Japan’s ‘democracy’ has been a facade that masks control by business cartels, in this way all recent governments in Japan are technocratic. Japanese citizens are confronted with the doubling of consumption taxes by 2014: these are taxes levied to meet the spiraling cost of servicing Japan’s monumental debt. Enter the new ‘Shinzo Abe 2.0′ government promising to borrow more, faster … presuming Japan’s total debt burden can be added to without causing a crash. Increasing numbers of Japan’s citizens are elderly, they do not consume, they are unwilling to pay more taxes. Meanwhile, Japan’s overseas customers are broke. They cannot buy Japanese products and by doing so lend to the Japanese.

The outcome is a currency market panic … that is not likely to end well.

– The Greeks are bankrupt, the European Union has bailed out (some of) Greece’s lenders while burdening Greeks with higher taxes that the Greeks refuse to pay. The technocratic government installed by the IMF, European Central Bank and the EU has collapsed, the country now has post-technocratic ‘zero government’.

– Italians have been confronted with higher technocrat-imposed taxes: they evade them or refuse to pay. Voters have just now jettisoned the current IMF-supported technocrat regime. The outcome is post-technocratic zero-government in Italy.

– The French unraveling is well underway the current government is the precursor to a technocracy. The Socialists are incoherent, they appear to have no set strategy or clear understanding of their dilemma which is the consequence of extinguished capital. When the French cannot borrow cheaply, they will be given the ‘Italian Choice’: to install a technocratic regime or be frozen out of credit markets.

– Sequester in the US is technocracy-by-the-numbers, the theft of retirements under the guise of ‘responsible government’ for the benefit of lenders. After technocracy fails comes zero-government.

Moderns look to waste resources but the outcome is to become Detroit in every sense. Japan and Greece have passed their respective points of no-return. Their ability to waste resources is collapsing because their external debt subsidies have been curtailed, they cannot borrow to repay their debts so they cannot borrow to obtain fuel. Meanwhile, working out of debt is beyond what can be done with human labor or what modest remaining capital can leverage.

The wild card in Italian politics: by John Hooper and Lizzy Davies (Guardian UK):

 

Italy on Monday night risked pitching into political turmoil as projections of the result of its general election pointed to a hung parliament and confirmed that the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), led by an ex-comedian, Beppe Grillo, had exploded onto the national stage. So far, Grillo has ruled out supporting either side in his drive to sweep away Italy’s existing political parties and the cronyistic culture they support.

 

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (Telegraph UK):

 

In an earthquake result, the Five Star protest movement of comedian Beppe Grillo looked likely to emerge as the biggest single party in the lower house. The scourge of bankers and corrupt elites, Mr Grillo has campaigned for a return to the lira and a restructuring of Italy’s €1.9 trillion (£1.64 trillion) public debt. The conservative bloc of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi looked poised to win the senate, coming back from the political grave with vows to rip up the EU’s austerity plans and push through tax cuts to pull Italy out of deep slump.“The majority of Italians have clearly voted against the Brussels consensus. That is a damning indictment,” said Mats Persson from Open Europe.A euphoric rally on European bond and stock markets early on Monday gave way to abrupt selling as it became clear that Italy would be left with a hung parliament and no consensus over fundamental policies, leaving the country almost ungovernable.

 

There is little chance of escape for Italy from zero-government, just like Detroit. The innovation of the Five Star Movement is that it spurns TV and the need for officials to sell themselves to business interests in order to raise advertising money. Five Star candidates offer their platforms on Facebook and Twitter. None of this addresses our evaporating capital problem. Italy and the rest need new ideas about how to wisely use what capital remains: to husband it for the future rather than burning it up faster and faster.

Our current economy uses the destruction of capital as collateral for ‘infinite’ loans. This process must be voluntarily ended or it will be ended for us with zero-government as a component of the process.

Europe and the rest of the world is being de-carred: this is because cars are unaffordable luxuries. For some reason, this is too complex and difficult a problem for economists and policy makers to grasp! What is ‘growth’? Always more and more cars. Why isn’t there any growth? Because adding more cars amplifies the car-cost problem, which is the increasingly efficient destruction of capital. The solution to our capital destruction problem isn’t baling out lenders … presumably so they might lend again … but to end cars and their monstrous claims against capital!

The world’s fuel supply is shrinking along with credit availability. Without a constant supply of new fuel there are shortfalls. Economic activity is curtailed as a result. Without that constant supply of new credit, nobody can retire old loans or service them, nobody can obtain fuel. Credit is constrained further in a vicious cycle … there is no way out.

The establishment insists that the problems in Detroit and elsewhere is the social safety net/excess savings. Lenders complain about the safety net, insisting savings impinges debt repayment. Yet gutting it represents only a temporary reprieve, the debts cannot be repaid because the collateral for the debt is waste and the instrument of waste is cars. In a way, Detroit is a victim of its own success.

The cars’ days are numbered: the car and tire manufacturers, the fuel industry, the highway construction industry, the tract house industry, the big-box retailer industry, the truck-transport industry, the gigantic 80-story concrete penis in the middle of town industry, the military industrial complexes, the finance and insurance industries … all of the automobile dependencies are bankrupt, a gigantic, worldwide dinosaur that has cut its own head cut off by way of its pointless success … too stupid to lay down and die.

Die it will and very soon, children, very soon … not before threshing everything in the world to bits, first.

By Design: French Mali Invasion Spills into Algeria

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

Published on Land Destroyer on January 17, 2013

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

 

January 17, 2013 (LD-Tony Cartalucci) – Exactly as predicted, the ongoing French “intervention” in the North African nation of Mali has spilled into Algeria – the next most likely objective of Western geopolitical interests in the region since the successful destabilization of Libya in 2011.

In last week’s “France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali” report, it was stated specifically that:

“As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:
Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.
 
 
 
 
 

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.”

Now, it is reported that “Al Qaeda-linked” terrorists have seized American hostages in Algeria in what is being described by the Western press as “spill over” from France’s Mali operations.

The Washington Post, in their article, “Al-Qaida-linked militants seize BP complex in Algeria, take hostages in revenge for Mali,” claims:

“As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its article, “Militants Grab U.S. Hostages in Algeria,” reports that:

“Militants with possible links to al Qaeda seized about 40 foreign hostages, including several Americans, at a natural-gas field in Algeria, posing a new level of threat to nations trying to blunt the growing influence of Islamist extremists in Africa.

 

As security officials in the U.S. and Europe assessed options to reach the captives from distant bases, Algerian security forces failed in an attempt late Wednesday to storm the facility.”

The WSJ also added:

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would take “necessary and proper steps” in the hostage situation, and didn’t rule out military action. He said the Algeria attack could represent a spillover from Mali.”

And it is military action, both covert and incrementally more overt, that will see the West’s extremist proxies and the West’s faux efforts to stem them, increasingly creep over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn right before our eyes.

Image: The French Empire at its height right before the World Wars. The regions that are now Libya, Algeria, Mali, and the Ivory Coast all face reconquest by the French and Anglo-Americans, with French troops literally occupying the region and playing a pivotal role in installing Western-friendly client regimes. Also notice Syria too, was a French holding – now under attack by US-British-French funded, armed, and backed terrorists – the same terrorists allegedly being fought in Mali and now Algeria.

….

Meanwhile, these very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France who are both claiming to fight the “Free Syrian Army’s” ideological and very literal allies in North Africa.

In reality, Al Qaeda is allowing the US and France to intervene and interfere in Algeria, after attempts in 2011 to trigger political subversion was soundly defeated by the Algerian government. Al Qaeda is essentially both a casus belli and mercenary force, deployed by the West against targeted nations. It is clear that French operations seek to trigger armed conflict in Algeria as well as a possible Western military intervention there as well, with the Mali conflict serving only as a pretense.

Of Mad Men …

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

 

Not many people would recognize the name Edvard Beneš, some might identify him as a Hungarian. Others would suggest an obscure novelist or a symphony conductor … obviously intelligent and well-mannered individual, an economist or law professor. He would have a hotel or a library named after him somewhere: take a little time to look up the name Edvard Beneš:

 

Edvard Beneš was born into a peasant family in the small town of Kožlany, Bohemia, ca. 60 km west of Prague.  …  He spent much of his youth in Vinohrady district of Prague, where he attended a grammar school from 1896 to 1904. During this time he played football for Slavia Prague. After studies at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague, he left for Paris and continued his studies at the Sorbonne and at the Independent School of Political and Social Studies (École Libre des Sciences Politiques). He completed his first degree in Dijon, where he received his Doctorate of Laws in 1908. Then he taught for three years at the Prague Academy of Commerce, and after his habilitation in the field of philosophy in 1912, he became a lecturer in sociology at Charles University.

[…]

During World War I, Beneš was one of the leading organizers of an independent Czechoslovakia abroad. He organized a Czech pro-independence anti-Austrian secret resistance movement called “Maffia”. In September, 1915, he went into exile where in Paris he made intricate diplomatic efforts to gain recognition from France and the United Kingdom for the Czechoslovak independence movement, as he was from 1916–1918 a Secretary of the Czechoslovak National Council in Paris and Minister of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs within the Provisional Czechoslovak government.

[…]

From 1918–1935, Beneš was first and the longest serving Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, and from 1920–1925 and 1929–1935 a member of the Parliament. He represented Czechoslovakia in talks of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1921 he was a professor and also from 1921–1922 Prime Minister. Between 1923–1927 he was a member of the League of Nations Council (serving as president of its committee from 1927–1928). He was a renowned and influential figure at international conferences, such as Genoa 1922, Locarno 1925, The Hague 1930, and Lausanne in 1932.

Beneš was a member of the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party (until 1925 called Czechoslovak Socialist Party) and a strong Czechoslovakist – he did not consider Slovaks and Czechs to be separate ethnicities.

In 1935, Beneš succeeded Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk as President. He opposed Nazi Germany’s claim to the German-speaking so-called Sudetenland in 1938. In October, the Sudeten Crisis brought Europe on the brink of war, which was averted only as France and Great Britain signed the Munich Agreement, which allowed for the immediate annexation and military occupation of the Sudetenland by Germany.

 

Neither Beneš nor any member of the Czecho-slovak government was permitted to attend the conference where the little country was sacrificed to Hitler and his mad men.  The Euro-powers England and France were unprepared for war, they overestimated Hitler’s readiness and demurred. Czecho-slovakia was sacrificed to buy goods that could not be had: peace or greater preparedness. Out of recession and deleveraging of the 1930s, no country had anything but a transient material advantage over the others.

What emerged instead was a contest of institutional restraints, or between restraints on one part versus their absence on the other. There was the high-minded rationalization on the part of the powers versus the total absence of same on the part of the Germans. The German strategic advantage was set in high relief in Munich by Germany’s reasonable and well-intended adversaries. To outmaneuver whatever obstacles Germany might encounter on its path to geographic empire it had only to react to restraint as if it was acknowledgement of fatal weakness. The Germans would demand everything, to threaten annihilation otherwise, to exceed all limits, to put its army on wheels so that it might be turned loose in all directions, to massacre without conscience … to be unorthodox in all things or appear to be so. To be modern, in other words: restraint was prissy and old-fashioned, bourgeois and incompetent. According to German doctrine, there was to be no place in the modern world for anachronistic little duchies and principalities … Negotiations and conferences existed only to produce surrender documents.

After Munich, restraint was synonymous with cowardice and appeasement along with the word ‘Munich’ itself. Hitler was outraged that the appeasement had cost him a war that he was sure Germany would win.

Neville Chamberlain, British ambassador Neville Henderson, German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Hitler at Munich. By 1946 all of these men were dead, all of the European countries and their economies were destroyed.

Sudetenland was handed over immediately after the Munich Accord, announced with fanfare, the rest of the country was annexed by Germany and Hungary within six months. The accord offering ‘Peace in our time’ was not worth the paper it was written on, like so much else within modernity, it was a another false ‘tomorrow promise’.

After Munich, Beneš fled into exile in Britain, after the war he was part of a brief independent Czech government that was eventually undermined by the Soviets in 1948.

Right now ‘Munich 2.0′ spools out right under everyone’s noses: the Spanish public is sold into the abyss by the feckless government seeking to buy a little time. Like the Czechs and Slovaks in 1938, the people have nothing to say about their own fate … which is determined in the shadows by unrestrained and unaccountable mad men (Telegraph):

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy explains the surrender of Spain to the Anglo-American banking cabal in front of the Spanish Parliament, admits draconian terms demanded by EU financiers. Photo: AFP

 

Debt crisis: Spain bows to EU ultimatum with drastic cuts

Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy has raised VAT sharply in a humiliating volte-face and pushed through €65bn (£51bn) of drastic austerity measures to comply with a European Union ultimatum, risking a downward spiral into full depression.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

In Churchillian tones of blood and toil – even as Asturian miners and their wives clashed violently with police after a three-week march on Madrid – Mr Rajoy called for yet another round of cuts, admitting that Spain was obliged to take “urgent” action under the terms of the latest EU summit deal.

“We Spanish no longer have the choice whether or not to make sacrifices. We no longer have such liberty,” he said.

Hours before, the daily newspaper El Pais had stunned the nation by publishing the leaked “Memorandum” imposed by the eurozone’s creditor bloc as the condition for Spain’s €100bn bank rescue.

The draconian terms include an EU takeover of the Spanish financial system, with calls for haircuts on €67bn of junior and hybrid bank debt, a bad bank to wind down crippled lenders, “on-site” raids by inspectors, and intrusive demands across the gamut of fiscal policy.

 

The Washington Consensus succeeded brilliantly in Greece, the obvious reason to apply it with more vigor in Spain.

Chamberlain and Daladier ‘understood’ that Germans would not annex anything more than a small part of Czecho-slovakia. Rajoy understood that Spain would not be subject to severe austerity by the finance sector in return for what amounts to a trifling borrowed sum. Unlike the aggressive, militaristic Hitler, today’s mad men are well mannered and abstract. The outcome for the victims is identical, bondage and pillage. Because no one else will lend to Spain, with no great power England or France — or United States — to rescue her, there is no choice for the unimaginative Rajoy but to sell his country down the river.

Like the hapless Beneš there is certain to be a place in the Spanish rump for the elder statesman Rajoy long after the country is a smoking ruin. Like Beneš, he looks good in a suit.

The Spanish establishment does not understand symmetry. There is nothing to compel Spain to borrow under duress, or to prevent Spain from repudiating the odious- and ill considered debts it has already taken on. If the country had a real government instead of a cowardly fake it would behave the same as the mad men, to stand up to them, to beat the bullies and put them in their place. The establishment fails to understand the economic dynamic that is underway. The cost of submission is no different from the cost of non-submission. Putting the costs of unrestricted capital back upon capital is where it belongs. Spain would abandon its costly ‘prosperity’ but would maintain its sovereignty and the freedom if its citizens to act for themselves. By surrendering, the prosperity is gone and so is the sovereignty. The citizens are free to be paupers or emigres. Spain becomes a colony of Wall Street.

The current tragedy in Europe is unfolding with the same sense of dishonor and inevitability as during 1938. History may rhyme as Mark Twain once said, but it clearly is repeating itself, now. The establishments around the world insist on sacrificing others to the mad men. This strategy fails, appeasement makes these men bolder, they cannot be satiated or even evaded. Their ambition and reach has become universal, they are monsters. They must be destroyed, annihilated and all memories of them done away with. Their tools of destruction which they promote as ‘efficiency’ must be hammered flat and repudiated. The steps leading to Munich failed to bring peace but led instead to a great war, the steps leading to Brussels follow the exact same path. It is the cowardice of the good people, the moral relativism of the disinterested who refuse to see it.

The Europeans and their economic ministers and economics do not understand what it underway. Europe is subject to an Anglo-American credit embargo similar to those implemented in Latin America in the 1980s and in S. Asia in the 1990s. The US gains more from Europe’s bankruptcy than it can gain as return on new credit.

Because the establishment does recognize the energy component to their economic troubles they cannot see the potential gains to others … from Europe’s collapse.

Europe consumes 15 million barrels of petroleum per day: by bankrupting the EU 10 millions of those barrels can be exported to the US instead. This is the equivalent to the production of Saudi Arabia, without all the drilling.

The 5% reduction in fuel availability in the West in 1973 resulted in what was the world’s deepest post- WWII recession, excluding the current recession. At issue is a reduction of 70%.

Analysts blame the European problems on corrupt Greeks and others but these countries did not make the loans to themselves: it takes two corrupts to tango. The Eurozone was a pit of predatory lending under false pretenses (for fake, USA-style ‘prosperity’). The euro was — and is — a defective credit instrument similar to a sub-prime mortgage.

No sovereign can repay finance-level debts, such a thing is impossible. Greece cannot repay, Spain cannot hope to begin to repay.

Not only cannot Greece repay, Germany in full flower of industrial output cannot repay Greek debts. The demand for repayment is a charade and anyone bothering to look for more than five minutes can see that this is true.

The rate of change in GDP year over year is the surplus carried forward over the previous year’s expenses. It is this margin from which a country’s debts might be serviced — not retired — the annual increase in German GDP might be sufficient to partially service Greek debts for that year. Anyone who believes that Germany could repay Greek debts believes in unicorns and fairies.

Keep in mind that GDP growth must also meet other expenses besides service of loans outstanding. Almost all debt service is financed along with principal roll-over.

The Germans object to the obligation to repay Greek debts, it is because such a thing is impossible regardless of intentions.

Greece is dependent upon external sources of (borrowed) capital: Germany genuflects in the direction of capital because Germany itself is just as dependent on external capital flows as is Greece.

If Germany cannot repay Greek debts how can Greece be expected to do so, in the face of a credit embargo?

The embargo is effective because there is no European lender of last resort: what passes for one appears to offer unsecured loans to banking clients which themselves are insolvent. A lender of last resort cannot at the same time be insolvent: the one concept excludes the other. When the central bank takes on the impaired loans of its clients it becomes insolvent, it loses credibility.

Because of system insolvency there are fatal bank runs. These are taking place this minute.

Debts are intractable: they must either be replaced/refinanced with more debts or they must be repudiated, there is no other way. When debts are repudiated, the country is de-industrialized as it cannot import fuel, its money is unacceptable.

The fantasy of industrialization and so-called ‘progress’ is what various ‘leaderships’ including Rajoy’s are loathe to abandon. This is even as industrialization destroys the countries’ economies and the countries themselves. Managements cling to the false promises that have been offered for 400 years, that have brought wealth to a handful of thieves in exchange for Napoleon, revolutions. Communism, Hitler, world wars and great depressions. This, then … is the dividend of concentration and economies of scale, leaving out the complete destruction of the very air, land and water upon which we as living creatures absolutely depend … for a few pieces of colored paper.

If the country does not repudiate its debts, its money is unacceptable anyway as the money is proxy for nothing but unserviceable debts.

This non-acceptance is the end of the road … the end of all the roads.

By repudiating the debts all of the associated wealth is annihilated: wealth = debt. The problem is the foolish Europeans  want to get rid of the debt and keep the wealth. They do not accept that, a) this cannot be done, and b) there is really no such thing as money-wealth.

What comes this way is the contest between the few, the mad men with their machines and their blandishments, their constant readiness to do the world ill for their immediate gain. On the other side of the contest is the void, a bloated dependent (over)population: here is the reason for overpopulation in the first place! Dependents dare not agitate without risking starvation, homelessness or withholding of institutional ‘benefits’. There is the loss of place, a generalized self-contempt, selfishness and institutionalized laziness. Not the stuff of revolutions or reform.

The mad men inch closer to self-immolation, to take the rest of the world with it. This is the end-game of industrialization, the promise of Valhalla the reality of a wasteland.

Keynes was wrong, in the short run we are all dead.

GREECE & SPAIN: The real story

Published originally on The Slog on July 12th, 2012

In Clubmed, the guilty are protected and the innocent turn to violence. The Olympic Games are a sideshow.

Weapons of mass distraction are at work, but they will not work

The Daily Telegraph website’s ‘Hot Topics’ this morning read as follows:

Olympics: great moments Olympics: torch relay Olympics: Team GB Olympics: schedule Olympics: graphics

All fine and dandy if you like that sort of thing – despite the growing signs that its organisation is all over the place. But three things of late have conspired to ensure that Britain has its head firmly inserted up its backside at the moment: weather damage, the ‘Barclays scandal’,  and the Olympics.

The Government has awarded us the taxpayers the job of paying for the bad weather via our insurance premiums (another hidden bailout), the Libor scandal represents the glowing testicles of the global banking hyena (another scam to make us poorer), and the Olympics look set to be both the wettest in history – and a massive drain on our resources for no return (yet another legacy of Tony Blair).

But it would do no harm to remember where the Olympics started – and what its founder is still going through at the hands of Berlin am Brussels hypocrisy. And if we have an interest in sport (and for the vast majority, that doesn’t stretch to an Olympics covered in logos and sprinkled with puerile hype) then let us take our minds back to Spain, whose national football team is the envy of the world, and whose club side Barcelona just keeps on winning the Champions’ League – because it is the best and most stylish team of players ever assembled.

Yesterday, Senor Rajoy the Spanish Prime Minister raised VAT and cut social expenditure in a country already on its knees, and not surprisingly violence ensued. Despite the Troika’s Page One error of reducing demand, cutting output and demanding slavery in preference to debt forgiveness – and the EU’s continuing determination to deny that the euro has been a boon for some but a disaster for others – no amount of hard empirical evidence demonstrating the socio-economic disaster unfolding in the ClubMeds has made the slightest dent in the tin hats of Merkel, Schäuble, or Lagarde. The equally doubly-endowed standards of Nicolas Sarkozy have now been replaced by a dull Leftwing Establishment dweeb called Francois Hollande, but for all his greyness and lack of reforming instincts within France, the new President has at least put his hand up to say, “This is madness, and it must stop”.

Less remarked by the MSM yesterday, however, was this piece of news from Greece, published by respected title Kathimerini: (my emphasis)

‘In the shadow of another report on tax evasion – this one using
bank records – that shows tax cheats are robbing Greece blind of
critical revenues, seven retired and active tax officers, including four
high-ranking administrators, were sentenced to more than 70 years in
jail for embezzlement of up to 28 million euros  – then
promptly released on bail.’

This band of merry men first came under suspicion in 2001 after a retired inspector, Aliki Kyriakaki, made claims that she had come under pressure from certain members of the group to reduce tax fines against a large company she’d been auditing – and found to have arrears of 36 million euros, or $44.2million. She said they offered to write off the debts if they were paid bribes.
She said their tactics to keep her silent included having her disciplined numerous times on specious charges, for which she was
cleared completely by an administrative court. She had refused to work with her colleagues and become a whistle-blower to
reveal the corruption.

But her courage was all for nought, because the convicted felons were granted ‘conditional release’…although the authorities would not release their names. This despite the huge sums they had blackmailed and embezzled from taxpayers over the years. These low-lifers are thus now free to do the bidding of the gargoyles in Brussels and the IMF: and lest we forget, they will also be doing the work of the banks, speculators and pro-EU elites who caused all this mess in the first place. That is, they will continue to rob from the poor in order to ingratiate themselves with the rich.

The Greek legal system also allows convicted felons to buy themselves out of prison sentences for tax evasion. Naturally this usually means that the poor, minor dodgers rot in prison…and the troughers walk away. Most of the €70bn lost last year to the Hellenic Exchequer involves the latter: some 200 alleged tax cheats have been rounded up in recent months, but not one high-level business figure has been prosecuted….and as we’ve seen, by far the biggest heist in Greek tax history has resulted in the guilty being….let off.

As southern Gallic relaxez-vous stretches down to meet Mediterranean manana, the attitude held by the majority of taxpayers is thus very simple: “the government cheats me and hires blackmailers to rip me off, so I cheat them at every opportunity”. As my own woodman here in the Lot said to me six years ago, “I don’t pay tax m’sieur, it only encourages them”.

I have reached the stage with the Fiscal Union/Troika juggernaut where I no longer accept the thesis that Berlin am Brussels is simply inflexibly dumb. I think that particular axis of evil knows exactly what the problem is, and how it happened, viz: the EMU beyond northern Europe was always going to doom those who took it up, because it was of less than no use to them given the nature of their economies. And the fiscal rules would never suit Europe south of Bordeaux because the entire relationship between the citizen and the taxpayer is different.

This deserves some further elucidation.

Before they blagued their way into the eurozone on the back of EU hubris and graft, Greece and Spain were doing just fine thank you very much. Having at various times kicked out fascist colonels and a sclerotic Caudillo, both countries saw enormous growth through the liberalisation of capitalist mechanisms alongside generous welfare systems. Tax evasion was and remains endemic, because the elites are corrupt, and the tax collectors a bunch of blackmailers. But none of that mattered too much, because their primary ‘export’ was the country itself – the weather, the food, the culture, the olive oil, the glistening oceans and stunning offshore islands.

Above all, what Greece and Spain had going for them (when it came to attracting Nordeuropa holidaymakers) were high temperatures and low costs: meals, wine, beer, flights and hotels tended to be cheap. When I first went to Greece in 1970, you could bum around the islands on not much more than twenty quid a week. My first fortnight in Spain cost £50 – flights and apartment included. The sun shone, the ferries were sporadic, the people were gentle: it would be done manana, but in the meantime enjoy your yoghurt and honey, have some tapas with your La Ina, sleep it off on the beach, and then eat late with the locals and their children at the Taverna. With these two venues and Portugal, Europeans would never want for cheap, relaxing holidays.

But then along came the eurozone, and soon afterwards the plot was completely lost. Spain took advantage of cheap ECB and US bank money to invest in a second-home property bubble that could never sustain itself; and probably more than any other ezone founder, the Greeks swapped their wonderfully good value ‘drachs’ for an immediately inflationary euro…and its elites really began to dive fully-clothed into the money-trough. In this of course, the pols and bureaucrats were aided and abetted by Germany in general, and Siemens in particular. As vacation destinations, their problem was exacerbated by the growing realisation that other parts of south-eastern Europe, and intercontinental long-haul, were where one could now find excellent value and something a little more esoteric – be that Croatia or Thailand.

The foregoing is obviously a gross simplification of how we got to here, but it’s more or less fair. Given cheap loans by Trichet, an expensive currency made even more uncompetitive for exports by a successful Germany, and a spendaholic France, the ClubMeds saw their boom slowing down in real terms by 2004. But like everyone else in the world, they chose to borrow their way out of a changing balance of power between Europe and Asia.

Probably, sanity is at hand. As I predicted against the tide last month, the Karlsruhe Court isn’t rolling over, and Gauck is sticking to his guns. Schäuble-licken is bellowing that the sky will fall in if Germany ‘dithers’ further (it probably will) but both Bankfurt and the Opposition Parties can smell blood: they are starting to push a coordinated line – that Germany will be ruined by Merkel’s ego – and Fritz in the street is beginning to catch on. The longer things drag on, the more obviously inevitable the euro’s demise in its current form will become – which is, let’s face it, what Wolfgang Schäuble is really upset about. His dream of being Ubersturmbannfuhrerfinanz for the eurozone is fading rapidly.

As long as bonds spike and austerity rules, the euro will move even more rapidly towards its implosion. There are three options left today:

1. A Nordeuro is formed, led by Germany (and perhaps a Sudeuro by France)

2. Germany quits the euro completely

3. Insolvency events overtake the Sprouts, and the entire eurobanking system falls apart, immemdiately infecting the US.

If you can choose between them right now, than you’re a better man than I. Stay tuned.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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