Published on the Economic Undertow on September 20, 2016
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
The United States military’s endless war against everything, everywhere, all the time … is spreading:
The experts agree; the war in in Syria and Iraq is a big one, it has many adversaries, etc. They neglect to mention the war showing up in Raleigh, North Carolina; Tulsa or a suburb of Minneapolis … or in your town. The wars are supposed to remain at a safe distance felt only as pangs of gratification before and during sporting events. Now the dogs are running wild, who will they bite next?
Maybe a better question is how much does it all cost and who’s paying?
Islamic State had an amazing run, if only for its outrageous, mind-torquing audacity. Like a bad LSD trip amped with Jack Daniel’s and crystal meth, ISIS was so idiosyncratically, disgustingly, CRAZY … so embedded at the very center of Warholian pop- slash media culture … it made for Great TV. But, like all other fashions it had its fifteen milliseconds of fame … Poof! There it went!
As for hard evidence of Islamic State’s incapacity; this is all you will ever need:
There is other evidence: Turkey’s entry into northern Syria a few weeks ago was the equivalent to a surrender document: if Islamic State was able to defend its supply lines, it would have done so. Instead, the patron (Turkey) had to scramble to fill the vacuum left by its fleeing agent; an action that speaks for itself.
If you can’t see the connection between Syria, Middle East, Dallas and Baton Rouge you aren’t looking hard enough. War has become ‘business by other means’, one that kills off its clientele. A ‘thug’ in one place is the same as a ‘militant’ in another; what pays is the process of identifying threats then bumping them off. If the ‘threats’ are not inherently dangerous — hapless Negroes in the wrong place at the wrong time or bumbling agents of a Nato ally — so much the better!
What keeps ISIS alive and menacing in the Western mind is the marketing. When intelligence officers, generals, talking heads on your favorite news outlet report ‘the danger of Islamic State’ or an ‘Islamic State Offensive’, Abu Hajaar is who they are talking about, (March, 2016).
Keep in mind, it is in the interest of the Ponzi Pentagon and its partners to inflate the capabilities of ISIS to serve its own interests. Terrorists and threat of attacks are the sole justification for US military intervention in Syria and Iraq. Without Islamic State there is no bombing Islamic State; there is no need for Operation Inherent Resolve, no need for thousands of ‘operators’ (mercenaries) on the ground, no need for bases and their supply requirements and their fleets of contractors; no need to spend billions per day combating a group that for all practical purposes does not pose a threat. If the Islamic State was audacious, so is the fraud that has been erected around it!
Perhaps by way of his lonely and painful death Abu Hajaar offers us all something of value. The US government’s absurdities are revealed. Sadly, citizens are too entangled in the non-stop media crossfire to recognize the fraud for what it is, they can’t grasp it or they don’t want to; the marketing is too comforting.
The Islamic State is still dangerous … but only within the capacities of the individuals associated with the group. The ‘Monkey-Piano’ hypothesis suggests given enough time a roomful of monkeys with pianos will produce the complete works of Shostakovitch. Give the same monkeys much less time and a roomful of Kalashnikovs, they will kill everything downrange including themselves, yet the United States military is not going to go to war against monkeys!
By the end of 2011, the Pentagon had been ‘invited out’ of Iraq, it was hunting for opportunities to expand its presence in the region. The great wave of social change set into motion by the US invasions eight years prior was breaking across the Arab world, taking the form of a generalized uprising against the status quo. The wave had already broken over Syria; demonstrations against the Bashar Assad government had morphed into vicious street fighting and a divide in the country. The government was able to control- or contest the heavily populated western half of the country from Latakia on the Turkish border to Jordan in the south, the lightly populated east was left to fend for itself.
Arrayed against Assad and his army was a grab-bag of revolutionary militias operating as the Free Syrian Army. Some groups were comprised of disaffected civilians able to arm themselves and organize. Others were recent defectors from the Syrian army. Assad had emptied his prisons of criminals so as to refill them with political enemies. Many of those released had military experience or were Islamic extremists, they signed up with the FSA. Assad would later point to these individuals as the terrorists he was fighting against … begging for aid while holding himself up as a defender of Western civilized values at the same time.
The distress in Syria offered possibilities for the US partnership that included Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Arabs were intent on using the disturbances elsewhere to deflect or short-circuit their own malcontents. Ankara’s dilemma revolved around the country’s lack of domestic petroleum resources. Turkish motorists were burning through two hundred fifty million barrels of imported oil per year, paid for with borrowed euros and dollars. The result was increasing pressure on the economy and the lira. Turkey could look toward Greece to see what happens when those funds had to be repaid; to Argentina to see what happens when they were not. Turkey had the region’s most powerful military, it could invade its neighbors easily, winning afterward was hard. Dictator-in-waiting Tayyip Recep Erdogan and his generals could look to the US mis-adventure in Iraq and see the difficulty in making off with another country’s resources.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors were looking for advantage vs. Iran over market access for their petroleum. This contest had evolved over time into a proxy war that occasionally boiled over. The US didn’t mind, instability is one of its top exports. Resources lurking underground might indeed be hard to steal but grabbing consumption was child’s play. Consumption was a complex, above-ground undertaking with many dependencies including the need for (expert) management, complex infrastructure and hard currency loans. A wrench in the right spot would strip the gears, a pin would pop the balloon. Whatever could not be consumed in a ‘Brand X’ country would be available to Americans; even if a producer like Libya or Iraq could not use its own oil it would still export. As Sherlock Holmes would say, “The game’s afoot”.
The game plan for Syria was simple, the Assad government was vulnerable, poke at it until it deflated, death by a thousand pins. ‘Why’ did not matter: Assad’s demise would be rationalized afterward. The Turks would provide a base from which anti-Assad rebels would operate. They would be armed, organized and given necessary training … Arms would come from the US by way of the Saudis or from Libyan arsenals captured after the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, Hillary Clinton’s war. Materiel would be shipped directly from Saudi stockpiles, Libyan supplies would reach the rebels by way of CIA ‘ratlines’ from Benghazi. Turkey would become the conduit for Islamic militants heeding the call for jihad that were flooding into Syria from around the world. The model was the brushfire intifada waged against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s by CIA- supported Islamic mujaheddin, Charlie Wilson’s war.
The US’ role was to provide funds and would coordinate between partners, it would offer training to militants where appropriate. The Special Operations trainers were the camel’s nose inside the tent, the rest of the camel would come later: aircraft and bases, advisors, the ground troops all at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Besides being a conduit for arms, Saudis would provide funding and ‘volunteers’; the Qataris would offer ‘public relations’ (propaganda services). The Turks would hold the bag; if anything went wrong they would get the blame.
Turkey’s aim was to create a de facto Turkish protectorate; a New Ottoman Empire that would reach into Iraq with its billions of barrels of proven oil reserves. Enough success and the Shia Muslim/ Iranian protectorate at the south of Iraq would be undone. Unlike the Americans, Turkey would not have to conquer anyone or steal anything, Ankara would heed the call to rescue the victims of its own subordinates’ aggression. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies would gain influence in a territory from which they had long since been excluded. All these advantages would be at the expense of Iran.
The strategy was simple to implement and began well but defects soon emerged. Assad was no fool, his father Hafez was an old-school Soviet-style tyrant who, when confronted, hammered his adversaries without mercy. Timid son Bashar clearly paid attention in class. He short-circuited the Syria succession regime leaving his Alawite- and moderate Shia constituents without palatable alternatives. It was to be Assad or nothing, there would be no Lady Macbeths or Colonel Gaddafis waiting in the wings for the leader to fail. Assad sanctioned genocide, giving his officers freedom to commit whatever atrocities and excesses they would. This bound the officers to Assad, each becoming complicit in the others’ crimes. If Assad failed or the army, both would fall. Atrocities provided Assad with leverage over civilians whose loyalty might waver: he could massacre his foes (stick) or he could call off his own dogs (carrot). He also bellied up to his Iranian allies who had a large investment in the Syrian project and much to lose from an Assad defeat. The Iranians offered supplies and funds.
The anti-Assad rebels also had a distressing tendency to fight among themselves rather than attack Assad. This made sense; even with training and logistical support the rebels were no match for the Syrian army. When the rebels attacked with rockets and machine guns, the army responded with artillery, aircraft and tanks. The inexperienced civilian-rebels were soon wiped out and their units disbanded. The ex-army defectors either died, fled the country or flipped to more competent organizations. Successful units tended to congeal around Islamic militants who had experience in urban combat; soon enough the jihadis became dominant among the rebels. Yet, jihadi success tended to work against the rebels’ aims. Instead of encouraging the Syrians to distance themselves from Assad, the jihadis drove the two together out of desperation. The more effective the militants were on the battlefield, the stronger Assad became. The jihadis could win battles but they scared the horses.
Encounters tended to be grinding affairs with both sides suffering heavy casualties; operational expenses were an increasing burden as manpower losses could not be easily made up. Assad would take a town or a neighborhood with armor but could not hold it because he lacked the ground forces. As the casualties mounted morale was slipping. The Syrians on the rebel side would fight until they felt compelled return to their families. If the families left the country — and millions ultimately would, the fighters left too. This left rebel forces made up increasingly of foreigners, which had the effect of driving more support to the government.
Eventually, Assad’s losses forced him to request reinforcements from Iran and Hezbollah. This resulted in loss of support for his side and more defections. There were splits within Assad’s army whose soldiers resented control by Iran. The nature of the fighting presented a problem with the foreign fighters on both sides; engagements were intense but confined to towns and neighborhoods. The foreigners did not know the ground, before they could learn they were killed. On the rebel side, success fell toward the groups with a mix of locals who knew the territory and veteran jihadis who were the best fighters. This offered a problem of its own: larger attacks by the rebel side were out of the question because the different groups and fighters couldn’t or wouldn’t work together. The Assad side felt the same problem in reverse: the targets the rebels presented to were too dispersed for his army to assault all at once, this left him to bomb residential areas with the hope of killing one or two fighters. This induced more Syrians to leave the country shrinking the manpower pool.
Ironically, the drain upon Assad’s ‘human resources’ dramatically increased with Russian assistance in September, 2015. The Russians brought airplanes and missiles but few ground troops. Russian air support began to dictate the tempo of offensives by the Syrian army and its allies … increasing Syrian army losses. The Syrian government and its supporters found themselves trapped by Assad’s expedients; his need to fight and to not-fight at the same time. In order to win he had to use up his army, he needed to hold back in order to save it. Assad’s dilemma was the same as the rebels’ earlier: the more effective the Russians were on the battlefield, the weaker Assad became because of the human toll.
Meanwhile, blowback was increasing in the West, the US was increasingly collaborating with unsavory actors, including militants affiliated with al-Qaeda. Questions were being raised in Washington. The US president was handed an opportunity to intervene directly in the Fall of 2013 after several hundred Syrian civilians were killed in a poison gas attack. The war-hawks in the administration were calling for a no-fly zone like the one that had undone Gaddafi. The US public reaction was strongly negative; after ten years of fruitless war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing debacle in Libya, the citizens were opposed to more military adventures; there were no vital US interests at stake in Syria. The only benefits of a US action would fall to groups the US had pledged to destroy.
There was another factor, something that became clear when Islamic State emerged into public consciousness in the Summer of 2014: A large, general war across the Middle East was unlikely because none of the nations including the US could afford to fight one. Marginal oil production would be cut and the resulting finance crisis would cripple everyone. This established an upper bound on the level of ‘investment’ the dictators and plutocrats could make in twerking their rivals. Within limits the wars could go on, they could morph and congeal, burn out in one place or flare up in others, but exceed those bounds … Poof! Everyone would be living in caves!
Allahu Akbar Motherf**ker!
Anyone with access to a TV knows what happened in June of 2014: the group that had been booted out of al-Qaeda for being too violent erupted like a chest-bursting alien from the scrublands of eastern Syria to overran Mosul and a dozen other cities and towns across northern Iraq. Over the course of a few days the entire Iraqi defense/security establishment, a $35 billion dollar Pentagon (mal)investment … bases, generals, tanks, helicopters, prisons, Humvees, golf courses and officers’ clubs; 300,000 so-called ‘soldiers’ … Poof! You know the rest!
Immediately there was a jarring disconnect: the gap between the mission and those who were tasked with carrying it out. The last time an Arab army mounted a successful large-scale offensive without outside leadership was during the Middle Ages. The needed talent and command infrastructure simply didn’t exist. Abysmal leadership on both sides has been- and still is a number-one reason for the stalemate in Syria. One had only to look to the wasteful sieges across the region to see how governments and militias planned- and carried out operations. Thousands of lives were wasted every month to wrestle control over a few blocks or neighborhoods, with entire cities such as Homs reduced to deserts of concrete rubble.
It isn’t just Islamic State ineptitude:
The Hezbollah commander sent his soldiers out to die. There was no objective they might reasonably capture, or even a way to return fire. By the end of the operation the Hezbollah unit lost its fighters, its vehicles and its base of operations, no doubt purchased with many more lives: Abu Hajaar all over again!
Every day dozens of similar pointless operations take place all across Syria, with the same depressing outcomes. The leaders don’t care and don’t know any better, repeating the same failed processes over and over hoping to wear down the other side(s) by attrition.
In single party states such as Syria and Iraq (Iran and Saudi Arabia), effective military commanders are seen as internal threats, they are rarely given opportunities to succeed. Officer ranks are filled with dull, self-serving careerists chasing comfortable sinecures. The ex-Saddam loyalists identified as Islamic State commanders leading the blitz across northern Iraq were pliant yes-men with highly developed survival instincts which was why they had their jobs in the first place. These individuals were never military geniuses, they were experts at running away. That was why they lasted long enough to become involved with ISIS. When given the opportunity, these commanders shoveled their best fighters into the furnace of Kobani, another futile siege. When the Kurds finally gained control over the city, ISIS was left with a disorganized mob of Abu Hajaars and some snuff video producers. The rest had been sacrificed.
Inept leadership is why Islamic State has been death’s door ever since (February, 2015). The fighters in every group including ISIS flip over from other groups; they don’t arrive from outer space. At the beginning, ISIS offered the possibility of a quick victory and large gains; fighters from across Syria and northern Iraq were eager to join. After the Kobani debacle, the group offered the certainty of being thrown away for nothing or a date with the hangman. Like the rest, the group cannot make up its losses.
The US has similar faults, its command is riddled with uninspiring ‘company men’; experts whose corrupt relationships with the defense industry leaves what (little) remains of the institution’s integrity compromised. None possess a longer term vision or sense of mission. The United States military hasn’t won a war since 1945 and it is certain nobody alive today remembers how …
The conclusions that can be drawn are much different from those of the experts: The war is a product of the United States and its unscrupulous, self-interested and largely incompetent partners. It is a proxy contest between petro-states Iran and Saudi Arabia, which the US encouraged. There was nothing resembling real plan, instead, the US relies on dangerously unstable proxies who are more of an enemy than Assad. A grievous error was underestimating the Syrian dictator and his capabilities. The assumption was he would be killed by his own like Gaddafi or would flee Damascus leaving the country to the Turks or pro-Western proxies. He instead chose to slug it out, something the 1,271 government intelligence offices, agencies, bureaus including the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as well as the 1,931 private contractors … never detected.
Assad was unlikable but not an adversary of the US or the West. For all of Assad’s faults, his regime is the legitimate government of Syria: it has never attacked the United States. The last Syrian war against a Western ally was vs. Israel in 1973. There is no justification for the West’s brutal mugging of the Syrian citizens.
PART ONE: It Only Gets Worse
PART TWO: Abu Hajaar
PART THREE: Sharia For Sale
Published originally in The Anti-Empire Report October 3, 2016
“Russia suspected of election scheme. U.S. probes plan to sow voter distrust.”
That’s the Washington Post page-one lead headline of September 6. Think about it. The election that Americans are suffering through, cringing in embarrassment, making them think of moving abroad, renouncing their citizenship; an election causing the Founding Fathers to throw up as they turn in their graves … this is because the Russian Devils are sowing voter distrust! Who knew?
But of course, that’s the way Commies are – Oh wait, I forgot, they’re no longer Commies. So what are they? Ah yes, they still have that awful old hangup so worthy of condemnation by decent people everywhere – They want to stand in the way of American world domination. The nerve!
The first Cold War performed a lobotomy on Americans, replacing brain matter with anti-communist viral matter, producing more than 70 years of functional national stupidity.
For all of you who missed this fun event there’s good news: Cold War Two is here, as big and as stupid as ever. Russia and Vladimir Putin are repeatedly, and automatically, blamed for all manner of bad things. The story which follows the above Washington Post headline does not even bother to make up something that could pass for evidence of the claim. The newspaper just makes the claim, at the same time pointing out that “the intelligence community is not saying it has ‘definitive proof’ of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so.” But the page-one headline has already served its purpose.
Hillary Clinton in her debate with Donald Trump likewise accused Russia of all kinds of computer hacking. Even Trump, not usually a stickler for accuracy, challenged her to offer something along the lines of evidence. She had nothing to offer.
In any event, this is all a diversion. It’s not hacking per se that bothers the establishment; it’s the revelations of their lies that drives them up the wall. The hack of the Democratic National Committee on the eve of the party’s convention disclosed a number of embarrassing internal emails, forcing the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
On September 12 we could read in the Post that a well-known physician had called for Clinton to be checked for possible poisons afer her collapse in New York. Said the good doctor: “I do not trust Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. With those two all things are possible.”
Numerous other examples could be given here of the Post’s near-juvenile anti-Russian bias. One of the most common subjects has been Crimea. Moscow’s “invasion” of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in February 2014 is repeatedly cited as proof of Moscow’s belligerent and expansionist foreign policy and the need for Washington to once again feed the defense-budget monster. But we’re never reminded that Russia was reacting to a US-supported coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Ukraine on Russia’s border and replaced it with a regime in which neo-Nazis, complete with swastikas, feel very much at home. Russia “invaded” to assist Eastern Ukrainians in their resistance to this government, and did not even cross the border inasmuch as Russia already had a military base in Ukraine.
NATO (= USA) has been surrounding Russia for decades. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov captured the exquisite shamelessness of this with his remark of September 27, 2014: “Excuse us for our existence in the middle of your bases.”
By contrast here is US Secretary of State, John Kerry: “NATO is not a threat to anyone. It is a defensive alliance. It is simply meant to provide security. It is not focused on Russia or anyone else.”
NATO war games in these areas are frequent, almost constant. The encirclement of Russia is about complete except for Georgia and Ukraine. In June, Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, shockingly accused NATO of “war-mongering” against Russia. How would the United States react to a Russian coup in Mexico or Canada followed by Russian military exercises in the same area?
Since the end of Cold War One, NATO has been feverishly searching for a reason to justify its existence. Their problem can be summed up with this question: If NATO had never existed what argument could be given now to create it?
The unmitigated arrogance of US policy in Ukraine was best epitomized by the now-famous remark of Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary at the State Department, reacting to possible European Union objection to Washington’s role in Ukraine: “Fuck the EU”, she charmingly declared.
Unlike the United States, Russia does not seek world domination, nor even domination of Ukraine, which Moscow could easily accomplish if it wished. Neither did the Soviet Union set out to dominate Eastern Europe post-World War II. It must be remembered that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever; and that the Russians in World Wars I and II lost about 40 million people because the West had twice used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviets were determined to close down the highway.
The Washington Post’s campaign to depict Russia as the enemy is unrelenting. Again, on the 19th, we could read in the paper the following: “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are investigating what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions, intelligence and congressional officials said.”
Nothing, however, compares with President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly (September 24, 2014) where he classified Russia to be one of the three threats to the world along with the Islamic State and ebola.
A war between nuclear-powered United States and nuclear- powered Russia is “unthinkable”. Except that American military men think about it, like Cold-War US General Thomas Power, speaking about nuclear war or a first strike by the US: “The whole idea is to kill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman.”
Responses from the Left to my attacks on radical Islam
It’s not my intention here to resume the heated discussion about my recent articles calling for the destruction of ISIS, which led numerous of my readers to criticize me, some 50 of whom asked to be removed from my mailing list, but I hope that many will find the following summary of their stated or implied objections of interest:
They are religious enough to resent what they detect as my less-than-fervent religious bent.
They refuse to acknowledge any Islamic motivation or context for ISIS, labeling ISIS as no more than US/Israeli/Saudi mercenaries – end of discussion. Or Salafi or Wahhabi sects – not really Islamic, they insist. Islam is thus spared from any contamination.
They resent my not making a clear enough distinction between ISIS and Islam in general, being particularly annoyed by my use of the term “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism”. (I pointed out that the West commonly, and correctly, associated Stern/Irgun terrorism with Jews and IRA terrorism with Catholics.)
For the record I am condemning those Muslims who engage in suicide bombings, stabbings and other acts of murderous jihad, those who extol and teach the glory and heavenly rewards for such acts, and those who preach that all non-Muslims are infidels and the enemy. In this context it’s no excuse to cite the various acts of horror carried out by the US or the West, particularly when the jihadists’ targets (restaurants, theatres, stores, passersby, etc.) usually have nothing at all to do with Western imperialism.
They are annoyed that I don’t mention the usual list of US atrocities in the Middle East as being responsible for all of radical Islam’s horrors, which are seen as simple retaliation. (See part 3 above.)
They hate US foreign policy even more than I do, a sentiment I hadn’t known was so common, or even possible.
I supported the use of US military force against ISIS and their ilk, a terrible black mark against me inasmuch as such force is regarded by leftists as the original sin and cannot conceivably be used for a good end. But the US “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops September 16, killing and wounding about 160, clearly lends credence to my critics.
The US election
On more than one occasion during the recent US primary campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked if he would run on a third-party ticket if he failed to win the Democratic nomination. His reply was a form of the following: “If it happens that I do not win that process, would I run outside of the system? No, I made the promise that I would not, and I’ll keep that promise. And let me add to that: And the reason for that is I do not want to be responsible for electing some right-wing Republican to be president of the United States of America.”
So instead he’s going to be responsible for electing some right-wing Democrat to be president of the United States of America. It’s certainly debatable who’s more right wing, Clinton or Trump. Clinton surely earns that honor on foreign policy. Think of Syria, Iraq, Honduras, Yugoslavia, Libya … et al.
The revelation that the Democratic Party was secretly favoring Clinton over Sanders is reason enough for Sanders to have broken his promise and accepted the offer of the Green Party to be their candidate.
“Qualified” is a word one hears often in this campaign. Hillary, we’re told, is eminently so, Donald is outstandingly un-. But what does the word mean in this context? If a candidate doesn’t share your opinion on most of the crucial issues, who cares if she or he is “qualified”? Conversely, if a candidate shares your opinion on most of the crucial issues, should you be concerned that she or he is “unqualified”?
Reason number 39,457 to give up on capitalism
Macy’s, one of the leading department stores in the United States, has announced it is closing 100 of its stores. Just think of all that was involved in creating each of those stores, from design and building to filling it with staff and goods; all soon to be gone, leaving empty shells of buildings, eyesores for the neighborhoods, thousands of lost jobs … all because a certain net-profit goal was not met.
Such a waste. So many empty stores, and at the same time so many unemployed people.
Not far from so many empty houses, and at the same time so many homeless people.
Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore the nation’s young people to fight a foreign war to defend “capitalism”?
- Washington Post, December 3, 2015
- Various online sources, see for example Thomas Power’s wikipedia entry
- Democracy Now!, June 9, 2016
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.
William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.
Published originally in williamblum.org August 12, 2016
For 50 years I’ve been painstakingly cataloguing the brutal militarism and human-rights violations of US foreign policy, building up in the process a very loyal audience.
To my great surprise, when I recently wrote about the brutal militarism and human-rights violations of the Islamic State, I received more criticism from my readers than I’ve gotten for anything I’ve ever written. Dozens of them asked to be removed from my mailing list, as many as I’d normally get in a full year. Others were convinced that it couldn’t actually be me who was the author of such words, that I must have been hacked. Some wondered whether my recent illness had affected my mind. Literally! And almost all of the Internet magazines which regularly print me did not do so with this article.
Now why should this be?
My crime was being politically incorrect. The Islamic State, you see, is composed of Muslims, and the United States and its Western allies have bombed many Muslim countries in the recent past killing thousands of Muslims and causing widespread horror. Therefore, whatever ISIS and its allies do is “revenge”, simple revenge, and should not be condemned by anyone calling himself a progressive; least of all should violence be carried out against these poor aggrieved jihadists.
Moreover, inasmuch as ISIS is the offspring of religion, this adds to my political incorrectness: I’m attacking religion, God forgive me.
Totally irrelevant to my critics is the fact that the religious teachings of ISIS embrace murderous jihad and the heavenly rewards for suicide bombings and martyrdom. This, they insist, is not the real Islam, a religion of peace and scholarly pursuits. Well, one can argue, Naziism was not the real Germany of Goethe and Schiller, of Bach and Brahms. Fortunately, that didn’t keep the world from destroying the Third Reich.
We should also consider this: From the 1950s to the 1980s the United States carried out atrocities against Latin America, including numerous bombings, without the natives ever resorting to the repulsive uncivilized kind of retaliation as employed by ISIS. Latin American leftists took their revenge out on concrete representatives of the American empire: diplomatic, military and corporate targets, not markets, theatres, nightclubs, hospitals, restaurants or churches. The ISIS victims have included many Muslims, perhaps even some friends of the terrorists, for all they knew or cared.
It doesn’t matter to my critics that in my writing I have regularly given clear recognition to the crimes against humanity carried out by the West against the Islamic world. I am still not allowed to criticize the armed forces of Islam, for all of the above stated reasons plus the claim that the United States “created” ISIS.
Regarding this last argument: It’s certainly true that US foreign policy played an indispensable role in the rise of ISIS. Without Washington’s overthrow of secular governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and – now in process – Syria, there would today be no ISIS. It’s also true that many American weapons, intentionally and unintentionally, have wound up in the hands of terrorist groups. But the word “created” implies intention, that the United States wanted to purposely and consciously bring to life the Frankenstein monster that we know and love as ISIS.
So, you wonder, how do we rid the world of the Islamic State? I’m afraid it may already be too late. The barn door is wide open and all the horses have escaped. It’s not easy for an old anti-imperialist like myself, but I support Western military and economic power to crush the unspeakable evil of ISIS. The West has actually made good progress with seriously hampering ISIS oil sales and financial transactions. As a result, it appears that ISIS may well be running out of money, with defections of unpaid soldiers increasing.
The West should also forget about regime change in Syria and join forces with Russia against the terrorists.
And my readers, and many like them, have to learn to stop turning the other cheek when someone yelling “Allahu Akbar” drives a machete into their skull.
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.
William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.
Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 29, 2015
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
Quote: “In order to destroy Daesh, boots on the ground are needed. If morons such as Donald Trump and Tony Abbott insist that American or Australian troops should be sent into Syria, then I suggest that Donald and Tony should themselves be kitted out and be dropped into that war zone. Donald's frightening hairpiece alone may fatally scare many Daesh to death and Tony can scare the rest to death with his budgie smugglers. Mission accomplished.”
I cannot repeat often enough that the only genuine cure for a problem is to eliminate the underlying cause. This holds true for treating disease as it does for solving just about any problem. Any other strategy is merely a band-aid cosmetic cover-up of a festering carbuncle. Denial of the underlying cause inevitably means that no solution will eventuate.
Notwithstanding this apparently simple principle, practical implementation of genuine solutions in the real world is more complex and difficult. The hurdles to implementation can be immense if not insurmountable, not least because real solutions usually require that we overcome the natural default reptilian mindset of homo stupidus. We cannot depend on the people who caused the problems to solve them. They are the problem.
Here is another principle: a problem may have more than one underlying cause, along with several predisposing factors and various proximate triggers. All such issues need to be addressed for a complete cure. A broad overview is required, we need to see the big picture.
So-called “Islamic” terrorism is the “problem” most prominently featured in the mainstream media of today, particularly since the Paris massacres of Friday 13 November 2015. What so-called “solutions” have the impenetrably stupid mainstream establishment proposed? Greater surveillance of the entire civil population, elimination of habeas corpus, proliferation of heavily armed police everywhere, more bombing forays into Syria, closing the borders of Europe to MENA refugees, ankle GPS bracelets to those refugees who have already arrived in Europe, even the expulsion of all Muslims from Europe, including those who were born there. All those are band-aid cosmetic cover-ups of a festering carbuncle which will solve nothing. Many of those so-called “solutions” are simply insane, amount to obscene human rights abuses and will in fact create worse Blowback terrorism. Let's commit more atrocities in response to an atrocity. That will solve all our problems.
How do you stop an engine without an off switch? By starving it of fuel. If we ask ourselves what truly fuels the engine of so-called “Islamic” terrorism, honest people will realise that the real answer is not Islam per se. The perverse interpretation of religious texts is merely the bogus avenue by which certain terrorists claim “divine” legitimacy for the slaughter they perpetrate, just as the Nazis painted crosses on their tanks and planes and just as George fucking Bush called his invasion of Iraq a Crusade and claimed to have God on his side. All sanctimonious mass murderers invoke their own imaginary god to claim legitimacy and to recruit gullible simple minded cannon fodder (or suicide bombers) to their cause.
Does the Koran contain passages inciting violence against the foes of Islam? Of course it does, just as the Old Testament contains numerous passages in which its followers are encouraged to “smite” their enemies without mercy. Sensible people do not take those dated allegorical books literally and do not follow many of their mutually contradictory instructions to the letter. Moderate Jews and Christians with good sense do not go rampaging around with a rifle in one hand and Talmud or Bible in the other, killing innocents indiscriminately because of religion. And neither do moderate Muslims. Fanatical extremists do however, whether they be Christian, Jewish or Muslim. It is not religion itself, whatever its hue, which the problem. It is fanatical extremism.
One of the biggest problems we face in Western mainstream society is our cowardly and hypocritical failure to identify the fanatical extremists in our midst who are hiding in plain sight. They are the Christian and Jewish religious fundamentalists, the global warming denialists who serve as prostitute mouthpieces for the corporations, the warmongering armchair chickenshit politicians. They dress up in business suits and are conferred a veneer of respectability by the propaganda machine known as the mainstream media. But make no mistake, they are fanatical extremists far worse and far more dangerous than the rabid Jihadis and are in fact the creators of those Jihadis.
As ordinary moderate people, we need to clearly identify who our friends and foes are:
Friends = Moderates of any persuasion who share our common humanitarian values
Foes = Fanatical extremists who kill (or advocate the killing or oppression of) innocents in the name of their god, whether it be Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah or Mammon (the god of the neoclassical economists)
We need to rip away the superficial cloak of phoney religiosity the fanatical extremists wear to identify the real fuel(s) for terrorism.
The Western mainstream media have claimed that the motivations of the Jihadi terrorists are mindless hatred of Western freedom and mindless hatred of the Western modern way of life. Bullshit. Such idiotic blather is designed to cover up, hide and ignore the ugly truth about Western Imperialistic and Corporate culpability. The main motivation of the Jihadis, as stated by the Jihadis themselves, taken right from the horse's mouth, is a hatred of how the West has interfered with and corrupted and destroyed Middle Eastern societies, in order to steal the resources from their countries. If we are honest, we must admit that fact is indeed true and it is a legitimate grievance, even though we disapprove of the way they express that grievance. Abused children often grow up to become abusive adults.
Having suffered the destabilisation and destruction of their homelands as a result of the rapacious Western corporate agenda (Iraq and Libya being prime examples), many traumatised Middle Eastern youths have become radicalised and vengeful. They want the West to experience just a tiny sample of the death, misery, hopelessness and insecurity they have unremittingly suffered throughout their lives. Having only known violence, it then becomes the only means by which they can express their frustration and rage. Furthermore, a few alienated, disaffected and marginalised individuals, even though they may have been born in Europe, may sympathise with and agonise over the plight of their Middle Eastern cousins and be recruited through social networks to become “home grown” terrorists.
The mayhem caused by a few Blowback terrorist attacks in Western cities has been absolutely trivial and tiny compared with the utter devastation, daily sectarian bombings, IED detonations and mass shootings in the failed Middle Eastern states destabilised by the greedy corporate agenda of the West, an agenda which is merely the sequel to the historic greedy Western imperialistic/colonial policies of exploitation.
The MENA refugees have been reluctantly forced out of their ancestral homelands against their will. Many have fled to Europe precisely because they seek lives with greater freedom and the comforts of Western modernity. The MENA refugees do NOT hate Western freedom or modernity, they WANT it. They know there is no place for them in the fundamentalist (but hypocritical) Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia with its brutal oppression of the common folk (but unbridled licentiousness of the ruling class). They know the selfish and corrupt Saudis (kept in power by the selfish and corrupt Americans) will never share their wealth with their poorer Arab cousins.
WE MUST DISCARD THE TERMS “ISLAMIC” OR “MUSLIM” TERRORISM. WE MUST INSTEAD USE THE TERM “BLOWBACK” TERRORISM because that is in fact what it is, pure and simple. Blowback terrorists who purport to be Muslim or Islamic are no more Muslim or Islamic than the Ku Klux Klan are Christians. Blowback terrorists are fake Muslims, phoney Muslims, bullshit Muslims. Blowback terrorists are vicious criminals, pure and simple, and should be viewed as akin to a rabid Mafia. Many Mafia hoodlums portray themselves as pious Catholics, when any fool can see they are just two-faced criminals. Similarly it is obvious the Blowback terrorists are just two-faced criminals and are NOTHING LIKE the true ordinary law abiding peace loving Muslims we live and work alongside every day, who we may even have gone to school with and grown up with.
It is absolutely vital we adopt a proportionate perspective as to what the worst form of terrorism today is. Blowback terrorism is NOT the primary problem, it is a secondary problem, it is NOT the real disease but is merely a symptom of the disease. In magnitude, Blowback terrorism is trivial, tiny and insignificant compared to the real disease: namely the horrifically monstrous state and corporate sponsored institutional terrorism inflicted by the West, primarily the USA, on the Middle East. There is absolutely no contest when comparing the two. In magnitude the Halliburtons of this world are by far the most monstrous and murderous terrorists of all. Well over a million people in Iraq have died as a result of the Neoconartist/Halliburton agenda, whose name I therefore apply generically to this form of state/corporate terrorism. BLOWBACK TERRORISM IS MERELY A RESPONSE TO HALLIBURTON TERRORISM and the latter is in fact the underlying cause for the horrors we face today. There is a huge mountain of evidence, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Al Qaeda and ISIS (who I now understand are better described as Daesh) were created, whether intentionally or not, as a consequence of morally bankrupt American foreign policy1.
Therefore the only way to cure Blowback terrorism is to eliminate the underlying cause, which is Halliburton terrorism. We must cut off the fuel from the engine.
Looking at the big picture we can identify the underlying causes, predisposing factors and proximate triggers for Blowback terrorism:
The powderkeg pseudoStates of Iraq and Syria were cobbled together by the disgraceful British and French betrayal of their Arab allies after WW1, by the infamous Sykes-Picot treaty, which was the mechanism by which the Western Imperialists brutally imposed “divide and rule”. The inevitable disintegration of those powderkeg States and their collapse into civil war were bound to happen eventually, whenever the iron grip of the local dictators weakened in the future.
The underlying cause for the contemporary collapse of Iraq was Halliburton terrorism and the removal of the Iraqi dictator. This led to power vacuums and the formation of offshoots of Al Qaeda. Daesh, the offshoot which moved to a collapsing neighbouring Syria then flourished in the disintegrating milieu. Daesh were subsequently able to run rampant across MENA by initial acquisition of weapons from the collapsed state of Libya (which was bombed by NATO in an attempt to secure their oil) then the acquisition of ordnance,vehicles and oilfields from the collapsed state of Iraq. Daesh have been successful in recruiting many foreign fighters through social and web based networks.
The proximate triggers for the collapse of the powderkeg state of Syria were the limits to growth (overpopulation, drought, food and water shortages, oil depletion and consequent economic collapse)
What do the fanatical extremists (of both sides) want?
By very definition, terrorists want to spread fear in our societies. The power of the terrorists stem from the fear they are able to instil in us. If we live in fear we will merely play into their hands. We must therefore respond with courage – more courage than we ever thought was possible in these difficult times. We must utterly resist the temptation to lash out at innocent people just because of their “Middle Eastern” appearance, which is exactly what the terrorists, whether Blowback terrorists or Halliburton terrorists, want us to do.
The Blowback terrorists want us to fear, vilify and victimise all the Muslims in our societies. They have no regard for their so-called “fellow” Muslims because Blowback terrorists are not real Muslims, they are simply criminals.
This basic fact needs to be repeated over and over again: the Blowback terrorists are not real Muslims, they are bullshit Muslims. They are criminals who hide under a false cloak.
If we fall into the trap of racist generalisation and victimise innocent Muslims in our societies, we will inevitably cause the radicalisation of moderates and create more recruits for the Blowback terrorists. This will reinforce the vicious cycle and ultimately lead to the complete breakdown of civil society and to the rise of the Police surveillance state with the loss of our civil liberties that have been so hard won over the past two centuries. The terrorists will then have won.
The Halliburton terrorists want us to fear, vilify and victimise all the Muslims in our society as well. They want us to live in constant fear so that we will voluntarily relinquish our freedoms, the rule of law and habeas corpus and embrace the illusory security promised by the Military Industrial Complex Police State. The USA is already half way there. They want to entrench the power and control of their fascist/corporate forces which are on the rise in many Western countries.
It is clear that the Blowback terrorists and Halliburton terrorists, although nominal foes, have common goals and feed off each other.
How to cure terrorism:
Rather than fall into the trap of polarising society into Non-Muslim and Muslim divides, which is exactly what the Blowback and Halliburton terrorists want, we must define the lines of friend and foe according to a more accurate and more truthful narrative: Moderates of all hues arrayed against Fanatical Extremists of all hues. This is difficult to do because it goes against our instinctive tribal sentiments. It requires we look beyond stereotyped assumptions based on skin colour, mode of speech and mode of dress, to look deeper and try to understand the heart of the individual. However this must be done if there is to be any hope of prevailing against our true enemies, who are the fanatical extremists of all hues, the worst and most dangerous extremists being the Halliburton terrorists, who adopt a well manicured executive appearance, with shiny shoes but black hearts.
The key event which amplified Blowback terrorism to the levels we see today was the invasion of Iraq and its destruction as a stable State, resulting in civil war and power vacuums which were filled by fanatical and violent groups. The original perpetrators have not been brought to justice. Hence the following are absolutely necessary:
1. Root out and punish the Halliburton terrorists
We must arrest the worst international terrorists of all time: Dick the Prick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, George fucking Bush, Tony Blair, the propagandist Rupert Murdoch, and the execrable lickspittle John Howard (along with his henchmen such as Tony Abbott) to name just a few. They must be tried at the International Court in the Hague for crimes against humanity and must be punished to the full extent of the law. They should receive the same justice they meted out to Saddam Hussein, who was undoubtedly a monstrous despot and a puppet of the West for most of his career, who committed mass murder in the service of the West (vis a vis the proxy war against Iran of the 1980s in which more than a million people died). The Neoconartist Cabal also need to be held accountable for the deaths of thousands of American soldiers who perished needlessly during the occupation of Iraq.
The Cabal members will disingenuously claim in their defence, as they have in the past, that they acted on “faulty intelligence” or on “the best information they had at the time” and try to shift blame on to the CIA, MI6 or ASIO. Such foul deceit, consistent with the psychopathic duplicity by which they perpetrated their war crimes, can be exposed for the outrageous lies they are, by the testimony of former intelligence officers such as Joe Wilson against the Neoconartists or Andrew Wilkie against John Howard. Weapons inspector Dr David Kelly would have been able to testify against Tony Blair, had Kelly not been hounded to death (indeed, possibly murdered) by Blair's goons, however there is ample evidence regardless (despite the phoney whitewash conducted by Blair's mate in the Hutton enquiry), that Blair ignored valid intelligence and selectively spouted blatant lies to mislead the British public.
Halliburton, the Carlyle group and other corporations or financial institutions known to have directly promulgated the invasion of Iraq must be dismantled, sold off and all proceeds must go to refugee relief (resettlement, housing, food, job placement) and to rebuilding whatever corners of destroyed Middle Eastern states which may still be viable to support life.
Western foreign policy must be changed. Exploitative neocolonial skullduggery must be abandoned and foreign countries must be engaged according to the principles of mutual respect, quid pro quo and fair renumeration for their resources.
The actions above will result in the dramatic reduction of Blowback terrorism, as we will have eliminated the principal reasons for their resentment. Those actions should not be done because we want to “appease” the Blowback terrorists, but because it is what we as decent human beings must do to restore any semblance of honour to our ruined reputations. The only way we can rebuild our shattered credibility and work towards a more just and peaceful world is to expunge the state/corporate war criminals living in our midst instead of harbouring them or worse still, celebrating them. There can be no peace without justice and justice must be for all sides, not just one side. The Halliburton terrorists must therefore be brought to justice and there can be no statute of limitations on this.
2. Root out and punish the Blowback terrorists
Residual Blowback terrorists lurking within our Muslim communities must be hunted down and expunged WITHOUT causing any collateral damage to the innocent people they are hiding behind and living amongst. Collateral damage inflicted on innocents breeds resentment and radicalises formerly moderate individuals. This endeavour will not be easy. Outsiders such as ourselves cannot effectively identify friend from foe within our Middle Eastern communities to the highest levels of confidence, no matter how much resources we throw into electronic surveillance. Accurate identification can only be achieved through the cooperation of allies from within their community, who know the language, culture and personalities involved. We need to be cautious that the people we select as intelligence sources within those communities have impeccable integrity and do not use their privileged roles to settle personal scores with innocent people they may have had previous disputes with. Hence we need robust reliable information from multiple sources, not just from single informants, before targeting suspects.
Naive impressionable youths who have been recruited as potential Jihadis but are yet to commit crimes need to undergo de-radicalisation programmes. These are best conducted by Muslims from their own community who themselves had previously been recruited, then travelled to the Daesh territories, only to discover the true brutality and lies of the Daesh propaganda, saw the error of their ways and managed to escape and return to their normal lives, grateful for having survived the experience. There are none so repentant as reformed sinners.
How can we build trust and extend the hand of friendship to the moderate Muslims who comprise more than 99% of their community? How can we encourage our moderate allies in our Muslim communities to help us expunge the fanatical extremists in their midst? The role of the media here is of paramount importance. We must do the opposite of what the reprehensible fear mongering Murdoch trash media does. We must portray ordinary Muslims in our media according to the REALITY of their lives. What is the reality? That their concerns in life are no different from anybody else: keeping a steady job in these difficult economic times, ensuring a good education for their children, housing, healthcare, family issues. Viewed in that light they will no longer be feared as “the other” but seen as ordinary hard working folks just trying to make their way peacefully in this world. This is not propaganda because it is in fact the bland truth, unfortunately bland truth does not sell in the gutter press and tabloid media, which tend to go for scary sensationalism. Nevertheless it is a message which must be repeated over and over again to the public: ordinary Muslims are not to be feared, no matter how they dress, and must be treated respectfully in a friendly manner just like anybody else. This will help de-escalate our fear of them and their fear of us.
The contribution of leaders from the Muslim community is vitally important. They must play their part by publicly and repeatedly condemning the fanatical extremism of the bullshit Muslims. Even better if they also ridicule, belittle and show contempt for the Blowback terrorists (just as I have endeavoured to ridicule, belittle and show contempt for the Halliburton terrorists in my writing). Ridicule can be a powerful tool to expose hypocrisy. Anyone who subscribes to the ideas of the Blowback terrorists (or, on our part, the Halliburton terrorists) should be portrayed as braindead fools, lackeys and stupid sheeple, which is in fact what they are. Buying into the views of the bullshit Muslims will be regarded as weak minded, uncool and pathetic by the majority true peaceloving Muslims. No one likes to be regarded as uncool in their peer group.
So as not to be seen as singling out the Muslim community, we need spokespeople from the non-Muslim community to stand alongside Muslim leaders and also condemn Christian, Jewish and Corporate fanatical extremists and the crimes committed by them. No particular religious, ethnic or corporate group can be seen as above the rule of civil law.
One perfectly understandable reason why moderate Muslim leaders may be reluctant to speak out prominently is the death threats they will receive from the fanatical bullshit Muslims. They do not want to become targets. Those will not be empty threats and we can be certain the Blowback terrorists will try their utmost to murder any moderate Muslim spokespeople as part of the terror agenda. As such, it is absolutely vital we provide round the clock tax payer funded police protection for the moderate Muslims (and their families) brave enough to speak up. This will be an essential national security investment. If police monitoring then uncovers any assassination plot, we can then identify, capture and sequester these potential Blowback terrorist assassins.
Why have the Blowback terrorists targeted the French recently?
Unlike the US, UK and Australia; France was essentially blameless with respect to Halliburton terrorism. France is also arguably a less racist society. Why then have the French recently been targeted? To understand this, it is useful to use an analogy:
Before 2013, Iraq was blameless with regard to Blowback terrorism. Nevertheless the Halliburton terrorists used 9/11 to motivate their braindead American followers to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The prize for the Halliburton terrorists was of course, oil wealth (the original name for their campaign was Operation Iraqi Liberation, which was quickly changed as it made their motives too obvious).2
Similarly the Blowback terrorists used the history of French colonial crimes and exploitation in MENA (particularly in Syria, Algeria and Tunisia) and more recently the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, to motivate their braindead Daesh followers to target Paris, even though France had nothing to do with Halliburton terrorism. The prize for the Blowback terrorists will be retaliation of non-Muslim French against innocent Muslim French, the expectation being that some of latter may then radicalise to join the Daesh cause. France is fertile ground for this prospect due to the higher proportion of Muslims in their society3 compared with the US, UK and Oz.
Nevertheless the US, UK and Oz remain prime targets for revenge Blowback terrorism. The pinnacle goal of the Blowback terrorists will be to set off a nuclear device in a city such as New York, London or Sydney, whichever is the softest target. With the oil revenue available to Daesh and the numerous suitcase nuclear bombs missing from the inventories of impoverished States of the former Soviet Union, this eventuality will be just a matter of time, unless we can destroy Daesh and starve the terrorists of recruits by implementing the reforms above.
How to destroy Daesh
In order to destroy Daesh, boots on the ground are needed. If morons such as Donald Trump and Tony Abbott insist that American or Australian troops should be sent into Syria, then I suggest that Donald and Tony should themselves be kitted out and be dropped into that war zone. Donald's frightening hairpiece alone may fatally scare many Daesh to death and Tony can scare the rest to death with his budgie smugglers. Mission accomplished.
If the world had a single united goal of just destroying Daesh as soon as possible, then the answer would be simple. The only motivated and committed stakeholders who are willing to risk their lives in ground battle against Daesh are the Kurds4, the Shi'ites (including Alawites, Iraqi Shi'ites, Iranians and Hezbollah) and perhaps a few hardened Russian soldiers. If, armed and logistically supported by the Russian military machine, such an alliance is given free reign to directly combat Daesh, then the rapid rout of Daesh will be a forgone conclusion. This will however never happen because the outcome of such a victory will be the creation of an independent Kurdistan, which Turkey will never allow, and the dominance of the Shi'ites (and their allies Iran and Russia) over huge oil rich areas of the Middle East, which America will never allow.
In that light, it is easy to understand why the Turks in an act of despicable bastardry shot down a Russian jet (no doubt at the behest or tacit approval of the US) which purportedly strayed into Turkish airspace on 24 November5. The effectiveness of the Russian led interventions to date has been a major embarrassment to the utterly incompetent Americans. Hence we see this act of sabotage committed by a US proxy: yet more reckless brinkmanship in the dangerous Great Game between the Powers.
America's laughable attempts, as described by General Lloyd Austin6, to recruit “moderate” Sunni fighters, despite a program costing half a billion dollars and originally expected to recruit five thousand Sunnis, resulted in only four or five individuals actually taking up arms against Daesh. The problem in the chaotic Middle Eastern failed States, where information is sparse, incomplete and unreliable, is that it is impossible to identify who a “moderate” Sunni Arab may be. By training such people, the US could be training existing or potential Daesh members who will then immediately defect to the enemy. This has happened to the Americans time and time again in Afghanistan when training locals to fight the Taliban.
America has no useful, worthwhile or competent role to play in the turmoil that they have created. They are the architects of the problem and hence it is absurd to expect they will be any source of solutions. The Americans are determined to continue their role as spoilers and to maintain the chaos rather than allow Russia and her allies to stabilise the situation effectively.
How different the world would have been if the Kurds, Shi'ites and Sunnis had been allowed to establish their own stable sovereign States, run by leaders of their own choosing, in the Middle East after WW1. Those hopes were scuttled by the West and the Turks nearly a hundred years ago and they continue to oppose it.
In summary we can cure terrorism if we:
accept responsibility for the harm we have caused to others by our rapacious imperialistic and corporate meddling, institute corporate and foreign policy reform and provide material reparations to refugees
identify and root out the criminal Halliburton terrorists hiding in our midst and
work together with our Muslim brothers and sisters to identify and root out the criminal Blowback terrorists who are hiding in their midst. During that process we must aim for zero collateral damage
None of the above will, in fact, happen. Neither will there be any justice for those Palestinians who have been oppressed, abused and killed by Israel. Western hypocrisy will continue to reign supreme. Hence there will be no cure for terrorism, the underlying cause for which is Western hypocrisy. There will be no cure for the chaos in the Middle East.
The underlying cause of so-called Islamic terrorism is not Islam and therefore it cannot be “cured” by eliminating Islam or all Muslims, even if that were possible. Trying to win the “war against terror” by expelling Muslims from Western societies is like to trying to win the “war against poverty” by exterminating poor people. Mindbogglingly imbecilic, downright evil and utterly unworkable.
So-called Islamic terrorism should be called Blowback terrorism because that is truly what it is: blowback against previous Halliburton terrorism (and going back even further, blowback against previous Colonial/Imperialistic terrorism – for example by the French in Syria). Unless we admit to and address the underlying causes, we will never achieve any solutions.
The real solutions require that we be more conciliatory, courageous and cooperative across tribal lines than we have ever been in history, to join forces with moderate humane and humanitarian people of all persuasions to combat the agenda of the fanatical extremists, whether those fanatics be from the Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Corporate world. We cannot expect our Muslim communities to expunge the criminal extremists in their midst, unless we first expunge the state/corporate war criminals in our midst.
Unfortunately due to the default reptilian and tribal mindset of the masses who are easily brainwashed, polarised and terrified by the sensationalistic manipulative corporate media, and because of the existing power structures in the world, none of the above will ever happen and we will therefore never defeat the terrorists.
“There really can be no peace without justice. There can be no justice without truth. And there can be no truth, unless someone rises up to tell you the truth.” – Louis Farrakhan
“Justice cannot be for one side alone but must be for both” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Geoffrey Chia is an Australian Physician who has written many provocative articles including
“The Brisbane Institute is a Brisbane Prostitute”
Proportion of Muslims in 2010: France 7.5%, UK 4.6%, US 0.8%, Australia 1.9% https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country#
Peshmerga is Kurdish for “one who faces death”
Published on the The Economic Collapse on November 29, 2015
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The Bizarre Explanation For Why The U.S. Has Avoided Bombing ISIS Oil Wells
Why hasn’t the U.S. bombed the oil wells that ISIS controls into oblivion by now? Would you believe that it is because the Obama administration “didn’t want to do environmental damage”? Former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell has publicly admitted that we have purposely avoided damaging the main source of income for ISIS, and his explanation for why we were doing this is utterly bizarre. But at this point what could the Obama administration say that would actually make sense? Everyone now knows that ISIS has been making hundreds of millions of dollars selling oil in Turkey, and that this has been done with the full knowledge and complicity of the Obama White House. This is potentially the biggest scandal of the entire Obama presidency, and yet so far the Republicans have not jumped on it.
If you or I even gave five bucks to ISIS, we would be arrested and hauled off to Guantanamo Bay. And yet Barack Obama is allowing ISIS to funnel massive quantities of oil through our NATO ally Turkey, and he is not doing anything to stop this from happening. It is a betrayal of the American people that is so vast that it is hard to put into words.
By now, virtually everyone on the entire planet knows exactly what is going on. For example, Iraq’s former National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie shared the following on his Facebook page on Saturday…
“First and foremost, the Turks help the militants sell stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil for $20 a barrel, which is half the market price.”
Until Russia started bombing the living daylights out of them, an endless parade of trucks carrying ISIS oil would go back and forth over the Turkish border completely unmolested. Following the downing of a Russian SU-24 bomber by Turkey in an area where many of these trucks travel, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to publicly air this dirty laundry. Just check out what he told reporters following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande last week…
Commercial-scale oil smuggling from Islamic State controlled territory into Turkey must be stopped, Putin said after meeting Hollande in Moscow.
“Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, reminding the press that the scale of the issue was discussed at the G20 summit in Antalya earlier this month, where the Russian leader demonstrated reconnaissance footage taken by Russian pilots.
The views resemble a “living oil pipe” stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey, the Russian President stressed. “Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty.”
“We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going,” Putin said.
If the Russians could see all of this, the U.S. military could see it too. In fact, we have far better surveillance capabilities than the Russians do.
So why didn’t Obama put an end to this?
Well, as I mentioned above, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell told PBS that the Obama administration didn’t want “to create environmental damage”, and he insists that the oil wells are “infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore”. The following comes from the Daily Caller…
Appearing on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” on Tuesday, Rose pointed out that before the terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. had not bombed ISIS-controlled oil tankers.
Morell explained, “Prior to Paris, there seemed to be a judgment that … look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore, and it’s going to create environmental damage. And we didn’t go after oil wells — actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls because we didn’t want to do environmental damage and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure, right.”
In case you think that this is some sort of a joke, you can watch video of Morell making these comments on PBS below…
After the horrific terror attacks in Paris, the Obama administration finally was shamed into bombing a few of these oil trucks. But 45 minutes before the U.S. military bombed them, they dropped leaflets telling the truck drivers to “get out of your trucks now and run away from them”.
What kind of “war on terror” are we running?
Why in the world would we want to warn the terrorists to get away from their trucks?
Meanwhile, things between Russia and Turkey continue to get even more tense. The Russians have slapped severe economic sanctions on the Turks, they have shut down all channels of communication with Turkey’s military, and they are bombing every Turkish vehicle that they can find inside Syria. The following comes from a report that was put out by Debka…
In the last two days, Putin has been found saying one thing and doing another: Although he declared that Russia would not go to war with Turkey for “stabbing it in the back”, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that since Wednesday night, Nov. 25, Russian heavy bombers and warplanes have been hitting every Turkish vehicle moving or stationary inside Syria.
They bombed the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, located on the Turkey-Syria frontier, as well trailers and tractors parked in an area belonging to the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, on the Syrian side of the border.
As I wrote about the other day, it has been documented that our NATO ally Turkey has been “training ISIS militants, funneling weapons to them, buying their oil, and tending to their wounded in Turkish hospitals”. Now, heavy bombing by the Russians threatens to cut off those links…
In addition to punishing the Turkish leader, Russia’s massive military operations in Syria aim to degrade the rebel groups fighting the Assad regime. Heavy bombing sorties this week on the Syrian-Turkish border are cutting off tens of thousands of rebels from their only source of fresh supplies of weapons, ammo, food and fighters, leaving them without a line of retreat and nowhere to send their wounded.
At this point, Russia and Turkey are very close to a state of war.
But as a member of NATO, the United States is obligated to help protect Turkey if a full-blown shooting war does break out.
We are closer to World War III than we have been in decades, and yet most Americans are still completely and totally oblivious to what is taking place.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, because things over in the Middle East threaten to spiral completely and totally out of control.
Publishes on the Economic Undertow on November 17, 2015
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When reports of gunmen shooting up nightclubs and cafés in Paris emerged late Friday, the immediate thought was, “What are they going to take away from us now? What remaining liberty will we be forced to surrender … to make us safe?”
The second immediate thought was, “false flag’: what did the intelligence services have to do with this attack? Did they know the plot in advance and did they look the other way? Did they go farther and provide planning, target lists, information, money and supplies? Did they offer safe-houses, transportation or false papers? Who were the attackers? Were they what the media loudly trumpets them to be, Islamic State militants, or were they something else; common criminals or government operatives posing as militants?
These are questions not being asked, instead, there is the non-stop, televised fear mongering, the demand for retribution and the promise of more military action by otherwise inept bosses.
At some level, the agencies had to know of this attack in advance, they could not be so incompetent as to be unaware. Friday’s attack was the latest in a long series of militant strikes against civilians. In Europe as in the US, spy agencies have surveillance over everyone’s computers and smartphones twenty-four hours a day. Like the rest of the modern world’s children, jihadis cannot function without credit cards, Facebook and Twitter … online porn and ‘Candy Crush’. France is thick on the ground with informants and stool pigeons. Many of these are racketeers and hardened criminals who have no fear of jihadi violence and much to gain by trading information about competing gangs to the police. In the poor areas of Belgium; in Molenbeek and the grimy high-rise slums of suburban Paris and Lyon, in Marseilles and elsewhere, everyone knows what everyone else is doing. There are no secrets. Since Friday, the French and Belgian police have conducted 160 raids against terror suspects, they did not come up with names and addresses over the weekend … They knew.
France did not find targets in Raqqa, Syria and send jet aircraft and the other supporting infrastructure to strike them in 72 hours. All of the forces involved were set into motion long ago, the entire operation including the recent attacks appears to have been staged: French military preparations, pre-positioning of hardware and command structure in Jordan and UAE since early in 2015; the French air attacks on Syria; the tit-for-tat massacres in France, the media saturation and hysteria followed by the next level of military response and the urging on by the US and others in a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle. “The game is afoot,” cries Sherlock Holmes; the question is, what sort of game is it?
Militarism is a factor. War is a form of economic stimulus, a self- referential or self- advertising scam; a bastardized Keynesianism directed toward arms manufacturers and ‘service providers’. War has also historically been a way to seize and exploit resources. Western governments tend to avoid the blitz- and conquest approach because of costs. Instead, governments colonize indirectly by exporting political and social instability to targeted countries — particularly the petro-states — then importing consumption capacity along with the crude. This strategy aims to offset the decline in net petroleum exports as described by Jeffrey Brown, (Peak Prosperity):
“I started wondering in late 2005 what happens to oil exports from an exporting country, given a production decline and rising consumption. And, so I just started, I just constructed a simple little model. I assumed a production of about two million barrels a day or so at peak, consumption of one, and assumed production falls about 5% per year, basically what the North Sea did, and assumed consumption increases to 2.5% per year. What the model showed was that exports, net exports would go to zero in only nine years, even though a roughly modest production decline. So, the easy way to state it is giving an ongoing, inevitable decline in production, unless an exporting country cuts their domestic oil consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, it’s a mathematical certainty that the net export decline rate, what they actually ship out to consumers will exceed the rate of decline in production. And, furthermore, it accelerates … “
Always pay close attention to what the bosses do and ignore what they say: targeted ‘destability’ is by itself evidence for the presumably defunct ‘peak oil theory’ as well as the establishment’s understanding and appreciation of it. Because fuel constraints are destabilizing by themselves; little additional prodding is required to unhinge vulnerable countries. When Syrians, Ukraines, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis, Afghans and others are unable to drive because they are car-less, road-less, dead, penniless or refugees, Americans drive in their place. “The American way of life is non-negotiable,” proclaimed George HW Bush in 1992; the inch-by-inch demolition of countries … including Greece, Spain, Portugal and France … is what ‘non-negotiable’ looks like.
The amounts of fuel to be had by way of ‘consumption switching’ from the destitute countries of the global south is trivial, no more than a few hundred-thousand barrels per day; unraveling these countries is overture/practice for the larger game. The prizes are Europe, with its crude daily consumption of 12.5 million barrels; also China and Russia, with their daily output of 15+ million barrels per day. Should Europe be wrenched into consuming half of that current total, Americans will gain the balance. As China- and Russia’s economies collapse oil prices will crash even lower than they are now as more desperate barrels are dumped onto the world market.
The ongoing ‘crude oil glut’ is not the result of fracking technology or Saudi marketing strategy but a result of war and economic distress, purposefully applied wherever there are vulnerabilities. A devastated country with no government or business activity to speak of will continue to pump as much oil as it can, for as long as it can, to provide logistical support to meet increasingly urgent military needs … and to provide ‘safe spaces’ for antsy bosses, whomever they might happen to be, whomever they might happen to be, whomever they might happen to be!
Figure 1: Iraq no longer exists as a unified country but the fragments nevertheless extract 4 million barrels of light crude per day (Ron Patterson/Peak Oil Barrel). The appearance of excess supply glut has occurred during a period when gross crude production has been relatively flat. In the face of unlimited demand (not to be confused with consumption) there must be triage: to accommodate some users, other users have to levered out of the market … by hook or by crook.
Figure 2: Hook vs. crook: French petroleum consumption has been declining steadily for economic reasons, chart by Mazama Science (click for big). French drivers guzzle 1.5 million barrels of MENA (Middle East, North Africa) crude per day. Paris has an interest in destabilizing these areas to absorb their consumption and make them more dependent upon French euros; the US has an interest in ruining France so that it’s millions of barrels of daily consumption might flow into American gas tanks.
The foregoing leaves out the fact that customers in France and elsewhere around the world are broke and becoming less able to afford fuel at any price.
Islamic State is the New Black.
ISIS and other, similar groups are the future revealing itself. Instead of science fiction-y high technology and ‘innovation’, singularities and robot immortality, there is 17th century barbarism. Along with Ukraine and Iraq, Syria is one more fiercely ugly place-of-the-moment where fantasy of unlimited material ‘progress’ and the reality of resource constraints collide. The West and the United States have caught themselves in a trap of their own making. The West requires resources from the Middle East and elsewhere to produce GDP expansion. The West’s (borrowed) fuel payments provide funding for messianic non-state actors that threaten the West itself. If you drive a car you must buy fuel, when you buy fuel you are funding ISIS and growing constellation of similar groups.
To buy fuel we borrow because using fuel is non-remunerative: it’s recreational like sitting in a café in the 11th arrondissement. We are ironically borrowing ourselves into bankruptcy so that we might support individuals whose intent is to murder us all in our nightclubs.
Because the West’s fuel payments are borrowed; the cost threatens the West ‘through the back door’. More expensive credit makes it increasingly difficult to destroy the militants: failing to destroy makes them more ‘efficient’. Our waste + borrowing + warfare cycle has created a Frankenstein monster that nobody can get rid of or control.
The same monster becomes the rationalization for governments to do whatever they will to control their own citizens with the citizens’ blessing. ISIS & Co. has become the end that justifies all means but one … what would fatally undermine the group … to give up the precious automobiles and all the high-cost, money/resource guzzling crap that goes with them.
It’s important to view what is underway in the world right now in both developed and developing countries through a petroleum prism. Economic distress in the OECD and elsewhere is a consequence of the high cost of- and lack of return on fuel consumption. Political ineptitude and social distress is a product of declining economic fortunes. The rise of militancy in developing countries is a consequence of consumption switching and military meddling by the West. Islamic militancy, like climate change has become another ‘wicked problem’, where proposed solutions are simply new problems in drag, with costs that cannot be discovered until the solutions are deployed and found wanting.
Ryan Lissa @ New Yorker observes that none of the Democratic candidates for president have a plan for removing #ISIS. The Republicans don’t have a plan, either. Nobody does because we don’t want to give up anything. We are desperate for pleasant outcomes, managers are satisfied to make minuscule adjustments on the margins which cannot ‘scale up’ resulting in failure.
Militancy cannot be removed from its context of neo-colonial exploitation of global south’s resources. We need to actually change our lifestyles, to make sacrifices, to give somethings up, our useless, costly toys. #ISIS is a consequence, an externality of our squandrous waste of irreplaceable capital. Sending in the air force fails because doing so wastes more capital even as prior interventions are what birthed and nurtured groups like #ISIS in the first place.
We have created a world where we must drive fifteen miles from the living room to the bathroom. We look to shift the costs of this folly onto others far away … which becomes too close for comfort when the refugees and militants arrive onto our doorsteps, begging for handouts or spraying bullets. Instability feeds on itself, whether it is in Raqqa, Somalia or Paris, South Sudan or Afghanistan = ‘Conservation by Other Means™’
Islamic State’ is an idea, not a country, it has little in the way of precious infrastructure to destroy. Bombing it is a waste of time and resources. The only way to get rid of the militants is to bankrupt them. That happens when the West and its imitators stop using fuel.
The fighting in the Middle East would end instantly if the US government instructed the petro-states Saudi Arabia and Iran to stand down or else … The Navy would halt the flow of tankers to- and from the Persian Gulf. It can do so safely from 200 miles away, out of range of (Iranian) aircraft or missiles. Without tanker traffic => no oil sales => no dollars or euros or pounds-sterling => no cash flow for hobby wars or other nonsense. Simply starting a public discussion about this option on television would cause the Middle Eastern oil powers and their proxies to make a run for the negotiating table. To do otherwise would be too risky: if consumers around the world were to free themselves from Middle Eastern crude for even a little while … there is no reason why they could not do so permanently.
The US should also embargo military hardware sales to combatants, it should freeze the combatants’ dollar funds held in the West’s banking system, including funds belonging to the Islamic State. The US leadership could get on TV and instruct the Americans in no uncertain terms to cut energy use in half in two years … to do so or else. Doing so would rid us of useless, bankrupting automobiles, for which so much blood is being shed.
Publishes on the Peak Surfer on November 13, 2015
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
This past week a number of our respected readers took us to task for our post, Exxonomics 101, not because we were wrong (although we were visited by our usual gaggle of climate deniers) but because we had made so many bald statements about US foreign policy without referencing sources.
"That whole shooting match in Syria, driving millions of refugees into Europe, is about whether Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia and Iran and a proponent of a gas pipeline from Iran across Kurdistan to the sea, will be deposed by ISIS terrorists trained by CIA in the Colonel Kurtz style of spectacular horror and funded by the Pentagon so that the US could instead build a pipeline to European markets through Syria from Iraq. The Russian Air Force, with a new generation of fighters that can fly circles around anything built by Lockheed Martin, is looking like it will decide that one. It is pulverizing ISIS."
We find our critics' point about undocumented sources valid, so this week we'll dive deeper into the morass which is petropolitics in hopes of speeding the day it will become paleopolitics. This will be about three times longer than our usual post. We could have broken it into three parts – a four semester course in Exxonomics – but we could just visualize our regular readers slipping out for a smoke in the parking lot.
On Friday evening Paris was attacked by a coordinated, well-armed guerrilla group that caused at least 129 deaths and 352 injuries, 99 critical, while losing 8 jihadis. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. As we shall show in this post, direct responsibility for the attack traces back to President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Parenthetically, Sen. Bernie Sanders on September 18 voted against the United States financing, training and arming ISIS by proxy astroturf Syrian "freedom fighters.") The Paris attacks are being called France's worst terrorist attack, but only a day earlier, ISIL attacks on Beirut left 41 dead and 181 injured and in the week before IS is believed to have downed a Russian passenger jet over Egypt with 224 people on board.
The President of France was quick to link the attacks to its own military action in Syria, calling for stronger efforts at "regime change" to oust Assad. In the Syrian conflict, France is anti-Assad. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is pro-Assad. Russia is an ally of Assad. The ISIS targeting has nothing to do with President Bashir Al-Assad. It has to do with confusion.
The Origins of ISIS
In our humble opinion, it should be abundantly clear that the Beltway NeoCons, who were unable to gain much traction for their most wacky ideas with Carter, Bush-I or Bill Clinton, burned rubber with Bush-II, a.k.a. Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice. Yahoooo! Just wait until they meet Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
Pushed to the fore during that golden era of unaccountability was the proposition that for Right Wing Christianity to prevail over Fundamentalist Islam in the Battle of Armageddon to come, it will be necessary to fragment the Middle East and to get those Oil Sheiks and Gas Kings who are busy spending petrodollars on military hardware to fight each other.
|Ronald Reagan meets with future Al Qaeda leaders in the White House|
Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
Last week touched some nerves when we described the US’s 9/11 moment as a new Pearl Harbor, despite the loss of fewer civilian casualties that day than when GHW Bush galloped through Panama City chasing after one of our assets gone off reservation. Then followed the “smoking gun” Kabuki at the UN Security Council, untold billions in small bills being offloaded from numerous C-130J Super Hercules for delivery to non-state-actors, the downing of Paul Wellstone’s plane, and we’ll anthrax your mailbox if you oppose us on this.
We know, even fellow travelers like James Howard Kunstler just closed their laptops and walked away. If you are allergic to conspiracies, well, sorry. Conspire means to breathe together. If you are willing to stick around, then take a deep breath.
We opined long ago that the YouTube'd kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl was at the behest of the CIA because he was a loudmouth. The orange jumpsuit was a pretty good “tell” that this was not just a ragtag band of rag-head discontents putting a knife to his throat. Now we propose to prove that.
Here are a few more threads:
Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.
Similarly, the U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction (despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers).
In a thorough but very long post by Washington's Blog on September 11, 2015, Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo observes:
Iraq’s fate was sealed from the moment we invaded: it has no future as a unitary state. As I pointed out again and again in the early days of the conflict, Iraq is fated to split apart into at least three separate states: the Shi’ite areas around Baghdad and to the south, the Sunni regions to the northwest, and the Kurdish enclave which was itching for independence since well before the US invasion. This was the War Party’s real if unexpressed goal from the very beginning: the atomization of Iraq, and indeed the entire Middle East. Their goal, in short, was chaos – and that is precisely what we are seeing today.
Europe is reeling from the waves of refugees pouring across every border as people from all walks of life flee from the randomized violence wrought by this atomization, set against a background of unsustainable population growth, resource depletion and rapid climate change. In Syria, with a population of little more than Florida, some 250,000 civilians have been killed by the violence brought about by the Western attempt at regime change. And yet there seems to be a disconnect between cause and effect, as a disproportionate amount of money is spent to atomize more while band-aids like border detention centers are erected to further victimize the victims.
"You will find that regime change– whether it was in the early '50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Salvador Allende in Chile or whether it was overthrowing the government Guatemala way back when– these invasions, these– these toppling of governments, regime changes have unintended consequences." –– Sen. Bernie Sanders
It seems evident to us, if not to most, that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were initiated to the strategy of inflicted chaos some time ago, perhaps during the 2008 transition when Brzezinski was on the Obama foreign policy team, or maybe earlier, when Obama studied under Zbiggy at Columbia. Since 2010 they have extended the plan to other parts of the Empire. Hence Victoria Nuland’s mischief in Kiev — the Balkanization of the Balkins if you will. Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st State but they may have to stand in line behind Estonia.
One of our critics said we were not known as an expert on foreign affairs, but, hey, news flash! We don’t claim to be expert on anything. We are merely opinionated, like Donald Trump or Quentin Tarrentino. Still, it might be worth tracing the evidentiary breadcrumbs we have been following.
The ‘Skittles’ Theory
Brian Whitaker, writing for The Guardian in September, 2003, said the game plan among Washington's hawks has long been to reshape the Middle East along US-Israeli lines.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. “We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,” he said.***
They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the [Pentagon] hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr. Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good.
For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.
The “skittles theory” of the Middle East – that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes – has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the “war against terrorism”.
Its roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper published in 1996 by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Entitled “A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm”, it was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Binyamin Netanyahu. As the title indicates, it advised the right-wing Mr Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ….”
The paper set out a plan by which Israel would “shape its strategic environment”, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.
With Saddam out of the way and Iraq thus brought under Jordanian Hashemite influence, Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and “roll back” Syria. Jordan, it suggested, could also sort out Lebanon by “weaning” the Shia Muslim population away from Syria and Iran, and re-establishing their former ties with the Shia in the new Hashemite kingdom of Iraq. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them”, the paper concluded.
The leader of the “prominent opinion makers” who wrote it was Richard Perle – now  chairman of the Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon. Also among the eight-person team was Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative lawyer, who now holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy.
Two other opinion-makers in the team were David Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav (see US think tanks give lessons in foreign policy, August 19). Mrs Wurmser was co-founder of Memri, a Washington-based charity that distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. After working with Mr Perle at the American Enterprise Institute, David Wurmser is now at the State Department, as a special assistant to John Bolton, the under-secretary for arms control and international security.
A fifth member of the team was James Colbert, of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa) – a bastion of neo-conservative hawkery whose advisory board was previously graced by Dick Cheney (now US vice-president), John Bolton and Douglas Feith.
The rise of the Islamic State
"At times it can resemble Andy Kaufman in the wrestling ring, taunting Memphis hayseeds that he's from Hollywood, where people use their brains." — Bill Maher on the ISIS threat.
On October 14, 2015, Sophie Shevardnadze interviewed FBI whistleblower Sibel Edwards for the back story on US covert support for ISIS. President Obama had just come out to say the rise of Islamic State was never properly addressed by the U.S. intelligence community. Dangling from the President's puppet strings, Vice-President Biden then stepped to the Press Room podium to scapegoat NATO and its Arab allies, saying it was they who funded jihadists, not the US. (Laughter). This is still the official position. Lets look at the evidence.
This video from LiveLeak shows an Apache attack helicopter following a huge ISIS convoy of white pickup trucks crossing from Iraq to Syria but instead of attacking is more or less “escorting” it across the border. The key "tell" is not the Apache but the Toyotas. While crossing the desert for 3 days in a very long convoy line, they did not elicit a military response from NATO or the US in spite of 24/7 satellite surveillance.
That still does not pin it on the US. ISIS could be supported by our NATO allies, whom Biden says are the real bad actors here. The Apache might just be supporting evil NATO.
But then, U.S. counter-terror officials launched an investigation into how ISIS got so many of those identical Toyota pickup trucks for their convoys.
The [Toyota] Hilux is light, fast, manoeuvrable and all but indestructible (‘bomb-proof’ might not, in this instance, be a happy usage). The weapons experts Jane’s claimed for the Hilux a similar significance to the longbows of Agincourt or the Huey choppers of Nam. A US Army Ranger said the Toyota sure ‘kicks the hell out of a Humvee’ (referring to the clumsy and over-sized High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle made by AM General).***
The fact is the Toyotas were supplied by the US government to the Al Nusra Front as ‘non-lethal aid’ then ‘acquired’ by ISIS.
This is how it was outlined by PRI (Public Radio International):
Recently, when the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks. Hiluxes were on the Free Syrian Army’s wish list. Oubai Shahbander, a Washington-based advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, is a fan of the truck.
“Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground,” he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups will be delivering troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet will even become battlefield weapons.
That’s exactly what happened, along with shoulder-fired Manpad ground-to-air missiles, TOW antitank missiles and other fancy smart weapons. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
The U.S. and its regional allies agreed to increase shipments of weapons and other supplies to help moderate Syrian rebels hold their ground and challenge the intervention of Russia and Iran on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials and their counterparts in the region said.
It now appears that while Russian fighter jets can evade or outrun Manpad missiles, ISIS may have used a Manpad to shoot down a Russian civilian airliner last week, killing more innocent civilians than died in Paris.
Al Nusra Front is literally Al Qaeda. The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom said:
By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.
Here is a part of last month's exchange between Sophie Shevardnadze and Sibel Edwards:
SS: Now, the former CIA chief and the ex-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. is looking at at least a 30-year war against ISIS, which is not at all what the White House is telling the public. Is he exaggerating? What’s your estimate?
SE: I would say it’s a very short period; I’m really surprised, because we just talked about the brand change. The war against Al-Qaeda was declared as a “forever war” and it has been expanding. I mean, when the war against Al-Qaeda started, it was supposed to be in Afghanistan, and we started chasing Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and Pakistan with all the drone attacks, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the fact that this was going to be a forever war… and now that the brand has changed to ISIS, I’m very surprised that the former FBI director is stamping it with a short-time period. I believe 30 year period is very short, unless that have already in plan other sects or other factions that they are going to declare the “world’s great and most dangerous terrorists”, I would say it’s a very short period of time. We currently are more interested in an ongoing, never-ending, perpetual war, so I would, if you compare it with what we have been characterizing – or our government and the media – Al-Qaeda, I’m surprised that he has put such a short time-stamp on ISIS. Considering the attraction, or the attractiveness, of the brand, because it has the world “Islam” built into it, and let’s just forget Al-Qaeda. I mean, Al-Qaeda was the just the noun, the name – and this case you’re looking at the far-reaching implications. Now you declare that current greatest threatening organization that has the word “Islam” built into it – and I think it’s much more attractive to be used. So, I would say, yeah, it should be forever. I’m surprised it’s 30 years.
SS: All right, here’s another possible and interesting turn of events – FBI chief James Comey warned terrorists are working on an effort to attack the U.S. very-very soon. Is the U.S. ready to respond?
SE: We have to look at different things and see why this statement was made. Is it based on some sort of facts and real solid intelligence gathered, or is it the fact that… for example, we have had for the TSA, for the flights, the threat level has been really low, and when that goes for a long time, people get antsy, they say “This is really annoying to have all these screens out there and going through them, we haven’t had any terrorist threats really, the level has not been blinking red or even orange, it’s been yellow, let’s go through the rainbow colors” – so, it’s time to re-energize the Americans with the fear of terrorism. We need to have more expenditure for things to put in place, because we can go ahead and increase the threat level within the airports. Let me give you an example. If you look at the stock market and stock prices for all the military-industrial complex-related companies and firms, you will see how they have just gone up tremendously since the brand switch from Al-Qaeda to ISIS, and this is, again, the brand-change I’m referring to, this is when you say “yes, now we can go ahead and produce and sell more to the government and it will spend billions more”. So, the same thing is true for the internal security, fear-mongering factors on the ground in the U.S. It’s time to re-energize that fear, and that is exactly what they are doing. What’s going to follow this is there’s going to be more measures put in place, whether it’s in the airports, or whether it’s the hiring within the FBI, or increasing the number of informants. Those are the things that are going to follow this announcement: “we have to have more expenditure, because of the public consent, because the fear level is going to go up, and therefore those expenditures are going to be justified” – and it is that simple as that.
A quick history refresher on Syria:
- The U.S. carried out a coup in Syria in 1949. The reason? In late 1945, the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) announced plans to construct the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line (TAPLINE) from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean. With U.S. help, ARAMCO secured rights-of-way from Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The part crossing Syria stalled in the Syrian parliament.
- In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once more agreed to use Arab extremists – including the Muslim Brotherhood – to effect regime change in Syria. A joint CIA-MI6 operation was launched to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbors, and then to “eliminate” the top figures.
- The U.S. has been arming the Syrian opposition since 2006, years before the present uprising started.
- It was the “rebels” – not the Syrian government – who carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria.
- The CIA plotted to poison the Iraqi leader in 1960.
- In 1963, the U.S. backed the coup which succeeded in killing the head of Iraq.
- Until he was toppled by a popular uprising, the US supported the tyrannical rule of the Shah of Iran and supplied his military with the latest in weapons and aircraft.
- Syria controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Syria controls of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connects pro-western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.
- Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate.
- Syria also has oil shale resources with estimated reserves that range as high as 50 billion tons, according to a Syrian government source in 2010.
- Syria is the key link in the flow of any oil or gas from Iraq or Iran to the Mediterranean and thence to Europe.
- Because of the sordid role of the US in his country's history, Bashir Al-Assad tilts towards Russia and Iran, and away from the US and Iraq.
President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.
After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
The fluidity of battlefield alliances in Syria means that even mainline rebels often end up fighting alongside the Nusra Front, whose suicide bombers are relied on by other groups to soften up government targets.
“Even the groups that the U.S. has trained tend to show up in the same trenches as the Nusra Front eventually, because they need them and they are fighting the same battles,” Mr. Lund said.
Current and former American officials acknowledge the government’s lack of deep knowledge about the rebels. “We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition is,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq and Syria. “Frankly, we don’t have a clue.”
And yet, as the Wall Street Journal, PBS, CNN, New York Times, Medium, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh and others note, the U.S. and its allies have poured huge amounts of weapons and support to the Syrian Islamic “rebels”. This is in spite of the CIA warning President Obama that arming rebels rarely works.
Washington wants regime change in Syria, so it’s making up a myth of the “moderate Syrian rebel” who hates Assad and ISIS. But they “don’t have a clue” as to whether such a mythical unicorn actually exists (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
Its about Russia
Before the Russian Air Force entered the picture, ISIS had more than tripled the size of its territory in Syria and greatly expanded its territory in Iraq. Q: What does the Russian Air Force call all those stockpiles of expensive new arms and billions of dollar bills that ISIS has sitting on air-dropped, shrink-wrapped pallets all over Syria? A: Target practice.
Despite US unwillingness to cooperate with Russia in destruction of ISIS and the White House complaining that President Vladimir Putin was targeting its anti-Assad forces, Russia has been cooperating with the US-sponsored, Anti-Assad Free Syrian Army (FSA). Putin said on Friday that FSA had shared their intelligence on ISIS positions and convoys, which were then targeted by Russian airstrikes.
On November 9, 2015, RT-TV interviewed Oxford University's Sharmine Narwani about the conflict between the Russian anti-ISIS offensive and the US military objectives in Syria.
RT: What are the reasons, do you think the [US-Arab] coalition is breaking apart? How can the coalition increase the efficiency of its actions?
|US air attack on Kobani, Syria 10/8/14. © Umit Bektas/Reuters|
SN: I see the coalition breaking apart or being redundant for two reasons. One is the lack of common objectives among the 11 actors participating in the coalition, but the other is more in lines with military strategy in fighting any war or conflict, anywhere. We’ve heard this over and over again in the Syrian conflict – you need a coordination of air force and ground power. The US-led coalition does not have this. Part of the reason it doesn’t have this is because it entered Syrian air space and violated international law in doing so against the wishes of the Syrian government. So it cannot coordinate with the Syrian government who leads the ground activities, whether it is the Syrian army or various Syrian militias that are pro-government; or Hezbollah – a non-state actor from Lebanon; or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their advisory capacity. The Russians of course do enjoy that relationship, so their airstrikes are not only both valid and legal, but also useful – a coordinated effort to target ISIL and other terrorist organizations.
RT: Do you think the US doesn’t have real intentions to fight ISIS, and that is the main reason of instability of its coalition?
SN: Absolutely. The US-led coalition has failed in attaining goals to defeat ISIS, not just because it cannot lead a coordinated military effort in air, land and sea in Syria, or because it lacks legality, or because the member states of the coalition have diverging interests. But I think the US interest as well has to be called into question. I mean: does the US want to defeat ISIS? I would argue very strongly based on what we’ve seen in the last year that the US is not interested in defeating ISIS. The US is interested in perhaps controlling ISIS’ movements, so that it helps to create a geopolitical balance on the ground that will provide the US government and its allies with leverage at the negotiating table. So they don’t want ISIS to take over all of Syria [because] that poses threats to allies in the region. They don’t want ISIS and other terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and others, and the various coalitions they have formed to lose ground, because at the end of the day the only pressure there are going to be able to apply on the Syrian government and its allies is what is happening on the ground. And they need something; they need advantage on the ground that they can take with them to the negotiating table in Vienna.
Its About Israel
General Wesley Clark – former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO – said:
It came back to me … a 1991 meeting I had with Paul Wolfowitz.
In 1991, he was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy – the number 3 position at the Pentagon. And I had gone to see him when I was a 1-Star General commanding the National Training Center.
And I said, “Mr. Secretary, you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.” And he said: “Yeah, but not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t … But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense – and former 12-year Republican Senator – Chuck Hagel said of the Iraq war in 2007:
People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.
General John Abizaid – the former commander of CENTCOM with responsibility for Iraq – said:
Of course it’s about oil, it’s very much about oil, and we can’t really deny that.
President George W. Bush said in 2005 that keeping Iraqi oil away from the bad guys was a key motive for the Iraq war:
‘If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks, they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.”
The Cheney Energy Task Force Report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century — a full five months before September 11 — describes how the West is facing the biggest energy crisis in its history because of Peak Oil. It named Saddam Hussain as a threat to American interests because of his control of Iraqi oilfields and recommended the use of ‘military intervention’ as a means to fix the US energy crisis.
One of the most telling passages in the document reads:
Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to … the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets.
Haaretz reported soon after the Iraq war started in 2003:
The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister’s Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a “bonus” the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram.
The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948. During the War of Independence [what Jews call the 1948 war to form the state of Israel], the Iraqis stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair over the years.
National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy during his planned visit to Washington next month.
In response to rumors about the possible Kirkuk-Mosul-Haifa pipeline, Turkey has warned Israel that it would regard this development as a serious blow to Turkish-Israeli relations.
Some of the seeds for the current conflict were sewn between 1932 and 1948. As Wikipedia explains:
Mosul-Haifa Pipeline 1935
The Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline (also known as Mediterranean pipeline) was a crude oil pipeline from the oil fields in Kirkuk, located in north Iraq, through Jordan to Haifa (now on the territory of Israel). The pipeline was operational in 1935–1948. Its length was about 942 kilometres (585 mi), with a diameter of 12 inches (300 mm) (reducing to 10 and 8 inches (250 and 200 mm) in parts), and it took about 10 days for crude oil to travel the full length of the line. The oil arriving in Haifa was distilled in the Haifa refineries, stored in tanks, and then put in tankers for shipment to Europe.
The pipeline was built by the Iraq Petroleum Company between 1932 and 1935, during which period most of the area through which the pipeline passed was under a British mandate approved by the League of Nations. The pipeline was one of two pipelines carrying oil from the Kirkuk oilfield to the Mediterranean coast. The main pipeline split at Haditha with a second line carrying oil to Tripoli, Lebanon, which was then under a French mandate. This line was built primarily to satisfy the demands of the French partner in IPC, Compagnie Française des Pétroles, for a separate line to be built across French mandated territory.
The pipeline and the Haifa refineries were considered strategically important by the British Government, and indeed provided much of the fuel needs of the British and American forces in the Mediterranean during the Second World War.
The pipeline was a target of attacks by Arab gangs during the Great Arab Revolt, and as a result one of the main objectives of a joint British-Jewish Special Night Squads commanded by Captain Orde Wingate was to protect the pipeline against such attacks. Later on, the pipeline was the target of attacks by the Irgun.
In 1948, with the outbreak of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the official operation of the pipeline ended when the Iraqi Government refused to pump any more oil through it.
Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported in 2014:
A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week.
In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday … Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.
International Business Times reported in 2003:
Halliburton [which Dick Cheney was President of] is one of the firms thought by analysts to be in line to make a killing in any clean-up operation after another US-led war on Iraq.
All five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the UK, France, China, Russia and the US — have international oil companies that would benefit from huge windfalls in the event of regime change in Baghdad. The best chance for US firms to make billions would come if Bush installed a pro-US Iraqi opposition member as the head of a new government.
Representatives of foreign oil firms have already met with leaders of the Iraqi opposition. Ahmed Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress, said: ‘American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil.’
Thomas Harrington, professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, writes:
To read the cold-blooded imperial reasoning in both of these documents—which speak, in the first case, quite openly of the need to destabilize the region so as to reshape Israel’s “strategic environment” and, in the second of the need to dramatically increase the number of US “forward bases” in the region ….
To do so now, after the US’s systematic destruction of Iraq and Libya—two notably oil-rich countries whose delicate ethnic and religious balances were well known to anyone in or out of government with more than passing interest in history— and after carefully calibrated efforts to generate and maintain murderous and civilization-destroying stalemates in Syria and Egypt (something that is easily substantiated despite our media’s deafening silence on the subject), is downright blood-curdling.
And yet, it seems that for even very well-informed analysts, it is beyond the pale to raise the possibility that foreign policy elites in the US and Israel, like all virtually all the ambitious hegemons before them on the world stage, might have quite coldly and consciously fomented open-ended chaos in order to achieve their overlapping strategic objectives in this part of the world.
“[T]he actual purpose [of the Iraq War] was to blow the country to smithereens: to atomize it, and crush it, so that it would never rise again.
“When we invaded and occupied Iraq, we didn’t just militarily defeat Iraq’s armed forces – we dismantled their army, and their police force, along with all the other institutions that held the country together. The educational system was destroyed, and not reconstituted. The infrastructure was pulverized, and never restored. Even the physical hallmarks of a civilized society – roads, bridges, electrical plants, water facilities, museums, schools – were bombed out of existence or else left to fall into disrepair. Along with that, the spiritual and psychological infrastructure that enables a society to function – the bonds of trust, allegiance, and custom – was dissolved, leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves in a war of all against all.
“… What we are witnessing in post-Saddam Iraq is the erasure of an entire country. We can say, with confidence: We came, we saw, we atomized.”
|Mass deaths from terrorist attacks are now doubling every 2 years|
Washington's Blog asks:
Why? This is the question that inevitably arises in the wake of such an analysis: why deliberately destroy an entire country whose people were civilized while our European ancestors were living in trees?
The people who planned, agitated for, and executed this war are the very same people who have advanced Israeli interests – at America’s expense – at every opportunity. In “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a 1996 document prepared by a gaggle of neocons – Perle, Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was urged to “break out” of Israel’s alleged stagnation and undertake a campaign of “regime change” across the Middle East, targeting Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran. With the exception of Iran – and that one’s still cooking on the back burner – this is precisely what has occurred. In 2003, in the immediate wake of our Pyrrhic “victory” in Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared to a visiting delegation of American members of Congress that these “rogue states” – Iran, Libya, and Syria – would have to be next on the War Party’s target list.
The Washington Post reported in 2010:
The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks. That is the conclusion of the three-page classified paper produced in February, 2010 by the CIA's Red Cell, a think tank set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide "out-of-the-box" analyses on "a full range of analytic issues."
We have Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange to thank for that disclosure. The President, when he is not reading to his daughters, is currently thanking Private Manning for her patriotism by torturing her (solitary confinement without reading material) over possessing expired toothpaste and the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair in her Ft. Leavenworth prison cell.
Forceful Persuasion: Coercive Diplomacy as an Alternative to War by Alexander L. George of Stanford University describes how the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.
Terrorism is defined as:
The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
It seems to us, in our humble, non-expert opinion, that the War on Terror should not continue for generations more, but be brought to a swift end with an FBI raid and trial of the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, and on the private residence of Hillary Clinton, whose face is pictured at the top of this post.
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.
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.
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!
Publishes on the 22 Billion Energy Slaves on November 18, 2015
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I now it’s a tall order to ask for these things to be understood – especially when the news media obsesses about such minutiae as whether the latest James Bond film (the fable of an emotionally-crippled man who travels around the world murdering people for the geopolitical advantage of his country – a character originally conceived of as high satire but now admired as a role model) has earned more money than some other film, or whether a television commercial for a shop is ‘genius’ or not. But we have to try. We have to wriggle free somehow. My kids know it’s all false, other kids I speak to know it’s all false, even some adults are starting to realise it’s all false. And therein lies some hope.
Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on November 16, 2015
"Something awful has happened in Paris. Out of it will be born something awful in the collective mind and the collective heart and the collective soul. " – Charles Pierce
Events in Paris have focused our attentions and energies like few other since 9/11/2001 and provided a serious harbinger of doom this week. Some people, lie-weary since 1963 and 2001, look first to the false flag and the shitmist of corporate media misdirection. Others look appropriately to the dead and the grieving. Others use the tragedy to weigh the heft of their favorite political cudgels, this with the blood still in the streets of Paris. A special House of Shame should be erected especially for these:
Mother Jones accumulated some of the worst reactions to the tragedy:
At this point the conversation turns, as it has inside the Diner Forum, to cui bono? What seems unmistakeable is that some will benefit. Clearly those who share ends if not means with the terrorists, which includes the Gates of Vienna/Stormfront crowd, Marine LePen, and cultural rightists of all stripes, neocons, neofascists, nativists, xenophobes, war munitions-makers, overseas contractors, builders of fences, closers of borders, and those who arm them. Authoritarians all.
And to this point, Esquire's Charles Pierce noted how Paris will skew the political process and essentially redefine the terms of political engagement by starting every question with, "In light of what happened in Paris." As seen from the small gill-net sampling of tweets from the social media sewer, look for
a momentary spasm of unreason and an easily dispersed cloud of spittle in our national dialogue. At worst, there will be a sort of undeclared truce between our two major political parties—which, after all, are funded in whole or in part by the same people—that domestic issues will have to go on "the back burner" because this has been declared a national-security election again, that the campaign will be less about keeping people solvent and more about keeping them "safe."
And we know cui bono from that. The same Deep State as always. Pierce cites Robert LaFollette, the populist hero in Wisconsin who rose to oppose Woodrow Wilson's effort to drag the US into the First World War:
The poor, sir, who are the ones called upon to rot in the trenches, have no organized power, have no press to voice their will upon this question of peace or war; but, oh, Mr. President, at some time they will be heard… when the people today who are staggering under the burden of supporting families at the present prices of the necessaries of life find those prices multiplied, when they are raised 100 percent, or 200 percent, as they will be quickly, aye, sir, when beyond that those who pay taxes come to have their taxes doubled and again doubled to pay the interest on the nontaxable bonds held by [J. P.] Morgan and his combinations, which have been issued to meet this war, there will come an awakening; they will have their day and they will be heard. . .
LaFollette was wrong. The US went to war, the masses failed to rise, and the longed for progressive moment dissipated at the sound of the martial drumbeat. And was then dispersed as the troops came home by the specter of the Red Scare, the Palmer raids, and the rise of one J. Edgar Hoover. This time, we are presented with the prospect of eternal war, one that will be "merciless" according to Hollande, against a enemy eager to use terrorism as a tactic to illustrate what foreign policy "blowback" looks like in the global North. Causing a generalized fear and mutual loathing on all sides, and a shot of martial adrenaline into the heart of a war-weary and broke American populace.
At this point it matters less whether this was just eight guys who rolled into shore on the French Riviera in a sailboat with a couple of homegrown accomplices, or whether they are picking up their Kalishnikovs from street vendors or from CIA-provided containers. They had a support network. Although questions remain:
French authorities on Saturday said the horrific rampage of bullets and explosions that left 129 dead in Paris on Friday was carried out by suicide bombers connected to the Islamic State who broke into three groups with a single objective: to kill as many people as possible.
France — and Europe — was once again confronted with the violence of homegrown terrorism. At least one of the seven dead assailants was a French national — a 29-year-old with a criminal record who had been previously monitored by French intelligence and linked to Islamist extremism. Two others, a senior Belgian official said, appeared to be Belgian foreign fighters, including an 18-year-old who had fought in Syria. A Syrian passport was found near the body of another assailant.
Indeed. Interesting how intact passports are always found on the body of or near the crime scene. Remember the passport found in the Charlie Hebdo shooting? One the one found after 9-11? Is that cordite I smell, or 9-11? And as to the false flag allegations, our governments wouldn't lie to us, would they?
Social media is certainly a reflection of the national mood, as many move to turn their Facebook profile picture into an overlay of the French tricolor, a gesture of solidarity as meaningless as it is facile. I have not done that and probably won't for reasons best articulated by another Faccebook friend named Diane:
I will not be updating my profile to support France. Sorry. It sucks that people died, always does. But more totally innocent black people are killed by our own cops in a month, every month than were killed there by terrorists. We have our own, unmentionable terrorist here. BTW, they have started killing poor whites too. Will THAT make us finally care?
France is bombing the shit out of Syria, and still collecting taxes from a bunch of African nations for its "losses" to slavery and their colonies there. Who mourns that?
I will not indulge in Islamophobia, because the refugees in Europe are going to pay for this, when these are the people they are running from. The people the US and the EU armed, trained and paid for to a great extent. The people they are trying to demonize.
Lastly, so many people have died in the Middle East this week…ISIS suicide bombers detonated themselves in the southern part of Beirut last Thursday, killing 43 people and wounding 239 and none of us painted our image in their flag.
… And still, innocents died! Yes, I feel for them with the same Mother's instinct that makes every Palestinian child mine, every Somalian child mine, every young Black father my son, every trembling Iranian girl mine.
Another perspective from a FB friend named Michael:
While we mourn the carnage in Paris, and gnash our teeth, and pull at our hair-shirts, it's a good time to remember that people are not separated from the actions of their governments. Blowback is hell.
We can trot out our righteous indignation, and our sense of victim-hood at the hands of “terror,” but, really isn't it just one of Newton's laws of motion? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Islamic fighting units are not birthed in a vacuum. The “west” has been meddling in the Middle East for a century.
“Persian oil … is yours. We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabian oil, it's ours.” FDR to the British Ambassador.
We mourn the carnage in Paris. We imagine our innocent selves at a concert, or a ballgame, or a shopping mall, and gunned down by crazy terrorists who hate us for our freedom, and decadent lifestyle. We're taught we are victims of terror. We're innocent. We have nothing to do with anything. We're just minding our own business, and people attack us for no reason, but the fact they're evil.
But we know this isn't true. The war didn't begin with them.
But we are victims. We're victims of the policies of our own government. Policies we either don't care enough about to change, or we agree with them, or we're helpless before them. But, whatever, the truth is, in war 90% of the causalities are non-military. And in the Forever War, the battlefield is everywhere.
After we've destroyed nations, wrecked societies, killed hundreds of thousands, and displaced millions, is it any wonder folks would attempt to fight back? And once in a while land a punch?The last thing we should be is surprised.
We mourn. But we should also understand. And we can't do that if we sweep history under the rug.
But sweeping history under the rug is what we do. Not for nothing did Gore Vidal refer to this country as "The United States of Amnesia."
It is easy for us to bow our heads in sorrow for the people of Paris. Yet there are Lebanese and Iraqi dead as well that don't make the news. All human sacrifices made, ultimately, to the interests of a neocon policy cabal that has made military might the primary implement of foreign policy, as well as the military industrial complex, war profiteers and multinational corporations who grow fat on the "rebuilding."
My tax dollars have been diverted to one war effort or another my entire adult life. At some point, one gets sick of tallying the deaths, the endless skein of gratuitous and unnecessary violence. Especially knowing that a handful of Satan's minions are amassing obscene profits from a trade soaked in the blood of innocents.
If you find yourself likewise sick of this violence, this unnecessary shedding of the blood of the young and innocent on foreign soil, then do your homework and vote. Many lives depend on it here and abroad. And if you find yourself wringing your hands and justifying your non-participation by saying it won't change anything, then congratulations, and check out a mirror: you're an accomplice. But maybe you can make your Facebook a profile pic a tricolor and show us how much you care.
Mark Twain articulated the the true costs of war as well as anyone ever as in the short story know as "The War Prayer." Twain's "aged stranger" appears in the midst of a church service blessing the troops, and adds "the rest of the story" to the pastor's heartfelt prayer:
O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
The Great Culling is at hand.
Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary in the triumph of hope over experience, and is grateful that he is not yet taking a dirt nap.
Published on Land Destroyer on September 13, 2015
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How to Make a Refugee Crisis
September 13, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Starting in 2007, the US was already in the process of engineering the overthrow and destruction of all prevailing political orders across the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.
It would be in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's 2007 New Yorker article, "The Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" that it was explicitly stated (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.
Hersh would also reveal that at the time, the US – then under the administration of President George Bush and through intermediaries including US-ally Saudi Arabia – had already begun channeling funding and support to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who would in 2011 play a crucial role in the opening phases of the destructive war now raging across the Levant.
In 2008, from Libya to Syria and beyond, activists were drawn by the US State Department from across MENA to learn the finer points of Washington and Wall Street's "color revolution" industry. They were being prepared for an unprecedented, coordinated US-engineered MENA-wide campaign of political destabilization that would in 2011 be called the "Arab Spring."
Through the US State Department's National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US State Department's Movements.org, agitators were literally flown on several occasions to both New York and Washington D.C. as well as other locations around the globe to receive training, equipment and funding before returning to their home countries and attempting to overthrow their respective governments.
In an April 2011 article published by the New York Times titled, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," it was admitted:
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.
The article would also add, regarding the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED):
The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.
It is clear that the political cover – the Arab Spring – and the premeditated support of terrorist groups including Al Qaeda brought in afterward, were planned years before the Arab Spring actually unfolded in 2011. The goal was admittedly the overthrow of governments obstructing Washington and Wall Street's hegemonic ambitions and part of a much wider agenda of isolating, encircling, and containing Russia and China.
The destruction of the MENA region was intentional, premeditated, and continues on to this very day.
As the Wave of Regime Change Crashes
Since 2011, each and every one of the West's "color revolutions" has predictably devolved into armies of US-backed terrorists attempting to divide and destroy each nation. In Libya, this goal has already long-since been accomplished. In Egypt and Syria, with varying degrees of failure, this agenda has been stalled.
Egypt through sheer virtue of its size and the capabilities of its military, has prevented nationwide warfare. In Syria, facing invasion primarily from both Turkey and Jordan, violence has been far more dramatic and enduring.
But despite initial euphoria across the West that their insidious conspiracy had indeed upended the MENA region entirely, Syria's ability to resist the West's proxy forces, and now, more direct intervention, has entirely disrupted this wave of regime change.
|Image: McCain (US) with Belhaj (ISIS).|
US Senator John McCain (Republican – Arizona) who literally posed for pictures with terrorist leaders in both Libya and Syria, including the now head of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, at the height of the Arab Spring prematurely taunted Moscow and Beijing with threats to bring similarly US-orchestrated chaos in their direction. Suffice to say, Moscow and Beijing were not only ready for this destabilization, they were prepared to foil it before it so much as reached their borders.
And as momentum stalled, the US and its regional collaborators attempted to justify direct military intervention in Syria first as they did in Libya – by claiming they would be averting a humanitarian disaster and assisting "freedom fighters." However with the crimes the US and NATO perpetrated in Libya still fresh in the global public's minds, this narrative was entirely untenable.
Staged chemical weapon attacks were perpetrated on the outskirts of Damascus, under the nose of UN inspectors in a bid to frame the government of Damascus and again justify direct US military intervention against Syria. Again, the global public, recalling similar fabrications peddled by the West ahead of its ten year invasion and occupation of Iraq along with expert diplomacy by Moscow, averted war.
And while it is increasingly obvious that Al Qaeda and ISIS' presence in Syria and Iraq is the direct, premeditated result of US-NATO and their regional allies' sponsorship of both groups, the West has attempted to use them as a pretext for direct military intervention not only in Syria, but again, against the government of Damascus itself.
Cue the Refugees
As this last attempt to justify a final push toward regime change in Syria falters, and as European powers begin deciding whether or not to intervene further in Syria alongside the US, a sudden and convenient deluge of refugees has flooded Europe, almost as if on cue. Scenes like that out of a movie showed hordes of tattered refugees herded along various borders as they apparently appeared out of what the Western media has portrayed as a puff of smoke at Europe's gates.
|Image: MENA migrants. NATO is directly responsible for the refugee crisis. In fact, in Turkey, NATO is directly engineering it, while in Libya NATO is responsible for destroying any semblance of stable governance since 2011.|
In reality, they did not appear out of a puff of smoke. They appeared in Turkey, a NATO member since the 1950's and one of America's closest regional allies. Turkey is currently hosting the US military, including special forces and the CIA who have, together with Turkish military and intelligence agencies, been conducting a proxy war on neighboring Syria since 2011.
Turkey has suspiciously maintained a very enthusiastic "open door" policy for refugees, spending inexplicable sums of money and political capital in accommodating them. The Brookings Institution – one of the chief policy think tanks helping engineer the proxy war with Syria – reported in its July 2015 "Order out of Chaos" article, "What Turkey’s open-door policy means for Syrian refugees," that:
Turkey is now the world’s largest recipient of refugees. Since October 2013, the number of Syrian refugees has increased more than threefold and now numbers almost two million registered refugees.
Brookings also reports that:
The cost has been high to Turkey. Government officials are quick to point out that they have spent over $6 billion on the refugees and complain about the lack of international support.
Brooking details the vast efforts Turkey is undertaking in coordination with Western NGOs to manage the refugees. There is little way that these refugees could suddenly "disappear" and end up in Europe without the Turkish government and more importantly, European governments either knowing about it or being directly involved.
Pawns of War
Clearly Turkey lacks any altruistic motivation behind its refugee policy. Turkey is one of the chief facilitators of terrorists operating in Syria, and a primary collaborator in NATO's proxy war against its neighbor. Turkey has allowed literally hundreds of supply trucks a day to cross its borders uninhibited and destined for ISIS territory. Turkey has also been tasked throughout various US policy papers with establishing a "buffer zone" or "safe haven" to move these refugees into, as well as for establishing a Syrian-based stronghold for NATO's terrorist proxies to launch military operations from.
Likely, the refugees were to serve as the initial population of whatever proxy state NATO planned to create with territory it seized and established no-fly-zones over in northern Syria.
Now it appears many of these refugees are instead being rerouted to Europe.
However, not all of the refugees flooding into Europe from Turkey are even from the Syrian conflict. Many are being trafficked first to Turkey from other theaters of NATO operations, including Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Iraq. It appears that Turkey is serving as a central transit point, not just for terrorists it is feeding into the Syrian conflict, but also for collecting refugees from across MENA and Central Asia, before allowing them to proceed in vast numbers to Europe.
Some reports even indicate that the refugees are receiving direct assistance from the Turkish government itself. The International New York Times' Greek Kathimerini paper, in an article titled, "Refugee flow linked to Turkish policy shift," claims (emphasis added):
A sharp increase in the influx of migrants and refugees, mostly from Syria, into Greece is due in part to a shift in Turkey’s geopolitical tactics, according to diplomatic sources.
These officials link the wave of migrants into the eastern Aegean to political pressures in neighboring Turkey, which is bracing for snap elections in November, and to a recent decision by Ankara to join the US in bombing Islamic State targets in Syria. The analyses of several officials indicate that the influx from neighboring Turkey is taking place as Turkish officials look the other way or actively promote the exodus.
Catastrophes that are meant to look "sudden" and "unexpected" as well as "unstoppable" but are in fact, allowed to unfold within an operational theater completely controlled by the US and NATO constitutes instead a conspiracy – pitting desperate and/or exploited refugees intentionally sent out of Turkey and into Europe, against a manipulated, fearful, and ill-informed Western public.
Also brought into sharp focus, are the string of staged attacks allowed to unfold across Europe – allegedly the work of "ISIS." In every case without exception, the perpetrators had been well-known to Western intelligence agencies, including the shooters involved in the Paris "Charlie Hebo massacre." In that incident, all members involved were tracked by French security agencies for nearly 10 years. At least one member was even imprisoned, had traveled afterward to collude with Al Qaeda abroad, and returned to Europe, all while under surveillance. "Coincidentally," for the 6 months needed to plan and carry out their final act, French security agencies stopped monitoring the group, claiming a lack of resources to do so.
Those familiar with NATO's Cold War Gladio program can see clearly that the attacks were staged to play into a strategy of tension used to produce fear domestically and build up support for wars abroad.
The recent refugee crisis is being used for precisely this same purpose. In fact, while a false debate is being managed by the Western media and Western political figures to either unconditionally accept the refugees or unconditionally reject them, the only singular narrative both sides are being made to agree on is that instability across MENA is to blame and more bombing is the answer.
Debates over increased, direct military intervention in Syria are now almost entirely predicated not on supporting "freedom fighters," stopping "WMDs," or fighting "ISIS," but instead on how military intervention can help solve the "refugee crisis."
The main narratives undulating media headlines dismiss both the West's role in devastating the MENA region, as well as acknowledging the fact that the "refugee crisis" is emanating primarily from within NATO's borders, not from beyond them. The refugees are pawns, intentionally moved across the game board to illicit a predictable reaction from their hopelessly unskilled opponents – the public. While the social engineers are engaged in a game of three-dimensional chess, the Western public appears to be infantilely eating their checkers.
Considering this unfortunate reality, whatever justifications the West is able to predicate upon the refugee crisis will have to be confronted again by Syria and its allies alone – with the Western public hopelessly defenseless against a conspiracy they have been made accomplices of.
Social Engineering vs. the Inevitable Rot of Empire
A refugee crisis was inevitable, regardless of the timing and magnitude of any given deluge that may have been created or manipulated by the West. Destroying the planet in pursuit of empire, pillaging nations and hauling away the wealth of the world, inevitably leads to endless streams of victims following their stolen wealth back to the thieves' den. As an empire expands and the list of its victims expands with it, the number of those an empire is able to fully assimilate versus those who will inevitable overwhelm it eventually tips the balance against the empire's favor.
Such was the fate of the Roman Empire, which over the course of its decline, had its institutions overwhelmed by peoples it had conquered faster than it could assimilate them.
For the West, it has chosen confrontation rather than cooperation. It has closed economic ties with Russia, alienated China, and wages ceaseless war across the MENA region and Central Asia. It pursues a now exposed campaign of divide and conquer across Southeast Asia augmented with terrorism and political subversion all while neglecting every virtue that ever made it a respected global power to begin with.
How much of the most recent refugee crisis is social engineering versus simply the inevitable rot of empire is difficult to tell – though the fact that social engineers would be tempted to use a vast number of refugees created by their own foreign policy indicates that their ploy in and of itself is indicative of immense, irreversible geopolitical rot.
Published on New Eastern Outlook on August 27, 2015
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With almost a whimper, the Western media reported that the US-backed regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their auxiliary fighters drawn from Al Qaeda have begun carrying out what is the ground invasion of Yemen. Along with an ongoing naval blockade and months of bombing raids, the ground invasion adds a lethal new dimension to the conflict – for both sides.
Landing at the port city of Aden on Yemen’s southern tip, it is reported that an “armor brigade” consisting of between 1,000 – 3,000 troops primarily from the UAE are now moving north, their ultimate destination Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.
Columns of the UAE’s French-built Leclerc main battle tanks were seen moving out of the port city though their numbers are difficult to establish. Reports claiming that the UAE unit is brigade-sized might indicate as many as 100 tanks involved – a third of the UAE’s total armored force.
The bold move comes after months of frustrating failures for the two Arabian regimes. Their Yemeni proxies – loyalists of the ousted president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – have proven all but useless in fighting Houthi fighters across most of Yemen despite air superiority provided to them by their Arabian allies. And while it appears the well-equipped Arab forces are able to concentrate firepower, overwhelming Houthi fighters in pitched battles, the ability for Saudi, UAE, and Al Qaeda forces to actually hold territory they move through is questionable at best.
The Roman Empire throughout much of its reign was feared as invincible. After suffering several major defeats, the veneer of invincibility began to peel and along with it crumbled inevitably their empire. Likewise, Western hegemony has been propped up by the illusion of military superiority on the battlefield. By carefully picking its battles and avoiding critical defeats, the West, and the US in particular, has maintained this illusion of military invincibility
As the US moves against nations with larger, better equipped and trained armies, it has elected to use proxies to fight on its behalf. Thus, any humiliating defeat could be compartmentalized.
However, by most accounts the war in Yemen is not only a proxy war between Iran and the Persian Gulf monarchies, it is one of several such conflicts raging regionally that constitutes a wider proxy war between the US and its regional allies on one side, and Iran, Syria, Russia, and even China on the other.
With the presence of Western main battle tanks in Yemen attempting to move north, the opportunity now presents itself to punch holes through this illusion of Western invincibility. Yemen as the graveyard for an alleged brigade of French-built Leclerc main battle tanks would be one such hole. It would also set the UAE’s extraterritorial military ambitions back, if not overturn them entirely, and finally, would leave whatever fighting was left in Yemen to the Saudis who have thus far proven incompetent.
Perhaps this is one of the many reasons the Western media has decided not to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.
Yemen Vs. Ukraine
One might ask how – in the context of international law – it is possible for unelected absolute autocracies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to intervene militarily in Yemen with naval blockades, aerial bombardments, and now an overt ground invasion including armor columns to restore an ousted regime. This is done with seemingly little concern from the United Nations and with the enthusiastic support both politically and militarily of the United States.
The answer to this question becomes more confounding still when considering Western condemnation of Russia for any attempt to support or defend the ousted government of Ukraine, a nation now overrun by NATO-backed Neo-Nazi militias who in turn are backing a criminal regime in Kiev which includes foreigners assigned to cabinet positions and even as governors. Saudi and UAE military aggression in Yemen makes it increasingly difficult for the West to maintain the illusion of moral superiority regarding Ukraine.
Russia’s relative restraint when compared to US-backed aggression on the Arabian Peninsula exposes once again the pervasive hypocrisy consuming Western legitimacy.
This may be yet another reason the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.
Responsibility to Protect…?
After NATO’s attempt to invoke the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) as justification for the destruction of Libya, it became clear that NATO was merely hiding behind the principles of humanitarian concern, not upholding them. And while it may be difficult to believe, there are still those across the Western media and policy think-tanks attempting to use R2P to justify further military aggression against nations like Syria.
However, R2P is conveniently absent amid what little talk of Yemen that does take place in the Western media. US-backed blockades and months of aerial bombardments have tipped Yemen toward a humanitarian catastrophe. Not only does both the UN and the West fail to demand an end to the bombings and blockades, the West has continued to underwrite Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s military adventure in Yemen.
The carnage and injustice visited upon Yemen serves as yet another stark example of how the West and its institutions, including the United Nations, are the greatest dangers to global peace and stability, using the pretext of defending such ideals as a means to instead undo them.
Considering this, we discover yet another potential reason the Western media’s coverage of Yemen is muted.
It remains to be seen how the Houthi fighters react to the ground invasion of Yemen by Emirati troops. Dealing severe losses to the UAE’s armor while continuing to weather aerial bombardment may see the stalling or even the withdrawal of this latest incursion. Not unlike the 2006 Lebanon War where Hezbollah fighters expertly used terrain to negate Israeli advantages in airpower and armor, forcing an early end to the fighting, the Houthis may yet answer this latest move by US-backed proxies operating in Yemen.
Perhaps this possibility above all, is why the Western media would rather the general public knew little of what was going on in Yemen. It would represent yet another conventional Western-equipped proxy army defeated by irregular forces in yet another failed campaign fought in the interests of Wall Street and Washington. While the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen with the attention and honesty they deserve, the conflict is nonetheless pivotal, and may determine the outcome of other proxy wars raging across the Middle East and North Africa, and even beyond.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/08/27/total-war-in-yemen-totally-ignored-by-western-media/
Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci
Published on Land Destroyer on June 10, 2015
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Since ancient times an army required significant logistical support to carry out any kind of sustained military campaign. In ancient Rome, an extensive network of roads was constructed to facilitate not only trade, but to allow Roman legions to move quickly to where they were needed, and for the supplies needed to sustain military operations to follow them in turn.
In the late 1700's French general, expert strategist, and leader Napoleon Bonaparte would note that, "an army marches on its stomach," referring to the extensive logistical network required to keep an army fed, and therefore able to maintain its fighting capacity. For the French, their inability to maintain a steady supply train to its forces fighting in Russia, and the Russians' decision to burn their own land and infrastructure to deny it from the invading forces, ultimately defeated the French.
Nazi Germany would suffer a similar fate when it too overextended its logical capabilities during its invasion of Russia amid Operation Barbarossa. Once again, invading armies became stranded without limited resources before being either cut off and annihilated or forced to retreat.
And in modern times during the Gulf War in the 1990's an extended supply line trailing invading US forces coupled with an anticipated clash with the bulk of Saddam Hussein's army halted what was otherwise a lighting advance many mistakenly believed could have reached Baghdad had there been the political will. The will to conquer was there, the logistics to implement it wasn't.
The lessons of history however clear they may be, appear to be entirely lost on an either supremely ignorant or incredibly deceitful troupe of policymakers and news agencies across the West.
ISIS' Supply Lines
The current conflict consuming the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria where the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) is operating and simultaneously fighting and defeating the forces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.
The fighting capacity of ISIS is that of a nation-state. It controls vast swaths of territory straddling both Syria and Iraq and not only is able to militarily defend and expand from this territory, but possesses the resources to occupy it, including the resources to administer the populations subjugated within it.
For military analysts, especially former members of Western armed forces, as well as members of the Western media who remember the convoys of trucks required for the invasions of Iraq in the 1990s and again in 2003, they surely must wonder where ISIS' trucks are today. After all, if the resources to maintain the fighting capacity exhibited by ISIS were available within Syrian and Iraqi territory alone, then certainly Syrian and Iraqi forces would also posses an equal or greater fighting capacity but they simply do not.
And were ISIS' supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.
|Image: Recent maps showing ISIS' territory show obvious supply lines leading from Jordan and Turkey. Should Syria and its allies manage to cut these supply lines, one wonders just how long ISIS' so-far inexplicable winning streak would last.|
ISIS' supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.
Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria – coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades.
The London Telegraph would report in their 2013 article, "CIA 'running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked'," that:
[CNN] said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.
Weapons have also come from Eastern Europe, with the New York Times reporting in 2013 in their article, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," that:
From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.
And while Western media sources continuously refer to ISIS and other factions operating under the banner of Al Qaeda as "rebels" or "moderates," it is clear that if billions of dollars in weapons were truly going to "moderates," they, not ISIS would be dominating the battlefield.
Recent revelations have revealed that as early as 2012 the United States Department of Defense not only anticipated the creation of a "Salafist Principality" straddling Syria and Iraq precisely where ISIS now exists, it welcomed it eagerly and contributed to the circumstances required to bring it about.
Just How Extensive Are ISIS' Supply Lines?
While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.
Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.
Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by "black market oil" or "hostage ransoms" but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey's borders via hundreds of trucks a day.
The report titled, "'IS' supply channels through Turkey," confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that ISIS subsides on immense, multi-national state sponsorship, including, obviously, Turkey itself.
Looking at maps of ISIS-held territory and reading action reports of its offensive maneuvers throughout the region and even beyond, one might imagine hundreds of trucks a day would be required to maintain this level of fighting capacity. One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.
In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS's ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.
If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS' stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.
With Iran joining the fray with an alleged deployment of thousands of troops to bolster Syrian military operations, overwhelming principles of deterrence may prevent Turkey enforcing its buffer zones.
What we are currently left with is NATO literally holding the region hostage with the prospect of a catastrophic regional war in a bid to defend and perpetuate the carnage perpetrated by ISIS within Syria, fully underwritten by an immense logistical network streaming out of NATO territory itself.
Aired on the Doomstead Diner on April 1, 2015
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…Meanwhile, on the BIG 3 front, you can see ever increasing Polarization between the Ruskies, Chinese and the FsoA, a split in the currency regime and the ever increasing unlikelihood that anyone “in charge” of this clusterfuck will be able to do anything that keeps it from spinning out of control. Because in all reality here, nobody IS in “Control” of this, it is a systemic problem outside the reach of any individual, even the most powerful of individuals. They are governed by the events that take place and can only REACT to them, and there are so many Players in the game that Wild Cards get thrown out all the time, bollixing up any kind of Planning that might be done by anyone.
In just about all cases, the players finally resort to Violence of one sort or another regardless of the fact it doesn’t resolve underlying problems of resource depletion, other than it serves as a Death Vector eliminating some of the Overshoot Population. There are “strategies” and “game theories” putched around, but the rules change daily and then there are always new bunches of people who don’t play by those rules. It’s basically Calvin-Ball on a Global Scale with everybody flying by the seat of their pants…
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Published at Club Orlov on February 17, 2015
This blog is dedicated to the idea of presenting the big picture—the biggest possible—of what is going on in the world. The abiding areas of interest that make up the big picture have included the following:
1. The terminal decay and eventual collapse of industrial civilization as the fossil fuels that power it become more and more expensive to produce in the needed quantities, of lower and lower resource quality and net energy and, eventually, in ever-shorter supply.
The first guess by Hubbert that the all-time peak of oil production in the US would be back in the 1970s was accurate, but later prediction of a global peak, followed by a swift collapse, around the year 2000 was rather off, because here we are 15 years later and global oil production has never been higher. Oil prices, which were high for a time, have temporarily moderated. However, zooming in on the oil picture just a little bit, we see that conventional oil production peaked in 2005—just 5 years late—and has been declining ever since, and the shortfall has been made up by oil that is difficult and expensive to get at (deep offshore, fracking) and by things that aren’t exactly oil (tar sands).
The current low prices are not high enough to sustain this new, expensive production for much longer, and the current glut is starting to look like a feast to be followed by famine. The direct cause of this famine will not be energy but debt, but it can still be traced back to energy: a successful, growing industrial economy requires cheapenergy; expensive energy causes it to stop growing and to become mired in debt that can never be repaid. Once the debt bubble pops, there isn’t enough capital to invest in another round of expensive energy production, and terminal decay sets in.
2. The very interesting process of the USA becoming its own nemesis: the USSR 2.0, or, as some are calling, the USSA.
The USA is best characterized as a decomposing corpse of a nation lorded over by a tiny clique of oligarchs who control the herd by wielding Orwellian methods of mind control. So far gone is the populace that most of them think that things are just peachy—there is an economic recovery, don’t you know—but a few of them do realize that they all have lots of personal issues with things like violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and gluttony. But don’t call them a nation of violent, drug-abusing gluttons, because that would be insulting. In any case, you can’t call them anything, because they aren’t listening, for they are too busy fiddling with their electronic life support units to which they have become addicted. Thanks to Facebook and the like they are now so far inside Plato’s cave that even the shadows they see aren’t real: they are computer simulations of shadows of other computer simulations.
The signs of this advanced state of decomposition are now unmistakable everywhere you look, be it education, medicine, culture or the general state of American society, where now fully half the working-age men is impaired in their ability to earn a decent living. But it is now particularly obvious in the endless compounding of errors that is the essence of American foreign policy. Some have started calling it “the empire of chaos,” neglecting to mention the fact that an empire of chaos is by definition ungovernable.
A particularly compelling example of failure is the Islamic Caliphate, which now rules large parts of Syria and Iraq. It was initially organized with American help to topple the Syrian government, but now threatens the stability of Saudi Arabia instead. This problem was made much worse by alienating Russia, which, with its long Central Asian border, is the one major nation that is interested in fighting Islamic extremism. The best the Americans have been able to do against the Caliphate is an expensive and ineffectual bombing campaign. Previous ineffectual and expensive bombing campaigns, such as the one in Cambodia, have produced unintended consequences such as the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, but why bother learning from mistakes when you can endlessly compound them?
Another example is the militarized mayhem and full-blown economic collapse that has engulfed the Ukraine in the wake of American-organized violent overthrow of its last-ever constitutional government a year ago. The destruction of the Ukraine was motivated by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s simplistic calculus that turning the Ukraine into an anti-Russian NATO-occupied zone would effectively thwart Russian imperial ambitions. A major problem with this calculus is that Russia has no imperial ambitions: Russia has all the territory it could ever want, but to develop it it needs peace and free trade. Another slight problem with Zbiggy’s “chessboard” is that Russia does have an overriding concern with protecting the interests of Russians wherever they may live and, for internal political reasons, will always act to protect them, even if such actions are illegal and carry the risk of a larger military conflict. Thus, the American destabilization of the Ukraine has accomplished nothing positive, but did increase the odds of nuclear self-annihilation. But if the USA manages to disappear from the world’s political map without triggering a nuclear holocaust, we will still have a problem, which is that…
3. The climate of Earth, our home planet, is, to put it as politely as possible, completely fucked. Now, there are quite a few people who think that radically altering the planet’s atmospheric and ocean chemistry and physics by burning just over half the fossilized hydrocarbons that could possibly be dug up using industrial methods means nothing, and that what we are observing is just natural climate variability. These people are morons. I will delete every single one of the comments they submit in response to this post, but in spite of my promise to do so, I assure you that they will still submit them… because they are morons. [Update: yup, QED.]
What we are looking at is a human-triggered extinction episode that will certainly be beyond anything in human experience, and which may rival the great Permian-Triassic extinction event of 252 million years ago. There is even the possibility of Earth becoming completely sterilized, with an atmosphere as overheated and toxic as that of Venus. That these changes are happening does not require prediction, just observation. The only parameters that remain to be determined are these:
1. How far will this process run?
Will there still be a habitat where humans can survive? Humans cannot survive without plenty of fresh water and sources of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, all of which require functioning ecosystems. Humans can survive on almost any kind of diet—even tree bark and insects—but if all vegetation is dead, then so are we. Also, we cannot survive in an environment where the wet bulb temperature (which takes into account our ability to cool ourselves by sweating) exceeds our body temperature: whenever that happens, we die of heat stroke. Lastly, we need air that we can actually breathe: if the atmosphere becomes too low in oxygen (because the vegetation has died out) and too high in carbon dioxide and methane (because the dead vegetation has burned off, the permafrost has melted, and the methane currently trapped in oceanic clathrates has been released) then we all die.
We already know that the increase in average global temperature has exceeded 1C since pre-industrial times, and, based on the altered atmospheric chemistry, is predicted to eventually exceed 2C. We also know that industrial activity, thanks to the aerosols it puts into the atmosphere, produces an effect known as global dimming. Once it’s gone, the average temperature will jump by at least another 1.1C. This would put us within striking range of 3.5C, and no humans have ever been alive with Earth more than 3.5C above baseline. But, you know, there is a first time for everything. Maybe we can invent some gizmo… Maybe if we all put on air-conditioned sombreros or something… (Design contest, anyone?)
2. How fast will this process happen?
The thermal mass of the planet is such that there is a 40-year lag between when atmospheric chemistry is changed and its effects on average temperature are felt. So far we have been shielded from some of the effects by two things: the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice and permafrost, and the ocean’s ability to absorb heat. Your iced drink remains pleasant until the last ice cube is gone, but then it becomes tepid and distasteful rather quickly. Some scientists say that, on the outside, it will take 5000 years for us to run out of ice cubes, causing the party to end, but then the dynamics of the huge glaciers that supply the ice cubes are not understood all that well, and there have been constant surprises in terms of how quickly they can slough off icebergs, which then drift into warmer waters and melt quickly.
But the biggest surprise of the last few years has been the rate of arctic methane release. Perhaps you haven’t, but I’ve found it impossible to ignore all the scientists who have been ringing alarm bells on Arctic methane release. What they are calling the clathrate gun—which can release some 50 gigatons of methane in as little as a couple of decades—appears to have been fired in 2007 and now, just a few years later, the trend line in Arctic methane concentrations has become alarming. But we will need to wait for at least another two years to get an authoritative answer. Overall, the methane held in the clathrates is enough to exceed the global warming potential of all fossil fuels burned to date by a factor of between 4 and 40. The upper end of that range does seem to put us quite far towards a Venus-type atmosphere, and the surviving species may be limited to exotic thermophilic bacteria, if that, and certainly will not include any of the species we like to eat, nor any of us.
Looking at such numbers has caused quite a few researchers to propose the possibility of near-term human extinction. Estimates vary, but, in general, if the clathrate gun has indeed gone off, then most of us shouldn’t be planning to be around beyond mid-century. But the funny thing is (humor is never in poor taste, no matter how dire the situation) that most of us shouldn’t be planning on sticking around beyond mid-century in any case. The current oversized human population is a product of fossil fuel-burning, and once that’s over, human population will crash. This is called a die-off, and it’s something that happens all the time: a population (say, of yeast in a vat of sugary liquid) consumes its food, and then dies off. A few hardy individuals linger on, and if you throw in a lump of sugar, they spring to life, start reproducing and the process takes off again.
Another funny aspect of near-term human extinction is that it can never be observable, because no scientist will ever be around to observe it, and therefore it is a non-scientific concept. Since it cannot be used to do science, the scientists who throw it around must be aiming for an emotional effect. This is quite uncharacteristic of scientists, who generally pride themselves on being cool-headed and prefer to deal in the observable and the measurable. So, why would scientists go for emotional effect? Clearly, it is because they feel that something must be done. And to feel that something must be done, they must also feel that something can be done. But, if so, what is it?
Always first on the list is the effort to lobby governments to limit carbon emissions. This has not been a success; as to one of the many reasons why, consider point 2 above: the USA is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to carbon emissions, but the rotting corpse of America’s political system is incapable of any constructive action. It is too busy destroying countries: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine…
Second on the list is something called geoengineering. If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry; it’s largely a synonym for mental masturbation. The idea is that you fix things you don’t understand by using technologies that don’t exist. But given many humans’ irrational belief that every problem must have a technological solution, there is always some fool willing to throw money at it. Previous efforts along these lines involved the idea of seeding the oceans with iron to promote plankton growth, or putting bits of tin foil in orbit to reflect some of the sunlight, or painting the Sahara white. These are all fun projects to think about. How about using nuclear weapons to put dust into the atmosphere, to block out some of the sunlight? Or how about nuking a few big volcanos, for the same effect? If that’s politically difficult, how about something politically easy: a limited nuclear exchange? That will darken the skies, bringing on a mini nuclear winter, and also reduce the population, which will cut down on industrial activity. There are enough nuclear weapons to keep the planet cool for as long as it takes us all to die of radiation poisoning. This geoengineering solution, along with all the others, is in line with the popular dictum “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it.”
And so it seems to me that all the talk about near-term human extinction is just so much emotional hand-flapping designed to motivate people to try things that won’t work. Still, I believe the topic is worth pondering, for a simple reason: what if you don’t want to go extinct? We’ve already established that human extinction (whenever it might be said to occur) will never be observable, because no human will be around to observe it. We also know that population die-offs happen all the time, but they don’t always result in extinction. So, who will be most likely to die, and who might actually make it?
First on the list are the invisible victims of war. By now lots of people have seen photographs of piles of dead Ukrainian soldiers left to rot after another failed attack, or videos of residents of Donetsk expiring on the sidewalk after being hit by a government-lobbed artillery shell or mortar. But we don’t know how many children and women are dying in childbirth because the government has bombed maternity clinics and hospitals: such casualties of war are invisible. Nor will we be shown footage of all of the Ukrainian retirees expiring prematurely because they can no longer afford food, medicine or heat, but we can be sure that many of them won’t be around a year hence. When it comes to war, there are just two viable survival strategies: refuse to take part; and flee. Indeed, the million or so Ukrainians that are now in Russia, or the million or so Syrians who are no longer in Syria, are the smart ones. The Ukrainians who are volunteering to fight are the idiots; the ones who are fleeing to Russia to sit out the war are the smart ones. (However, the Russians, who are volunteering to protect their land and their families from what amounts to an American invasion, are clearly not idiots. They are also winning.) In this sense, war is a Darwinian process, delivering extinction to the foolish.
Next on the list of extinction episodes to avoid happens in major cities during a heat wave. It’s happened across Europe in 2003, and resulted in 70,000 casualties. In 2010, a heat wave in the Moscow region (which is quite far north) resulted in over 14,000 deaths in Moscow alone. The urban heat island effect, which is caused by sunlight soaked up by pavement and buildings, produces much higher local temperatures, driving them over the threshold for heat stroke. While the fossil fuel economy continues to operate, cities remain survivable because of the availability of air conditioning; once it shuts down, urban heat wave extinction episodes will become widespread. Since 50% of the population lives in cities, half of the human population is at risk of extinction from heat stroke. Therefore, if you don’t want to go extinct, don’t spend your summers in a city.
The list of places you don’t want to be if you wish to avoid extinction gets rather long. You wouldn’t want to live in California, for example, or in the arid southwestern states, because there won’t be any water there. You wouldn’t want to live along the coasts, because they are likely to be flooded by the rising oceans (they will eventually rise over 100 meters, putting all coastal cities underwater). You wouldn’t want to live in the eastern half of North America, because, paradoxically, a dramatically warmer Arctic region causes the jet stream to meander, producing increasingly fierce winters, which, minus fossil fuels, will cause widespread deaths from exposure. Even now, a bit of extra snow, which is likely to become the new normal, has caused the entire transportation infrastructure of New England (where, luckily, I am not) to roll over and play dead. Nor would you want to live in any of the places where the water source comes from glacial melt, because the glaciers will soon be gone. This includes much of Pakistan, large parts of India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and so on. The list of places where you wouldn’t want to be if you don’t want to go extinct for this or that reason gets to be rather long.
But the entire northern half of Eurasia looks quite nice for the foreseeable future, so if you don’t want to go extinct, you better start teaching your kids Russian.
Dmitry Orlov is a Russian-American engineer and a writer on subjects related to “potential economic, ecological and political decline and collapse in the United States,” something he has called “permanent crisis”. He has written The Five Stages of Collapse and Reinventing Collapse, continues to write regularly on his “Club Orlov” blog and at EnergyBulletin.Net.
Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci
Published on Land Destroyer on January 29, 2015
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|Image: The “Mandarin” from Ironman 3. Art imitating life, or life
imitating art as ISIS and its leadership are revealed as fictional?
In an article titled, “Leader of Al Qaeda group in Iraq was fictional, U.S. military says,” the NYT reports that:
Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.
The NYT would also reveal the purpose of the deception:
The ruse, Bergner said, was devised by Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who was trying to mask the dominant role that foreigners play in that insurgent organization.
The ploy was to invent Baghdadi, a figure whose very name establishes his Iraqi pedigree, install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and then arrange for Masri to swear allegiance to him. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, sought to reinforce the deception by referring to Baghdadi in his video and Internet statements.
The admission by US military leaders, reported in the NYT, reveals that the so-called “Islamic State” was nothing more than an appendage of Al Qaeda – with Al Qaeda itself directly armed, funded, and backed by stalwart US allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Despite the NYT and the Pentagon’s admissions, the entire ruse has continued, on an exponential scale.
US Intentionally Raised and Unleashed Al Qaeda Upon Iraq and Syria
Al Qaeda’s current presence in Iraq and Syria, and their leading role in the fight against the Iranian-leaning government’s of Damascus and Baghdad, are the present-day manifestation of a Western criminal conspiracy exposed as early as 2007. Revealed by two-time 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.
|Image: “ISIS” territory leads directly from NATO territory in Turkey.|
Hersh would go on to document in his 9-page report, the West and its regional partners intentional engineering of a devastating, regional sectarian bloodbath.
While the NYT attempted to shift blame to sponsors in “Pakistan” in 2007, the paper itself, along with many others across the West’s vast media monopolies, have since then admitted that America’s closest allies in the Middle East are behind Al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, not “Pakistan.”
The Daily Beast would report in an article literally titled, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS,” that:
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror.
The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region. There, the threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war trumps the U.S. goal of stability and moderation in the region.
Unfortunately for the spin doctors at the Daily Beast, the fact that this “threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war,” has already been revealed as a joint enterprise not only among Persian Gulf autocracies, but in fact, led by the United States itself, means that Al Qaeda’s expansion in Syria and Iraq, is the verbatim manifestation of the conspiracy warned about by Hersh in 2007.
Baghdadi Ruse Not Only to Hide “Foreign” role, but to Hide US-Saudi Involvement
Today, another “al-Baghdadi” allegedly leads the “Islamic State.” His existence and leadership role is also unconfirmed and the likelihood that Al Qaeda’s “Baghdadi ruse” is simply being repeated, amid feigned and complicit ignorance by the Pentagon, is all but confirmed. Not only does the “Islamic State’s” leader appear to be entirely fictional, but so is ISIS itself. It is nothing more than the rebranding of Al Qaeda, working seamlessly with other Western and Persian Gulf-backed militant fronts including Al Nusra, for the explicit goal of overthrowing the government of Syria and using the despoiled nation as a staging ground for a similar proxy war to be waged upon Iran.
The United States, bombing a fictional terrorist organization led by a non-existent, fictional character, is at the very heart of the ruse described by the NYT in 2007, a ruse that continues to present day. The goal is not to eliminate ISIS, but to use the fictional front as a pretext to further intervene on behalf of real militant extremists forming the core of the joint US-NATO-Saudi proxy front for the purpose of overthrowing the government in Damascus.
Attempts to portray ISIS as an “indigenous” movement sprung from the Iraqi and Syrian deserts, is to obfuscate the fact that Al Qaeda is currently harbored by NATO in nearby Turkey, and the summation of its support, fighters, weapons, and cash flows from NATO territory, not “seized oilfields” in Syria or from amongst local populations.
This reality comes into sharper focus considering other recent reports that so-called “ISIS” territory has in fact, doubled in the wake of US airstrikes, not shrunk. Fox News reports in their article, “ISIS control of Syria reportedly expands since start of US-led airstrikes,” that:
The Islamic State terror group reportedly has increased the amount of territory they control in Syria as the U.S.-led bombing campaign approaches its four-month anniversary.
The Wall Street Journal, citing U.S. government and independent assessments, say that the Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS, has control of a large swath of northeastern Syria and is creeping toward key cities in the country’s west, including Aleppo, a center of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
At face value, it would seem as if US policy has failed utterly, if in fact its goal was to truly neutralize ISIS. But with ISIS a fictional creation led by non-existent leaders, and the stated goal of the US being the overthrow of the Syrian government, the doubling of territory held by Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda’s approach to cities like Aleppo on the brink of being liberated by Syrian troops, it is clear that America’s presence in Syria – not to mention in neighboring Iraq – is to support, not stop these terrorist forces.
Recognizing the West’s role in Syria as unprecedented, deplorable, genocidal state-sponsorship of terrorism, and treating the terrorist fronts operating in and along Syria’s borders as a foreign incursion, may allow Syria and its allies to reveal current military operations as a massive counter-terrorism effort, not a “civil war,” and allowing for more open support for the government in Damascus to ensure this effort succeeds.
Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder
Published on The Economic Collapse on January 28, 2015
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Israel and Hezbollah are at war. On top of everything else that is going on in the world, now we have a new war in the Middle East, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next. Israel has been preparing for this moment for more than 8 years. So has Hezbollah. According to some reports, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 50,000 rockets since the end of the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006. If all-out warfare does erupt, we could potentially see tens of thousands of missiles rain down into an area not too much larger than the state of New Jersey. And of course the Israeli military is also much more sophisticated and much more powerful than it was back in 2006. If cooler heads do not prevail, we could be on the verge of witnessing a very bloody war. But right now nobody seems to be in the mood to back down. Hezbollah is absolutely fuming over an airstrike earlier this month that killed six fighters and a prominent Iranian general. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is “prepared to act powerfully on all fronts” in response to a Hezbollah ambush that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven. Just such an incident is what sparked the war between the two sides back in 2006. But this time, a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could spark a full-blown regional war.
Earlier this month, Israel launched a surprise assault against a group of Hezbollah fighters that Israel believed was planning to conduct terror attacks inside their borders.
But in addition to killing six Hezbollah fighters, a very important Iranian general was also killed. Needless to say, Iran is furious…
Iran has told the United States that Israel should expect consequences for an attack on the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights that killed an Iranian general, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died alongside six fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in the January 18 attack on forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.
And we didn’t have to wait too long for a response. An IDF convoy was hit by anti-tank missiles near the Lebanon border. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven were wounded. The following is how the Jerusalem Post described the attack.
The terrorists launched five or six anti-tank missiles from a distance of at least four kilometers from their targets, striking the vehicles as they drove two kilometers from the international border.
In the heavy Hezbollah ambush, a military D-Max vehicle containing a company commander and his driver from the Givati Brigade was the first vehicle hit.
This prompted all of those inside an IDF jeep behind it to quickly evacuate their vehicle before it, too, was hit and destroyed with missiles.
Just over an hour after that attack, mortar rounds struck an Israeli military position on Mt. Hermon.
In response to those strikes, the Israeli military hit back at Hezbollah positions on the other side of the Lebanese border…
Israel struck back with combined aerial and ground strikes on Hezbollah operational positions along the border, the military said.
At least 50 artillery shells were fired at the villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba, according to Lebanese officials.
But Israel is probably not done.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising a “disproportionate” response to the Hezbollah attacks, and he says that Hezbollah should consider what Israel recently did to Hamas before taking any more aggressive action…
“To all those trying to challenge us on the northern border, I suggest looking at what happened here, not far from the city of Sderot, in the Gaza strip. Hamas absorbed the hardest blow since it was founded last summer, and the IDF is ready to act with force on any front.”
If things continue to escalate, we might not just be talking about another Hezbollah-Israel war.
In the south, tensions between Israel and Hamas remain near all-time highs. In the event of a full-blown war, Hamas probably could be easily convinced to join the fray. And if Hamas jumps in, the rest of the Palestinians might not be far behind.
In addition, ISIS now has territory near the border with Israel…
Because of the strategic importance of the terrain, Iran and Hezbollah have been building infrastructure there for some time. But their interest in the Golan skyrocketed in December.
The reason: ISIS gained a foothold there when the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army “defected” from the de facto alliance with the U.S.-Arab coalition against Assad, and declared its allegiance to ISIS. The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had been one of the most active rebel factions holding territory directly adjacent to the “area of separation” between Syria and Israel administered (in theory) by the UN. In particular, it has held the southern line of confrontation with Syrian regime forces, in the transit corridor leading to the Quneitra border crossing.
Needless to say, ISIS would be extremely interested in any conflict with Israel.
And of course there are all of the other surrounding Islamic nations that are not too fond of Israel either.
The truth is that the Middle East is a perpetual tinderbox. One spark could set the entire region on fire.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to do all that he can to undermine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The animosity between the two is well known, and now an “Obama army” of political operatives has been sent to Israel to help defeat Netanyahu in the upcoming elections.
The “leader” of this “Obama army” is Jeremy Bird, who was the national field director for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign. But he has plenty of company. Just check out the following list that was compiled by WND…
Besides Bird, the 270 Strategies team includes the following former Obama staffers:
- Mitch Steward, a 270 Strategies founding partner who helped the Obama campaign build what the U.K. Guardian called “a historic ground operation that will provide the model for political campaigns in America and around the world for years to come.”
- Mark Beatty, a founding partner who served as deputy battleground states director for the Obama campaign. He had primary responsibility for Obama’s election plans for the battleground states.
- Marlon Marshall, a founding partner at 270 Strategies who joins the team after holding several key positions in national Democratic politics, most recently as deputy national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Betsy Hoover, a founding partner who served as director of digital organizing on the Obama campaign.
- Meg Ansara, who served as national regional director for Obama for America where she was responsible for overseeing the 2012 programs in the Midwest and southern states.
- Bridget Halligan, who served as the engagement program manager on the digital team of the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Kate Catherall, who served as Florida deputy field director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
- Alex Lofton, who most recently served as the GOTV director of Cleveland, Ohio, for the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Martha Patzer, the firm’s vice president who served as deputy email director at Obama for America.
- Jesse Boateng, who served as the Florida voter registration director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
- Ashley Bryant, who served most recently as the Ohio digital director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Max Clermont, who formerly served as a regional field director in Florida for Obama’s re-election campaign.
- Max Wood, who served as a deputy data director in Florida for the 2012 Obama campaign.
As the first month of 2015 wraps up, our world is becoming increasingly unstable.
In addition to the oil crash, the collapse of the euro, looming stock market troubles, civil war in Ukraine, tensions with Russia, an economic slowdown in China and imploding economies all over South America, now we have more war in the Middle East.
And if lots of missiles start flying back and forth between Israel and Hezbollah, it could potentially spark the bloodiest war in that region that any of us have ever seen.
Events are moving faster than brains now. Isn’t it marvelous that gasoline at the pump is a buck cheaper than it was a year ago? A lot of short-sighted idiots are celebrating, unaware that the low oil price is destroying the capacity to deliver future oil at any price. The shale oil wells in North Dakota and Texas, the Tar Sand operations of Alberta, and the deep-water rigs here and abroad just don’t pencil-out economically at $45-a-barrel. So the shale oil wells that are up-and-running will produce for a year and there will be no new ones drilled when they peter out — which is at least 50 percent the first year and all gone after four years.
Anyway, the financial structure of the shale play was suicidal from the get-go. You finance the drilling and fracking with high-yield “junk bonds,” that is, money borrowed from “investors.” You drill like mad and you produce a lot of oil, but even at $105-a-barrel you can’t make profit, meaning you can’t really pay back the investors who loaned you all that money, a lot of it obtained via Too Big To Fail bank carry-trades, levered-up on ”margin,” which allowed said investors to pretend they were risking more money than they had. And then all those levered-up investments — i.e. bets — get hedged in a ghostly underworld of unregulated derivatives contracts that pretend to act as insurance against bad bets with funny money, but in reality can never pay out because the money is not there (and never was.) And then come the margin calls. Uh Oh….
In short, enjoy the $2.50-a-gallon fill-ups while you can, grasshoppers, because when the current crop of fast-depleting shale oil wells dries up, that will be all she wrote. When all those bonds held up on their skyhook derivative hedges go south, there will be no more financing available for the entire shale oil project. No more high-yield bonds will be issued because the previous issues defaulted. Very few new wells (if any) will be drilled. American oil production will not return to its secondary highs (after the 1970 all-time high) of 2014-15. The wish of American energy independence will be steaming over the horizon on the garbage barge of broken promises. And all, that, of course, is only one part of the story, because there is the social and political fallout to follow.
The table is set for the banquet of consequences. The next chapter in the oil story is more likely to be scarcity rather than just a boomerang back to higher prices. The tipping point for that will come with the inevitable destabilizing of Saudi Arabia, which I believe will happen this year when King Abdullah ibn Abdilaziz, 91, son of Ibn Saud, departs his intensive care throne for the gloriousJannah of virgins and feasts. Speaking of feasts, just imagine how the Islamic State (or ISIS) must be licking its chops at the prospect of sweeping over an Arabia no longer defined as Saudi! The Saudis are so spooked that they announced plans last week for a kind of super Berlin-type wall to be constructed along the northern border with Iraq. But that brings to mind a laughable Maginot Line scenario in which the masked invaders just make an end run around the darn thing. In any case, Saudi Arabia will already be disintegrating internally as competing clans and princes vie for control. And then, what will the US do? Rush in there shock-and-awe style? Bust up the joint? That’ll make things better, won’t it? (See American Sniper.)
Meanwhile, there will be plenty to contend with state-side. The next time there is a pratfall in the stock and bond markets and the TBTF banks — and there is sure to be — the rescue tricks are liable to be a whole lot more severe than the TARP, ZIRP, and QE hijinks of 2008-2015. Next time around, the federals are going to have to confiscate stuff, break promises, take away things, and rough some people up. The question is how much of this abuse will the public take? I take a certain comfort knowing how heavily armed America is. And not just the lunatic fringe. The thought of Hillary and Jeb out there beating the bushes for big money makes me laugh. They are so not going to happen. Just wait. For now, take this MLK holiday break to reflect on the fragility of our own country, and gird your loins for the week to come.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.
“Don’t look back — something might be gaining on you,” Satchel Paige famously warned. For connoisseurs of civilizational collapse, 2014 was merely annoying, a continued pile-up of over-investments in complexity with mounting diminishing returns, metastasizing fragility, and no satisfying resolution. So we enter 2015 with greater tensions than ever before and therefore the likelihood that the inevitable breakdown will release more destructive energy and be that much harder to recover from.
I don’t know how anyone can trust the statistical bullshit emanating from our government reporting agencies, or the legacy news organizations that report them. Yet the meme has remained firmly fixed in the popular imagination: the US economy has recovered! GDP grows 5 percent in Q3! Manufacturing renaissance! Energy independence! Cleanest shirt in the laundry basket! Best-looking house in a bad neighborhood…!
¡No hay problema!
This is simply the power of wishful thinking on display. No one — with the exception of a few “doomer” cranks — wants to believe that industrial civilization is in trouble deep. The staggering credulity this represents would be a fascinating case study in itself if there were not so many other things that demand our attention right now. Let’s just write this phenomenon off as the diminishing returns of career log-rolling in politics, finance, media, and academia. All the professional “thought-leaders” pitch in to support the “hologram” of eternal progress that issues their paychecks and bonuses. This culture of pervasive racketeering that we’ve engineered has made us obtuse. The particular brand of stupidity on display also points to another signal vanity of our time: the conviction that if you measure things enough, you can control them.
I’m of the view that the measurers only pretend to measure and can only pretend to control things, especially in the most fragile of the systems that we depend on for running all the other systems of techno-industrial economic life: finance. The pretense has endured a lot longer than many of us had expected. The legerdemain employed by banking officials and their handmaidens was greatly augmented by the sheer wish that fragility (i.e. risk) had been successfully and permanently banished from the universe. That “magic” at least sustained a universal faith in currencies until the middle of last year when so many monies went south — except the dollar, levitating on blowback of the deflationary wind flattening everything else.
All this unreality in money and markets should be expected in the conditions just preceding systemic collapse of an entire trans-national industrial civilization, just as one should expect societies to construct their most grandiose monuments to themselves shortly before collapse. The Mayans R us. One year, they were cavorting bloodthirstily atop their garish painted pyramids and a generation later the jungle was stealing back over the temple steps and the population was a tenth of its former size. The same thing is going to happen to us, except there will be a hell of a lot more worthless, toxic debris left on the landscape.
Of course, even that is a more long-term projection than the exercise at hand calls for, viz., the forecast for measly little 2015. So without further throat-clearing, permit me to break it down for you:
Finance and Banking
As 2014 closed out, that kit-bag of frauds, swindles, Ponzis, grifts, bait-and-switches, and three-card-monte scams is looking at least as wobbly as it did in 2007 when Wall Street was busy manufacturing booby-trapped MBSs and CDOs. Except we know the true aggregate risk at stake has only grown larger and more hazardous due to all the strenuous efforts by authorities since the panic of 2008 to evade any natural process for clearing mal-investment and debt gone bad. A lot of that stank was simply shoveled into the Federal Reserve’s basement, where it sits to this day, composting steamily. As to be expected (and averred to in my previous books and blogs) financial repression, market intervention, and statistical distortion will produce ever more financial perversity. That is the hazard in decoupling truth from reality. Imposed dishonesty will always express itself in unexpected ways. Who expected the price of oil to fall by nearly half in a few months? (More on that below.)
These days, perversity expresses itself in a morbidly obese dollar gorging on junk while bulimic currencies elsewhere projectile-vomit their value away as the economies attached to them die of malnutrition. Perhaps this comes as a surprise to central bankers standing at their control panels like recording engineers at the soundboard, tweaking all the dials and slides expecting to achieve a perfect repressive inflation rate of 2-plus percent so they can melt away the onerous debt of sovereign balance sheets and Too Big To Fail banks — incidentally squeezing the citizenry of purchasing power in small annual increments that add up, after a while, to worthless money. They did manage to extend the inflation of stock market indexes another year, which the public is supposed to interpret as “prosperity.” Half a trillion dollars in stock buybacks of S & P companies were executed in 2014, much of it done with money, i.e. “leverage,” borrowed at zero interest. Stock buybacks boost share prices, of course, but they don’t represent any real increased value in a given company. They’re just snakes eating their own tails.
The belief that the world’s “reserve” currency is an implacable force, and that central bankers are omnipotent has made this trade appear to be an irresistible trend — Don’t fight the Fed! Since it’s a matrix of fraud based on thin air money detached from real productive activity, it is certain to blow up. And since 2015 is seven years past the last blowup, it can happen any time. All it requires is some small slippage somewhere, that one equivalent extra grain of sand or snowflake to bring the accumulate mass of false value down in a financial earthquake or avalanche. That obese dollar has been gorging on the equivalent of cheez kurls and Little Debbie Snack cakes, so it only grows more diseased as it gains weight. Sentient observers cannot fail to notice the advancing sickness.
Meanwhile, the US is stupidly waging currency war against other nations that can only blow back by incurring the animosity of every trading partner we have on the only planet available to live on. In 2015, I expect Russia to enlist China’s aid in undermining the dollar’s reserve status. Both countries have weaponry in the form of cash reserves and gold in their vaults. They also have the computer hacking expertise to start seriously messing with US markets — as much Fed technicians and TBTF bank algos do — bringing on mysterious flash crashes, derivatives “accidents,” and other abnormal events that will leave even the Goldman Sachs MIT graduates scratching their heads. Such hacking may accomplish what years of arrant market interventions by US technicians failed to produce: a deadly loss of faith on all the institutions that govern money and markets. Then the US will be the cleanest shirt in a laundry basket that is on fire.
The dollar these days represents two kinds of capital. The first is the stuff that the US has built and invested in since, say, the end of World War Two: a wasteland of aging and decrepitating suburban sprawl, that is, the infrastructure of a living arrangement with no future, the greatest entropic sink in human history. It extends to whole cities and their subsystems, e.g. the hell-hole of Las Vegas with Hoover dam and the dwindling reservoir of Lake Mead. Before mid-century, Las Vegas will be as desolate as Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Try to imagine the money that went into building all that stupid shit in the desert. In another decade, across America, the housing subdivisions and commercial highway strips filled with tilt-up box stores, muffler shops and burger dispensaries will retain less value than the pyramids of Palenque had for the Mayans after their society rolled over and died. The so-called real economy is a New Age serfdom of burger fryers and janitors, indentured to that entropic sink. Below them is a widening slough of methedrine, child abuse, and tattoo art on its way to becoming Soylent Green. To put it bluntly, the dollar is entropy’s algo bitch.
The second kind of capital the dollar represents is the imaginary value based on sheer lying, making shit up, and borrowing from a future that has no chance of being paid back. This is the capital ginned up on “American exceptionalism” and “energy independence,” fairy tale memes functioning as collateral for the aforementioned malinvestments that add up to “The American way of life.” This capital has no substance, since it is just made up of intellectual and emotional dishonesty. This is the kind of constructed narrative that addicts and other functional cripples resort to to justify their behavior, and the fragility of it will sooner or later lead to the well-known condition of “hitting bottom.” That is the event horizon where the remnants of America enter what I call the World Made By Hand. It will be the greatest socio-economic shift since the fall of Rome, only much swifter.
It really deserves a sub-category of its own because it is the primary resource of our techno-industrial society and its troubles lie behind much of the present disturbances of our times. Despite the triumphal agitprop of the past few years, peak oil is for real. It just manifests more strangely than most people thought, namely, the simpleminded idea that it would only show up as ever-rising prices. No, I made point in The Long Emergency (2005) — and other commentators did too — that peak oil would manifest as volatility. And so since the actual moment of peak conventional crude around 2005, we’ve seen pretty wild oscillations in the price of oil. This is due to the harsh reality that the price people and enterprises can afford to pay for increasingly harder-to-get oil is less than the price that makes it possible to get it. This sets up a yo-yo-ing instability in economic performance that exacerbates even normal wave patterns in the business cycle (which are, in turn, aggravated by banks and governments’ interventions such as ZIRP to suppress those cycles). Below $70-a-barrel the producers go broke; above $70-a-barrel the customers go broke. So the price wobbles up and down as financial Ponzis like shale oil are introduced onto the scene in the hope that debt finagling and mineral rights leasing scams can substitute for physics and geological reality. One trouble with this is that each violent oscillation generates more economic and financial destruction. Activities like motoring, aviation, manufacturing, and retail are badly affected and the entire financial system is made more fragile by worsening increments. Most importantly, the cost structure of the oil industry itself gets battered to a degree that fewer companies can survive to produce the remaining oil.
The big story for 2014 was the crash of oil prices. It is yet being celebrated in other blogger’s 2015 forecasts as a boon to America. Wait until they find out that almost all of the “good jobs” added in recent years were associated with the shale drilling industry that is now being put out of business by low oil prices. Wait until they find out how the failure of junk bond financing thunders through the bond markets and the savage wilderness of derivatives — and ultimately into their ruined pension funds. Wait until they discover that it was but a symptom of the compressive deflationary depression now gripping the entire techno-industrialized world.
Here are my financial forecast particulars for 2015:
- Early in 2015 the ECB proposes a lame QE program and is laughed out of the room. European markets tank.
- Greek elections in January produce a government that stands up to the EU and ECB and causes a fatal slippage of faith in the ability of that project to continue.
- Second half of 2015, the rest of the world gangs up and counter-attacks the US dollar.
- Bond markets in Europe implode in first half and the contagion spreads to the US as fear and distrust rises about viability of US safe haven status.
- Derivatives associated with currencies, interest rates, and junk bonds trigger a bloodbath in credit default swaps (CDS) and the appearance of countless black holes through which debt and “wealth” disappear forever.
- US stock markets continue to bid upward in the first half of 2015, crater in Q3 as faith in paper and pixels erodes. DJA and S & P fall 30 to 40 percent in the initial crash, then further into 2016.
- Gold and silver slide in the first half, then take off as debt and equity markets craters, faith in abstract instruments evaporates, faith in central bank omnipotence dissolves, and citizens all over the world desperately seek safety from currency war.
- Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, DeutscheBank, SocGen, all succumb to insolvency. American government and Federal Reserve officials don’t dare attempt to rescue them again.
- By the end of 2015, central banks everywhere stand in general discredit. In the US, the Federal Reserve’s mandate is publically debated and revised back to its original mission as lender of last resort. It is forbidden to engage in further interventions and a new less-secretive mechanism is drawn up for regulating basic interest rates.
- Oil prices creep back into the $65 – $70 range by May 2015. It is not enough to halt the destruction in the shale, tar sand, and deepwater sectors. As contraction in the failing global economy accelerates, oil sinks back to the $40 range in October…
- …unless mischief in the Middle East (in particular, the Islamic State messing with Saudi Arabia) leads to gross and perhaps fatally permanent disruption in world oil markets — and then all bets are off for both the continuity of advanced economies and for peace between nations.
The signal event of 2015 will be the disintegration of Tom Friedman’s global economy, the trade and banking relations we have known for about a quarter century, especially the frictionless flow of goods and capital between East and West. The tactical blunders of the USA and its Euro-partners drive the so-called emerging markets, led by China’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization, into a skein of work-arounds to undermine and avoid the US dollar trade. They don’t exactly replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency but the workarounds lead to a period of worldwide currency turmoil that can only be resolved by monies being at least partially backed by gold. Both China and Russia will continue to work to convert their dollar reserves into Gold whenever possible. Meanwhile, America and Great Britain’s campaign to discredit and devalue gold will only permit their rivals to acquire more at a cheaper price.
The rest of the world is sick of America’s interventionist shenanigans and its moronic exported culture of burgers, Grand Theft Auto, and twerking Jezebels. They are aided by America’s own obdurate foolishness and poor strategic choices, for instance the blowback from the Ukraine misadventure of 2014. Who in the White House, Pentagon, or State Department thought it was a great idea to undermine the fragile stability of Ukraine? Is there any question that Ukraine was ever not in Russia’s sphere of influence? Or that Russia would allow it to be dragooned into NATO and used as a forward base for American firepower? Dmitry Orlov’s explanation for all this is the most cogent on the web:
“What the Anglo-imperialists were paying for in corrupting Ukraine’s politics was a ring-side seat at a fight between Ukraine and Russia. And what they got instead is a two-legged stool at a bar-room brawl between Eastern and Western Ukraine.”
Read the whole darn thing; it’s not long.
We succeeded in turning a marginally-bankrupt, marginally-independent nation into a complete basketcase that is going Dark Age as I write — no money, no work, no fuel, no heat, no food, no prospects. Having completely botched the operation, and misplayed the game against Russia’s Putin — and Russia’s legitimate interest in a stable next-door neighbor — the US will now abandon Ukraine. It will be forgotten as surely as the US-sponsored Ukrainian air force’s role in the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 — the incriminating details of which were buried by the Dutch investigating officials. Eventually, the Russians will have to care for the dying Ukraine. They will not be enthusiastic about it. They will do little and do it slowly.
Likewise our economic sanctions campaign against Russia (including the attack on the ruble) is now blowing back on the Eurozone’s export economy. Russia has survived much worse than Western sanctions in recent history. Russia will survive by turning east to Asia. This is already happening and is well publicized. What it means for Europe sooner than later is the loss of their access to imported oil and gas from Russia. Meanwhile, the North Sea fields and the Dutch Groningen gas field are dying. Good luck staying warm, Europe.
The blowback of Europe’s foolish partnership with the US campaign to punish Russia can only discredit the ruling parties and boost new right-wing parties such as France’s National Front and Britain’s UK Independence Party, both deeply nationalistic, anti Euro Union, and anti endless immigration.
The Islamic State was another legacy of blowback from American foreign adventurism. It was spawned out of the remnants of Al Qaeda in poor, broken Iraq and its conquests in 2014 ranged clear across northern Syria to several major cities in Iraq (Faluja, Tikrit, Mosul) right up to the suburbs of Baghdad. They made a lot of money off of captured oil wells and ransoming western hostages, and they shocked Western decency with their YouTube decapitations of hostages that the US and UK refused to ransom. The US’s response now is to bomb their installations and bivouacs. That can only drive them, literally, underground. IS will thrive on Western punishment. It has vast potential to recruit the population of idle, under-employed young men all across North Africa and the Middle East, and beyond to Europe and the band of Islamic society that stretches below Russia across mid-Asia. The catch is, if and when they come to actually rule most of these territories, they will be running economies reduced to Dark Age levels.
As I write, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has just entered the hospital. At 91, he is closer to the end of his story than the middle. Meanwhile, the tanking of crude oil prices has critically impaired an Arabian economy that depends on oil sales for more than 80 percent of its operating revenue. Much of that revenue goes to a national welfare system that pays just about everybody to not work. There will be a lot less money to go around now and a lot of grievance over it. The population of the Arabian Peninsula is so far beyond critical overshoot that the situation can only get ugly, especially since a large part of that excessive population consists of testosterone-jacked young men under 30 with nothing to occupy their hours but chitchat over tea and religious mummery. Consider also that when King Abdullah goes, there is liable to be a deeply destabilizing fight for the throne among the hordes of princes and competing clans — despite whomever Abdullah has named as his successor. You may be sure the Islamic State will be standing by to add fuel to those fires. That, in and of itself, could bring on a fast end of the oil age. Bear in mind, too, that the eastern side of Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil infrastructure is, contains a majority Shi’ite population. In a conflict between Sunni IS and Iran-backed Arabian Shia, a lot of stuff could just get blown up. At the least, itr could badly interrupt 30 percent of the world’s oil supply.
China is obviously struggling to prevent a financial freefall brought on by 20-plus years of extravagant debt creation and a lot mal-investment in the service of a very late entry into the techno-industrial frolic. It can’t be denied that they made a good show of it in a very short time, but they got in at the blow-off stage. Now conditions are changing unfavorably. The global economy that made China the world’s workshop is unwinding in a vortex of currency war, trade friction, territorial dispute, ethnic ill-will, and the disturbances that attend the great background problem of peak cheap oil.
The Chinese will work sedulously to try for a soft landing in the great economic contraction that looms. Chinese banking being non-transparent, overly subject to blundering central control, and deeply corrupt, may not bode well for that project. However, China has many cushions to fall back on short-term in the form of foreign money reserves and stockpiles of raw materials. But sooner or later they have to reckon with their dependence on continued oil imports. That is clearly the basis of China’s current flirtation with Russia — but with Russia arguably past its own oil production peak, that’s not a long-term strategy. China has cranked up the world’s mightiest production line of photovoltaic hardware, but solar won’t replace oil the way things currently run, and whatever they rig up may not last more than one generation if there’s no supporting platform of an oil economy for the manufacture of solar replacement parts.
Japan’s suicidal experiment with hyper-turbo ZIRP and QE is not accomplishing much except exacerbating global currency carry trades and driving down the nation’s standard of living. It may succeed in destroying the Yen and what remains of its economy in 2015. Fukushima remains unresolved and Japan’s energy future looks plain dismal. They have no energy resources of their own whatsoever. Any serious mischief in the Middle East oil fields will finish them off. The nation has been on the fast track to become the first post-industrial neo-medieval society. They could be fortunate to land back there and set up their shop while there are still residual riches in the world to work with. They might also go cuckoo and start a war with China for control over the oil fields of the South China sea. It is hard to see any other outcome from such a conflict other than China kicking Japan’s ass.
Geopolitical forecast particulars for 2015
- Russia toughs out sanctions imposed by the USA; European partners drop their sanctions as self-evidently counter-productive. Russia threatens to post-pone debt repayments to Western banks. The ruble stabilizes.
- Russia endures Islamic terrorist attacks and responds very harshly, embarrassing the wimpy West.
- Baghdad Falls to Islamic State forces. Years of American endeavor are lost just like that. The IS attempts to use Iraqi oil reserves to fund its operations. It has a hard time keeping the infrastructure in repair. The USA refrains from bombing Iraqi oil installations, a decision viewed as weakness by IS.
- The Islamic State makes inroads across North Africa. Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco are all susceptible.
- Formerly marginal political parties win big across Europe, forcing nations to rethink wide-open immigration policies. Neo-liberalism sinks into deep Weimar-style discredit. Open ethnic warfare breaks out in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden.
- European economies continue to sink for the simple reason that the growth era of techno-industrialism is over, along with affordable oil, and no amount of debt production will bring it back. All the machinations of the EU and the ECB are dedicated to overcoming this implacable reality, and thus will only lead to deeper and more intractable problems.
- Beginning with the late January elections, which Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party wins, Greece plays hardball with the EU for debt restructuring that amounts really to forgiveness of utterly unpayable €322 billion ($398 billion). If the EU calls Greece’s bluff and kicks them out, a European banking meltdown is almost certain. If Greece stays, then other hopelessly indebted nations of the EU declare they want the same deal. Pretty much a rock and hard place. Impossible to call except to say the situation promises mucho turmoil in 2015. ¡Hay problema!
- Ebola contagion persists and rips across sub-Saharan Africa. Other nations are forced to pass severe travel restrictions to-and-from Africa.
- Nigeria descends into bloody political turmoil as its oil industry falls apart in response to low prices. UN intervention accomplishes nothing. In wartime conditions, Ebola gains a foothold in Lagos, one of the world’s most overpopulated slum cities.
- Pakistan and Afghanistan both continue to melt down into ungovernability. India is forced to take over administration of Pakistan and remove nukes. America continues to pretend that its mission in Afghanistan has some purpose, but it only remains a black hole of military expenditure and becomes a rancorous issue in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election.
The USA Homefront 2015
For one who has been a close observer of the US socio-political-economic scene since the Kennedy era, the nation has gotten itself into a pretty sorry state. The pervasive racketeering that poisons American life from the money-in-politics farce, to the shameless, chiseling medical-pharma cabal, to the SNAP-card and disability rights empire of grift, to the college loan swindle, to the disgusting security state apparatus, to the corporate tyranny of local life and economies, to the delusional techno-narcissism of the media, to the despotic and puerile gender preoccupations of academia — all of it adds up to a society that cares as little for the present as it does for the future. And that’s aside from the pathetic digital device addiction of the generation coming up, and the sheer sordid behavior of the tattooed, drug-saturated, pornified masses of adults now forever foreclosed from a purposeful existence or a decent standard of living.
Even physically America is a sorry-ass spectacle: between our decrepitating cities, abandoned Main Streets, gruesome strip-mall highways, repellent and monotonous suburbs, dreary industrial ruins, profaned countryside, and desecrated coastline, there is little left to actually love about This land is Your Land. We’ve made so many collective bad choices about how we live that one can’t help feeling we are simply a wicked people who deserve to be punished.
Whole classes already are, of course. What used to be a working class with aspirations has devolved to the forlorn savagery averred to above. Our thought-leaders are devoid of thought. Our hopes and dreams are absurd sci-fi fantasies prompting us toward robot-assisted suicide. Our political stratagems of recent years accomplish nothing except making more trouble for ourselves while inciting the enmity of people elsewhere.
Barack Obama’s signal failure — aside from letting the banks get away with murder and omitting to counter the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — has been his total evasion of measures that would prepare the nation for the vast changes in social and economic imperative that will attend the transition out of the techno-industrial era when he is out of office. These include supporting local small scale agriculture (rather than giant corporate agri-biz); promoting and supporting the reconstruction of local economic networks (Main Street business); eliminating multitudinous federal regulations that prevent individuals and small enterprises from operating; closing the hundreds of superfluous US military bases around the world; giving federal support to rebuild the US passenger rail system; promoting walkable communities — especially the re-activation of existing small towns and cities — instead of mindless obeisance to the suburban “home-building” industry (and its step-child in the commercial highway strip development racket) — and truly reforming medical care without the connivance of the insurance racketeers.
Obama and his party can be faulted for fostering the myth that every young person needs a college degree — leading a whole generation into debt penury for no good purpose, while depriving society of a long list of vocational roles and livelihoods based on providing genuine service or value. We will be a nation of unemployed gender studies graduates instead of plumbers, electricians, organic farmers, arborists, carpenters, machinists, nurses and paramedics, small business owners, et cetera.
This enormous bundles of myths and misplaced expectations for yesterday’s tomorrow prevents the collective national imagination from summoning a revised American Dream based on repairing the massive destruction of recent decades.
The political mood has not been murkier in my longish lifetime. Both major parties edge toward extinction as the Whigs did in the mid-1850s. The citizenry not sunk in drugs and depravity — that is, people who still read the news in some form and would like to care about their country — deserve a new faction or party that can at least express their discontent with the current situation. They will surely not get this in the generally supposed coming contest between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. I hope they will be so insulted by this dynastic grab that more than one new party will form and make a big stank about it. The Tea Party was a good start in that spirit, but it tripped on its internal contradictions and its association with Dixieland-style religious fundamentalist idiocy and cracker war-mongering.
All that redounds on the current state of the Republican Party, a gang of venal ignoramuses pimping for lost causes. Despite having won the 2014 midterms, and capturing both houses of congress and governorships, they seem increasingly out-of-touch with the realities of economic contraction, peak oil, and climate irregularities. The old magic of stirring up the animals on social issues of abortion, bedroom activities, and allegiance to Jesus fail to move the old base, which is becoming economically quite desperate. That base also becomes conscious of how they have been hornswoggled into voting against their own interests for years in the sense that author Thomas Frank so aptly described in What’s the Matter With Kansas.
Race relations turned very sour in 2014 with more highly publicized killings of young black men in ambiguous circumstances. The chief martyr of the year, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., was a poor candidate for sainthood, and did not help advance the credibility of claims that police brutality rather than the misbehavior of young men is behind a lot of strife abroad in the land. One gets the feeling that black race hustlers are in the driver’s seat recklessly pushing African Americans toward open warfare with everybody else. My view of the situation is not popular with Progressives, viz: that black separatism and its offshoots in “diversity” politics and multi-culturalism tragically promote an antagonistic, alienated, oppositional black politics at the expense of a common culture for blacks and whites with common values and common standards of behavior. It has gotten so bad that reasonable people can sadly conclude that the long civil rights project has ended in failure. We are treading on dangerous ground here, with foolishly outmoded ideas about what to expect from each other, and of course all this begs the questions: What now? What next?
Domestic Forecast Particulars for 2015
- Markets tanking in Q3 destroy the illusion of “recovery.” It becomes obvious that the story was a lie and the public mood grows much more surly.
- 2014 proves to be the year of peak shale oil. After the shakeout of 2015 due to low oil prices, production never returns to previous levels. The fairy tales of “energy independence” and “Saudi America” fall apart, deeply demoralizing a gulled public and adding yet another layer of discredit to the people in charge of things.
- Different kinds of political revolt break out around the country among varied groups, left, right, and center. Some of it revolves around life-and-death struggles for the souls of the floundering major parties. Some of it is organized violence against the government and especially against the US security state apparatus, including overly militarized local police forces.
- Low-grade racial warfare erupts across the US. Flash mobs, knock-out games, lootings, and hammer attack type outrages generate counter-attacks. By summertime the conflict heats up. Firefights become routine and casualties mount. President Obama proves to be tragically ineffectual in restoring peace.
- Anti-immigration sentiment in Europe spreads to the US as falling oil prices produce political disorder in Mexico prompting tens of thousands to try to flee north.
- Bank of America is the first of the Too Big To Fails to enter the event horizon of failure. Obama can’t get congress to go along with a bailout. By Thanksgiving, there is turmoil among the banks as they scramble to cover losses. A public furor over using taxpayer money to cover derivatives losses leads to an unprecedented concerted action by states to attempt “nullification” campaigns.
- Citibank applies for a bail-in of account holders. Dithering, frightened federal authorities are too slow to respond, permitting a run on deposits.
- Hillary is loudly booed and hectored at campaign stops as “a tool of Wall Street.” Her coffers overflow with TBTF bank contributions. She bows out of the presidential contest as the public mood toward her sours. But not before she generates a lot of resentful opposition and alienates many Democratic Party voters who are also furious over the eight-years of Obama’s “hope” and “change” hand-jive. Elizabeth Warren is dragooned to replace her — dubbed the “Un-Hillary” — rescuing the party from a near-death experience. She openly feuds with party bosses, who plot against her, and undermine her campaign.
- Senator Rand Paul agitates to abolish the Federal Reserve. His senate colleagues are shamed into considering legislative reform of the Fed’s mandate. Debate on the issue is the only thing the Republican dominated congress and senate accomplish in 2015. Paul decides to challenge Jeb Bush for the 2016 nomination. This blows the Republican party apart.
- At Christmas 2015, the DJA sits at 13,500, the S & P is at 1200. Gold is at 1750, silver at 42.
Good luck everybody. Gird your loins and fasten your seat belts.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.