Middle East

Historic Iran nuke deal resets Eurasia’s ‘Great Game’

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in Asia Times on July 14, 2015

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This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.”

And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order.

So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal. As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

 

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described the deal — significantly — as a very Chinese “win-win” solution. But not perfect; “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Zarif also had to stress — correctly — this was a long-sought solution for an “unnecessary crisis”; the politicization — essentially by the US — of a scientific, technical dossier.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier, for his part, was euphoric; “A historic day! We leave 35 years of speechlessness + more than 12 years of a dangerous conflict behind us.”

Looking ahead, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted now there can be “a focus on shared challenges” – referring to the real fight that NATO, and Iran, should pursue together; against the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, whose ideological matrix is intolerant Wahhabism and whose attacks are directed against both Shi’ites and westerners.

Right on cue, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the deal will contribute to fighting terrorism in the Middle East, not to mention “assisting in strengthening global and regional security, global nuclear non-proliferation” and — perhaps wishful thinking? — “the creation in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the deal “fully corresponds” with Russia’s negotiating points. The fact is no deal would have been possible without extensive Russian involvement — and the Obama administration knows it (but cannot admit it publicly).

The real problem started when Lavrov added that Moscow expects the cancellation of Washington’s missile defense plans, after the Iran deal proves that Tehran is not, and won’t be, a nuclear “threat.”

There’s the rub. The Pentagon simply won’t cancel an essential part of its Full Spectrum Dominance military doctrine simply because of mere “diplomacy.” Every security analyst not blinded by ideology knows that missile defense was never about Iran, but about Russia. The Pentagon’s new military review still states — not by accident — major Eurasian players Iran, China and Russia as “threats” to U.S. national security.

Now from the brighter side on Iran-Russia relations. Trade is bound to increase, especially in nanotechnology, machinery parts and agriculture. And on the all-pervasive energy front, Iran will indeed compete with Russia in major markets such as Turkey and soon Western Europe, but there’s plenty of leeway for Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to coordinate their market share. NIOC executive Mohsen Qamsari advances that Iran will prioritize exporting to Asia, and will try to regain the at least 42% of the European market share that it had before sanctions.

Compared to so many uplifting perspectives, Washington’s reaction was quite pedestrian. US President Barack Obama preferred to stress — correctly — that every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon has been cut off. And he vowed to veto any legislation in the US Congress that blocks the deal. When I was in Vienna last week I had surefire confirmation — from a European source — that the Obama administration feels confident it has the votes it needs in Capitol Hill.

And what about all that oil?

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA and currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), hailed the deal as “the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty.” Rauf even advanced that the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize should go to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.

Rebuilding trust between the US and Iran, though, will be a long and winding road.

Tehran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent; this means it has agreed to reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. Only Natanz will conduct enrichment; and Fordo, additionally, won’t store fissile material.

Iran agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium — a 96% reduction compared to current levels. The Arak reactor will be reconfigured, and won’t be used to produce plutonium. The spent fuel will be handled by an international team.

The IAEA and Iran signed a roadmap in Tehran also this Tuesday; that was already decided last week in Vienna. By December 15, all past and present outstanding issues — that amount to 12 items — should be clarified, and the IAEA will deliver a final assessment. IAEA access to the Parchin military site — always a very contentious issue — is part of a separate arrangement.

One of the major sticking points these last few days in Vienna was solved — with Tehran allowing UN inspectors to visit virtually any site. But it may object to a particular visit. A Joint Commission — the P5+1 + Iran — will be able to override any objections with a simple majority vote. After that Iran has three days to comply — in case it loses the vote. There won’t be American inspectors — shades of the run-up towards the war on Iraq; only from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran.

So implementation of the deal will take at least the next five months. Sanctions will be lifted only by early 2016.

What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.

And then there’s, once again, oil. Iran has as much as a whopping 50 million barrels of oil stored at sea — and that’s about ready to hit the global market. The purchaser of choice will be, inevitably, China — as the West remains mired in recession. Iran’s first order of work is to regain lost market share to Persian Gulf producers. Yet the trend is for oil prices to go down – so Iran cannot count on much profit in the short to medium term.

Now for a real war on terror?

The conventional arms embargo on Iran essentially stays, for five years. That’s absurd, compared to Israel and the House of Saud arming themselves to their teeth.

Last May the US Congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. That includes 50 BLU-113 bunker-buster bombs — to do what? Bomb Natanz? — and 3,000 Hellfire missiles. As for Saudi Arabia, according to SIPRI, the House of Saud spent a whopping $80 billion on weapons last year; more than nuclear powers France or Britain. The House of Saud is waging an — illegal — war on Yemen.

Qatar is not far behind. It clinched an $11 billion deal to buy Apache helicopters and Javelin and Patriot air defense systems, and is bound to buy loads of F-15 fighters.

Trita Parsi, president of the National American-Iranian Council, went straight to the point; “Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does. But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

So, whatever happens, expect tough days ahead. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Zarif told a small group of independent journalists in Vienna, including this correspondent, that the negotiations would be a success because the US and Iran had agreed on “no humiliation of one another.” He stressed he paid “a high domestic price for not blaming the Americans,” and he praised Kerry as “a reasonable man.” But he was wary of the US establishment, which to a great extent, according to his best information, was dead set against the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif also praised the Russian idea that after a deal, it will be time to form a real counter-terrorism coalition, featuring Americans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Europeans — even as Putin and Obama had agreed to work together on “regional issues.” And Iranian diplomacy was giving signs that the Obama administration had finally understood that the alternative to Assad in Syria was ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, not the “Free” Syrian Army.

That degree of collaboration, post-Wall of Mistrust, remains to be seen. Then it will be possible to clearly evaluate whether the Obama administration has made a major strategic decision, and whether “normalizing” its relation with Iran involves much more than meets the eye.


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

The Iran nuke stalemate in one tweet

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Originally published in Asia Times on July 10, 2015

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The by now legendary tweet from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif in which he quoted Abraham Lincoln is the Rosebud deciphering the current stalemate between the US and Iran in Vienna.

Zarif tweeted, “Mark my words; you can’t change horses in the middle of a stream.” Well, a privileged Iranian source told Asia Times “changing horses” is exactly what US President Barack Obama abruptly did – in regard to conciliating positions he had agreed upon two days earlier.

This happened this past Wednesday night, Vienna time – at the negotiating table.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna

Things started to change after a working cocktail party in the State Dining Room in Washington on Tuesday night, when Obama appeared “not at all” concerned about the possible implications of the deal and said the chances “were less than 50-50 at this point.”

Even before the cocktail party – on the same day of the missed July 7 deadline — the Obama administration was already on overdrive, dismissing the notion of the president signing any deal just for the sake of a “lone” foreign policy success to be heralded as his legacy.

By mid-week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry doubled down on his previous, undiplomatic tirade of last Sunday — “the deal may go either way” — and came up with the current “we may walk away” shtick, duly reproduced to exhaustion by US corporate media.

“Changing horses” confirms everything Asia Times has previously reported from Vienna, after detailed conversations with diplomats and negotiators; as a top Iranian official told this correspondent last week, the Obama administration does not seem to have the political will — at least not yet, if ever — to really commit itself to ending, once and for all, the Wall of Mistrust against Iran.

Another Iranian official, in an on the record briefing this past Thursday, complained of a possible “major setback,” although maintaining the official Iranian line that John Kerry is “serious.” And he also confirmed what Asia Times had learned off the record — that the US, the UK and France suddenly started backtracking on key parts of the Lausanne framework.

According to the same Iranian official, with direct access to the negotiating table, “it’s not a multilateral negotiation. It looks like you’re doing five bilaterals. Every country has their red line some times.”

Tehran, on the other hand, has made its political decisions a long time ago, as Asia Times has reported. And the Iranian official came back to stressing the same point; “What is lacking is exactly the political decision that is needed on the other side.”

So should we all remix America and start singing, “I’ve been to Vienna / in a horse with no deal”?

A horse with no deal

In a week that was supposed to feature a clinched deal — and now running past three deadlines — the issue of the lifting of a 2007 UN arms embargo imposed on Iran also emerged, with US corporate media blaming Iran en masse for “new demands.”

That’s bogus. It’s easy to forget that President Rouhani formerly led nuclear negotiations with Europe from 2003 to 2005. He always tried to prevent the transfer of Iran’s nuclear file from the IAEA to the UN. It didn’t make sense — as this was a scientific/technical dossier. But Washington prevailed — leading to the increasing politicization of the IAEA.

For the Iranian negotiators, UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions are the key; they must be abolished first and foremost because they legitimize all other Western sanctions. The easing off of all sanctions was agreed upon in the Lausanne framework. So that obviously includes the arms embargo, which is a UNSC nuclear-related sanction.

As an Iranian diplomat said this past Monday, “as far as Iran is concerned, we believe … there should not be any place for the arms embargo … There is no evidence whatsoever that the arms embargo has any relation to the nuclear issue.”

The spin machine went on overdrive anyway, blaming Russia for bringing up the issue at the negotiating table. As Asia Times has reported, the fact is BRICS members Russia and China have a coordinated position; no to the embargo. The other two P5 members, the US and the UK, are against it. And France is wavering – what with all those profits to be made by its weapons industry.

This Thursday, in Ufa – on the sidelines of the joint BRICS/SCO meeting — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went straight to the point; “We are calling for lifting the embargo as soon as possible and we will support the choices that Iran’s negotiators make.”

This was on the same day that President Rouhani met with President Putin as part of the SCO summit. Iran will inevitably become a SCO member as soon as UN sanctions are lifted. Whatever happens in Vienna, Iran will inevitably expand its role as a vital hub/node of Eurasia integration – from the New Silk Road(s) to the SCO.

Asia Times learned from a senior Iranian official the arms embargo is not an issue that would sink the nuclear deal. What really matters are the economic and financial sanctions. The IRGC has developed on its own a relatively sophisticated Iranian arms industry. Buying weapons from Rosoboronexport – Russia’s weapons export organization – would add to the mix. US opposition has everything to do with the influence of Israel and the House of Saud in the Beltway.

In Ufa, at the BRICS/SCO summit, Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov also minimized the impact on Russia in case sanctions on Iran are lifted. He said, “injecting new oil to the world markets could impact prices. But the price depends on the global economy at large. If there is enough demand, the impact will be minimal.”

Implementing is a bitch

Whatever happens in Vienna, the road ahead will be fraught with danger. A deal will consist of three delicate phases; adoption, operation and implementation. Vienna would yield only the main, 85-page agreement text plus the five annexes – which will then be reviewed in Tehran and Washington (now for 60 days instead of 30).

Operation means each side proceeding with agreed-upon measures – what the Iranians call a “parallel process” of dismantling parts of the nuclear program in parallel to steps towards dismantling the architecture of sanctions.

And then implementation will kick in automatically; Iran fulfills all its commitments, as verified by the IAEA, and all Western economic, banking and financial sanctions — in theory — vanish.

This is what is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA). It will take at least until the end of 2015 for people in Iran to start feeling at least a bit of progress in their everyday lives. Only a few days ago chief Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi sounded so optimistic on IRIB TV. “We have reached a consensus for the removal of financial and economic sanctions on the day of implementing the deal,” he said.

Every analyst not blinded by ideology knows that Iran’s nuclear program was never the problem for Washington. Only neo-con nut jobs believe in their own fantasy that Iran’s nuclear enrichment at 5% for its nuclear program masks a 95+% nuclear weapons program.

It doesn’t matter that the acronym fest of US intel agencies has repeatedly asserted that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. And that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly emphasized a nuclear bomb is anti-Islamic.

As it stands – and ultimately because of lack of political will in Washington – the deal may be backtracking to “less than 50-50,” even with a new July 13 deadline. And the whole world can see why.

The record is not good. It took over five decades for Washington to start normalizing its relations with heavily sanctioned Cuba. Washington has already alienated the overwhelming majority of 1.7 billion followers of Islam. It has lost most of 1.2 billion Indians – as India joins the SCO. It has lost 1.3 billion Chinese with the pathetic “pivot to Asia” and the non-stop South China Sea saber rattling. It has totally lost Russia, the absolute majority of Latin America and the absolute majority of the Global South.

Certainly this is not the Divide and Rule technique inherited from the faded British empire, that the Brits themselves learned from Rome in their Latin classes. This is taking everyone on at once.


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

Why there is still no Iran nuke deal in Vienna

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Originally published in Asia Times on July 7, 2015

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VIENNA – As the Iran-P5+1 negotiation hit the crucial stage on Monday night, and the technical teams pushed for a clean text to be released on Tuesday – albeit unsuccessfully – the top sticking point turned out to be the conventional arms embargo imposed on Iran by the UNSC, a senior European diplomat told Asia Times.

BRICS members Russia and China had a coordinated position; “yes” to the end of the embargo. The US and the UK voted “no.” And, crucially, France was wavering.

If this was a decision solely in the hands of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the vote would be “no.” But arguably if the final decision rests with President Francois Hollande, it would be a “yes.” There is nothing the French weapons industry would like better than to add Tehran to its still meager list of customers for Rafales and Mistrals.

Turning to the Big Picture, Iranian diplomats were stressing that, “all nuclear-related sanctions should be removed. That was agreed upon in Lausanne.” This means the conventional arms embargo – imposed by the UN in 2007, and tied up in the nuclear sanctions – should also go.

So what was reported by Asia Times early this week continued to apply; there are severe cracks within the P5+1 on several key issues — thus their need to spend more time negotiating amongst themselves than with Iran.

That’s the key reason for a new deadline extension — to Thursday, July 9. And even that may not be the end of the road.

All those brackets

With only 24 hours left before this Tuesday’s D-Day, signs were extremely mixed. The Iranian delegation emphasized, “this was not a deadlock”; after all, the P5+1 foreign ministers were meeting late into the night for the second time in a frantic day. Iranian negotiators were insisting, “Iran is ready to continue as long as there is opportunity of progress.”

Still, the new tentative deadline — Thursday — was already being floated. The Russians, for their part, were getting ready to leave Vienna by Tuesday night; the next immediate destination – which initially should count on the presence of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif as well – is the crucial, simultaneous BRICS and SCO summits in Ufa, Russia. The SCO will actively start discussing accepting Iran as a member as early as next year in their summit in India.

Although always careful to point out they were not pressed for time, a measure of frustration regarding the real intentions of their American counterparts started to seep in among Iranian diplomats; “If they cannot translate political intention into political decisions we will have to close down these negotiations.”

Still, “both sides don’t want to lose momentum.” Kerry’s rather undiplomatic Sunday move — “the deal could go either way” — was interpreted by the Iranians as a message to placate the internal front (in the US), and win the battle for public opinion at home. Mostly what the Iranians retained was “we’re progressing.”

It’s hard to fathom the complexities hidden in an exhaustively detailed, 85-page text with five attachments. Iranian officials describe it as “a package of 85 pages with lots of brackets.” As one of them put it, “even for a word, or sometimes a preposition, we have to spend a full two hour meeting on the technical level.” “Success” is measured when negotiators are able to clear 15 to 20 brackets a day.

What was soon defined at the final stretch is that after the agreement, “a resolution will be tabled.” The UNSC will “take note” of what was agreed at in Vienna. And then this resolution will suspend all past resolutions on the day of implementation. “The benefit of this resolution,” adds an Iranian technical expert, “ is to record the agreement in Vienna. And then everything passes under the jurisdiction of the UNSC.”

Deep into a warm Viennese night, with the legendary Café Sacher already closed, it was still a long way to go. In a hotel room, an Iranian diplomat mused; “The Americans created a structure of sanctions they don’t want to destroy. Emotionally, they want to keep it.” It’s no wonder that most of the unresolved brackets in the final text still relate to US and EU sanctions.

And there was the rub, once again; would the Obama administration, to its credit, finally let go of the weapon of choice of US foreign policy? That would be worthy of a gala celebration at the Vienna Staatsoper.


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

What it really takes for a US-Iran deal

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Originally published in Ron July 1, 2015

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L-3rd L) meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) at a hotel in Vienna, Austria June 28, 2015 (Reuters / Carlos Barria)

 

 

The next important step is what happens at the UN Security Council (UNSC). All the concerned parties at the UNSC will endorse a declaration, and a resolution – which is still being negotiated – will render null and void all previous sanctions resolutions.

As it stands, all the parties – except the US government – want to go to the UNSC as soon as possible. Washington remains, at best, reticent.

Iranian negotiators have made it very clear at the table that Tehran will start implementing its nuclear restriction commitments – removal of a number of centrifuges, removal of the core of Arak’s reactor, disposal of uranium stock, etc. – immediately. The IAEA will be constantly checking Iran has complied with an extensive list.

But it has to be a parallel process; the US and the EU must for their part and “take physical action”, tackling the complex mechanism of lifting all economic sanctions. Once again; a UNSC signature instantly erases all previous sanctions.

And here is something crucial; all of this has been agreed in Lausanne. The work must be simultaneous, as stressed, in tandem, by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU representative Federica Mogherini.

Those fateful parameters

Meanwhile, we have the media centrifuges spinning like mad, as I described here. On the negotiating table, there are still skirmishes related to the US desire in trying to “prove a negative” – as in the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. Logically, you don't need to be a neo-Wittgenstein to see that’s impossible.

The deadline extension from June 30 to July 7 is mostly about finding – rather, finding again – a “reasonable common narrative” inbuilt in the Lausanne framework, and even before.

This means Washington should make the political decision to tone down repeated attempts to introduce new demands. Iranian officials admit, “we may have had disagreements on how we do simultaneous work,” but that’s part of Lausanne. New demands are not.

In Lausanne, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif agreed on a “set of parameters” – after an excruciating nine hours of debate. They also agreed, crucially, that both sides would refrain from humiliating one another publicly.

The recent record shows that’s been the case – as far as negotiators and diplomats are concerned. On the other hand, US corporate media predictably has been wreaking the proverbial havoc.

Which brings us to the clincher; Iranian negotiators have yet to detect a readiness of the US government to really change the “culture of sanctions” in the UNSC. And here a diplomatic consensus emerges, involving, very significantly, Russia and Germany; this agreement will be made – or broken – on one crucial point; whether the Obama administration wants to lift the sanctions or keep them.

Watch the BRICS front

The least one can say about what’s really happening in the Palais Coburg since this past weekend is that the Obama administration’s position is oscillating wildly. There seems to be – finally – some movement on the American side in the sense they feel a strategic interest in changing the situation.

That will depend, of course, on the Obama administration’s evaluation of all factions operating in the Beltway establishment. Diplomats in Vienna agree Kerry is personally involved in trying to change the equation. So this means the ball is really in the US court.

But all’s still murky; even oscillating wildly; the Americans continue to entertain what an Iranian official described to me as “buyer’s remorse” regarding what they agreed on Lausanne in the first place.

Serious, key sticking points remain. The duration of the sanctions; confidentiality issues – as in the US, especially, respecting terms of access to Iranian military installations; and what’s defined as “managed access” under certain conditions.

Also very crucial is the BRICS front at the P5+1. Neither China nor Russia wants to see any exacerbation of tensions, in Southwest Asia and beyond, because a deal is not clinched. The bottom line; with their eye in the Big Picture – as in Eurasia integration – both are committed to facilitate a deal.

Until next Tuesday, all remains in play. Obama has been spinning he doesn’t want a “bad deal”. That’s not the issue. The issue is Obama himself making the fateful political decision of abandoning the weapon of choice of US foreign policy; sanctions. Has he got what it takes to pull it off?


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

Iran nuclear deadline: Showdown in Vienna

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Originally published in Asia Times on June 26, 2015

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This is it? No one knows. As foreign ministers gather in Vienna ahead of the June 30 deadline, an Iranian government source tells Asia Times it’s a “done deal.” For days, there have been no leaks, certainly to prevent hardliners on both sides – Iran and especially the U.S. – from ruining it at five seconds to midnight.

Realistically, all the myriad complex components are not there for a conclusive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. Not yet. Iranian deputy lead negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi said earlier this week that “progress is not as expected.” Both presidents, Obama and Rouhani, badly want it, while both hardcore lobbies — in Washington and Tehran — are keen on derailing it.

Witness an open letter by the usual suspects, some of them former Obama advisers, stating, “the agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability” – which is a flat-out lie; and predicting the deal will “fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement,” which implies they are fully briefed on all the negotiation’s nuances, and they’re not.

Predictably, the open letter was published by the neocon-infested and rabid anti-Iran WINEP think tank; signatories include disgraced former Iraq and Afghanistan surge schemer Gen. David Petraeus and Dennis Ross – who never “negotiated” anything that didn’t put Israel’s interests ahead of the US.

Bets can be made that the June 30 deadline won’t hold; this may go on until the end of next week at least. As a nail-biting finish that is not – yet – a finish, it’s unrivalled. Especially for global businesses – not least the energy industry – who are getting ready for a tectonic geopolitical shift; Iran finally “rehabilitated” in the West (yes, because with the East it’s always been business as usual.)

It’s a gas, gas, gas

It’s no surprise Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to lay down Iran’s red lines ahead of June 30. After all, the April 2 Lausanne “package” which is the basis for the current negotiations leading to a possible final Vienna deal is deliberately hazy – and subject to conflicting interpretations, especially over the timing for sanctions to be totally lifted.

Khamenei insists sanctions by the UN and the US should be lifted as soon as a deal is signed; Washington will never agree, as the State Department insists this is first of all about IAEA “verification”, then easing of sanctions.

The same applies for Tehran not accepting to be restricted on nuclear research and development for ten years. Even Russia and China agree Iran must comply with “verification” – under the framework of a civilian nuclear program.

The point is not the Supreme Leader is plying a D.O.A. deal. The point is Khamenei, for complex internal purposes, must keep potentially unruly ultra-conservatives and hardliners on board. And because the Lausanne package’s rhetoric is deliberately pliable, he can play along with the red lines – always emphasizing Iran’s “heroic,” or “brave and faithful” negotiators, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The fact also remains that no one knows which will be the language on the final deal – until a detailed written agreement is endorsed by the Iranian Parliament and the US Congress. So for the moment, we’re in Nietzsche territory; there are no facts, only interpretations.

But what the business world is salivating for, are facts. Every energy major has its eyes set on Tehran, discussing post-sanctions serious business. Italy’s ENI has been talking. Same for Shell. Same for BP (although they don’t acknowledge it.) In the case of Shell there’s the matter of the $2 billion it owes to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) – unpaid because of sanctions.

Iran holds at least 30 million barrels of oil in storage. So will there be an oil flood in the weeks to come (with the Chinese buying everything)? It depends on what sanctions are to be immediately lifted. And this means oil prices falling – which is something Russia and Saudi Arabia, considering the recent meeting in St. Petersburg between Putin and the House of Saud, are not exactly keen on at the moment.

It will be a slow process. According to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, Iran is ready to increase production by around one million barrels a day after sanctions are lifted. Currently, Iran produces around 2.7 million barrels a day and exports 1 million. Realistically, Iran may add 600,000 barrels a day by the end of 2017. Further than that, it needs a lot of infrastructure investment.

Same for the gas industry. At the World Gas Conference earlier this month in Paris, NIOC’s Azizollah Ramezani said Iran will increase production from 800 million to 1.2 billion cubic meters a day up to 2020. But for that to happen, it needs at least $100 billion in investment from European energy majors. It’s all there, tantalizingly, on the horizon, a Chinese-style “win-win” for both Iran and Europe. But first, the showdown in Vienna.


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

Bomb Iran? Not now: bomb Yemen

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People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Originally published in RT on April 9, 2015


‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – the Pentagon-style House of Saud glorifying of its ghastly ‘Bomb Yemen’ show – could be summed up in a single paragraph.

The wealthiest Arab nation – the House of Saud petro-hacienda – supported by other GCC petro-rackets and also the wealthy “West”, has launched an – illegal – bombing/war/kinetic operation against the poorest Arab nation in the name of “democracy.”

And this absurdity is just the beginning.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, the innocuous as a stale cannoli Federica Mogherini, seems to be mildly alarmed. She remarked that Saudi bombing of hospitals and “deliberate targeting and destruction of private homes, education facilities and basic infrastructure cannot be tolerated.”

Well, the EU tolerates exactly the same thing in Donbass perpetrated by Kiev’s goons – so nothing will come out La Mogherini’s feigned outrage.

The Red Cross and the Russian Federation, for their part, at least are demanding a temporary ceasefire to allow for humanitarian relief. Humanitarian relief is incompatible with the House of Saud’s bloodline. So after two weeks of Saudi ‘Shock and Awe’, the current toll of at least 560 Yemeni civilians dead (and counting), and 1700 wounded – dozens of them children – is bound to increase.

Bab-el-Mandeb me, baby

Bomb Iran? Not now; the new normal is bomb Yemen. But still bomb Iran might be back in a flash. Pentagon supremo Ash Carter confirmed last week “all options are on the table” even if an Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal is finally reached in June. So, for the record, the Pentagon is affirming nuclear negotiations are just white noise unable to deter the tantalizing prospect of yet another nice little Middle East war.

Needless to add, the so civilized ‘West’ didn’t even flinch when “our bastards” the House of Saud invaded and started shockin’ an’awin’ dirt-poor Yemen. No UN Security Council resolution. Not even a mandate from the totally discredited Arab League. Who cares? After all the ‘Empire of Chaos’ has done the same over and over again with total impunity.

Much hysteria has been raging on whether the Houthis are about to take control of the Bab-el-Mandeb – one of the key strategic global energy chokepoints along with the Straits of Hormuz, and as crucial as the Suez Canal. Nonsense. Whatever the House of Saud does, the not so hidden ‘Empire of Chaos’ agenda is never to lose control of the Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands.

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

This is part of what we could dub ‘Chokepointistan’; wars taking place near or around energy bottlenecks, and always narrated in Global War on Terror (GWOT) deceitful terminology. US Think Tankland is more straightforward, carefully following US naval deployments. That’s what this is all about; an Orwellian “freedom of navigation” masquerading a hardcore strategy of shutting out the geopolitical enemy – be it Iran, Russia, China or all of the above.

‘Chokepointistan’ is all over the place: just watch the war or pre-positioning action in the Bab-el-Mandeb (with spillover effects from Yemen to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti); the Straits of Hormuz (all about Iran); but also the strait of Malacca (all about China), Panama (about Venezuela), the coming Nicaragua canal (about China), the Korean Strait, the Taiwan Strait, the Kuril Islands, and last but not least the Baltic Sea.

A Grand Armada Run Amok

Saudi intel knows the Houthis can’t possibly control the Bab-el-Mandeb – not to mention Washington would never allow it. What freaks the Saudis out is that the Houthi rebellion in Yemen – supported by Tehran – may encourage bright rebellion ideas among the Shi’ite majority in the eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil is.

And this where the Saudi excuse for war interfaces with the empire’s paranoia of preventing Iran, Russia and/or China from establishing a possible strategic presence in Yemen, at the Bab-el-Mandeb, overlooking the Gulf of Aden.

So we have once again Pentagon supremo Carter insisting, “The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide.” Translation: we gave the green light for our bastards to maintain “stability” in the Middle East.

Yet there’s a spanner in the works; the possible Washington-Tehran rapprochement, assuming a nuclear deal is reached. For the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration, the nuclear deal will be their only foreign policy success. Moreover, without Tehran there’s no meaningful fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in “Syraq”.

None of this mollifies the cosmically paranoid Saudis, who assembled in a flash a Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) – 100 jet fighters, 150,000 soldiers – respectfully described by US Think Tankland as a “coalition” of 10 countries. Without even blinking at UN norms, the Saudis instantly declared the whole of Yemen as a no-fly zone.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

And along with routine bombing of residential complexes, the al-Mazraq camp for the internally displaced in Hajjah, a dairy factory near Hodeida, and other instances, came, what else, hardcore internal Saudi repression, via a crackdown with tanks and indiscriminate shooting in Awamiyah, in the eastern provinces; Shi’ites there can’t even think of organizing protests against the bloodbath in Yemen.

In a nutshell, this is the immensely wealthy, corrupt, medieval Saudi regime busy at war against their own people. The usual hard-line Wahhabi imams are busy working up anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iranian fever everywhere; these are all “apostates” under the takfir doctrine, and Iranians are lowly “Safawis” – a quite pejorative reference to the 16th century Safavid dynasty. It’s crucial to remember that Islamic State treats Shi’tes and Iranians the exact same way. But forget about any of this being reported by Western corporate media.

The General and the Sheikh

The House of Saud insists it wants to reinstall the government-in-exile of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Or, as Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir glowingly put it, “protect the legitimate government of the country.”

Royally paid Saudi lobby hagiographers are once again frantically spinning the Sunni versus Shi’ite sectarian narrative – which totally ignores the mind-boggling tribal/class complexity of Yemeni society. In a nutshell, this laughable Saudi defense of democracy is paving the way for a ground war; a long, bloody and horribly expensive ground war.

And it gets, as expected, even more absurd. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL.” His response: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

Translation: the US government not only does not sanction or punish these “allies” (the real fun is to sanction Russia) but showers with logistical and “non-lethal” support the “coalition” that is arguably fighting the same Islamic State they are funding. No one is making this up; this is how the endless war on terra remains the gift that keeps on giving.

It gets even curioser and curioser when we have Dempsey on the same page of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah. In this crucial speech, Sheikh Nasrallah offers the most extensive and precise account of the origins and ideology of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And here he expands on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

So what we have is the ‘Empire of Chaos’ ‘leading from behind’ in the war on Yemen and also de facto ‘leading from behind’ in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; the ones doing the heavy lifting are Iraqi militias supported by Tehran. The hidden agenda is always – what else –chaos; be it across “Syraq” or inside Yemen. With an extra bonus; while Washington is engaged on striking a nuclear deal with Tehran, it also turbo-charges an alliance against Tehran using the House of Saud.

Vietnam in the desert

The House of Saud badly wants Pakistan to take no prisoners, supplying bomber jets, ships and lots of ground troops for their war. Riyadh treats Islamabad as a vassal state. A joint session of the Pakistani Parliament will decide what to do.

It’s quite revealing to learn what happened when Pakistan’s most popular private TV channel assembled representatives of all major political parties to explain where they stand. Soon they reached a consensus; Pakistan should be neutral; act as mediator; and commit no troops, unless there was a “tangible threat” to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, which is far from the case.

The House of Saud remains on overdrive, showering tons of cash over Salafi and Deobandi preachers to bullhorn their war; that includes a delegation of ulema visiting Riyadh. Support has already duly poured from Pakistan-based hardcore groups that trained with al-Qaeda and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan; after all they are all funded by Wahhabi fanatics.

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Meanwhile, in the front lines, a real game-changer may be ahead, with the Houthis already firing missiles across the border at Saudi oil installations. Then all bets are off – and the possibility that long-range missiles have been pre-positioned becomes quite credible.

That scenario would mean a foreign intel agency luring the House of Saud into its own Vietnam quagmire in Yemen, setting them up for a barrage of missiles hitting their pumping stations and oil fields, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. It’s crucial to remember that the Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) assembled by Riyadh happens to account for no less than 32% of global oil production. This cannot possibly end well.

Everyone in Yemen has an AK-47, not to mention RPGs and hand grenades. The terrain is guerrilla heaven. History spells out at least 2,000 years of hardened tribes fighting foreign invaders. Most Yemenis hate the House of Saud with a vengeance; a majority follows what the Houthis announced in late February, that the House of Saud and the US were planning to devastate Yemen.

The Houthi rebellion includes both Sunnis and Shi’ites – thus totally debunking the Saudi narrative. When they captured the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was basically a CIA station, the Houthis found a wealth of secret documents that “compromised” Washington’s Yemeni chapter of the war on terra. As for the Saudi Army, it’s a joke. Besides, it employs a huge contingent of – you guessed it – Yemeni soldiers.

“Operation Decisive Storm” – yet another Pentagon-style illegal war – has already plunged Yemen into the twin plagues of civil war and humanitarian disaster. The remains of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (who hate the Houthis and all Shi’ites with a vengeance) couldn’t be happier. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ couldn’t give a damn; the more widespread the chaos, the better for the Pentagon-defined Long War (on terra).

Over five years ago I wrote that Yemen is the new Waziristan. Now it’s also heading towards the new Somalia. And soon it may become the House of Saud’s Vietnam.


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

Terronoia Theater

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on September 18, 2014

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nGpKGmcFSwI/VBqnqoVLYpI/AAAAAAAAJ1U/s1-p2Qt-WGQ/s1600/mufid-elfgeehh.jpg

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Terronoia Theater Presents: Staged ISIS Attacks

September 18, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The FBI has foiled yet another entirely fabricated terror threat of its own creation, with missing mechanisms in two firearms provided to a potential terrorist being the only thing that prevented this latest case of entrapment from going “live.”

A Rochester man, Mufid A. Elfgeeh, is accused by the FBI of attempting to provide material support to ISIS (undercover FBI agents), attempting to kill US soldiers, and possession of firearms and silencers (provided to him by the FBI). The FBI’s own official press release stated (emphasis added):

According to court records, Elfgeeh attempted to provide material support to ISIS in the form of personnel, namely three individuals, two of whom were cooperating with the FBI. Elfgeeh attempted to assist all three individuals in traveling to Syria to join and fight on behalf of ISIS. Elfgeeh also plotted to shoot and kill members of the United States military who had returned from Iraq. As part of the plan to kill soldiers, Elfgeeh purchased two handguns equipped with firearm silencers and ammunition from a confidential source. The handguns were made inoperable by the FBI before the confidential source gave them to Elfgeeh.

What is perhaps more chilling are the details of Elfgeeh’s plans to kill US soldiers. The FBI’s press release stated (emphasis added):

Court documents also indicate that Elfgeeh first discussed the idea of shooting United States military members in December 2013 when he told CS-2 that he was thinking about getting a gun and ammunition, putting on a bulletproof vest, and “just go[ing] around and start shooting.” In February 2014, Elfgeeh told CS-2 that he needed a handgun and silencer. Elfgeeh later gave CS-2 $1,050 in cash to purchase two handguns equipped with silencers and ammunition. On May 31, 2014, CS-2 delivered the two handguns equipped with silencers and ammunition to Elfgeeh. After Elfgeeh took possession of the items, he was arrested by members of the Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force. Elfgeeh is currently being held in custody.

Elfgeeh’s plans are also – coincidentally – verbatim, the dream scenario of Washington’s warmongers currently attempting to sell a war that will straddle both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, allow the US to provide terrorists operating in Syria with air support, and lead to punitive operations against the Syrian government for attacking US-backed terrorists with the final objective being long-sought after regime change in Damascus.


With serial beheadings failing to raise Western public support necessary for an expedient intervention in Syria, more insidious provocations appear to be in the works. Setting the stage, a CBS/Associated Press story titled, “Former Deputy CIA Director: ‘I Would Not Be Surprised’ If ISIS Member Shows Up To US Mall Tomorrow With AK-47,” would claim immediately after the initial James Foley execution video that:

“The short-term concern is the Americans that have gone to fight with ISIS and the west Europeans that have gone to fight with ISIS could be trained and directed by ISIS to come to the United States to conduct small-scale attacks,” Morell stated. “If an ISIS member showed up at a mall in the United States tomorrow with an AK-47 and killed a number of Americans, I would not be surprised.”

Morell warned that over the long-term the extremist group could be planning for a 9/11-style attack that killed thousands of Americans.

Elfgeeh’s entrapment is only the beginning. Staged “terror raids” in Australia are also ratcheting up hysteria ahead of an actual event of mass murder carried out on Western soil. The BBC would report in their article, “Australia raids over ‘Islamic State plot to behead’,” that:

Police have carried out anti-terror raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic extremists were planning random killings in Australia.

PM Tony Abbott said a senior Australian Islamic State militant had called for “demonstration killings”, reportedly including a public beheading.

The raids, with at least 800 heavily-armed officers, led to 15 arrests.

 

Image: Australian security forces swept the city of Sydney arresting suspects of an alleged plot by ISIS to behead a random member of the public and then drape an ISIS flag upon their body in an attack that would only stand to serve Western ambitions to expand war on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border. The plot is cartoonish in nature, but Westerners should not underestimate what lengths special interests will go through to provoke war. 

The cartoonish nature of the plot – beheading a random member of the public before draping an ISIS flag over their body – is meant to provoke maximum fear and anger first, then maximum support for Australia’s continued involvement in Wall Street and London’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East. Likewise, the Rochester arrest made by the FBI amid their own terror plot, serves only to incite fear across the public and irrational support for intervention in Syria that will, in fact, lead to further support of extremists as well as the destruction of the only institution in the region truly fighting terrorism – the Syrian Arab Army.

A Functioning Firing Pin Away From a Staged Mass Shooting

The FBI has a long list of foiled terror plots of its own creation. More disturbingly are the plots they conceived but “accidentally” allowed to go “live.” One might recall the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. FBI agents, according to the New York Times, were indeed overseeing the bombers that detonated a device killing six and wounding many more at the World Trade Center.

In their article, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast,” NYT reported:

Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.

The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars.

Considering the 1993 bombing and the fact that the FBI literally oversaw the construction and deployment of a deadly bomb that killed 6, it is clear that the FBI can at any time through design or disastrous incompetence, turn one of their contrived entrapment cases into a live terror attack. One can only guess at how many similar FBI operations are currently taking place within the United States involving ISIS sympathizers – any one of which could be turned into a live terror attack provided the weapons handed over to potential terrorists are functioning, just as the bomb was in 1993 when it was driven into the lower levels of the World Trade Center.

Image: The FBI has an impressive portfolio of intentionally created, then foiled terror plots. Its methods include allowing suspects to handle both real and inoperable weapons and explosives. These methods allow the FBI to switch entrapment cases “live” at any moment simply by switching out duds and arrests with real explosives and successful attacks. Because the FBI uses “informants,” when attacks go live, these confidential assets can be blamed, obfuscating the FBI’s involvement. 

Everything from a mass shooting to a bombing, and even an Operation Northwoods-style false flag attack involving aircraft could be employed to provide Wall Street and London with the support it needs to accelerate its long-stalled agenda of regime change and reordering in both Syria and across the Iranian arc of influence. Readers may recall Operation Northwoods, reported on in an ABC News article titled, “U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba,” which bluntly stated:

In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. 

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

That the FBI and Australian authorities are coordinating staged security operations in tandem on opposite ends of the globe to terrify their respective populations into line behind an impending war with Syria suggests a new “Operation Northwoods” of sorts is already being executed. Staged executions on cue by ISIS in the Middle East of US and British citizens at perfectly timed junctures of the West’s attempt to sell intervention both at home and abroad also reek of staged mayhem for the sole purpose of provoking war. Could grander and ultimately more tragic mayhem be in store? As ABC News’ article on Operation Northwoods suggests, there is no line Western special interests will hesitate to cross.

With the West attempting to claim ISIS now has a “global” reach, the US and its partners’ attempts to obfuscate the very obvious state-sponsorship it is receiving will become exponentially more difficult. That the FBI is admittedly stringing along easily manipulated, malevolent patsies who at any time could be handed real weapons and sent on shooting sprees and/or bombings, Americans, Europeans, and Australians would be foolish to conclude that their real enemy resides somewhere in Syria and not right beside them at home, upon the very seats of Western power.

Washington Menaces America With Its ISIS Creation

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on September 11, 2014

NSA-HQImage: Despite the NSA’s immense resources and all encompassing
spying activities both abroad and domestically, it appears to miss many
even obvious world events unfolding. It is likely this “ignorance” is
feigned to afford plausible deniability between global chaos and US
culpability.  

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

September 11, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – The Washington Times in an article titled, “Intel believes 300 Americans fighting with Islamic State, posing threat to U.S.,” makes the incredible claim that:

The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side by side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland, according to senior U.S. officials.

Officials say concern is widespread in Washington that radicalized foreign fighters could return to the homeland and commit terrorist attacks with skills acquired overseas, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Those concerns were heightened by the disclosure Tuesday that a California man was killed fighting alongside militants with the group, also known as ISIS.

It is incredible because the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) has not only been tapping and recording phone conversations of Americans for years, but also tracking phone locations as well. How is it that this massive, invasive, illegal, abhorrent surveillance control grid can be put in place, sold to the public as a necessity to “protect Americans” and “national security,” yet miss entire battalions of Americans signing up for and joining overseas, a terrorist organization like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?

If the very scenarios the NSA uses to justify its abhorrent means have unfolded unimpeded, revealed only by “chance” with the passport of an American turning up in the pockets of dead terrorists upon an alleged battlefield in Syria, either the NSA’s existence serves another purpose, or the narrative we are being fed regarding the true nature of ISIS is a lie, or the most likely scenario – both.

Not the First Fit of Feigned Ignorance 

Image: A tank flying Al Qaeda’s flag – it is difficult to believe the US when
it claims it did not foresee ISIS’ emergence when the CIA itself had been
operating in ISIS territory for the past 3-4 years. 

The very appearance of ISIS on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria allegedly took the US intelligence community by surprise. The unlikely narrative was designed entirely to maintain plausible deniability between ISIS mercenaries and their paymasters in Washington, London, Brussels, Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara respectively. In reality, headlines over the past 3-4 years such as, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield’,” “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” and “Official says CIA-funded weapons have begun to reach Syrian rebels; rebels deny receipt,” indicate precisely how and from where the immense, multinational ISIS mercenary force originated.


The US has yet to account how its CIA could be operating within territory held by ISIS – including all along the Turkish-Syrian border and within Turkish territory itself – and neither know the existence, movements, or intentions of ISIS forces.

Between NSA surveillance at home, and the CIA operating side-by-side with ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations, the sudden revelations that Americans are fighting within ISIS’ ranks seem to be more a matter of politically-motivated propaganda, timed perfectly to justify US military intervention in Syria, than a case of yet another convenient lapse in American intelligence.

Washington Menacing America With Its Own Mercenaries 

Indeed, in order for the US to begin military operations in Syria under the guise of fighting ISIS forces, it must first demonstrate the threat ISIS poses to America. Already, likely false flags serving ISIS no benefit, but giving the US the green light to begin military operations in Syria have begun making their rounds across Western media. A CBS/Associated Press story titled, “Former Deputy CIA Director: ‘I Would Not Be Surprised’ If ISIS Member Shows Up To US Mall Tomorrow With AK-47,” claims:

“The short-term concern is the Americans that have gone to fight with ISIS and the west Europeans that have gone to fight with ISIS could be trained and directed by ISIS to come to the United States to conduct small-scale attacks,” Morell stated. “If an ISIS member showed up at a mall in the United States tomorrow with an AK-47 and killed a number of Americans, I would not be surprised.”

Morell warned that over the long-term the extremist group could be planning for a 9/11-style attack that killed thousands of Americans.

The same report would also claim:

The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and that has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama vowed relentless pursuit of the terrorists and the White House revealed that the U.S. had launched a secret rescue mission inside Syria earlier this summer that failed to rescue Foley and other Americans still being held hostage.

The current justification for ongoing preparations against Syria has been the Foley execution video, which experts have agreed upon was staged. The London Telegraph in its article, “Foley murder video ‘may have been staged’,” would state:

Analysts believe the British jihadi in the video may not have been James Foley’s killer, although it is accepted that the journalist was murdered.

Of course, if the video was staged, and every claim about it made by ISIS thus far proven a fabrication, no evidence at all suggests when and where, or even if Foley was murdered. If he was, no evidence suggests by whom. And despite this revelation, the US continues building momentum to intervene in Syria.

Imperialism Hiding Behind Righteousness 

Image: Image accompanying Seymour Hersh’s
prophetic 2007 report, “The Redirection,” exposing
a US-Saudi-Israeli conspiracy to arm terrorists
aligned to Al Qaeda to fight Iran and its allies in a
cataclysmic regional sectarian bloodbath – a
scenario now fully realized. 

Several years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, ISIS is clearly the product of long-laid Western designs to overthrow the Syrian government and reorder the Middle East as warned by the prophetic 2007 9-page report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” written by Seymour Hersh and published in the New Yorker. In it Hersh warned about a cataclysmic sectarian war that would ravage the entire region, targeting not only Syria and neighboring Lebanon, but also Iran. He also warned that it was an intentionally engineered conspiracy between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, with many smaller regional players serving in supporting roles.

With the emergence of ISIS creating the very cataclysmic sectarian conflagration warned about in Hersh’s 2007 report, with no other credible explanation to account for ISIS’ incredible size, strength, and success beyond multinational state-sponsorship, Hersh’s reportage has once again been vindicated.

It is clear that the US has created ISIS, and is to this day using it as both a means to target and attack its enemies across the Middle East, as well as serve as a pretext for direct US military intervention when proxy wars flounder. It is also being used in a third context – on the domestic front – as a manufactured and perpetual threat with which to further justify the militarization and centralization of America’s police forces and the continued expansion of the NSA’s invasive domestic spying.

It is also clear that all of this adds up not to promoting freedom and democracy abroad while ensuring national security at home, but rather achieving full-spectrum domination in regions abroad and over the population at home. It is naked hegemony and imperialism playing dress-up in the wardrobe of righteousness.

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

Struggle to the Death

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Hamas-firing-rocket
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  July 14, 2014

For public consumption, the fatuous haircut-in-search-of-a-brain, a.k.a. Secretary of State John Kerry, hauled out the dog-eared playbook for “negotiating a ceasefire” between the Palestinian Hamas leadership and Israel. Neither side takes him seriously, of course. In this historic moment of Islamic uproar across the entire region, Hamas is just following the larger script: act up and act out.

They would like to catch the momentum of rampaging ISIS next door, but Hamas is not a mobile force of mostly young male psychopaths. They’re stuck in Gaza embedded among their women and children doing what they can to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state. For the moment that means lobbing rockets from launch sites planted among the homes and institutions of daily life in the densely urbanized Gaza strip.

So far in the current offensive, they’ve launched over 700 missiles at Israel. Some of the rockets, purchased through the world’s arms bazaar from China, are powerful enough to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But they are poorly-targeted and Israel’s “iron dome” anti-missile system can intercept some of them before they land on anything.

Unlike previous offensives, when Hamas rocketeers could set up mobile Qassam missiles in alleyways or rooftops, and beat it a few minutes after firing, the new larger rockets require sturdier installations. Thus they can be systematically discovered and targeted. Hamas is quite willing to sacrifice the women and children who eat and sleep around their rocket installations for the propaganda value of pretending that they were not deliberately put in harm’s way.

Israel has accepted the reality that Hamas deliberately uses its own people as human shields and has opted to destroy the missile-launch sites in any case, because the alternative is to give Hamas free reign in bombarding Israel. One would think that world opinion would understand this equation. But there is little sympathy for Israel’s predicament, and little appreciation for Hamas’s calculated ruthlessness vis-à-vis its own people.

The birth-rate in Gaza is among the highest in the world. If it is a deliberate result of social policy, it is a cruel bargain for the Palestinians, who are apparently regarded as expendable by the Hamas leadership. In a culture that glorifies suicide bombings, routine human sacrifice must be normal, though to a Western sensibility it seems tragic.

It shapes up as a struggle to the death that will not be impeded by reason, the good intentions of others, or sentimentality. What Israel remembers is that nobody was on the side of its people in 1939 and they’ll be damned to make the same mistake of not fighting back again. This certainly sets up a situation of extreme political danger in the region, but no more now than the ISIS juggernaut, or the larger beef between the two basic branches of Islam, or the fate of the fragile Saud monarchy.

This is not a region of the world than can support large populations of human beings of any religious persuasion, and in the new age of extreme resource limits blind circumstance itself, more than personalities or doctrines, will determine who gets to inhabit what rockpile.

What’s changed is the perception that the USA has any role to play any longer even in the diplomatic theatrics. The Middle East is disintegrating faster than any polity in historical memory. It appears that, if anything, the USA has only succeeded in accelerating the process wherever we turn our attentions. Since the 1970s, we haven’t felt the ultimate consequence of trouble in that part of the world, which would be an interruption in the oil supply coming out of there.

Back then, there might have been something we could do about it. Now there is nothing we can do but stand on the sidelines and wait. In the meantime, wouldn’t it be a good idea to attend to our own problems, especially the critical need to prepare for American life in a post-oil world?

 

 

***

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.

 

Fear and loathing at Hotel Babylon

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar

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THE ROVING EYE

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Originally published in Asia Times on June 26, 2014
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So now a huge Hardcore Sunnistan stretches all the way from the suburbs of Aleppo to Tikrit and from Mosul to the Jordanian/Iraqi border – the same one that dissolved in 2003 when Shock and Awe turned into Mission (Un)Accomplished.

In an eerie echo of Dick Cheney’s army’s footprints reverberating in the sands of Anbar province, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and their coalition of the willing (jihadis, Islamists, Ba’athists and tribal sheikhs) now pose as the “liberators” of Iraqi Sunnis from the clutches of an “evil” Shi’ite majority government in Baghdad.

In addition, ISIS also controls the PR wars. Here, a jihadi details how any sort of possible Washington “kinetic” involvement will be interpreted as an unholy alliance between the Empire and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against the underdogs.

From a Sunni perspective, it’s down with Iraq’s Counter-terrorism law; down with de-Ba’athification (with the ascent of neo-Ba’athist Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia – JRTN, led by former Saddam honcho Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri); down with the Interior Ministry in Baghdad going after Sunni politicians; down with protests being crushed.

At the same time, it’s the return of the US-sponsored Sahwa (Sons of Iraq) – who fiercely fought al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2007, the mother of ISIS – and the return of assorted Shi’ite militias (Muqtada al-Sadr not only repelled the new wave of US “military advisers” – that’s how it started in Vietnam – but also warned that his own badass Men in Black will “shake the ground” fighting ISIS.) The mid-2000s are the new normal; it’s gonna be militia hell all over again.

Mesopotamia, we got a problem. Neo-Ba’athists want nothing but a secular Iraq run by Sunnis, Saddam-style (rather former neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi.) ISIS wants a Caliphate extending all across the Levant under Sharia law. Something’s got to give.

What will give will be the Iraqi nation itself – the balkanized, protracted (intended) consequence of the 2003 invasion and occupation, finally transmogrified into Jihad Central.

It’s payback time
The Obama administration’s “strategy” (remember “Don’t Do Stupid Shit”, the Ukraine strategy?) is to impose regime change on al-Maliki; after all, he had the bad taste of refusing to let US troops keep occupying Iraq past the 2012 deadline, and on top of it his government is close to Tehran.

Thus the answer to the now legendary question of how the US intel satellite maze failed to capture that long column of ISIS Men in Black in their gleaming white Toyota Land Cruisers crossing the Syrian-Iraq desert wasteland. Call it the Mother of All Intel Failures (remember Saddam’s talk of Mother of All Battles?)

Here we have trademark Empire of Chaos “revenge” against Baghdad, Tehran and – why not – Moscow (after all Russian president Vladimir Putin offered full support to al-Maliki to fight the jihadis.) Iraq duly merges with Ukraine. And as for payback redux, it’s – almost – all spelled out here.

As for the Beltway-peddled myth – once again – of “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists”, this week Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria pledged its allegiance to ISIS. This means that ISIS now virtually controls both sides of the border, at Albu Kamal in Syria and Al-Qaim in Iraq. As a bonus, ISIS and allied Sunni tribal sheikhs also surrounded the US-controlled Camp Anaconda in Iraq and are ready for a long-term mortar game. Will Beltway “analysts” ever learn?

That little fiction known as Jordan – run by King Playstation, aka Abdullah – will be ripe for the taking as soon as hardcore Salafis from Zarqa (Zarqawi’s hometown) totally align with ISIS. Add that piece of real estate to the embryo Levantine Caliphate and we’ll be talking major business – oil refineries possibly included.

“Don’t Do Stupid Shit”, applied to Syria and Iraq, means that the Obama administration has gone (almost) no holds barred in its “Assad must go” policy, by the way a Ba’ath government; what’s implied is that Washington is an ally of ISIS in Syria, while a (determined?) foe of ISIS in Iraq. Assad’s “sin” is that he’s an ally of both Tehran (like al-Maliki) and, most of all (from an American perspective), Hezbollah. And now comes the Obama administration’s latest “Stupid Shit” – in the form of weaponizing “appropriately vetted” rebels in Syria.

Lording over this suspension of disbelief scenario, the whole Beltway, White House included, sells the illusion it is thoughtfully deliberating whether the real dangerous Men in Black here are in fact from ISIS – and what to do about them.

As some sort of Washington-Tehran cooperation against ISIS becomes self-evident, that poses a major problem for the perennial Bomb Iran crowd in the Beltway, as well as for hardliners in Tehran; after all ISIS has erected a massive geostrategic barrier between Iran and Syria, threatening Tehran’s connection with Hezbollah.

Likudniks will go no holds barred to prevent any cooperation. But that will be a detail anyway. Baghdad may get all the help it needs from Iranian special forces and militias such as Muqtada’s. ISIS does not have the manpower or the expertise to lay siege to Baghdad; people in Sadr City alone would rip them to shreds. Not to mention attack Najaf and Karbala, the Shi’ite holy cities, which are already protected by heavily armed popular brigades.

Will NATO meet Jihadistan?
Kirkuk is now under virtual Kurd control. Its “devolution” to Baghdad will be immensely problematic – and that’s a major euphemism. Kirkuk produces around 670,000 barrels of oil a day. Up to 300,000 are exported via the pipeline to Ceyhan, in Turkey. Yet only 120,000 barrels a day have been online these past few weeks.

Iraq’s total production is 3.3 million barrels a day – the bulk concentrated in the south, around Basra. There’s no realistic evidence ISIS would ever be able to capture Basra.

So the problem remains some refineries in the north such as Baiji. Elite Iraqi counter-terrorism forces can deal with it. If ISIS by any chance would be able to hang on to some oil and gas – a major if – that’s certified joy for, most of all, market speculators. And soon there might be thousands of US special forces “securing” Iraqi oil fields and the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Assad’s Syrian Army can – and it’s already – contributing to fight ISIS. In the end, ISIS can realistically be repelled by the Syrian Army, elite Iranian special forces, Shi’ite brigades and yes – an imminent cameo by those second-hand fighter jets from Russia and Belarus.

ISIS won’t take over Baghdad. But like a freak mutant, in a Hardcore Sunnistan goes Hollywood fashion, it might go even more bonkers and try to take over Amman, Doha and even Riyadh.

The Empire of Chaos will keep betting on – what else – chaos. And it’s going swimmingly its way – from the real possibility of a final push towards a Great Kurdistan (in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and even Iran) to sectarian militia hell all across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Yemen. Not to mention all possible ramifications in Northern Africa, Central Asia and the North Caucasus.

What will Hillary Clinton, the Hillarator, do? In this case, one’s gotta wait for early 2017. She could always pull another “We came, we saw, he died” and triumphantly stage a second coming in the Levant as a droned Athena singing Light My Fire.

In the end, NATO won’t meet Jihadistan. No “responsibility to protect” (R2P) Arabs from killing Arabs. NATO will be – gleefully – “watching” in the sidelines. Because from Northern Africa and across the Middle East to the Caucasus and all the way to Western China, the name of the (burning) game is to keep Dr Zbig Brzezinski’s “Eurasian Balkans” ever simmering in a funeral pyre.

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

The Good, the Bad, & the Takfiri

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

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Published on Economic Undertow on June 29, 2014

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Oscar Wilde famously observed that, “Life imitates art”. Fast forward a hundred years from Wilde’s Belle Époque; art is dead and life imitates Netflix. Everything the West thinks it knows about the Arab world it learned from “Lawrence of Arabia”. Ironically, everything the Arabs think they know about both the West and the Arab world itself has also been learned from … “Lawrence of Arabia”!

The Near East in all its voluptuous backwardness is distilled into a three-hour, technicolor smorgasbord: the man-love, the billowing drapery, the cynical- yet eagerly credulous American media, the fluttering banners, the stirring and improbable dashes across the desert; the blowing up of motor vehicles, the casual barbarism, masochism, escapism, sadism, voyeurism; overblown romantic posturing and charisma; the megalomania/religious indoctrination and the cult of personality = Iraq.

Lawrence_of_ArabiaThe character Lawrence lives the school-boy’s dream; a ‘Tintin’ leading the vengeful Mu’min horde from the back of a camel. “No prisoners,” warbles Lawrence; when he isn’t cooking up a revolution as a hobby, he’s back in England having conversations with rabbits.

The power of pop lies in its ability to reduce everything to a flat surface; to a tape loop and a beat. There are no independent actors, agents, subjects or objects; only processes which grind toward conclusions like clockwork. Participants receive their fifteen milliseconds of fame: in exchange they surrender whatever identities that they might possess to take on roles that fashion dictates, becoming robots driven by the ‘artificial intelligence’ of process. To escape the boxes that the process demands, robots build more boxes; to become free, they enslave themselves. In the pop-culture miasma we create for ourselves, we have the choice to be Wile E. Coyote or nothing at all. Individuality evaporates; we march our camels in lock step over the edge of the precipice, we have no choice, it’s in the script, it’s what the camel is programmed to do; to hang in the air for a few seconds before vanishing.

 

Lawrence of Arabia Part Two

 

WARNING: pornography; “Lawrence of Arabia Two” by ISIS Inc. (Jihadology.net). Every member of the US Congress should be required to watch this video, then take a test afterward. Question Number One: what happened to the money? Where in the name of Allah is the $25 billion dollars spent by the US since 2003 to train and equip the Iraqi Army? Where is the accountability?

The Iraqi military is so inept it defies criticism: the soldiers are little more than targets; no wonder they run away. The entire US enterprise in Iraq is a gigantic control fraud, as it has been from the beginning of the US ‘conquest’ in 2003.

Iraqi government is the latest in the long line of klepto-proxies installed by Washington in countries overseas; their purpose is to service the fraud and to keep the oil- and dope flowing. The government is inept to the degree that US policy makers insist on restructuring as a condition of military aid. Washington’s insistence pushes the Iraqi government closer to Iran. Washington finds itself stranded, with no good choices but to deal with militants or incompetents.

This is not a movie, folks!

Debtonomics 101: In order to gain petroleum fuel, a customer somewhere has to pay for it. This takes money which in our world is credit/debt. People point to central banks but they cannot create ‘new money’, that is, they cannot make unsecured loans. Central banks are collateral constrained. Only private-sector finance can make unsecured loans … as they do so they become insolvent.

If the central bank makes unsecured loans or takes the defective assets of the private sector as collateral, it becomes insolvent like a private sector bank. The outcome is no lender of last resort = bank runs. This is occurring in Argentina and Venezuela right now … also Japan.

What determines oil drillers’ costs is geology, what matters is drillers’ costs relative to all the other costs within the economy. Every new barrel costs the drillers more energy and materials — money — to extract every day.

What we do with oil after we have it in hand is non-remunerative: we drive big metal boxes in circles on flat petroleum surfaces between gas stations. Consumers cannot meet the cost of fuel or the cars, roads, military machines, credit or other car-related junk by driving cars. To meet drillers’ increasing real costs the customers must borrow … more every day. Just like drilling, credit has exponential costs because the only way to retire and service the ballooning debt is to borrow more:

 

 photo 5d8c68a9-786c-4f0e-9c21-e5f76f1fd683_zps06b26769.png

 

… a lot more … something on the order of 7- or 8 hundred trillion dollars! Cars are expensive we just don’t have a handle on how costly they really have turned out to be.

The economy is a closed system, in bookkeeping terms costs on the expense-side of the ledger must equal returns on the other: (Expenses) – (Returns) = zero. (Expense of fuel + Expense of credit) – (Returns on fuel) = 0 …

(E1 + E2) – (R) = 0

Fuel use is supposed to pay for everything but it cannot even meet its own expenses; ‘use’ is non-remunerative circling. We have to borrow a large portion of our returns in addition to what we borrow to meet total credit- and fuel costs. No wonder we are broke! Our economy cannibalizes itself: in an attempt to keep pace with costs the robotic process ‘sells’ itself more mouths while adding to the debt pyramid at the same time.

Loans are finance system losses, finance cannot retain its own losses and remain in business. These must be allocated elsewhere; Iraq has found itself as a sink for finance system losses that it did not agree to take on. At the same time, Iraq is stuck with its fuel industry costs arising from depletion and more difficult extraction regime. The Iraq government cannot effectively pass these costs/losses onto others: the country is insolvent. What is underway in Iraq right now is a ‘run’ against the country’s assets, (Michael Schwartz via Tom Engelhardt):

The oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein was racked with insurgency, and when vicious repression failed, it delivered a portion of the vast oil revenues to the people in the form of government jobs, social services, and subsidized industries and agriculture. The oppressive United States occupation was racked with insurgency precisely because it tried to harness the country’s vast oil revenues to its imperial designs in the Middle East. The oppressive Maliki regime is now racked with insurgency, because the prime minister refused to share those same vast oil revenues with his Sunni constituents.

 

Someone has to pay for both fuel waste and credit — take on finance system losses — and do so by borrowing. Cutting through the tangle of proxies and their various puppet-masters leaves the petroleum customers in the West and their imitators as ultimate financiers. Imitators have to include Iraqis themselves: unable to bear costs themselves or pass them to others by peaceful means, they resort to warfare.

If you drive a car you are funding ISIS.

Along with Ukraine and Argentina, Iraq is one more fiercely ugly place-of-the-moment where fantasy and reality collide. The West and the United States in particular are caught in a contradiction of its own making. The West requires resources from the Middle East and elsewhere to produce economic expansion. The West’s fuel payments provide funding messianic non-state actors that threaten the West itself. Put another way: if you drive a car you must buy fuel, when you buy fuel you fund ISIS and growing constellation of similar groups.

Because the West’s fuel payments must be borrowed; the cost of borrowing threatens the West from the other direction. More costly credit makes it more difficult to destroy the militants: failing to destroy makes them more proficient. Our waste + borrowing + warfare cycle has created a Frankenstein monster that nobody can control.

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 petroleum consumption. Political and social distress is a product of declining economic fortunes. The rise of militancy in developing countries is a consequence of both consumption and meddling proxy politics, particularly as played by major consuming countries.

The only reason events in Iraq matter at all is because of the West’s petroleum dependence. We need gas because our economy ‘grows’ by monetizing automobile waste; once burned the fuel is gone forever, new supplies are always required.
Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 9.02.36 AM

Minimalist ‘Triangle of Doom’ by Chris Skrebowski, ODAC; from a presentation by Matt Mushalik
– Blue line: Brent price going up at $10 per annum
– Red line: affordable price with efficiency increase of 3% per annum; Crossover period: 2014

Americans tie themselves into knots blaming religion, regional backwardness, vendettas, the color of the president, everything besides our wasteful, non-negotiable lifestyle. Religion is indeed to blame; the religion of ‘modernity’ that pretends there are no limits to our God-like greed.

The proliferation of militants indicates our non-negotiable lifestyle is untenable; that we need to do something else. We don’t need to become militants ourselves but instead, honest regarding our wasteful resource dependency. The next step is stringent resource conservation and husbandry. The US needs to cut its petroleum consumption at once, by half if not more: doing so would defund aggressive petro-states such as Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia; it would also cut colossus China’s waste down to size as they depend entirely on dollar credit. Doing so would also undermine proxies such as ISIS that depends on willingness of the West to buy fuel from any source regardless of how corrupt or violent.

The alternative to conservation is catastrophe: ‘conservation by other means’™.

What is taking place in Iraq is a reaction against American-style colonialism and pseudo-democracy. Maliki’s outreach to Shi’ite militias speaks for itself: there is no state, Maliki is not a part of any state, he seeks to create his own version of ISIS, to challenge for that group’s administrative- and political space as if he is another crazy Englishman on a camel. He cannot possibly succeed: any government in Baghdad will be seen as the arm of Washington, even ISIS itself.

Washington is roundly hated by citizens in a country that the US has effectively ‘bombed into the stone age’ … then lavished with artillery. What America proposes as the ‘solution’ to the America-created ‘militant problem’ is more bombing and artillery. Americans see Iraq as a giant gas pump, with Iraqis as little more than cockroaches to be stepped on and swept aside. Heaving into view is the American establishment, looking to exercise this prejudice further; it needs the gas, there are automobile interests to protect along with real estate, finance, construction … the economy itself.

Prejudice will not advance any interests besides those of militants in Iraq and elsewhere who see themselves as cogs in a destructive process with nothing to lose.

Since 2008 industrial modernity has presented the human race with an array of choices of increasing difficulty: to drive a car or ‘do something else’: drive or gain a college education, drive a car or obtain medical care. We choose the car and shove its costs onto increasingly unaffordable education and medical care. With time and petroleum depletion, the choices become more difficult: to drive a car or have a job, drive a car or live in a house … live inside, to live in a nice town. We chose to drive and add layers of denial. Choices are becoming fierce and existential: drive a car or have something to eat, drive a car or have some fresh water … drive a car and allow countries like Greece, Syria, Yemen to descend into warfare and collapse … China, Japan … France. In the background, the Four Horsemen are making themselves ready to ride … If you drive a car you should watch ‘movie number two’ one more time. It’s the cost of your car and it is coming to a driveway near you.

US in Iraq

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on June 18, 2014

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Geopolitical Arsonists Seek to Burn Region

When a fire is raging, firefighters are called – not the arsonist who started it, especially if they return to the scene of the crime dragging a barrel of gasoline behind them. Yet, this is precisely what the US proposes – that they – the geopolitical arsonists – be allowed to return to Iraq to extinguish the threat of heavily armed sectarian militants streaming from NATO territory in Turkey and edging ever closer to Baghdad.

ISIS: Made in USA 

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a creation of the United States and its Persian Gulf allies, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and recently added to the list, Kuwait. The Daily Beast in an article titled, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS,” states:

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.

Despite the candor of the opening sentence, the article would unravel into a myriad of lies laid to obfuscate America’s role in the creation of ISIS. The article would claim:

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.

However, the US goal in the region was never “stability” and surely not “moderation.” As early as 2007, sources within the Pentagon and across the US intelligence community revealed a conspiracy to drown the Middle East in sectarian war, and to do so by arming and funding extremist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda itself. Published in 2007 – a full 4 years before the 2011 “Arab Spring” would begin – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker article titled, “”The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” stated specifically (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.

The 9 page, extensive report has since been vindicated many times over with revelations of US, NATO, and Persian Gulf complicity in raising armies of extremists within Libya and along Syria’s borders. ISIS itself, which is claimed to occupy a region stretching from northeastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq, has operated all along Turkey’s border with Syria, “coincidentally” where the US CIA has conducted years of “monitoring” and arming of “moderate” groups.

In fact, the US admits it has armed, funded, and equipped “moderates” to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. In a March 2013 Telegraph article titled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’,” it was reported that a single program included 3,000 tons of weapons sent in 75 planeloads paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States. The New York Times in its article, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid,” admits that the CIA assisted Arab governments and Turkey with military aid to terrorists fighting in Syria constituting hundreds of airlifts landing in both Jordan and Turkey.

The vast scale of US, NATO, and Arab aid to terrorists fighting in Syria leaves no doubt that the conspiracy described by Hersh in 2007 was carried out in earnest, and that the reason Al Qaeda groups such as Al Nusra and ISIS displaced so-called “moderates,” was because such “moderates” never existed in any significant manner to begin with. While articles like the Daily Beast’s “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS” now try to portray a divide between US and Persian Gulf foreign policy, from Hersh’s 2007 article and all throughout the past 3 years in Libya and Syria, the goal of raising an army in the name of Al Qaeda has been clearly shared and demonstrably pursued by both the US and its regional partners.

The plan, from the beginning, was to raise an extremist expeditionary force to trigger a regional sectarian bloodbath – a bloodbath now raging across multiple borders and set to expand further if decisive action is not taken.


Iran Must Avoid America’s “Touch of Death” and Sectarian War at All Costs  

Despite an open conspiracy to drown the region in sectarian strife, the US now poses as a stakeholder in Iraq’s stability. Having armed, funded, and assisted ISIS into existence and into northern Iraq itself, the idea of America “intervening” to stop ISIS is comparable to an arsonist extinguishing his fire with more gasoline. Reviled across the region, any government – be it in Baghdad, Tehran, or Damascus – that allies itself with the US will be immediately tainted in the minds of forces forming along both sides of this artificially created but growing sectarian divide. Iran’s mere consideration of joint-operations with the US can strategically hobble any meaningful attempts on the ground to stop ISIS from establishing itself in Iraq and using Iraqi territory to launch attacks against both Tehran and Damascus.

Any Iranian assistance to Iraq should be given only under the condition that the US not intervene in any manner. Iran’s main concern should be portraying the true foreign-funded nature of ISIS, while uniting genuine Sunni and Shia’a groups together to purge what is a foreign invasion of Iraqi territory. Iran must also begin allaying fears among Iraq’s Sunni population that Tehran may try to use the current crisis to gain further influence over Baghdad.

While the US downplays the sectarian aspects of ISIS’ invasion of Iraq before global audiences, its propaganda machine across the Middle East, assisted by Doha and Riyadh, is stoking sectarian tensions. The ISIS has committed itself to a campaign of over-the-top sectarian vitriol and atrocities solely designed to trigger a wider Sunni-Shia’a conflict. That the US created ISIS and it is now in Iraq attempting to stoke a greater bloodbath with its already abhorrent invasion, is precisely why Tehran and Baghdad should take a cue from Damascus, and disassociate itself from the West, dealing with ISIS themselves.

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

Trying to Stay Sane in an Insane World- At World’s End

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on September 10, 2013

Cuckoos_Nest

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In the first three parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) of this disheartening look back at a century of central banking, income taxing, military warring, energy depleting and political corrupting, I made a case for why we are in the midst of a financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapse. In this final installment I’ll give my best estimate as to what happens next and it has a 100% probability of being wrong. There are so many variables involved that it is impossible to predict the exact path to our world’s end. Many people don’t want to hear about the intractable issues or the true reasons for our predicament. They want easy button solutions. They want someone or something to fix their problems. They pray for a technological miracle to save them from decades of irrational myopic decisions. As the domino-like collapse worsens, the feeble minded populace becomes more susceptible to the false promises of tyrants and psychopaths. There are a myriad of thugs, criminals, and autocrats in positions of power who are willing to exploit any means necessary to retain their wealth, power and control. The revelations of governmental malfeasance, un-Constitutional mass espionage of all citizens, and expansion of the Orwellian welfare/warfare surveillance state, from patriots like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden has proven beyond a doubt the corrupt establishment are zealously anxious to discard and stomp on the U.S. Constitution in their desire for authoritarian control over our society.

Anyone who denies we are in the midst of an ongoing Crisis that will lead to a collapse of the system as we know it is either a card carrying member of the corrupt establishment, dependent upon the oligarchs for their living, or just one of the willfully ignorant ostriches who choose to put their heads in the sand and hum the Star Spangled Banner as they choose obliviousness to awareness. Thinking is hard. Feeling and believing a storyline is easy.

 

A moral society must be inhabited by an informed, educated, aware populace and   governed by honorable leaders who oversee based upon the nation’s founding principles of liberty, freedom and limited government of, by and for the people. A moral society requires trust, honor, property rights, simple just laws, and the freedom to succeed or fail on your own merits. There is one major problem in creating a true moral society where liberty, freedom, trust, honor and free markets are cherished – human beings. We are a deeply flawed species who are prone to falling prey to the depravities of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Men have always been captivated by the false idols of dominion, power and wealth. The foibles of human nature haven’t changed over the course of history. This is why we have 80 to 100 year cycles driven by the same human strengths and shortcomings revealed throughout recorded history.

Empires rise and fall due to the humanness of their leaders and citizens. The great American Empire is no different. It was created a mere 224 years ago by courageous patriots who risked their wealth and their lives to create a Republic founded upon the principles of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; took a dreadful wrong turn in 1913 with the creation of a privately held central bank to control its currency and introduction of an income tax; devolved into an empire after World War II, setting it on a course towards bankruptcy; sealed its fate in 1971 by unleashing power hungry psychopathic elitists to manipulate the monetary and fiscal policies of the nation to enrich themselves; and has now entered the final frenzied phase of pillaging, currency debasement, war mongering, and ransacking of civil liberties. Despite the frantic efforts of the financial elite, their politician puppets, and their media propaganda outlets, collapse of this aristocracy of the moneyed is a mathematical certainty. Faith in the system is rapidly diminishing, as the issuance of debt to create the appearance of growth has reached the point of diminishing returns.

 

Increase in Real GDP per Dollar of Incremental Debt

“At the root of America’s economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite. A society of markets, laws, and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty, and compassion toward the rest of society and toward the world.”Jeffrey Sachs

Five Stages of Collapse

The day of reckoning for a century of putting our faith in the wrong people with wrong ideas and evil intentions is upon us. Dmitry Orlov provides a blueprint for the collapse in his book The Five Stages of Collapse – Survivors’ Toolkit:

Stage 1: Financial Collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings wiped out and access to capital is lost.

Stage 2: Commercial Collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

Stage 3: Political Collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.

Stage 4: Social Collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.

Stage 5: Cultural Collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.” Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I can die tomorrow.”

The collapse is occurring in fits and starts. The stages of collapse do not necessarily have to occur in order.  You can recognize various elements of the first three stages in the United States today. Stage 1 commenced in September 2008 when this Crisis period was catalyzed by the disintegration of the worldwide financial system caused by Wall Street intentionally creating the largest control fraud in world history, with easy money provided by Greenspan/Bernanke, fraudulent mortgage products, fake appraisals, bribing rating agencies to provide AAA ratings to derivatives filled with feces, and having their puppets in the media and political arena provide the propaganda to herd the sheep into the slaughterhouse.

The American people neglected their civic duty to elect leaders who would tell them the truth and represent current and future generations equally. They have neglected the increasing lawlessness of Wall Street, K Street and the corporate suite. The American people have lived in denial about their responsibility for their own financial well-being, willingly delegating it to a government of math challenged politicians who promised trillions more than they could ever deliver. The American people have delayed tackling the dire issues confronting our nation, including: $200 trillion of unfunded liabilities, the military industrial complex creating wars across the globe, militarization of our local police forces, domestic spying on every citizen, allowing mega-corporations and the financial elite to turn our nation from savings based production to debt based consumption, and allowing corporations, the military industrial complex, Wall Street, and shadowy billionaires to pick and control our elected officials. The civic fabric of the country is being torn at the points of extreme vulnerability.

“At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where, during the Unraveling, America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action. Anger at “mistakes we made” will translate into calls for action, regardless of the heightened public risk. It is unlikely that the catalyst will worsen into a full-fledged catastrophe, since the nation will probably find a way to avert the initial danger and stabilize the situation for a while. Yet even if dire consequences are temporarily averted, America will have entered the Fourth Turning.”  – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

Our Brave New World controllers (bankers, politicians, corporate titans, media moguls, shadowy billionaires) were able to avert a full-fledged catastrophe in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 which would have put an end to their reign of destruction. To accept the rightful consequences of their foul actions was intolerable to these obscenely wealthy, despicable men. Their loathsome and vile solutions to a crisis they created have done nothing to relieve the pain and suffering of the average person, while further enriching them, as they continue to gorge on the dying carcass of a once thriving nation. Despite overwhelming public outrage, Congress did as they were instructed by their Wall Street masters and handed over $700 billion of taxpayer funds into Wall Street vaults, under the false threat of systematic collapse. The $800 billion of pork stimulus was injected directly into the veins of corporate campaign contributors. The $3 billion Cash for Clunkers scheme resulted in pumping taxpayer dollars into the government owned union car companies, while driving up the prices of used cars and hurting lower income folks.

Ben Bernanke has peddled the false paradigm of quantitative easing (code for printing money and airlifting it to Wall Street) as benefitting Main Street. Nothing could be further from the truth. He bought $1.3 trillion of toxic mortgage backed securities from his Wall Street owners. He has pumped a total of $2.8 trillion into the hands of Wall Street since September 2008, and is singlehandedly generating $5 billion of risk free profits for these deadbeats by paying them .25% on their reserves. Drug dealer Ben continues to pump $2.8 billion per day into the veins of Wall Street addicts and any hint of tapering the heroin causes the addicts to flail about. Ben should be so proud. He should hang a Mission Accomplished banner whenever he gives a speech. Bank profits reached an all-time record in the 2nd quarter, at $42.2 billion, with 80% of those profits going to the 2% Too Big To Trust Wall Street Mega-Goliath Banks. It’s enough to make a soon to retire, and take a Wall Street job, central banker smile.

“The money rate can, indeed, be kept artificially low only by continuous new injections of currency or bank credit in place of real savings. This can create the illusion of more capital just as the addition of water can create the illusion of more milk. But it is a policy of continuous inflation. It is obviously a process involving cumulative danger. The money rate will rise and a crisis will develop if the inflation is reversed, or merely brought to a halt, or even continued at a diminished rate. Cheap money policies, in short, eventually bring about far more violent oscillations in business  than those they are designed to remedy or prevent.” Henry Hazlitt – 1946

Any serious minded person knew Wall Street had too much power, too much control, and too much influence in 2008 when they crashed our economic system. When something is too big to fail because it will create systematic collapse, you make it smaller. Instead we have allowed our sociopathic rulers to allow these parasitic institutions to get even larger. Just 12 mega-banks control 70% of all the banking assets in the country, with 90% controlled by the top 86 banks. There are approximately 8,000 financial institutions in this country. Wall Street will be congratulating themselves with record compensation of $127 billion and record bonuses of $23 billion for a job well done. It is dangerous work making journal entries relieving loan loss reserves, committing foreclosure fraud, marking your assets to unicorn, making deposits at the Fed, and counting on the Bernanke Put to keep stocks rising. During a supposed recovery from 2009 to 2011, average real income per household grew pitifully by 1.7%, but all the gains accrued to Bernanke’s minions. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Therefore, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery. This warped trend has only accelerated since 2011.

The median household income has fallen by $2,400 to $52,100 since the government proclaimed the end of the recession in 2009. Real wages for real people continue to fall. A record 23.1 million households (20% of all households) are receiving food stamps. After four years of “recovery” propaganda, we are left with 2.2 million less people employed (5 million less full time jobs) and 22 million more people on SNAP and SSDI. A record 90.5 million working age Americans are not working, with labor participation at a 35 year low. Ben’s money has not trickled down, but his inflation has fallen like a load of bricks on the heads of the middle class. Bernanke’s QE to infinity constitutes a transfer of purchasing power away from the middle class to the bankers, mega-corporations and .1%. This Cantillon effect means that newly created money is neither distributed evenly nor simultaneously among the population. Some users of money profit from rising prices, and others suffer from them. This results in a transfer of wealth (a hidden tax) from later receivers to earlier receivers of new money. This is why the largest banks and largest corporations are generating the highest profits in history, while the average person sinks further into debt as their real income declines and real living expenses (energy, food, clothing, healthcare, tuition) rise.

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 12.35.48 PM.png

Ben works for your owners. Real GDP (using the fake government inflation adjustment) since July 2009 is up by a wretched 5.6%. Revenue growth of the biggest corporations in the world is up by a pathetic 12%. One might wonder how corporate profits could be at record levels with such doleful economic performance. One needs to look no further than Ben’s balance sheet, which has increased by 174%. There appears to be a slight correlation between Ben’s money printing and the 162% increase in the S&P 500 index. With the top 1% owning 42.1% of all financial assets (top .1% own most of this) and the bottom 80% owning only 4.7% of all financial assets, one can clearly see who benefits from QE to infinity.

The key take away from what the ruling class has done since 2008 is they have only temporarily delayed the endgame. Their self-serving exploits have guaranteed that round two of the financial collapse will be epic in proportion and intensity. This Fourth Turning Crisis is ongoing. The linear thinkers who control the levers of power keep promising a return to normalcy and resumption of growth. This is an impossibility – mathematically & socially. Fourth Turnings do not end without the existing social order being swept away in a tsunami of turmoil, violence, suffering and war. Orlov’s stages of collapse will likely occur during the remaining fifteen years of this Crisis. We are deep into Stage 1 as our national Detroitification progresses towards bankruptcy, with an added impetus from our trillion dollar wars of choice in the Middle East. Commercial collapse has begun, as faith in the fantasy of free market capitalism is waning. The race to the bottom with currency debasement around the globe is reaching a tipping point, and the true eternal currencies of gold and silver are being hoarded and shipped from the West to the Far East.

Monetary Base (billions of USD)

When the financial collapse reaches its crescendo, the just in time supply chain, that keeps cheese doodles and cheese whiz on your grocery store shelves, Chinese produced iGadgets in your local Wal-Mart Supercenter, and gasoline flowing out of gas station hoses into your leased Cadillac Escalade, will break down rapidly. The strain of $110 oil is already evident. The fireworks will really get going when ATM machines run dry and the EBT cards stop functioning. Within a week riots and panic will engulf the country.

“At some point we are bound to hear, from across two oceans, the shocking words “Your money is no good here.” Fast forward to a week later: banks are closed, ATMs are out of cash, supermarket shelves are bare and gas stations are starting to run out of fuel. And then something happens: the government announces they have formed a crisis task force, and will nationalize, recapitalize and reopen banks, restoring confidence. The banks reopen, under heavy guard, and thousands of people get arrested for attempting to withdraw their savings. Banks close, riots begin. Next, the government decides that, to jump-start commerce, it will honor deposit guarantees and simply hand out cash. They print and arrange for the cash to be handed out. Now everyone has plenty of cash, but there is still no food in the supermarkets or gasoline at the gas stations because by now the international supply chains have broken down and the delivery pipelines are empty.”  Dmitry Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

We are witnessing the beginning stages of political collapse. The government and its leaders are being discredited on a daily basis. The mismanagement of fiscal policy, foreign policy and domestic policy, along with the revelations of the NSA conducting mass surveillance against all Americans has led critical thinking Americans to question the legitimacy of the politicians running the show on behalf of the bankers, corporations and arms dealers. The Gestapo like tactics used by the government in Boston was an early warning sign of what is to come. Government entitlement promises will vaporize, as they did in Detroit, with pension promises worth only ten cents on the dollar. Total social and cultural collapse could resemble the chaotic civil war scenarios playing out in Libya and Syria. The best case scenario would be for a collapse similar to the Soviet Union’s relatively peaceful disintegration into impotent republics. I don’t believe we’ll be this fortunate. The most powerful military empire in world history will not fade away. It will go out in a blaze of glory with a currency collapse, hyper-inflation, and war on a grand scale.

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.”The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

In Whom Do You Trust?

“Use of money concentrates trust in a single central authority – the central bank – and, over extended periods of time, central banks always tend to misbehave. Eventually the “print” button on the central banker’s emergency console becomes stuck in the depressed position, flooding the world with worthless notes. People trust that money will remain a store of value, and once the trust is violated a gigantic black hole appears at the very center of society, sucking in peoples’ savings and aspirations along with their sense of self-worth. When those who have become psychologically dependent on money as a yardstick, to be applied to everything and everyone, suddenly find themselves in a world where money means nothing, it is as if they have gone blind; they see shapes but can no longer resolve them into objects. The result is anomie – a sense of unreality – accompanied by deep depression. Money is an addiction – substance-less and unreal, and sets itself up for a severe and lengthy withdrawal.” Dmitry Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

Our modern world revolves around wealth, the appearance of wealth, the false creation of wealth through the issuance of debt, and trust in the bankers and politicians pulling the levers behind the curtain. The entire world economic system is dependent on trusting central bankers whose only response to any crisis is to create more debt. The death knell is ringing loud and clear, but people around the globe are desperately clinging to their normalcy biases and praying to the gods of cognitive dissonance. It seems the only things that matter to our controllers are stock market levels, the continued flow of debt to the plebs, continued doling out of hush money to those on the dole, and of course an endless supply of brown skinned enemies to attack. With every country in the world attempting to the same solution of debasing their currencies, we are rapidly approaching the tipping point. India is the canary in the coal mine.

Government, Household, Financial & Non-Financial Debt (% of GDP)

An exponential growth model built upon cheap plentiful energy and debt creation has its limits, and we’ve reached them. With the depletion of inexpensive, easily accessible energy resources, higher prices will continue to slow world economies. Demographics in the developed world are slowing the global economy as millions approach their old age with little savings due to over consuming during their peak earnings years. Bernanke has already quadrupled his balance sheet with no meaningful benefit to the economy or the financial well-being of the average middle class American. Financial manipulation that creates nothing has masked the rot consuming our economic system. The game has been rigged in favor of the owners, but even a rigged game eventually comes to an end. Americans and Europeans can no longer maintain a façade of wealth by buying knickknacks from China with money they don’t have. The US and Europe are finding that their credit is no longer good in the exporting Far East countries. This is a perilous development, as the West has depended upon foreigners to accommodate its never ending expansion of credit. Without that continual expansion of debt, the Ponzi scheme comes crashing down. As China, Japan and the rest of Asia have balked at buying U.S. Treasuries with negative real yields, the only recourse for Ben has been to monetize the debt through QE and inflation. The doubling of ten year Treasury rates in a matter of three months due to just talk of possibly slowing QE should send shivers down your spine.

We are supposedly five years past the great crisis. Magazine covers proclaimed Bernanke a hero. If we are well past the crisis, why are the extreme emergency measures still in effect? If the economy is growing and jobs are being created, why do we need $85 billion of government debt to be monetized each and every month? Why are the EU, Japan, and China printing even faster than the Fed? The answer is simple. If the debt was not being monetized, it would have to be purchased out in the free market. Purchasers would require an interest rate far above the 2.9% being paid today. The debt levels in the U.S., Europe and Japan are so large that a rise in interest rates of just a few points would explode budget deficits and lead to a worldwide financial collapse. This is why Bernanke and the rest of his central banker brethren are trapped by their own ideology of bubble production. Just the slowing of debt creation will lead to collapse. Bernanke needs a Syrian crisis to postpone the taper talk. Those in control need an endless number of real or false flag crises to provide cover for their printing presses to keep rolling.

There are a couple analogies that apply to our impending doom. The country is like a 224 year old oak tree that has been slowly rotting on the inside due to the insidious diseases of hubris, apathy, selfishness, dependence, delusion, and debasement. The old oak gives an outward appearance of health and stability. Winter has arrived and gale force winds are in the forecast. One gust of wind and the mighty aged oak will topple and come crashing to earth. I think an even more fitting analogy is the sandpile with grains of sand being added day after day. Seven out of ten Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. Goliath corporations and the uber-wealthy use the tax code and legislation to syphon hundreds of billions from the national treasury every year. We spend $1 trillion per year on past, current and future wars of choice. Annual interest on the debt we’ve racked up in the last few decades already approaches $400 billion per year. The entire Federal budget totaled $400 billion in 1977. The sandpile grows ever higher, while its instability expands exponentially. One seemingly innocuous grain of sand will ultimately cause the pile to collapse catastrophically. Will it be an unintended consequence of a missile launch into Syria? Will it be a spike in oil prices? Will it be the collapse of one of the EU PIIGS? Will it be an assassination of a political figure or banker? No one knows. But that innocuous grain of sand will trigger the collapse of the entire pile.

Worried people are looking for solutions. They often get angry at me because they don’t think I provide answers to the issues I raise about our corrupt failing system. They want easy answers to intractable problems. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that our system and majority of citizens are too corrupted to change our course through the ballot box or instituting policies along the lines of those proposed by Ron Paul and many other thoughtful liberty minded people. We are experiencing the downside of a representative democracy.  Once a person is democratically elected a gulf is created between the electors and the person they elected, as the representative becomes corrupted and bought by moneyed interests. Elected officials become a class unto themselves. The political class grows to be puppets that resemble human beings but are nothing but cogs in a vast corporate run machine, pawns in an enormous game of chess played by powerful vindictive immoral men.

There are no cures for our disease. It’s terminal. Anyone telling you they have the answers is either lying or trying to sell you something. More people and organizations are on the take than are playing by the rules. The producers are being overrun by the parasites. The barbarians are at the gate. An implosion of societal trust is underway. The next stage of this crisis, which I believe will materialize within the next twelve months will try the souls of the weary.

“As the Crisis catalyzes, these fears will rush to the surface, jagged and exposed. Distrustful of some things, individuals will feel that their survival requires them to distrust more things. This behavior could cascade into a sudden downward spiral, an implosion of societal trust. This might result in a Great Devaluation, a severe drop in the market price of most financial and real assets. This devaluation could be a short but horrific panic, a free-falling price in a market with no buyers. Or it could be a series of downward ratchets linked to political events that sequentially knock the supports out from under the residual popular trust in the system. As assets devalue, trust will further disintegrate, which will cause assets to devalue further, and so on.”The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

As a nation we have squandered our inheritance, born of the blood of patriots. A freedom loving, liberty minded, self-responsible, courageous people have allowed ourselves to fall prey to selfishness, apathy, complacency and dependency. Once we allowed our human appetites of greed, power seeking, and control to override the moral responsibility for our own lives and the lives of future unborn generations, collapse was inevitable. The danger now is what happens after the unavoidable collapse. Will the millions of dependency zombies beg for a strong dictator to protect them, provide for them and lead them into further bondage? Or will the spark of liberty and freedom reignite, allowing citizens to throw off the shackles of banker and corporate control? I believe most of the people in this country are good hearted. We are merely pawns in this game of Risk being played by those seeking power, wealth and world domination. We are all trapped in our own forms of normalcy bias. Have I cashed out my retirement funds, sold my suburban house and built a doomstead in the mountains? No I haven’t. Do I second guess myself sometimes? Yes I do. But even the aware have families to support, jobs to go to, bills to pay, laundry to do, lawns to mow, and lives to live. I can’t live in constant fear of what might happen. We only get 80 or so years on this earth, if we’re lucky. The best we can do is leave a positive legacy for our children and their children. A drastic change to our way of life is coming, but most of us are trapped in a cage of our own making.

Each living generation will need to do their part during this Crisis if we are to survive the coming storm. Since no one knows the nature of how the next fifteen years will unfold, it would be wise to at least make basic preparations for food, water, heat and protection. This is easier for some than others, but you don’t have to star on Doomsday Preppers in order to stock up on items that can be purchased at Wal-Mart today, but won’t be available when the global supply chain breaks down. Make sure you have neighbors and family you can rely upon. A small community of like-minded people with varied skills is more likely to succeed in our brave old world than rugged individualists. With no financial means to maintain our globalized world, living locally will take on a new meaning. After much turmoil, chaos, violence, and likely mass casualties the best outcome would be for the Great American Empire to break into regional republics, incapable of waging global war, led by law abiding moral liberty minded individuals, and willing to trade freely and honestly with their fellow republics. Daily life would revert back to a simpler Amish like time. Would that be so bad?

This Fourth Turning could end with a whimper or a bang. There are enough nuclear arms to obliterate the world ten times over. There are enough hubristic egomaniacal psychopathic men in power, that the use of those weapons has a high likelihood of happening. It will be up to the people to not allow this horrific result. I love my country and despise my government. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that when a long train of abuses and usurpations lead toward despotism, it is our right and duty to throw off that government and provide new guards of liberty. My family comes first with my country a close second. I will fight with whatever means necessary to protect my family and do what I can to influence the future course of our country. Time is running out. Will we have the courage, fortitude and wisdom to make the right decisions over the next fifteen years? Will we choose glory or destruction? The fate of our nation hangs in the balance. Are you prepared? Are you ready to fight for your family and your rights?

The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

 

 IT’S OUR CHOICE.

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El Niño–Southern Oscillation strongly influences rainfall and temperature patterns in Eastern Austra [...]

In this study, the authors evaluated the spatial and temporal variability of rainfall over the centr [...]

Despite the interest in detecting the extremes of climate in the West African Sahel, few studies hav [...]