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Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013

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One of the most interesting finds of the month is the article in KP by Daria Aslamova  which I translated in full. Why Russia lost Ukraine.  It's sad  to note that writer Oleg Busina, whom Daria Aslamova interviewed was killed by Ukrainian nationalists on April 17, 2015. Many other people who were interviewed are iether disappeared or are in Russia (Oleg Tsaryov is an example). So after putsch nationalistic purge using death squads of fanatics is in full force.

What she does not understand is the amount of money injected into Maydan protests by USA and other Maydan sponsors (as well are level of logistical and RP support provided), as well as the extent to which Yanukovich was dependent on the USA, who is keeping him by the ball, threatening to confiscate the assets he stole and moved to West. See "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place

They are much like Tea Party in the USA and, similarly, they are not ready to accept any compromises. It's my way or highway.  And they are winning.  What she does not understand is the amount of money injected into Maydan protests by USA and other Maydan sponsors (as well are level of logistical and RP support provided), as well as the extent to which Yanukovich is dependent on the USA, who is keeping him by the balls, threatening to confiscate the assets he stole and moved to West. See "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place

Dec 23, 2013 | kp.ru

To answer this question, a special correspondent for "KP " Daria Aslamova went to Maidan.

Here is what she reports:

" That's imagine the driver named Yanukovich, who speed the car called the Ukraine towards the western border, and at the last minute slammed the breaks and hit the border post. Completely smashing the front, them whole hood, passengers hit the windshield, the international community is in hysterics. All ran to the crash site and give tips on what to do. And Yanukovich himself, pale, keeps saying I am not guilty, car mechanics are guilty, I'm driving it for only three years and for all this time did not notice that brakes were completely disabled by infiltrated hostile elements. I've saved all the last moment. Galichina is shocked -- the man who turned on a giant propaganda machine to brainwash the population for joining the EU, went to Europe and changed his mind at the last moment. East was long offended Yanukovich betrayal but is silent -- they mistaken still thing that he is one of them and represent their interests. Tribalism, tribal consciousness,  In short, Yanukovich managed betrayed and confused everybody."

Ukrainian writer Oles Busina is ironic, take no prisoners in his judgments, but pragmatic, as a true citizen of Independent Ukraine:

" And then came Putin with 15 billion dollars. And once it became clear that cheap Ukrainians ended. Ukrainians rednecks are now expensive."

How Ukraine reached another Maidan

You are still going to laugh till you drop, as people from Odessa used to say, but essentially nobody ever read the famous Ukrainian Association Agreement with the European Union (by the way,  written in English). Or rather, it was only read by completely zombified, from college bench nurtured by Americans fifth column who served as experts from Ukrainian side. Or let's call them agents of influence . Actually, when Yanukovich babbled in terror that it would be good to find out who so blatantly betrayed the national interests of Ukraine in the negotiations on the Association with the EU, and that it smells like treason - he was absolutely right .

"People who prepare documents for initialing, unfortunately, are not paid agents of influence. They are unpaid volunteers, and it's really scary - the political expert Oleg Havic told us. - With paid agents it's pretty understandable. But here we have ideologically brainwashed zombies, fluent in English and German, who got an excellent education in the West and they sincerely believe that those conditions of full capitulation and betrayal of national interest is what Ukraine needs. Yes, bottom three quarter of population will suffer and starve, an economic will collapse,  country become a colony, but Ukraine will be forever cut off from Russia."

"In our country about 10 thousand employees of non-governmental organizations - says Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) deputy Oleg Tsarev . - More than Ukraine, Soros spends only in Africa. We can hardly find any minister or administration official who did not spend some time in training in the NGO or was not at some time an employee of the NGO . These are people who for twenty years were prepared for the task: to change the matrix Ukrainian people. And they almost succeeded."

Here is what Oleg Tsarev, the leader of the Party of Regions stresses: "We're already Europe,  we are its center, so in no way will perish without European Union ! "

But there were also true patriots in Ukraine, which this summer became alarmed and demanded to translate text of the agreement into Ukrainian and post it on the government website. This despite the fact that part of the Russian-speaking deputies does not fluently speak Ukrainian, and that this economic agreement has the size of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia . Somebody hurried up. Later our people from the Customs Union were not to lazy and managed to translate the text into Russian as a gesture goodwill.

However, summer, hot, singing birds,  MPs and businessmen are leaving on vacation. The mood was, why you are bothering me with you f**n Association ? But then came the "the trade war between Ukraine and Russia " ( as Ukrainian media called it) . And in fact,  Russia has shown that in the case of sighing of a trade agreement between Ukraine and the EU and the abolition of customs duties it will protect its market and erect strong customs barriers to the flow of goods from the West, which will transit through Ukraine. This means that the window of opportunity closes for Ukrainian producers. Local businessman has had a stroke,  and the business instantly appealed to the President of Ukraine to postpone the Association at least a year.

As the representative of the Government of Ukraine in the Eurasian Economic Commission Viktor Suslov noted

"Business was initially inert: we say, do not study the projects we will studying law when it will pass. Business is not accustomed to participate in government - says ex-Minister of Economy of Ukraine. When the serious decline in the volume of trade with Russia happened, it became clear that the inevitable consequence of signing will be the de-industrialization of the country, the loss of manufacturing, and possible death of agriculture. And that this is not a horror story, but pretty realistic scenario.

But the problem is that most of the media and most experts in Ukraine is paid by Western funds. There was a massive brainwashing of public via MSM, which all claimed that the Association with the EU is a huge plus for our state. And any government is dependent on the MSM. In essence, the government was misled by people who have entrusted to negotiate with EU."

The best way to lose independence ("nezalezhnost" in Ukrainian)

By October, the Association Agreement became a hit,  the most popular detective reading matter among politicians in Ukraine . And there really was something to read . It suddenly became clear that Ukraine is committed to follow the instructions of the EU in the field of its foreign and security policy (without the right to vote and the possibility of future membership in the EU),  to participate in all civilian and military EU operations in conflict zones,  to cooperate with the European Defense Agency ( I mean to abandon the remaining military technologies,  which, incidentally directly affects Russia ) . With regard to moral standards the Orthodox part of Ukrainian population in the spirit of political correctness was ordered to follow certain directives. But were even curious people who tried to read very directives that Europeans do not even dare to publish in English in order to avoid scandal.

" In fact, we impose common European homosexual dictatorship - said the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Kolesnichenko . - Protection of the rights of sexual minorities and in the future legalization of gay marriage. In addition, abolished the presumption of innocence in the employment relationship . For example, if I did not take a gay to work for some reason, he does not have to prove in court that he was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, its me who need to explain and justify that gay was not discriminated against."

It turned out that the West does not plan to giving anything to Ukraine for free and that 25 percent of foreign trade of Ukraine already lost. And that money in the treasury is enough only for three months.

But it's just nuisance. The real deal was the establishment in Ukraine EU economic dictatorship.

"These trade agreements the EU has with many countries in North Africa,  but none of them had the enslaving demand, which does not allow Tunisia or Algeria to join whatsoever trade agreements with third countries with which the EU will not agree - says economist Michael Kuhar . - In fact, the treaty of Association of Brussels gave authority to decide whether, for example, sovereign Ukraine can join any trade agreement with Russia or China or not. This is a dishonest approach. "

But the main jewel of the Association Agreement - the introduction of European standards . The word " European standards" sounded so beautiful (almost as high quality home renovation using best European materials ) that local Liberasts were awash with happiness. But ...

"This document,  which is physically impossible to comply with,  - assured us the analyst Rostislav Ishchenko . - In order to prevent the market to sell grandmothers homemade pickles and jams, you need to occupy Ukraine with at least half-million army. No, theoretically grandmother can produce coleslaw, but she can not sell it. Not because the coleslaw can not be made,  but because it does not meet European standards. Even Lithuanians, who entered EU long ago and on more decent conditions, almost lost their agriculture, as they never managed to fit to rules."

"Yes, Ukrainian grandmothers did not produce chicken and bacon according to EU standards . And you know why ? Because they make it to a higher standard - said Ukrainian writer Oles Elderberries . - And to lower standards they can just go to Western technology and this pump chicken with hormones and water. The most striking example of European standards : express train number one Kiev - Moscow, which consists entirely of Polish wagons. I rode on it from Moscow during really low temperatures. So their clever eurowashers sensors did not work because Russian low temperatures are not Euro Low temperatures. And how conductors solve this problem ? They are pore boiling water into a bottles and pour it into the toilets to unfreeze them .

We can assume that German tanks that invaded Russia in 1941, were made by European standards. They have narrow tracks and run on petrol. But they all became a useless pile of metal near Moscow when temperatures dropped in winter of 1941. In France, the tank worked, but in Russia it ceased to start. You see, we have ( ha ha!) quote different isotherm for January"

The signing of the Association means not just operetta Maidan protesters, but real hungry and angry crowd of unemployed on the streets next year

What is EuroStandart and how much it cost to convert Ukraine to them?

According to conservative estimates,  the conversion to euro standard will cost Ukraine about 160 billion Euros. After the conclusion of the Agreement with the EU all that Ukraine has - all the infrastructure, railways, roads,  businesses and even the Ukrainian soil (best in Europe) ceases to comply with the technical regulations of the European Union. As economist Michael Kuhar noted:

"The basic difference between agriculture in Europe from Ukrainian that the certification of land there,  that we do not have. It is necessary to make a chemical analysis of the soil, in order to determine how much herbicides it contains, and whether it is suitable, for example, to grow tomatoes. This is an expensive procedure, which costs 800 Euros per each hectare of land. And in Ukraine, 33 million hectares of arable land ! That is billions of Euros. I'm not talking about the requirements for infrastructure,  on the chemical and metallurgical plants, all of which do not meet the emission standards. "

EU condescending recommends Ukraine to pay special attention to "micro enterprises and craftsmen (!)" This despite the fact that Ukraine can produce nuclear stations equipment, aircraft, rockets, military vessels, engines, railway cars, etc.

As the representative of the Government of Ukraine in Eurasian Commission Viktor Suslov noted:

"There are two key points in the agreement with the EU. First, the Ukrainian economy is not competitive with European and when imposed on a free trade zone and mutual zero custom duties. It will inevitably perish in this struggle, . - Zero custom duties calls into question the existence of entire industries . For example, Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. Export seeds we set the export duty, so we are making it more economical to process seeds within the country, and Ukraine has one of the most powerful oil extraction industry. When you abolish custom duties, the same EU will directly procure seeds and will process them outside of Ukraine. Therefore, local oil extraction industry will die.

Generally, few people understand that when you cancel the import duties, incentives for foreign investment might not increase but actually decrease. Contrary to common opinion it might be that for foreign companies it does not make sense to build new factories in Ukraine and create jobs. In this case Ukraine is becoming just a new market for EU goods. Investments in the country are often made only if they serve as a means of overcoming trade barriers when the country can not enter with the goods, and with the investment company organized in its territory. ( For example creation foreign car assembly plants in Russia. )

And the second important point: the introduction of the EU technical standards, Yes it is a revolution. Let's assume that they are the best in the world, but who will pay for such a transition ? This way a unique situation is created: the more competitive European manufacturers come here not just free of duties, but also by dictating their own rules of the game! So all Ukrainian companies do not comply,  for example, environmental standards,  must be shut down and give up their market share ! And again, very few people saw in this the additional problem: the introduction of European standards means cutting the whole body of the economy of the former USSR in two parts. It breaks existing economic ties and in some cases (railways) make standards incompatible with the rest of former USSR.

Destruction of cooperation means a sharp weakening of Russia as Ukraine still has some enterprises that are part of the former USSR military-industrial complex, including Russia's nuclear shield. Missiles that carry Russian nuclear armor are made by ​​famous Ukrainian YUZHMASH factory. Engines for military helicopters are produced by Ukrainian "Motor Sich" plant. And the newest fifth-generation fighter " T-50 " will not fly without Ukrainian details. These are the key things for Russian military-industrial complex . In addition, we have lots of joint major projects : the resumption of production of aircraft type "Ruslan",  the construction of a bridge between the Kerch Crimea and the Caucasus .

Yes, Ukraine is now got between Scylla and Hayrides. When the West felt that fish can let off the hook,  it made unprecedented pressure on our elite,  and now actually provokes the creation of the EuroMaidan . It is time to call a spade a spade . It's not just about money . Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said it absolutely correctly: there is a geopolitical battle for Ukraine! "

Who is behind the Maidan

EuroMaidan - is a giant business project, the furnace in which hundreds of thousands of dollars are burned every day. One needs to transport people from the West of Ukraine, feed them,  clothe them, give them accommodation, to provide them with toilets and comply with the minimum standards of hygiene, to compensate for daily expenses. It is necessary to monitor their health, protect them, constantly entertain them, so they do not get bored and do not melt away, led them dance and walk on any pickets and demonstrations. For "Not Yet Perished" crowd (from the Ukrainian national anthem " Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished ") well-known artists sing and dance. They are not doing it for free.

To understand where the money for such a huge, multi-day show come from, we must understand the system of government in Ukraine. This is an oligarchic republic in spirit Russian 90s. Ukraine is like Yeltsin's Russia in miniature with local variants of Khodorkovsky, Berezovsky, and Gusinsky running the snow.

But there is a difference between the current Ukrainian and current Russian oligarchs. As Oleg Havich noted:

"Current Russian oligarchs are more or less like technocrats. Well, they have their money, but they have provide some vital service. Much like people who work as custom officer, or policemen. Similarly some people work as oligarchs. Such people proved that he is capable to run particular business. This is quite in the tradition of the Russian Empire.

That's why Ukrainian oligarchs are so afraid of Russian oligarchs. First of all, the scale of enterprises is quite different, with Ukrainian much smaller. Secondly, the Russian oligarchs,  who will come to Ukraine and will buy this company or that company, are not simply "new rich" personalities. They are simultaneously representatives of the Russian state. They might be not be Russian by nationality, but are all Russian in their actions."

As Member of Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) Oleg Tsarev noted:

"In Russia there is powerful administrative apparatus, the presidential model of republic, and the president is still the strongest player. But Ukraine is the country were the oligarchs won the political power. To explain the difference,  let's assume that some sheiks from Saudi Arabia come to Russia with bags of money and ask Putin to hand Syria to them. They will be rejected as in Russia there are things that are not for sale, period. . Sheikhs will be listened politely, their money will be rejected and Russian will not surrender Syria to them.

And in Ukrainian politics such a decision is hard to imagine . For oligarchic capitalism ideal system of government is a parliamentary republic. In this case Parliament works simply as a negotiating platform between the oligarchs . Each of them have their own media,  their elected representatives, which perform the function of negotiating their interest in their name: who would be given which state property, what is the cost of energy resources, and what is the level of taxes. That is, we have a basis in the form of oligarchic capitalism and superstructure in the form of a presidential republic. It's clear that there is a contradiction between two. From the point of view of oligarchs, the President has too much power"

No wonder a few days ago opposition deputy Yatsenyuk said that the opposition will fight for a return to the old Constitution,  restoring Ukraine parliamentary republic in which the president is a figurehead,  and actually cementing the polyarchy in the country .

As journalist Alexander Chalenko noted:

"Why oligarchs advocate signing the Association Agreement with the EU? Their business entities are all in south-east Ukraine, but the money, children, wives, mistresses, villas, accounts - are all in Europe. Everything was mover their,  you know? Now if they misbehave, the Americans can closed and/or arrest them account and deny visas.

Russia began to move from this dependency in the summer. Prior to this, the oligarchs were thinking that they can settle things with Putin. But now became clear that Russia was not joking: it might close the market for Ukrainian goods. This means that there will be terrible losses and huge unemployment in the 2014, which is the election year. And that means that the opposition comes to power and will be forced to release Tymoshenko. And then Tymoshenko will put Yanukovich in the same prison were she used to be jailed. "

Politolog Rostislav Ishchenko made the following point.

"Experts and the whole Yanukovich entourage tried to convince him that in the fall of the IMF will give a lot of money without any conditions, and that he do not need to release Tymoshenko,  that Putin is bluffing and will never close the Russian markets.

But then it became clear that the West will give no money with pre-conditions and that 25 percent of foreign trade of Ukraine already disappeared and that the treasury has money just for three months, Yanukovich at last understood that came the signing of the Association Agreement with EU this is not an operetta Maidan, but real hungry crowd of unemployed on the streets the next year. Really angry masses who will sweep everything. That is, he will have nothing: no pants,  no hat, and no horse. And the only solution exists. Even if you hate mortally Russia,  no treaty with it does not obligate you to love her. Enough to stabilize the situation, to sign certain agreements, and then you can argue with Putin as you want,  as it does Lukashenko . "

But once Yanukovich said that Europe can wait, oligarchs entered the game .

Oleg Havich:

"Maidan is not three heroes who are standing on the podium: Klitschko Yatsenyuk Tyahnibok . All of them are puppets. Behind them stand really serious people like Dmitry Firtash, Poroshenko,  Viktor Pinchuk,  and Rinat Akhmetov . The way oligarchs controlled MSM cover events on Maidan proves that their owners are the co-conspirators of the action or at least implicitly support it. That means that we see a classic scenario of palace coup attempted by oligarchs. "

writer Oles Busina:

"There is a " family " - Yanukovich,  son and people close to them. Old oligarchs fear the family who in recent years has greatly increased its share . Their goal - not to destroy the family, but to limit its appetites. I.e. drive Yanukovich into more controllable limits . Why they do not want to remove Yanukovich? Because there is no good alternative to replace him. If they get rid of Yanukovich,  then radical extremists like Tyagnibok will climb out of the woodwork"

How West Ukraine launched and is winning the offensive against east Ukraine

Since Soviet times, it happened that the south-east of Ukraine worked ( there were all major enterprises ), and west mainly taught and was responsible for the culture. I. e. it was West to which ideology was farmed out. After the collapse of the USSR it was the Western Ukraine which raised and promoted the Ukrainian nationalism, Ukrainian national idea, because the east had nothing to say on this subject : the people there did not feel the Ukrainians,  and most importantly there never were opposed to Russian .

Oleg Havich:

"There is the expansion of the west to the east of Ukraine. Galicians are all slaves of size, they think "Bigger is better". I'm tired of shouting after them : " Dude,  you should not go there ! You can't digest all of Ukraine ! "

journalist Alexander Chalenko

"As soon as a team there are two Western Ukrainians Nationalists ("zapadentzi"),  they all begin to remodel for themselves, - says . - This totalitarian mentality that if you're not with us, you Western Ukraine Nationalists Moscow. To the whole of Ukraine zapadentsy are associated with the name of Bandera. And we have to admit honestly : Ukrainians are simply afraid of them. Why ? Bandera led nationalist ("banderovets") were a terrible people real beasts in Soviet time . I remember that my grandmother told me that the Soviet government sent to teach the west. (Incidentally, the Ukrainian school appeared in the West only with the advent of the Soviet Union. Before there were only Polish schools . ) Her stories struck me with unimaginable cruelty of Bandera fighters. For them it was not enough to shot people dead, they beheaded man, they cut open stomachs in women, they burned babies,  that is, they committed terrible inhuman crimes...

Before the collapse of the USSR the power of central government protected us from Western Ukraine extremists. They were always for us as for you Chechens . That is, you can kill a Chechen,  but then come ten Chechens and cur your throat . And our people are cowardly intellectuals . And now all of Kiev and all Ukraine is infected with Stockholm syndrome. This is when the victim begins to play along with the terrorist. We hate them so to speak conditionally: if we have an opportunity to eliminate them, we would eliminated them long too. We have way too different culture codes. And the current Maidan is Ukrainian Nationalist Maidan. On TV show only cheerful, happy faces of students and not the Bandera Gopniks, who come in large numbers from Galicia.

On Independence 2004 Yushchenko did not behave as a nationalist. He spoke of his friendship with Russia. What Bandera ? I do not even know his followers. Then you can speak in iether Ukrainian or Russian from the podium. And now, if you speak Russian, they shout "Shame! " ("Ganba! ").

Why Maidan is not a Revolution

Maidan consists of four groups of people:

Kievites morally support Maidan, come there for just to see the show,  but do not believe the opposition . They have completely "give me decent life style" perceptions about Europe . As a security guard in the parking lot told ne: I want to finally live like human beings. People here are somehow convinced that Europe will feed them,  clothe,  shoe .

Now we have a paradoxical situation : there is a rebellion, called the revolution, which has one hundred times could win. And there is a power that can the same hundred time to crush them . But neither the government does not disperse the rebellion, nor the opposition is ready to takes power . Existing leaders have exhausted their moral capital . The only person who could make a revolution - Tymoshenko,  but she in jail. Like all sociopath she does not have self-preservation instinct, she does not believe that she can be killed, and is therefore able to lead the people into fire.. Such people without moral brakes in such a situation feel like a fish in water. That is why she is equally dangerous for the authorities and the opposition. But with Tymoshenko for current revolutionaries situation will be much worse. She will not stop at half-measures like Yanukovich . She will strangle them all or send them to jail for betrayal. "

The fact that the leaders of Maidan do not have guts,  is now clear to everyone. That's what I told people close to the government: "When one of the three opposition "heroes" was asked why they are not going to storm the building of the presidential administration, he said in dismay :" What do you mean ? They can jail me for that ! "

It can not be the leader of the revolution who is afraid of jail (a revolution - it is always a violation of the law ),  which fears to make a move for which he/she can be jailed. It would be helpful if vandals who crashed the statue of Lenin read his works. Type "Marxism and Insurrection ." in Google. And you instantly come across the famous slogan by Lenin " Procrastination in such situations is equal to death ."

Maidan now turned into idle people and crazies asylum paid by the USA. Because they does not have a leader who understands the theory of revolution . No Lenin-level figure capable of directly from the armored car to announce the "April Theses". But truth be told now in Ukraine there is no public demand for great people. It's just a cockroach races where everyone is running for their shallow goal. "


With whom Russia can speak ?

With no one. And we have ourselves to blame . That's what I was told on condition of anonymity, people from " Party of Regions ":

" Our government and our oligarchs panic fear of awakening Russian reunification movement. They are willing to finance fascist Tyagnibok, but in any case will not allow Russian reunification movement to at the East. That's a night horror for Yanukovich that someone will work with his electorate. And as long as your Putin will meet with Yanukovich and enter with the gentlemen's agreements that you do not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine, you will lose here.

Americans working here for twenty years. For them to make a step forward,  they need to spend a thousand dollars. And Russia could spend a dollar and make the same one step forward, because it is an enormous affinity with Russia in the heats of people. And now you've lost the Ukraine, because total propaganda of hatred will always be successful. People even in the east are already embarrassed to talk in Russian. Nevertheless, they still can raised against West Ukrainian fascists"

I will never forget the intensity of hatred on the evening on Maidan Square when the news came that Russia is ready to give $15 billion to save sinking Ukrainian economy and decide to lower gas prices by one third. As people shouted : "No Taiga Union ! " ( So here mockingly called the Customs Union ) . How to know that I am from Moscow, Western Ukrainians shouted at me : "You can't buy us! We are not selling Motherland your thirty pieces of silver ! We'll take your money, spend them and then spit in your face ! "

writer Oles Busina:

"And what do you want? Pro-Russian organizations in Ukraine today simply do not exist ! But there are way too many thriving grant-sucking gangs. A new generation is oriented to the west, for which the word "three fraternal nations" an empty phrase for them. Why do young people believe Liberasts? When I was a student I was also for Perestroika, and you also was for Perestroika. And we both now know how that ended.

None of us could expect that the next Russian president will be an alcoholic, that the Soviet army unconditionally withdraw from Europe that Russia will survive a demographic catastrophe, there will be first and second Chechen wars . Well we did not know that the Liberasts can not do anything.

And Kiev students also do not know that. But we need to explain that to them. We need to create a support group . Russia is trying to act through diplomatic channels and negotiate directly with officials,  but this tactic does not work anymore . "

Political analyst Rostislav Ishchenko:

"On the political field, where Yanukovich is dancing,  now there is no other politician. This is a trampled field. In the near future you have no one to talk to Ukraine. Americans themselves have created their partners for twenty years. You have a huge pro-Russian population in the east and in the Crimea, but you do not want to talk to them. Why ? Because it is your position : we will only work with the current legal authority. We do not want to upset Viktor Yanukovich .

If we work with the pro-Russian opposition to his course,  Yanukovich will be offended us. Well, now, he likes your behavior. It's all good with him now, until his next betrayal. It's just with Ukraine you are in deep shit."


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[Dec 29, 2013] Take a pity toward retarded Maidan participants by Irina Ukraine

Slightly edited Google translation. The interesting point is that Yanukovich association agreement with EU was a bluff from the very beginning. And that the West playing the disaster capitalism game in Ukraine. How this all will end?
Dec 20, 2013 | Ukrnovosti.net

Everyone runs his own movie on EuroMaidan, but its time to stop it. Time is over! Please understand that there was never any real desire to sign documents about " EU association status" ! You was brutally deceived, or by your own folly engaged in wishful thinking !

Your diagnose can be vary among the following options: Thoughtlessness, hypoplasia, inability to think deeply and thoroughly, failure to properly understand anything ; stupid brainless stupidity, simple stupidity, idiocy, cretinism, mental retardation, mental retardation, etc.

Our dear mentally retarded (as in "Dobkin realized that rally on Independence Square is staffed with mentally retarded "), performing the role of extras ! Nobody was waiting you in Europe now, and probably in the near and distant future too. And here's why.

The agreements signed by Putin and Yanukovich really surprised many observers, with some entering the state of a strong bewilderment. But it is only at first glance.

Political Analysts Mikhail Alexandrov ( Head of the Department of Baltic Institute of CIS countries ), analyzing the recent agreements presidents of Russia and Ukraine, said it is too difficult to explain the actions of the Russian leadership by just as the result of desire at Russia's expense to maintain the integrity of Ukraine.

The view that the Russian leadership was so naive that succumb to Ukrainian racket and rushed to help Ukraine to prevent the overthrow of Yanukovich does not look too convincing. Same about possibility of a coup by powerful pro-Western circles, which supposedly are ready to sign an association agreement with the European Union on any conditions.

Such an agreement would not have saved the Ukrainian economy from collapse, but instead would accelerate it. The West is now simply has no money to save Ukraine. They can' even safe their full EU member states. And the Kremlin is well aware .

The truth is that from the very beginning there was no real interest of the Ukrainian authorities in the agreement. The idea was different: it was playing the EU against Russia. That was the plan. I must say quite well known, polished trick, and which was used repeatedly in the past.

That is why the Association Agreement was prepared with Kiev without looking into any details, and not even bothering to translate it into Ukrainian or Russian language, which means that key players never read it and, especially, delve into the meaning for Ukraine of the pretty humiliating requirements of the agreement. It is because it was simply as an instrument of pressure on Russia and the Ukrainian side from the very beginning did not intend to sign it. And in this case - what's the difference what is written there ?

The same was true for the European Union . That is why just before the Vilnius summit IMF toughens conditions of the new loans to Ukraine (required to raise tariffs for gas and electricity for the population). Existing tariffs are already almost unbearable for Ukrainians with their low salaries and hence represent clearly unacceptable conditions.

That is why, when the idiots from Maidan, so successfully make a dirty camp of the central square of the capital of Ukraine, and started to want to Europe way too much, the condition of release of release of Tymoshenko about which they actually dreamed three years, resurfaced .

But the release of the Iron lady with the scythe is extremely undesirable to the current leaders of Ukrainian " ass-position", because as soon as Tymoshenko became free that first thing she does is to sent those nice guys packing. Because they are not in the same league with clever, ruthless and cunning Tymoshenko.

Nobody really wanted the civil war and the collapse of Ukraine, nether the government not the opposition. Simply when neither Moscow nor Brussels flinch, Kiev has decided to raise the level of tension to a new level -- to imitate the political crisis in Ukraine to get loans. With unpredictable consequences . Ukrainian oligarchs, and Western NGO which support the opposition were happy to help.

The theatric of this staged event is just conspicuous. Both sides restrained from moving their extras over a certain limit. Looks like they acted if not in coordination, but at least within a certain agreed plan .

Militants of SBU agent Dmitry Korchinskiy did stage a nice fight with the " Berkut ". Also "Berkut" kicked asses of some protesters, but whom exactly is unclear, as it was night . But in the media began such hysterics as if Russian tanks entered the Baltic.

NATO Secretary General began to seriously ask what steps should the alliance take, if Russia were to move troops to Ukraine and in Sevastopol some deputies demanded Russian troops, although they were already there.

Funny, but President Yanukovych in the midst of crisis flew to China to ask for money. But because China is far and events on Maidan excite China very little, the Chinese comrades did not give loans to Ukraine .

The question is, did the Kremlin understand the meaning of all this freak show on Independence Square ? Certainly it understood. But it decided to help Ukraine anyway. And in a very nice way -- that the Ukrainian side has not incurred any counter -- commitments for the development of integration with the Customs Union . Well, except, perhaps, the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait .

It looks like Putin agreed to concessions to Ukraine for geopolitical reasons. The collapse of the Ukrainian state for Russia can hurt Russian economy, and that's why Ukraine was allowed for some time to stay afloat.

What were exact considerations, we can only guess . But Russian President probably has pretty full information, including intelligence, about how grade the economic situation in Ukraine became. Most likely, Putin is aware that in the near future in the West expected some serious events such as default. And the West is trying to divert attention and resources of Russia in the other direction, to bind Russia with the collapse of Ukrainian economics.

It's only Yanukovich and his entourage think they play their own game. In reality they are just pains in a wider global game. That's why Western emissaries are so actively involved in the events on Independence Square trying to convert them into full fledged color revolution. But they might be so active for a different reason that the intense desire to force Ukraine to sign the treaty of association with the European Union on the conditions previously specified.

Indeed, if the Ukraine split as the result of this signing and the Civil War started, then most probably Russia would have to get involved in the conflict, including by military means. And that effectively ended Russia abilities to influence events in other parts of the world, and in general at the global level, for example, at the level of global finance for a long time.

... ... ...

[Dec 28, 2013] The World According To Ron Paul

See also Ron Paul -- one of the few true statesmen among all the politically corrupt politicians on Capitol Hill
Dec 27, 2013 | Zero Hedge

With 72% of those polled believing "big Government" is more of a problem now than 4 years ago, it is hardly surprising that Ron Paul blasts "the failure of government is all around us" in this brief FOX news interview. Perhaps it is the fact that "Obamacare has been such a transparent failure of big government," along with Keynesian economics, and the NSA debacles; that more and more of even the most liberal are realizing just what America has become. "It's really great news that people are starting to recognize this," Paul adds, because there is no way to replace the status quo "until people give up on what we have."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6cPilebqHbI

FreedomGuy

I love that guy. He is persistent and consistent in his stances and resistant to the corruption and compromises of power.

I think I just like his no-pretenses style of speaking even though it doesn't glitter like a Romney or Obama.

I am hopeful that the truth will have it's day.

seek

If a "real leader" emerged, he'd be terminated.

We will get a faux behind-the-scene-appointed leader, at best. If he doesn't follow the script, he gets terminated as well.

More than likely we get an obvious pre-appointed party apparatchik like Hillary, just so they can rub people's noses in the level of control they have over the elections.

Jack Burton

Off topic. From a former 20 year World Bank insider.

"The goal is control. They want all of us enslaved to debt, they want all of our governments enslaved to debt, and they want all of our politicians addicted to the huge financial contributions that they funnel into their campaigns. Since the elite also own all of the big media companies, the mainstream media never lets us in on the secret that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way that our system works."

[Dec 27, 2013] Greenwald US, British media are servants of security apparatus

Dec 27, 2013 | RT News

...When Greenwald and his colleagues began working with Snowden, he said they realized that they’d have to act in a way that wasn’t on par with how the mainstream media has acted up until now.

We resolved that we were going to have to be very disruptive of the status quo — not only the surveillance and political status quo, but also the journalistic status quo,” Greenwald said. “And I think one of the ways that you can see what it is that we were targeting is in the behavior of the media over the past six months since these revelations have emerged almost entirely without them and despite them.”

[W]e knew in particular that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, which calls itself the United States and British media.”

It really is the case that the United States and British governments are not only willing but able to engage in any conduct no matter how grotesque,” Greenwald said.

Nevertheless, he added, journalists tasked with reporting on those issues have all too often been compliant with the blatant lies made by officials from those governments.

Halfway through his remarks, Greenwald recalled a recent quip he made while being interviewed by BBC about the necessity of a functioning media in an environment where government officials can spew untruths to reporters without being questioned.

[A]t one point I made what I thought was the very unremarkable and uncontroversial observation that the reason why we have a free press is because national security officials routinely lie to the population in order to shield their power and get their agenda advanced,” recalled Greenwald, who said it is both the “the goal and duty of a journalist is to be adversarial to those people in power.”

According to Greenwald, the BBC reporter met his remark with skepticism.

I just cannot believe that you would suggest that senior officials, generals in the US and the British government, are actually making false claims to the public,” he remembered being told on-air.

It really is the central view of certainly American and British media stars, that when — especially people with medals on their chest who are called generals, but also high officials in the government — make claims that those claims are presumptively treated as true without evidence. And that it’s almost immoral to call them into question or to question their voracity,” he said.

Obviously we went through the Iraq War, in which those very two same governments specifically and deliberately lied repeatedly to the government, to their people, over the course of two years to justify an aggressive war that destroyed a country of 26 million people. But we’ve seen it continuously over the last six months as well.”

From there, he went on to cite the example of US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who earlier this year made remarks to Congress that were quickly proved false by documents leaked to Greenwald by Mr. Snowden. The very first National Security Agency document he was shown, Greenwald said,

revealed that the Obama administration had succeeded in convincing court, a secret court, to compel phone companies to turn over to the NSA every single phone record of every single telephone call.”

Clapper “went to the Senate and lied to their faces...which is at least as serious of a crime as anything Edward Snowden is accused of," Greenwald added.

But DNI Clapper aside, Greenwald said that the established media continues to reject the notion that government officials spew lies. Snowden’s NSA documents have exposed those fibs on more than one occasion, he noted, yet reporters around the world continue to take the word of officials as fact rather than dig from the truth.

Their role is not to be adversarial. Their role is to be loyal spokespeople to those powerful factions that they pretend to exercise oversight,” Greenwald said.

But as the US, UK and other governments continue to feed the media lies, Greenwald said their operations are far from being single-pronged. The US

knows that its only hope for continuing to maintain its regiment of secrecy behind which it engages with radical and corrupt acts is to intimidate and deter and threaten people who are would-be whistleblowers and transparency activists from coming forward and doing what it is that they do by showing them that they’ll be subjected to even the most extreme punishments and there’s nothing that they can do about it,” he said. “And it’s an effective tactic.”

Ironically, he added, those nations are “fueling the fire of this activism with their own abusive behavior.”

... ... ...

The NSA’s goal, Greenwald said, is to “ensure that all forms of human communication . . .are collected, monitored, stored and analyzed by that agency and by their allies.”

[Dec 27, 2013] Why Political Protests Ultimately Always Fail

Not all of them, they fail in the Western countries ;-) See Color revolutions
Dec 26, 2013 | Zero Hedge

As posted yesterday at https://www.smartknowledgeu.com/blog, by JS Kim, Managing Director, SmartKnowledgeU

Currently in Bangkok, Thailand, protests against the government remain strong with tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands regularly gathering across the city in an attempt to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office. However, there are many reasons why such protests never achieve their long-term goals, even when they achieve their short-term objectives. For example, were the protestors to successfully oust current PM Yingluck Shinawatra from office as they so desire, the political system is so corrupt that another corrupt PM would just replace her.

Therefore, the protestors, who fail to understand and attack the root of the underlying problems of corruption- the bankers that monopolize control of the country's monetary supply- instead attack the symptoms and manifestations of the corruption. Thus, corruption will always remain.

When a Prime Minister or President anywhere in the world states, and actually does, the following: "I will rout out all bankers that manipulate interest rates, stock markets, commodity markets, real estate markets, forex markets and every single banker that prevents free markets from operating within my country", then that will be a politician worthy of the people's support. Any politician that fails to do this is unworthy of leading their country and unworthy of the respect of the citizens whom they supposedly serve.

Though there have been some violent confrontations among Thai protesters and police thus far, since the bankers that run all countries know that the people's focus on a corrupt politician is a welcome distraction from the true culprits of economic malaise (them), they are willing not to escalate violence against the protesters.

However, if the protesters ever turn their protests to the people they should be trying to kick out of their country - the banking elite - such tolerance will go right out the window, as it did with the US police and Occupy Wall Street protesters when the Occupy Wall Streeters brought much too much attention upon the corrupt banking cartels for their comfort.

Kicking Yingluck Shinawatra out of Thailand, as is the misinformed goal of the protesters, will bring no sustainable change to Thailand despite the misinformed hope among the protesters that doing so will bring about a "better tomorrow" for their country. Leave the same corrupt bankers in control of your country and they will replace an ousted corrupt politician with another. One merely needs to learn from the mistakes of other misguided citizens.

There is an old saying that we must be the change we desire to be. The problem with this saying is that many of us will support corruption as long as we benefit from that corrupt leader because we have a “what’s in it for me?” mentality that is detrimental for not only the citizens of the countries in which we reside, but also for the citizens of the world. Until we can expand our horizons beyond our socio-economic demographic and beyond our countries to support integrity, honor, courage and justice for all peoples in all countries outside of our race, religious and political affiliations, and socio-economic statuses, we will continue to fail to bring about real positive change in this world no matter how many hundreds of thousands of people stand beside us and protest corruption in this world.

In the end, ousting political leaders is just about cutting off one of the snakes from the head of Medusa only to see another one grow back in its place. I spoke today to a good friend that attended the protests. He said that he spoke to an elderly woman that told him she was participating in the anti-government protests so she could leave a better country for her grandchildren. This false belief is precisely what is wrong with political protests of this nature, because ousting Yingluck Shinawatra from Thailand will accomplish nothing long-term in preventing corruption if the criminal bankers that back all corrupt politicians are not ousted along with her. If we desire real change, we must unite with all of our brothers and sisters engaged in similar struggles around the world and attack the individuals that fund these corrupt politicians and rout the money masters behind these politicians out of our countries first and foremost. And that is how we can bring about real, sustainable positive change for all of humanity. If political protests focused on the real culprits of economic instability within their countries, then they could be immensely successful in bringing about real change. However, as long as they focus on distractions and the players of the game rather than the real culprits, politicians will continue to sell all of us "hope" and "change we can believe in" and continue laughing behind our backs all the way to the bank.

moneybots

"In America in 2009, corrupt Barack Obama replaced corrupt George W. Bush"

Any protest is going to co-opted by those with an ulterior motive. The Tea party began as a ground roots effort and was then co-opted by support from Koch. No billionaire is grass roots.

putaipan

you are on the ground there kim, but you gotta start somewhere. i so admire the Thai people for trying and their short term goal seems right on target. also- gatherings like this are the place to spread the correct meme. otherwise, it's like rossana rossanadanna used to say- " mai pen rai ka "

[Dec 27, 2013] Unease as an Opposition Party Stands Out in Ukraine’s Protests By ANDREW E. KRAMER

An interesting friend of EU elite. If I remember correctly the same people used to love NSDP in 30th. They hoped to turn it against the USSR. See also Neo-fascism, and Exploring Anti-Semitism in Hungary
Dec 16, 2013 | NYTimes.com

...Members of Ukraine’s Parliament saw things differently a decade ago. In 2004, they voted to expel Mr. Tyagnibok over a speech in which he described World War II-era partisans bravely fighting Germans, Russians, Jews and “other scum.” He went on to slur what he called the “Jewish-Russian mafia” running Ukraine.

Until 2004, Svoboda had been called the Social-Nationalist Party, which critics said was just a word flip away from its true ambitions and a deliberate reference to the National Socialism of the Nazis. Unabashed neo-Nazis still populate its ranks, organizations that study hate groups in Europe say.

Svoboda never won more than a fraction of a percent of the national vote, in spite of having strongholds in city councils and regional legislatures in its base in western Ukraine. Its fortunes changed with the election of Mr. Yanukovich. Serhiy Rudyk, a party official, said the new president’s pro-Russia policies angered Ukrainians, helping Svoboda in the ballot box.

Critics of the party’s role in Ukrainian politics have another explanation. The party, they say, drew strength from an orchestrated policy of Mr. Yanukovich to foster a right-wing competitor to his main political rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, who had previously enjoyed strong support in the country’s west.

The next year, however, the party won 8.5 percent of the seats in Parliament, provoking warnings from Israel about rising anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine, a country with a rich history of both. On their first day in Parliament, Svoboda lawmakers started a fistfight with members of Mr. Yanukovich’s party.

In 2011, for example, Mr. Yanukovich’s supporters unfurled the flag of the Soviet Union during marches in Lviv on Victory Day, a holiday that commemorates the end of World War II, despite a municipal law banning the display of Communist flags in the city limits. It was a wedge issue that gave Svoboda a lift in the polls. Svoboda denies this assessment, and it is a stated ally of Ms. Tymoshenko.

The party, critics say, became something of a Frankenstein’s monster for Mr. Yanukovich, and it has grown beyond all expectations with its activists now playing an integral role in the barricading of Independence Square.

... ... ...

As Svoboda has entered the mainstream, so have its symbols, particularly a black and red banner, ubiquitous on Independence Square, that was the flag of the partisans. This year, the flag was banned as a racist symbol at soccer matches by FIFA, the sport’s governing body, after Ukrainian fans waved it while making Nazi salutes and monkey chants in a World Cup qualifying match.

Western diplomats say they respect Mr. Tyagnibok for keeping control of the unruly nationalist wing on the streets. During the police action outside City Hall, bystanders found a bag of gasoline bombs made from half-liter beer bottles, but Svoboda officials maintain that the police planted them there, to frame the party.

Selected comments from The Kremlin Stooge

kirill:

...These Banerovites are a minority and the only way they can impose their will on Ukraine is through dictatorship. The bottom line is that over 70% of Ukraine’s population do not subscribe to Banderovite ideology and NATO-philia. The only way around this constraint is to fake a centrist platform that supposedly incorporates the views of the majority. Yuschenko and Tymoschenko played exactly this sort of game. Any political movement that tries to polarize the population loses automatically. So Tyagnibok cannot get far without support. He needs to shuffle into place as part of some coalition. Then he can launch his coup.

But I doubt there is any base for such dramatic political developments in Ukraine. Germany in the 1930s was stressed by a combination of the Great Depression, social dislocation associated with urbanization and was afflicted by the Versailles Treaty syndrome. Ukraine has economic problems, but not so dire that its going to go up in flames at any moment.

In fact, most of the political drama in Ukraine is orchestrated by foreign meddling. NATO desperately wants to have a wedge outpost into Russia like Ukraine. It is pumping up fringe regional movements like Svoboda into some sort of national scale parties. Various yellow media outlets in Ukraine try to hoodwink the population that support for European values implies support for NATO and Tyagnibok. The brazen nature of the association agreement underlines the distortion of Ukraine’s political scene. Something like this can only be foisted on a country when there is an irrational response: any association agreement is equivalent to joining the great civilization called EU and move away from barbarism. People have to be conditioned by the media to drool this way without even trying to think about the details. Any economic relationship with Russia, even if it benefits Ukraine and has no impact on its sovereignty is at the same time turned into some sort of nightmare to be avoided at all costs. This is clearly not the result of natural political evolution in the country.

marknesop:

Speaking personally, I’d like to see that realization come a bit closer to the election, when his supporters have no time to throw their weight behind an alternative leader. Yanukovych’s best chance lies in a split opposition vote, and the fewer among the opposition who drop out prior to the election, the better the odds grow in his favor.

Ideally, Yanukovych would not run either because he is a scoundrel, but of course he will – not too many jobs come with your own galleon. But he at least knows how to run a country, while the opposition displays no expectation of its own beyond that they beat Yanukovych. That does not require a plan for the country, and true to form, it hasn’t got one.

The amazing thing about opposition forces who seize control of a country in crisis is that they usually make the crisis worse, and the experience of that should still be pretty fresh in Ukraine. I’d like to see Yanukovych put on the road with his suitcases, but not if the alternative to him is Klitschko, or even a Klitschko-Yatseniuk coalition, because the first thing they would do would be to beg to be allowed to sign the EU agreement, regardless what it bound Ukraine to do. They seem to think like Yeltsin, who so thoroughly wrecked the Soviet Union that a return to Communism was not possible, and was quite happy to state that had been his intention. That was probably good in the long run, but the wrong leader after him would have meant curtains, I think.

kirill:

The problem is that Tyagnibok is not a lone element. The other orange Banderovites are from the same subspecies. Their trick has been to paint themselves as democrats who only follow the highest European values. Yuschenko promoted the Banderovite cause including rehabilitation of the UPA as some sort of freedom fighters. Ukraine needs something better than Yanukovych, but the so-called opposition is not a sane alternative.

Moscow Exile
So it is Tyagnibok that is solely responsible for this site, for example, and the thoughts therein, as expressed in such articles such as this: Bandera Non Grata and this: The Undefeated, and that Valeria Burlakova and Oleksandr Pahiria, the names given as the authors of said articles, are really pseudonyms used by the lone Tyagnibok and not members of a fascist sub-species?
yalensis
Exactly.

The myth of the “moderate Ukrainian nationalist” who professes democratic values and who is not a Banderite – is on the same level of reality as the myth about the “moderate Libyan rebels” who were supposedly not affiliated with Al Qaeda.

AP:

Tiahnybok is the only major opposition leader who would lose to Yanukovich in that second round.

People I know in Kiev, who are pro-Opposition (like most of Kiev’s population), strongly dislike Svoboda, not only due to its neofascist ideology that they abhor, but because they suspect it is being helped by Yanukovich in various ways. for example, Svoboda won local elections in western Ukraine because Yanukovich crippled Tymoshenko’s party in that region during those elections (thereby enabling Svoboda to win), during its rise Svoboda was given ample media coverage (even when it was still a small party) by government-controlled stations, etc. It is possible that Yanukovich is pursuing a strategy of building up Svoboda at the expense of more moderate groups within the opposition.*

On the list of foreigners to be expelled from Ukraine is the German researcher Andreas Umland, a consistent critic of Svoboda. He has written a pretty good article about Svoboda here:

http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op-ed/how-spread-of-banderite-slogans-and-symbols-undermines-ukrainian-nation-building-334389.html

*This does not imply that Tiahnybok is merely a tool of Yanukovich. He may be pursuing Lenin’s strategy of allowing the capitalists to sell him the rope he will hang the capitalists with.

yalensis:

I read Umland’s analysis, and it is pretty good overall.

I like that he points out the illogic of a fascist party like Svoboda being pro-EU, when their right-wing counterparts in the real Europe (like Le Pen in France, etc.) are anti-EU.

... ... ...

AP:

... To repeat what I had written earlier: in surveys only 14% of Ukrainians express a positive view of Bandera. Since these 14% are presumably all among the western half of Ukraine, this means that 28% of pro-West Ukrainians have a positive view of Bandera. Less than a third. And therefore over 2/3 of pro-Western Ukrainians do not have a positive view of Bandera.

Claiming that half of Ukraine are Banderites, or that being pro-West is the same as being a Banderite, is mistaken. It is misleadingly alarmist and giving Bandera and his followers much more credit than he and they deserve.

The info on Ukrainian opinions:

http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2010/Katchanovski.pdf

[Dec 23, 2013] Add the EU to the list of myths we’re brainwashed to believe by Boris Johnson

"I am not sure: but at the moment it feels as if the EU is the Bakelite handset of 21st-century geopolitics"
Dec 22, 2013 | Telegraph

Well, look at Russia today. The main dispute is now about whether Ukraine should be more aligned with Brussels or with Moscow, and even then, no one in western Europe is much exercised. Communism is dead. The threat has been exploded. The “bulwark” argument has been shown to be, er, total bulwarks.

In the next couple of years we are entitled to pose the question: what is the POINT of the EU? I don’t mean, what ghastly penalties will Britain suffer if we should decide to get out. We all know the kind of scaremongering we can expect from the likes of Nick Clegg – the “millions” of lost jobs, the vanishing foreign investment, the giant mutant rats with gooseberry eyes: the kind of stuff they said would happen if we failed to join the euro. I want to hear the positive arguments FOR the EU.

Why have we bubblegummed together this hapless congeries of independent states? Is it to be a united force in international trade negotiations, when the EU’s agricultural subsidies so royally stuff the farmers of developing countries? Is it to have a joint foreign policy, when the EU has been so ludicrously disunited on everything from the Falklands to Libya? Is it to agree standards for widgets, when that could surely be done without this apparatus of supranational law?

Maybe there is a positive vision to be set out – I am just not hearing it yet. Let me give a final example of this phenomenon – the lingering of old ways of thinking, old habits, to the point where they become superstitions. As I was writing this, there was an unfamiliar ringing noise behind me. Prooot proot, it went. It was the landline! I don’t know about you, but in our house the landline has passed into virtual disuse.

The only people who ring it are cold callers; everyone else calls the mobile phone of the person they want to reach. I am starting to wonder whether the landline is actually necessary these days. Is there some elf ’n’ safety reason why a household needs a landline, as we career towards 2014? Do we need a fixed line telephone, or can we do perfectly well without?

I am not sure: but at the moment it feels as if the EU is the Bakelite handset of 21st-century geopolitics, yesterday’s answer to the problems of the day before yesterday. If there is a positive case for this spatchcocked federation, we need to start hearing it now.

[Dec 23, 2013] Why Russia lost Ukraine by Daria Aslamova

It's sad to note that writer Oleg Busina, whom Daria Aslamova interviewed was killed by Ukrainian nationalisms on April 17, 2015. Many other people who were interviewed are iether disappeared or are in Russia (Oleg Tsaryov is an example). So after putsch nationalistic purge using death squads of fanatics is in full force.
She correctly stated that the main driving force pulling Ukraine to Europe are Ukrainian nationalists from three provinces of Western Ukraine, which fought with Nazi Germany against Soviets in WWII, by the logic of Ukrainian independence became indispensable for preserving Ukrainian sovereignty and thus got a trump card for revenge against the Russians and colonization of South-East... They are much like Tea Party in the USA are not ready to accept any compromises. It's my way or highway. And they are winning.
What she does not understand is the amount of money injected into Maydan protests by USA and other Maydan sponsors (as well are level of logistical and RP support provided), as well as the extent to which Yanukovich was dependent on the USA, who is keeping him by the ball, threatening to confiscate the assets he stole and moved to West. See "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place
Dec 23, 2013 | kp.ru

To answer this question, a special correspondent for "KP " Daria Aslamova went to Maidan.

Here is what she reports:

" That's imagine the driver named Yanukovich, who speed the car called the Ukraine towards the western border, and at the last minute slammed the breaks and hit the border post. Completely smashing the front, them whole hood, passengers hit the windshield, the international community is in hysterics. All ran to the crash site and give tips on what to do. And Yanukovich himself, pale, keeps saying I am not guilty, car mechanics are guilty, I'm driving it for only three years and for all this time did not notice that brakes were completely disabled by infiltrated hostile elements. I've saved all the last moment. Galichina is shocked -- the man who turned on a giant propaganda machine to brainwash the population for joining the EU, went to Europe and changed his mind at the last moment. East was long offended Yanukovich betrayal but is silent -- they mistaken still thing that he is one of them and represent their interests. Tribalism, tribal consciousness, In short, Yanukovich managed betrayed and confused everybody."

Ukrainian writer Oles Busina is ironic, take no prisoners in his judgments, but pragmatic, as a true citizen of Independent Ukraine:

" And then came Putin with 15 billion dollars. And once it became clear that cheap Ukrainians ended. Ukrainians rednecks are now expensive."

How Ukraine reached another Maidan

You are still going to laugh till you drop, as people from Odessa used to say, but essentially nobody ever read the famous Ukrainian Association Agreement with the European Union (by the way, written in English). Or rather, it was only read by completely zombified, from college bench nurtured by Americans fifth column who served as experts from Ukrainian side. Or let's call them agents of influence . Actually, when Yanukovich babbled in terror that it would be good to find out who so blatantly betrayed the national interests of Ukraine in the negotiations on the Association with the EU, and that it smells like treason - he was absolutely right .

"People who prepare documents for initialing, unfortunately, are not paid agents of influence. They are unpaid volunteers, and it's really scary - the political expert Oleg Havic told us. - With paid agents it's pretty understandable. But here we have ideologically brainwashed zombies, fluent in English and German, who got an excellent education in the West and they sincerely believe that those conditions of full capitulation and betrayal of national interest is what Ukraine needs. Yes, bottom three quarter of population will suffer and starve, an economic will collapse, country become a colony, but Ukraine will be forever cut off from Russia."

"In our country about 10 thousand employees of non-governmental organizations - says Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) deputy Oleg Tsarev . - More than Ukraine, Soros spends only in Africa. We can hardly find any minister or administration official who did not spend some time in training in the NGO or was not at some time an employee of the NGO . These are people who for twenty years were prepared for the task: to change the matrix Ukrainian people. And they almost succeeded."

Here is what Oleg Tsarev, the leader of the Party of Regions stresses: "We're already Europe, we are its center, so in no way will perish without European Union ! "

But there were also true patriots in Ukraine, which this summer became alarmed and demanded to translate text of the agreement into Ukrainian and post it on the government website. This despite the fact that part of the Russian-speaking deputies does not fluently speak Ukrainian, and that this economic agreement has the size of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia . Somebody hurried up. Later our people from the Customs Union were not to lazy and managed to translate the text into Russian as a gesture goodwill.

However, summer, hot, singing birds, MPs and businessmen are leaving on vacation. The mood was, why you are bothering me with you f**n Association ? But then came the "the trade war between Ukraine and Russia " ( as Ukrainian media called it) . And in fact, Russia has shown that in the case of sighing of a trade agreement between Ukraine and the EU and the abolition of customs duties it will protect its market and erect strong customs barriers to the flow of goods from the West, which will transit through Ukraine. This means that the window of opportunity closes for Ukrainian producers. Local businessman has had a stroke, and the business instantly appealed to the President of Ukraine to postpone the Association at least a year.

As the representative of the Government of Ukraine in the Eurasian Economic Commission Viktor Suslov noted

"Business was initially inert: we say, do not study the projects we will studying law when it will pass. Business is not accustomed to participate in government - says ex-Minister of Economy of Ukraine. When the serious decline in the volume of trade with Russia happened, it became clear that the inevitable consequence of signing will be the de-industrialization of the country, the loss of manufacturing, and possible death of agriculture. And that this is not a horror story, but pretty realistic scenario.

But the problem is that most of the media and most experts in Ukraine is paid by Western funds. There was a massive brainwashing of public via MSM, which all claimed that the Association with the EU is a huge plus for our state. And any government is dependent on the MSM. In essence, the government was misled by people who have entrusted to negotiate with EU."

The best way to lose independence ("nezalezhnost" in Ukrainian)

By October, the Association Agreement became a hit, the most popular detective reading matter among politicians in Ukraine . And there really was something to read . It suddenly became clear that Ukraine is committed to follow the instructions of the EU in the field of its foreign and security policy (without the right to vote and the possibility of future membership in the EU), to participate in all civilian and military EU operations in conflict zones, to cooperate with the European Defense Agency ( I mean to abandon the remaining military technologies, which, incidentally directly affects Russia ) . With regard to moral standards the Orthodox part of Ukrainian population in the spirit of political correctness was ordered to follow certain directives. But were even curious people who tried to read very directives that Europeans do not even dare to publish in English in order to avoid scandal.

" In fact, we impose common European homosexual dictatorship - said the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Kolesnichenko . - Protection of the rights of sexual minorities and in the future legalization of gay marriage. In addition, abolished the presumption of innocence in the employment relationship . For example, if I did not take a gay to work for some reason, he does not have to prove in court that he was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, its me who need to explain and justify that gay was not discriminated against."

It turned out that the West does not plan to giving anything to Ukraine for free and that 25 percent of foreign trade of Ukraine already lost. And that money in the treasury is enough only for three months.

But it's just nuisance. The real deal was the establishment in Ukraine EU economic dictatorship.

"These trade agreements the EU has with many countries in North Africa, but none of them had the enslaving demand, which does not allow Tunisia or Algeria to join whatsoever trade agreements with third countries with which the EU will not agree - says economist Michael Kuhar . - In fact, the treaty of Association of Brussels gave authority to decide whether, for example, sovereign Ukraine can join any trade agreement with Russia or China or not. This is a dishonest approach. "

But the main jewel of the Association Agreement - the introduction of European standards . The word " European standards" sounded so beautiful (almost as high quality home renovation using best European materials ) that local Liberasts were awash with happiness. But ...

"This document, which is physically impossible to comply with, - assured us the analyst Rostislav Ishchenko . - In order to prevent the market to sell grandmothers homemade pickles and jams, you need to occupy Ukraine with at least half-million army. No, theoretically grandmother can produce coleslaw, but she can not sell it. Not because the coleslaw can not be made, but because it does not meet European standards. Even Lithuanians, who entered EU long ago and on more decent conditions, almost lost their agriculture, as they never managed to fit to rules."

"Yes, Ukrainian grandmothers did not produce chicken and bacon according to EU standards . And you know why ? Because they make it to a higher standard - said Ukrainian writer Oles Elderberries . - And to lower standards they can just go to Western technology and this pump chicken with hormones and water. The most striking example of European standards : express train number one Kiev - Moscow, which consists entirely of Polish wagons. I rode on it from Moscow during really low temperatures. So their clever eurowashers sensors did not work because Russian low temperatures are not Euro Low temperatures. And how conductors solve this problem ? They are pore boiling water into a bottles and pour it into the toilets to unfreeze them .

We can assume that German tanks that invaded Russia in 1941, were made by European standards. They have narrow tracks and run on petrol. But they all became a useless pile of metal near Moscow when temperatures dropped in winter of 1941. In France, the tank worked, but in Russia it ceased to start. You see, we have ( ha ha!) quote different isotherm for January"

The signing of the Association means not just operetta Maidan protesters, but real hungry and angry crowd of unemployed on the streets next year

What is EuroStandart and how much it cost to convert Ukraine to them?

According to conservative estimates, the conversion to euro standard will cost Ukraine about 160 billion Euros. After the conclusion of the Agreement with the EU all that Ukraine has - all the infrastructure, railways, roads, businesses and even the Ukrainian soil (best in Europe) ceases to comply with the technical regulations of the European Union. As economist Michael Kuhar noted:

"The basic difference between agriculture in Europe from Ukrainian that the certification of land there, that we do not have. It is necessary to make a chemical analysis of the soil, in order to determine how much herbicides it contains, and whether it is suitable, for example, to grow tomatoes. This is an expensive procedure, which costs 800 Euros per each hectare of land. And in Ukraine, 33 million hectares of arable land ! That is billions of Euros. I'm not talking about the requirements for infrastructure, on the chemical and metallurgical plants, all of which do not meet the emission standards. "

EU condescending recommends Ukraine to pay special attention to "micro enterprises and craftsmen (!)" This despite the fact that Ukraine can produce nuclear stations equipment, aircraft, rockets, military vessels, engines, railway cars, etc.

As the representative of the Government of Ukraine in Eurasian Commission Viktor Suslov noted:

"There are two key points in the agreement with the EU. First, the Ukrainian economy is not competitive with European and when imposed on a free trade zone and mutual zero custom duties. It will inevitably perish in this struggle, . - Zero custom duties calls into question the existence of entire industries . For example, Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. Export seeds we set the export duty, so we are making it more economical to process seeds within the country, and Ukraine has one of the most powerful oil extraction industry. When you abolish custom duties, the same EU will directly procure seeds and will process them outside of Ukraine. Therefore, local oil extraction industry will die.

Generally, few people understand that when you cancel the import duties, incentives for foreign investment might not increase but actually decrease. Contrary to common opinion it might be that for foreign companies it does not make sense to build new factories in Ukraine and create jobs. In this case Ukraine is becoming just a new market for EU goods. Investments in the country are often made only if they serve as a means of overcoming trade barriers when the country can not enter with the goods, and with the investment company organized in its territory. ( For example creation foreign car assembly plants in Russia. )

And the second important point: the introduction of the EU technical standards, Yes it is a revolution. Let's assume that they are the best in the world, but who will pay for such a transition ? This way a unique situation is created: the more competitive European manufacturers come here not just free of duties, but also by dictating their own rules of the game! So all Ukrainian companies do not comply, for example, environmental standards, must be shut down and give up their market share ! And again, very few people saw in this the additional problem: the introduction of European standards means cutting the whole body of the economy of the former USSR in two parts. It breaks existing economic ties and in some cases (railways) make standards incompatible with the rest of former USSR.

Destruction of cooperation means a sharp weakening of Russia as Ukraine still has some enterprises that are part of the former USSR military-industrial complex, including Russia's nuclear shield. Missiles that carry Russian nuclear armor are made by ​​famous Ukrainian YUZHMASH factory. Engines for military helicopters are produced by Ukrainian "Motor Sich" plant. And the newest fifth-generation fighter " T-50 " will not fly without Ukrainian details. These are the key things for Russian military-industrial complex . In addition, we have lots of joint major projects : the resumption of production of aircraft type "Ruslan", the construction of a bridge between the Kerch Crimea and the Caucasus .

Yes, Ukraine is now got between Scylla and Hayrides. When the West felt that fish can let off the hook, it made unprecedented pressure on our elite, and now actually provokes the creation of the EuroMaidan . It is time to call a spade a spade . It's not just about money . Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said it absolutely correctly: there is a geopolitical battle for Ukraine! "

Who is behind the Maidan

EuroMaidan - is a giant business project, the furnace in which hundreds of thousands of dollars are burned every day. One needs to transport people from the West of Ukraine, feed them, clothe them, give them accommodation, to provide them with toilets and comply with the minimum standards of hygiene, to compensate for daily expenses. It is necessary to monitor their health, protect them, constantly entertain them, so they do not get bored and do not melt away, led them dance and walk on any pickets and demonstrations. For "Not Yet Perished" crowd (from the Ukrainian national anthem " Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished ") well-known artists sing and dance. They are not doing it for free.

To understand where the money for such a huge, multi-day show come from, we must understand the system of government in Ukraine. This is an oligarchic republic in spirit Russian 90s. Ukraine is like Yeltsin's Russia in miniature with local variants of Khodorkovsky, Berezovsky, and Gusinsky running the snow.

But there is a difference between the current Ukrainian and current Russian oligarchs. As Oleg Havich noted:

"Current Russian oligarchs are more or less like technocrats. Well, they have their money, but they have provide some vital service. Much like people who work as custom officer, or policemen. Similarly some people work as oligarchs. Such people proved that he is capable to run particular business. This is quite in the tradition of the Russian Empire.

That's why Ukrainian oligarchs are so afraid of Russian oligarchs. First of all, the scale of enterprises is quite different, with Ukrainian much smaller. Secondly, the Russian oligarchs, who will come to Ukraine and will buy this company or that company, are not simply "new rich" personalities. They are simultaneously representatives of the Russian state. They might be not be Russian by nationality, but are all Russian in their actions."

As Member of Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) Oleg Tsarev noted:

"In Russia there is powerful administrative apparatus, the presidential model of republic, and the president is still the strongest player. But Ukraine is the country were the oligarchs won the political power. To explain the difference, let's assume that some sheiks from Saudi Arabia come to Russia with bags of money and ask Putin to hand Syria to them. They will be rejected as in Russia there are things that are not for sale, period. . Sheikhs will be listened politely, their money will be rejected and Russian will not surrender Syria to them.

And in Ukrainian politics such a decision is hard to imagine . For oligarchic capitalism ideal system of government is a parliamentary republic. In this case Parliament works simply as a negotiating platform between the oligarchs . Each of them have their own media, their elected representatives, which perform the function of negotiating their interest in their name: who would be given which state property, what is the cost of energy resources, and what is the level of taxes. That is, we have a basis in the form of oligarchic capitalism and superstructure in the form of a presidential republic. It's clear that there is a contradiction between two. From the point of view of oligarchs, the President has too much power"

No wonder a few days ago opposition deputy Yatsenyuk said that the opposition will fight for a return to the old Constitution, restoring Ukraine parliamentary republic in which the president is a figurehead, and actually cementing the polyarchy in the country .

As journalist Alexander Chalenko noted:

"Why oligarchs advocate signing the Association Agreement with the EU? Their business entities are all in south-east Ukraine, but the money, children, wives, mistresses, villas, accounts - are all in Europe. Everything was mover their, you know? Now if they misbehave, the Americans can closed and/or arrest them account and deny visas.

Russia began to move from this dependency in the summer. Prior to this, the oligarchs were thinking that they can settle things with Putin. But now became clear that Russia was not joking: it might close the market for Ukrainian goods. This means that there will be terrible losses and huge unemployment in the 2014, which is the election year. And that means that the opposition comes to power and will be forced to release Tymoshenko. And then Tymoshenko will put Yanukovich in the same prison were she used to be jailed. "

Politolog Rostislav Ishchenko made the following point.

"Experts and the whole Yanukovich entourage tried to convince him that in the fall of the IMF will give a lot of money without any conditions, and that he do not need to release Tymoshenko, that Putin is bluffing and will never close the Russian markets.

But then it became clear that the West will give no money with pre-conditions and that 25 percent of foreign trade of Ukraine already disappeared and that the treasury has money just for three months, Yanukovich at last understood that came the signing of the Association Agreement with EU this is not an operetta Maidan, but real hungry crowd of unemployed on the streets the next year. Really angry masses who will sweep everything. That is, he will have nothing: no pants, no hat, and no horse. And the only solution exists. Even if you hate mortally Russia, no treaty with it does not obligate you to love her. Enough to stabilize the situation, to sign certain agreements, and then you can argue with Putin as you want, as it does Lukashenko . "

But once Yanukovich said that Europe can wait, oligarchs entered the game .

Oleg Havich:

"Maidan is not three heroes who are standing on the podium: Klitschko Yatsenyuk Tyahnibok . All of them are puppets. Behind them stand really serious people like Dmitry Firtash, Poroshenko, Viktor Pinchuk, and Rinat Akhmetov . The way oligarchs controlled MSM cover events on Maidan proves that their owners are the co-conspirators of the action or at least implicitly support it. That means that we see a classic scenario of palace coup attempted by oligarchs. "

writer Oles Busina:

"There is a " family " - Yanukovich, son and people close to them. Old oligarchs fear the family who in recent years has greatly increased its share . Their goal - not to destroy the family, but to limit its appetites. I.e. drive Yanukovich into more controllable limits . Why they do not want to remove Yanukovich? Because there is no good alternative to replace him. If they get rid of Yanukovich, then radical extremists like Tyagnibok will climb out of the woodwork"

How West Ukraine launched and is winning the offensive against east Ukraine

Since Soviet times, it happened that the south-east of Ukraine worked ( there were all major enterprises ), and west mainly taught and was responsible for the culture. I. e. it was West to which ideology was farmed out. After the collapse of the USSR it was the Western Ukraine which raised and promoted the Ukrainian nationalism, Ukrainian national idea, because the east had nothing to say on this subject : the people there did not feel the Ukrainians, and most importantly there never were opposed to Russian .

Oleg Havich:

"There is the expansion of the west to the east of Ukraine. Galicians are all slaves of size, they think "Bigger is better". I'm tired of shouting after them : " Dude, you should not go there ! You can't digest all of Ukraine ! "

journalist Alexander Chalenko

"As soon as a team there are two Western Ukrainians Nationalists ("zapadentzi"), they all begin to remodel for themselves, - says . - This totalitarian mentality that if you're not with us, you Western Ukraine Nationalists Moscow. To the whole of Ukraine zapadentsy are associated with the name of Bandera. And we have to admit honestly : Ukrainians are simply afraid of them. Why ? Bandera led nationalist ("banderovets") were a terrible people real beasts in Soviet time . I remember that my grandmother told me that the Soviet government sent to teach the west. (Incidentally, the Ukrainian school appeared in the West only with the advent of the Soviet Union. Before there were only Polish schools . ) Her stories struck me with unimaginable cruelty of Bandera fighters. For them it was not enough to shot people dead, they beheaded man, they cut open stomachs in women, they burned babies, that is, they committed terrible inhuman crimes...

Before the collapse of the USSR the power of central government protected us from Western Ukraine extremists. They were always for us as for you Chechens . That is, you can kill a Chechen, but then come ten Chechens and cur your throat . And our people are cowardly intellectuals . And now all of Kiev and all Ukraine is infected with Stockholm syndrome. This is when the victim begins to play along with the terrorist. We hate them so to speak conditionally: if we have an opportunity to eliminate them, we would eliminated them long too. We have way too different culture codes. And the current Maidan is Ukrainian Nationalist Maidan. On TV show only cheerful, happy faces of students and not the Bandera Gopniks, who come in large numbers from Galicia.

On Independence 2004 Yushchenko did not behave as a nationalist. He spoke of his friendship with Russia. What Bandera ? I do not even know his followers. Then you can speak in iether Ukrainian or Russian from the podium. And now, if you speak Russian, they shout "Shame! " ("Ganba! ").

Why Maidan is not a Revolution

Maidan consists of four groups of people:

Kievites morally support Maidan, come there for just to see the show, but do not believe the opposition . They have completely "give me decent life style" perceptions about Europe . As a security guard in the parking lot told ne: I want to finally live like human beings. People here are somehow convinced that Europe will feed them, clothe, shoe .

Now we have a paradoxical situation : there is a rebellion, called the revolution, which has one hundred times could win. And there is a power that can the same hundred time to crush them . But neither the government does not disperse the rebellion, nor the opposition is ready to takes power . Existing leaders have exhausted their moral capital . The only person who could make a revolution - Tymoshenko, but she in jail. Like all sociopath she does not have self-preservation instinct, she does not believe that she can be killed, and is therefore able to lead the people into fire.. Such people without moral brakes in such a situation feel like a fish in water. That is why she is equally dangerous for the authorities and the opposition. But with Tymoshenko for current revolutionaries situation will be much worse. She will not stop at half-measures like Yanukovich . She will strangle them all or send them to jail for betrayal. "

The fact that the leaders of Maidan do not have guts, is now clear to everyone. That's what I told people close to the government: "When one of the three opposition "heroes" was asked why they are not going to storm the building of the presidential administration, he said in dismay :" What do you mean ? They can jail me for that ! "

It can not be the leader of the revolution who is afraid of jail (a revolution - it is always a violation of the law ), which fears to make a move for which he/she can be jailed. It would be helpful if vandals who crashed the statue of Lenin read his works. Type "Marxism and Insurrection ." in Google. And you instantly come across the famous slogan by Lenin " Procrastination in such situations is equal to death ."

Maidan now turned into idle people and crazies asylum paid by the USA. Because they does not have a leader who understands the theory of revolution . No Lenin-level figure capable of directly from the armored car to announce the "April Theses". But truth be told now in Ukraine there is no public demand for great people. It's just a cockroach races where everyone is running for their shallow goal. "


With whom Russia can speak ?

With no one. And we have ourselves to blame . That's what I was told on condition of anonymity, people from " Party of Regions ":

" Our government and our oligarchs panic fear of awakening Russian reunification movement. They are willing to finance fascist Tyagnibok, but in any case will not allow Russian reunification movement to at the East. That's a night horror for Yanukovich that someone will work with his electorate. And as long as your Putin will meet with Yanukovich and enter with the gentlemen's agreements that you do not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine, you will lose here.

Americans working here for twenty years. For them to make a step forward, they need to spend a thousand dollars. And Russia could spend a dollar and make the same one step forward, because it is an enormous affinity with Russia in the heats of people. And now you've lost the Ukraine, because total propaganda of hatred will always be successful. People even in the east are already embarrassed to talk in Russian. Nevertheless, they still can raised against West Ukrainian fascists"

I will never forget the intensity of hatred on the evening on Maidan Square when the news came that Russia is ready to give $15 billion to save sinking Ukrainian economy and decide to lower gas prices by one third. As people shouted : "No Taiga Union ! " ( So here mockingly called the Customs Union ) . How to know that I am from Moscow, Western Ukrainians shouted at me : "You can't buy us! We are not selling Motherland your thirty pieces of silver ! We'll take your money, spend them and then spit in your face ! "

writer Oles Busina:

"And what do you want? Pro-Russian organizations in Ukraine today simply do not exist ! But there are way too many thriving grant-sucking gangs. A new generation is oriented to the west, for which the word "three fraternal nations" an empty phrase for them. Why do young people believe Liberasts? When I was a student I was also for Perestroika, and you also was for Perestroika. And we both now know how that ended.

None of us could expect that the next Russian president will be an alcoholic, that the Soviet army unconditionally withdraw from Europe that Russia will survive a demographic catastrophe, there will be first and second Chechen wars . Well we did not know that the Liberasts can not do anything.

And Kiev students also do not know that. But we need to explain that to them. We need to create a support group . Russia is trying to act through diplomatic channels and negotiate directly with officials, but this tactic does not work anymore . "

Political analyst Rostislav Ishchenko:

"On the political field, where Yanukovich is dancing, now there is no other politician. This is a trampled field. In the near future you have no one to talk to Ukraine. Americans themselves have created their partners for twenty years. You have a huge pro-Russian population in the east and in the Crimea, but you do not want to talk to them. Why ? Because it is your position : we will only work with the current legal authority. We do not want to upset Viktor Yanukovich .

If we work with the pro-Russian opposition to his course, Yanukovich will be offended us. Well, now, he likes your behavior. It's all good with him now, until his next betrayal. It's just with Ukraine you are in deep shit."

[Dec 21, 2013] Yanukovich tells West to keep out of Ukraine crisis

Yanukovich created crisis but trying to push the country into EU but then realizing that he will kill Russian market for Ukraine going full stop. Classic “BSE” (=”Blame Someone Else”). Did this guy read the contents of the EU association agreement before he was going to sign it?
December 2013 19, BBC News

Asked why the Ukrainian economy was in such trouble, Mr. Yanukovich said the gas contract signed with Russia by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2009 had incurred a loss of $20bn.

Another problem, he said, was the repayment of an IMF loan of $16.4bn negotiated in 2008, and a third factor was the recent fall in trade with Russia and other ex-Soviet states.

Asked about his position on the Customs Union, he said that Ukraine only had observer status but he suggested that it could adopt certain clauses.

"Ukraine's government is studying these clauses and, once conclusions are drawn, the corresponding transparent decisions will be taken on which clauses we will adhere to," he said.

Ukraine's pro-EU protesters have rejected any move to join the Customs Union, which was set up in 2010 and includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

'Agricultural appendage'

"We always say seriously that Ukraine for us is a fraternal country," Mr Putin told a separate news conference in Moscow.

"And in a difficult situation, we are always ready to support a fraternal people. I assure you, that is the only objective reason [for the financial aid]."

"We cannot leave our economy unprotected if Ukraine joins the association [agreement]," Mr Putin said.

He gave as an example of close industrial relations the fact that "nearly 100%" of helicopter engines for Russia's armed forces were manufactured in Ukraine.

Ukraine, he argued, would not find a market for the engines elsewhere. The EU, he suggested, was only interested in Ukraine as an "agricultural appendage".

[Dec 21, 2013] Russian bailout masks Ukraine's economic mess

Ukraine is unable to pay for Russian gas and IMF loans (taken by Yushchenko government) without new credits. As simple as that. Yushchenko took a huge loan and mostly blew the money, and the IMF denied a second one because they didn’t like the deficit of reforms they had made conditional on the first loan, one of which was the same removal of home-heating subsidies for gas they tried to force on Yanukovych. Also Ukraine under democratizing wunderkind Viktor Yushchenko and his Amazingly Dysfunctional Government sank steadily down the ranks in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, even though TI is friendly to the point of fawning to “nascent democracies” like Mikhail Saakashvili’s Georgia.
BBC News

Ukrainian consumers pay approximately 20% of the wholesale price of gas, leaving the state with a huge bill and destabilizing the state-run energy monopoly Naftogaz Ukrainyi.

... ... ...

To help pay for the gas, Ukraine's central bank has been propping up the Ukrainian currency the hryvnia.

Reports say the central bank has recently spent around $800m defending the currency, which has helped deplete the nation's foreign currency reserves.

The expense of propping up the currency and subsidizing gas has made international investors reluctant to lend money to Ukraine.

To borrow money on the international markets, Ukraine was facing interest payments of more than 8%, which is extremely high for a national government.

Financial crunch

But Ukraine needed fresh funding.

Next year it has to refinance around $7bn worth of foreign debt and almost $3bn of that was owed to the International Monetary Fund.

That pressure meant Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich badly needed the $15bn of financing from Russia.

But it will not fix Ukraine's deeper economic problems.

Lilit Gevorgyan Senior Economist at IHS Global Insight says Ukraine has suffered from a "toxic combination" of poor economic policy making and a slump in demand for its exports of steel and capital goods, like industrial machinery.

As mentioned above the nation's currency is kept artificially high to help pay for imports, including gas, as well as keeping foreign debt servicing low.

But that has made Ukraine's exports much less competitive on the international markets. Ukraine is a big exporter of steel and machinery but those exports have slumped, partly because of the strong currency, but also weak demand from customers in Europe.

[Dec 21, 2013] Putin gambles on Ukraine bailout By Lidia Kelly

Dec 18, 2013 | Reuters

Putin regards Ukraine, with its large population, mineral resources and ability to act as a bridge to the EU market, as vital to the success of a Eurasian Union he wants to create to match the economic might of the United States and China.

But two decades after the collapse of communism broke a centuries-old link between Kiev and Moscow, Ukraine's GDP per head is not just well below that of Russia but is only half that of Bulgaria, the poorest country in the European Union.

Ukraine's needs are great - it has to cover an external funding gap of $17 billion next year - almost the level of the Ukrainians central bank's depleted currency reserves.

"At some point investors will realize that Russia is increasing its credit exposure to Ukraine, which is a much lower credit-quality sovereign," said Stanislav Petrov, a strategist at BNP Paribas in London.

Standard and Poor's rates Russia's long-term debt BBB and Ukraine's B-, several notches below.

Russia's economic gain from Tuesday's deal is hard to see, prompting speculation that Putin may have won more than what has been made public or that talks are still under way.

Although unannounced deals might include, for example, agreement for Russia to control pipelines in Ukraine that carry Russian gas to Europe, the uncertainty in unsettling for some investors.

[Dec 20, 2013] Mikhail Khodorkovsky freed after pardon from Vladimir Putin

Pretty much western media coverage of Khodorkovsky has detached itself from any semblance of reality and is just a spew of propaganda. These pieces are laughable. Only comments makes sense. Post-Communist Russia was plundered by the West, a basket case in which the only internal winners were the complicit oligarchs. That rot has been stopped.
The Guardian

HoofItLong

Yay for Putin! Such a nice guy!

Flyper -> HoofItLong

I don't agree with many political opinions with Putins government but incarceration of this guy was one of the best actions Russian government has done for years.

This chap misappropriate almost the entire energy resources of the country in in the recent turbulent past and Putins government Nationalized all natural resources into a government managed enterprise.

So Khodorkovsky is a nasty mafia boss and that's why he has been in jail for years.

harryphilby

Russia can still put billionaires in jail. That's just a pipe dream in the UK.

Paul Davies

Should have got twenty years. He committed the biggest fraud in history. No doubt the west will welcome him.

Scipio1

Yes, Russia is ruled by a corrupt elite, we in the west do not go in for that sort of corruption and bribery and .... oh wait a minute.

Mario Draghi - Ex Goldman Sachs
Mark Carney - Ex Goldman Sachs
Hank Paulson - Ex Goldman Sachs
Timothy Geihtner - Ex Goldman Sachs
Robert Rubin - Ex Goldman Sachs
John Corzine - Ex Goldman Sachs
Mario Monti (Italian PM) Ex Goldman Sachs.

I could go on but I will stop there. As C Wright Mills (The Power Elite) in the 1950s there was a revolving door between the financial and political elite. So you see it is not only Russia which has a system of corruption, clientelism, cronyism and nepotism. We have our own collection of financial oligarchs who form a political-financial complex. Democratic, open, tell that to Assange, Snowden and Bradley.

FrankTheFrank -> Scipio1

Indeed. But Russia is ranked 127th in the world corruption index while the USA ranks 19th. Massive difference there.

smuglyfrombrazil -> FrankTheFrank

The difference also lies in who influences the ranking.

meffisto

To the everlasting ire of Russophobes everywhere, who revelled in the implosive Yeltsin years, Putin has managed to halt Russia's disintegration and descent into anarchical chaos, often brutally, but certainly effectively. Post-Communist Russia was plundered by the West, a basket case in which the only internal winners were the complicit oligarchs. That rot has been stopped.

It is irrelevant whether Putin is admired outside Russia; within, he enjoys massive popularity, and irrespective of international opposition, Putin has engineered Russia into emerging as a global driving force once more, rather than a drunken passenger whose pocket was picked and shoes stolen. It has been a remarkable achievement, and deserves noting.

MartynInEurope

Oooh, another potential buyer for Valencia CF or Aston Villa?

Oscarsusername

Khodorkovsky's reputation has benefitted from being banged up, but of all the oligarchs he probably did most damage to the prospects of Russia's economic transition. He helped the Communist Party transfer huge sums out of Russia, worked out how to asset-strip Soviet industry through accounting fraud, and in all of this he was protected by the establishment whose dirty dealings he was facilitating through his banks.

It wasn't just Putin who brought him down, a lot of the Family were very happy to see him go after his "conversion" to transparency, probity and integrity, he knew and still knows where the bodies are buried, but a lot of good it did him.

SurvivalMachine

Lots of people here seem to know nothing about Russia and just repeat what they read in the media.

Putin is no tyran, he s been democratically elected, and by a bigger majority than most presidents/PMs.

Those oligarchs are thieves, and they were running the country in the 90s and drove it to chaos and default. The IMF and the West has a massive responsibility here.

Then one man appeared and asked those thieves to stay away from power. Some accepted it (eg Abramovich), some didn't.

How can some people side with those thieves who drove their country to complete chaos??

thomasnobody

Khodorkovsky & the Bush Regime!!

"The Khodorkovsky arrest followed an unpublicized meeting earlier that year on July 14, 2003, between Khodorkovsky and Cheney. Following the Cheney meeting, Khodorkovsky began talks with ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, Rice's old firm, about taking a major state in Yukos, said to have been between 25% and 40%.

That was intended to give Khodorkovsky de facto immunity from possible Putin government interference by tying Yukos to the big US oil giants and, hence, to Washington. It would also have given Washington, via the US oil giants, a defacto veto power over future Russian oil and gas pipelines and oil deals. Days before his October 2003 arrest on tax fraud charges, Khodorkovsky had entertained George H W Bush, the representative of the powerful and secretive Washington Carlyle Group in Moscow. They were discussing the final details of the US oil company share buy-in of Yukos.

Yukos had also just made a bid to acquire rival Sibneft from Boris Berezovsky, another Yeltsin-era oligarch. YukosSibneft, with 19.5 billion barrels of oil and gas, would then own the second-largest oil and gas reserves in the world after Exxon-Mobil. YukosSibneft would be the fourth-largest in the world in terms of production, pumping 2.3 million barrels of crude oil a day.

The Exxon or Chevron buy-up of YukosSibneft would have been a literal energy coup d'etat. Cheney knew it; Bush knew it; Khodorkovsky knew it.

Above all, Putin knew it and moved decisively to block it."

"Moscow plays its cards strategically"
By F William Engdahl
Asia Times

ChrisKlein

When Putin came to power in 2000, he offered an informal deal to Russia's oligarchs – t hey could keep their wealth but they were not to dabble in politics. Khodorkovsky broke the deal.

This clearly indicates that Putin knew by then that the Oligarchs were basically nothing else then Mafiosi and that they had acquired their wealth thru largely illegal means. Offering the deal was probably the most sensitive way of dealing with them without causing a bloody war as the country has not been that stable by then and nobody could be really sure how far the power of their money would reach. In the light of this micro analysis Khodorkovsky's imprisonment could be seen as some sort of state self defense to avoid that Mafiosi finally proliferate into politics and take positions of political power which undoubtedly would have massive corrosive effects at a society and its evolution at every level.

RussianVoice -> ChrisKlein

This clearly indicates that Putin knew by then that the Oligarchs were basically nothing else then Mafiosi and that they had acquired their wealth thru largely illegal means.

Yes, and from my personal point of view, this is his biggest achievement that he stopped 'business' taking over politics completely. In a way, at some point he put a wall between the two, and stopped them from merging. If that didn't happen, Russia today would've been similar to China, where there is an elite that operates manufacturing business for the world market, and those that are used as labour.

Well, Russia would've been elite that has Russian resources, and the rest would've been just mere labor force that helps to extract natural resources...

Quiescentkiev21 -> kiev21

Khordorkovsky was a part of the gangster elite and the mob just let him out, but if it were a real mafia he would be 'sleepin with the fishes'.

frothwrath

Generally I approve of amnesties, and it's a sign of the cruel and hard moral backwardness of the UK that we don't do them. Even the US pardons people now and then.

It's high time to free Khodorkovsky; he's been giving indications that he's ready for it and won't cause trouble, so, contrary to the nonsense in this article, it's really not a surprise. It's also a suitable way to resolve the problem of those Greenpeace types. But I do wish he wasn't including those unrepentant church-desecrating provocateur sluts in the amnesty. They belong in jail until they see why their behaviour was beyond the pale, and including them in this pre-Olympic amnesty just panders to the deluded idiots in the west who swallow the lies about them being musicians or political dissidents.

Quiescent

The reality is that American funded civil society initiatives run around Russia funding and creating 'human rights scandals' for the West to wring their hands at.

This is all so well known and yet never really published in the msm. America and Russia have conflicting spheres of influence and both are intolerant of real dissent at home and welcoming of it abroad when it suits their interests.

[Dec 19, 2013] Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Fading Public Trust

Dec 18, 2013 | NYT

For months, leading technology companies have been buffeted by revelations about government spying on their customers’ data, which they believe are undermining confidence in their services.

“Both sides are saying, ‘My biggest issue right now is trust,’ ” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and chief executive of CloudFlare, an Internet start-up. “If you’re on the White House side, the issue is they’re getting beaten up because they’re seen as technically incompetent. On the other side, the tech industry needs the White House right now to give a stern rebuke to the N.S.A. and put in real procedures to rein in a program that feels like it’s out of control.”

The meeting of Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and 15 executives from the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo came a week after those companies and other giants, usually archrivals, united in a public campaign calling for reform in government surveillance practices.

On Monday, a federal district judge ruled that the N.S.A. sweep of data from all Americans’ phone calls was unconstitutional, a ruling that added import to the discussions.

...Several executives, including Ms. Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, expressed concerned that foreign countries may now decide to prevent all the user data generated by users in a foreign country from flowing to the United States, the people said. One such law has been proposed in Brazil. The executives said these laws would significantly hurt their businesses and America’s start-up economy.

...The meeting reflected a shift in the tech sector’s once-close relationship with Mr. Obama, whose 2008 election many industry executives generously supported.

Chuck Woods, ID

I don't see how there can be any trust restored until the administration changes it's outlook on Edward Snowden. Without the revelations about wholesale spying and illegal data collection by Snowden we would not even be having this national discussion. President Obama will be on the wrong side of history if he doesn't recognize the value of this issue. It would be sad if he is remembered as the president of drones and spying on citizens. Perhaps healthcare will save him from that. But isn't about time he stood up to the spooks and hawks who pull many of the levers.

Deregulate_This, Oregon

President Obama meets with these particular tech CEOs? The same ones who claim there are no CS graduates in America? The same ones who abuse the H-1B visa program and undercut American wages? The same ones who happily signed on to sell information to the C.I.A. and N.S.A.? (Our tax dollars pay for access to their data - see previous NYT articles about payouts to tech companies)

I've worked in the tech industry for 15 years and have seen massive layoffs of Americans while they send jobs overseas. Now, they are being used as Obama's advisers? What could they possibly advise? "Lower Wages" "Allow us to outsource more" "Allow us to have permanent unpaid interns" "keep paying us for private user information"?

eric glen, Hopkinton, NH

"The Adminstration told executives that government action related to NSA surveillance would happen in the new year. . . "

Yeah, and if you like your plan you can keep your plan, period.

This article to some degree depicts our President as somehow an outsider to the NSA workings.

He's the commander in chief. He could have changed the system five years ago if he wanted to.

Our President has authorized the spying that has gone on and seeks to prosecute Snowden to the fulll extent of the law. Why, because President Obama believes the government should spy on us.

If only Snowden were an "undocumented worker", he would be safe from prosecution whatever his crimes.

AdamOnDemand, Bloomingdale, NJ

Unchecked power to spy is like any other unchecked power: it corrupts, and while it may be intended for only the best reasons, it won't be used only or even primarily for them for long...

senatordl, new jersey

“The president made clear his belief in an open, free and innovative Internet ". Anyone who believes that is delusional! this president and his congressional co=conspirators are the worst thing that has ever happened to the US. the last thing they believe in is something that is open let alone free. we are no longer free because they take our freedom of choice away on virtually everything. The worst part is people on the government dole don't see it or don't care. if we have not lost what we fought for during several wars then this war is even more insidious because most people are not even aware that it's being waged against them.

Brooklyn Song, Brooklyn, NY

Facebook and Google are 1) speaking with Obama about how bad the NSA spying is for business, and b) buying fiber optic cables to evade government spying out their customers (us).

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2525732/Facebook-Google-b...

In other words, giant corporations are the good guys now. Brave new world.

rcrogers6, Durham, NC

It’s a little late to install a competent IT professional to run the website development contract - or should I say contracts. The mismanagement began when President Obama eschewed competent advice and turned the ACA implementation over to the White House staffers who shepherded it through Congress. This concrete demonstration of the President’s lack of any managerial background and unwillingness to accept expert advice has permeated his presidency and led to the disappointment of those of us who voted for him - twice.

I cannot imagine anything concerning either of the meeting’s subjects that would warrant that grin or the reciprocating smiles of the apparent sycophants. We will soon see what impact this president’s ignorance and arrogance has had on the fortunes of the Democratic Party in the 2014 elections. Next time, I will try not to be influenced by a charismatic candidate and look for one who brings some experience to the table. I honestly had looked forward to change and a new era in politics. Well, in regard to the Legislative Branch, that’s what I got - in the form of a disaster. The Executive, in lieu of change, has just delivered more of the same with a soupcon of additional incompetence.

alan, United States

Since it is obvious to even a blind man that the government has no real desire to protect Americans from illegal spying< I hope Brazil and other nations will pass laws that forces tech companies to keep their citizens data in their respective countries.

This will costs the tech industries billions of dollars. That is the only way they will get out of bed with the government. They can cry foul all they want to but it sounds hollows. After all, AT&T and the other phone companies turned over call records to the government after 911 without a whimper.

Maybe when enough people stop using their services or go with a company that is serious about users' privacy, Microsoft and the rest will do the right thing.

Nathan an Expat, China

The Internet companies' real concern is loss of overseas markets due to revelations they were providing voluntary and/or unwitting back door access to their customer data to US intelligence services. If their overseas clientele and their governments wake up this might lead to a "balkanisation!" of the Internet -- that translates into loss of market share for the major players. Most amusing is that major telecommunication companies like CISCO, Juniper and Alcatel who by definition have to be major players in this activity have managed with the collusion of mainstream media to keep a low profile on this. No visits to the White House for them because they are fully in line with these programs and have been for decades. Meanwhile, the US senators advise/warn foreigners not to buy telecommunication systems from China's Huawei because you know . . .

Jerry, New York

It's nice when the families get together to decide how to divide control over citizens and their money. God bless them.

Trenton, Washington, D.C.

The tech moguls are creating the devices and application that track the 99 percent's every move, thought and action--technology they sell to the federal government. They lobby for privatizing of public services so they can exert even greater control.

And, yeah, if they're not Libertarians feeding at the public trough, they're Democrats.

All it will take is one well-coordinated nationwide terrorist attack and we'll all be in virtual lock-down via technology created and peddled by these children.

Watch for the false flag.

Jim Michie, Bethesda, Maryland

What amazes me is how and why Barack Obama keeps flashing those toothy smiles. Here is a man who "gave us hope" and "promised" us so much, but delivered so little, continuing many of the ugly, dark policies of the Bush regime and adding his own. Among so many betrayals, Obama has failed to close his gulag, Guantanamo, failed to bring all of our troops home, expanded his war capabilities, failed to prosecute his felon friends on Wall Street and in the too-big-to-jail banks, launched a war on both whistleblowers and journalists, worked closely with the for-profit "health insurance industry" to create a "Frankenstein health care plan" and I could go on and on and on and on. "Fading trust," you say, New York Times? Shouldn't your headline read, "Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Lost Public Trust"!

John, Hartford

Reflects a shift? It actually reflects the closeness and interdependence of the relationship between government the tech industry. At times I wonder who writes these articles, 28 year old techno whizzes who may know all about IT but very little about the realities of power?

66hawk, Gainesville, VA

This article feel like empty calories to me. The characterization of the meeting is mostly critical when it seems that the fact that the meeting was held and that an exchange of viewpoints was accomplished made the meeting a success. I have no doubt that Obama will address some of the concerns that the tech industry has while still maintaining the ability to protect our nation from terrorists. The problem of getting people to trust that social media and the internet are totally secure is probably unsolvable. If you don't want someone to have access to your information, you certainly don't want to use Facebook.

Pat Choate, Washington, Va.

The expose of the NSA excesses and that Agency's linkages with these corporations is taking a heavy tool on these companies' foreign-derived bottom line and global reputation. What citizen or company in any foreign country wants to do business with a corporation that is secretly funneling their clients' data to US spy agencies.

Big Tech's concern for their profits will result in more pressures for "reforms" at NSA than anything the Congress, Courts or Administration would ever do on their own.

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

The information Americans gladly give to private companies is more of a threat to individual well-being and collective democracy than the egregious data collecting of the government. The real danger is that Apple is much more popular than the government, because people understand what their iPod does for them but not what the government does for them.

The workings of the government are, compared to that of the big tech corporations, quite transparent. You may or may not like the influence of the Koch brothers money on politics, but at least it all plays out in a relatively public arena. Google not so much. And, while our electoral process is very far from perfect, you have more of an influence on that than you do on corporate policy. Have you tried voting Tim Cook or Mark Zuckerberg out of office?

What the government is doing now it has done for decades, spying with whatever tools were available. They may have new tools, but so do those they want to spy on. What is different now is that there are huge, wealthy corporations whose profit largely come from spying and espionage i.e. the collection of your info with or without your permission. And to the extent that you may have become dependent on the internet and these companies, they simply make you an offer you can't refuse.

Dean Charles Marshall, California

Steve your comment is "spot on". Our deification of technology is beyond absurd. At the end of the day the Internet has become a vast "sink hole" of distraction where tech companies rake in billions covertly pimping off our private information in exchange for bits and bits of superfluous and dubious information we crave, but for reasons we can't explain. Thanks to companies like Google, Apple and Facebook we've become a nation of techno zombies enamored with the trivial pursuit.

ronco, San Francisco

Those private companies don't intentionally weaken security and encryption standards in order to make breaking into encrypted data streams easier. Those companies make a living by ensuring the integrity of the data that you host with them. One has choices whether to give data to those companies in order to get services from them or to pay in a more traditional model. When a company is found to play loosely with data they are sussed out very quickly and very publicly. We don't have a recourse against the NSA - voting is a very slow process.

While researchers have known about the weaknesses introduced into data encryption standard algorithms by the NSA, none of them spoke up about it because of the chilling effect it would have on getting grants for their research.

It is a vicious circle that is not only strengthened by criminal prosecution but also character assassination and black listing at government levels. There's nothing inherently good or evil about corporations or their motives but I usually have a choice about where I purchase goods and services or even build my own company to compete. The fact that we can't trust our government to do the right thing and haven't been able to have that trust since 9/11 is a problem because one either has to wait for the voting process to eventually work (a generation?) or just vote with their feet.

Scientella, palo alto

Spying by the NSA is unconstitutional.
Silicon Valley has changed from a benevolent geek town to run by ruthless, parasitic, dishonest, money crazed functionaries of the policed state.

Jack O'Hanlon, San Juan Islands

Where was Cisco? If you want to ask some deep questions about a technology company that has sold billions of dollars worth of IP routing and switching equipment worldwide that now seems to have engineered back door access for the NSA, Cisco would be the banner carrier.

No subsea system, no terrestrial network can function without Cisco equipment in line somewhere. When Cisco claims it drives the Internet, it is not kidding.

Ironic in this is the fact that Cisco has lobbied to keep Huawei out of U.S. carrier networks based on "security issues" that have been discussed in general terms, ie, backdoors that would allow the Chinese to compromise U.S. communications.

It now seems that Cisco had some direct experience in understanding this sort of activity.

You can't pick off photonic transmissions (the fiber optic cable hacks revealed in the Snowden documents) unless you can hack the IP routers that send the traffic across the cables. A pure photonic hack is a futuristic endeavour, one that can be conducted so long as the producer of all optic routing has built in back door access at the laser level. Not so easy. All optic routing is called O-O-O, for optical-optical-optical transmission and destination routing of Internet Protocol traffic.

Bill Appledorf, British Columbia

Give me a break.

Corporate America spies on everyone to personalize the limits of the cognitive sandbox each consumer wanders in.

The NSA's job is to make sure no one extricates themselves from virtual reality, discovers the planet Earth, and finds out what global capitalism has been doing to it and the people who live here.

Information technology and covert intelligence are the public and secret sides of one and the same coin.

Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel, Huawei and a scant few others build what are called - O-E-O routers, for optical-electrical-optical transmission. The NSA is hacking the E part of this, with the vendors' potential help, obviously.

Bruce, San Diego, CA

I believe I have a way to regain the public trust: Give Mr. Snowden permission to re-enter the US, give him a Presidential pardon and award him the Congressional Gold Metal. Mr. Snowden maybe labeled a traitor by some in government; if so he is in fine company: Mr. King, Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Mandela, Mr. Patrick Henry. All of whom have been called "Traitor" and all of whom like Mr. Snowden shook up the established order for the betterment of society. Some like Mr. King, Gandhi & Henry paid the ultimate price for their beliefs.

Mr. Snowden has done more to advance the cause of freedom in the US and around the world than anyone for a long, long time. In the process he has made the "Powers That Be" very uncomfortable. Well done Sir!

borntorun45, NY

Do you feel that Snowden should be granted a Presidential pardon for cheating on the exam to obtain employment as a contractor for the NSA in Hawaii with the specific intent of mining data that he should not have had access to in the first place? Maybe you feel that Snowden should be pardoned for absconding to Hong Kong with his stolen files - do you find his fleeing the country of his own accord particularly heroic, proper, or necessary? Or, should he receive a pardon for then making that intelligence available to people who have profited by the purloined intelligence by publishing it for all the world to see, jeopardizing America's security and causing a strain on foreign relations?

Snowden carefully planned his mission, he didn't simply come upon the "leaked files" through his work in Hawaii - he has admitted to taking the job with Booz Allen specifically to obtain the files he stole. He was so much more than a whistleblower - he broke into and entered areas of the NSA he had no legal access to, and he download millions of files. Imagine anyone working in private business doing such a thing, let alone someone who took an oath of secrecy.

How exactly has "Mr. Snowden... done more to advance the cause of freedom in the US and around the world"? We are all being watched whenever we use our computers, cell phones, debit cards - it's the digital age, my friend, and the US government's surveillance of you should be the least of your worries.

Che Beauchard, Manhattan

Can't the photo shown with this article be used as evidence in a trial for a RICO violation? Surely the government has become a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization in collusion with these corporations.

infinityON, NJ

Sorry, I am having a hard time believing that Google and Facebook are concerned about their users privacy. They are more worried about their bottom lines due to the Snowden revelations. And we can add in the Obama Administration not being concerned about Americans privacy.

Patrick Dugan, Berkeley, CA

Google's entire business is built on respecting the privacy of their users. Sure they've misstepped in the past, usually not on purpose, but the presumption that they blatantly disrespect users and their privacy is uninformed.

Colenso, Cairns

'Try working part time at WalMart for awhile and then tell me that the NSA is your biggest problem.' ~ paul, CA

I sympathise. Nevertheless, if you are a resident of a US town where there's a Walmart or some such, you can choose whether or not to work for Wal-Mart Stores Inc or for some other exploitative US employer. If you don't like it, then you can improve your qualifications or skills, move to another town or even another country. That's always been the American way.

No one, however, US citizen or non-citizen, resident or non-resident in the USA, has any direct say whatsoever in what the US National Security Agency decides to do to you. Even the so-called 'courts' that oversee the NSA admit no litigant to the proceedings.

To take up your challenge, therefore, with the exception of those who live in North Korea and similar jurisdictions, I say yes - the NSA *is* everyone's biggest problem.

[Dec 19, 2013] Russia Offers Cash Infusion for Ukraine By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and ANDREW E. KRAMER

While the quality of the article clearly point out to "talking points" and is unsurprising (foreign correspondents those days are de-facto members of State Department), the level of brainwashing demonstrated in this NYT thread by the readers is something to worry about, if you compare those comments with the Guardian,. But there are some sober comments too although few understand cultural affinities and history of the region. One strong impression from reading comments is that imperial thinking is probably a mousetrap for the nation. Any nation.
Dec. 18, 2013 | nytimes.com

Anton, Kharkov

Oh, really Mr. Keith??? I think American politics knows how to play this game better than some one else!!!!!!!!!!

James, Midwest

Well, it looks like another artificial Western controlled "Color Revolution" is about to fall flat on its face. Predictably, the NYT is upset.

vadne, Coldstream, BC CANADA

The opposition politician in the Ukraine, Mr. Arseniy O.Yatsenyuk, is quoted as saying "Free Cheese is only found in a mousetrap". He might also want to warn the Ukrainian government leader that it is the second mouse to the trap that actually gets the cheese.

Dmitry Mikheyev, Moscow, Russia

Ukraine has been knocking at EU door during its entire existence as independent state. In 2003, 1,650 Ukraine troops were sent to Iraq and 18 died there. In 2004 the West engineered victory of Ushchenko who was as pro-western as one can be. So why didn’t EU adopt Ukraine? Meanwhile Ukrainian economy was plummeting. During the Soviet times, Ukraine’s living standards were slightly higher than those of Russia; today they are significantly lower. Today, Russia’s GNP per capita is four times that of Ukraine. Ukrainian population has shrunk by six million people including four million Ukrainian Gastarbeiters who work in Russia. Ukraine’s once powerful machine-building industry is dying. Neither the US nor Europe need Ukrainian machines, aircraft, rockets, ships and healthy agro products from famous Ukrainian black soil. That’s why EU offered Ukraine lots of verbal encouragement and only $1 billion of real help. Only Russia is really interested in Ukraine’s integrity and prosperity, after all they are Slavic brothers. Only Russian capital and markets can help resuscitate and modernize Ukrainian heavy industry. Only with Russian help Ukraine can survive as a major industrial-agricultural power of Europe.

Onno Frowein, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

A wise decision by President Yanukovich showing he could stand the pressure from the EU and the USA to make a decision in the best interest of the Ukrainian people. A country like the Ukraine with 46 million people was too big a fish for the EU to handle. The western intrigues and attacks against Russia are unfair and politically unwise. It only shows again that the Cold War between East and West is not over and Ukraine was a strategic opportunity to push Russia back into the defense. However, Putin decided that the best defense is the offense and decided to help a neighbor in need. Nothing wrong with that.

Rikal, DC

The EU behaves as if welcoming Ukraine is a favor, and as if Ukraine desperately needs the EU. So the EU imposes all kinds of conditions, and gives abstract promises of better markets, governance, etc. They ignore all the complex preferential economic ties to Russia that they need to compete with.

Of course the young only dream of "becoming" Europe, but the politicians are looking at hard numbers, and Putin looks waaay better. Even the German foreign minister conceded that the EU's offer can't match Russia's.

G.O'Poller, West Village

"Kremlin threatened draconian economic sanctions"
Is it to make Ukraine pay for gas as much as anybody else?

Dr. O. Ralph Raymond, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

Listening to Sen. John McCain's empty rhetoric on Independence Square, I cannot help but recall President George H. W. Bush's notorious August 1991 warning to the Ukrainian parliament against "empty dreams of independence" and "suicidal nationalism," and urging Ukrainians to stay in a refurbished Soviet Union. That speech, crafted by Condolezza Rice and dubbed Bush's "Chicken Kiev speech" by Times columnist William Safire, did as little to determine Ukraine's fate as McCain's words will now.

Still, it is a useful historical exercise to recall that the elder Bush was among the last hold-outs to join with Mikhail Gorbachev (and the still obscure KGB colonel named Vladimir Putin) to try to prop up the floundering Soviet Union.

Roger, Palmetto Bay, Florida

Say what you want, but one thing is sure. Russia is in a much better economic position to help and influence the Ukraine than the US. Just compare the numbers: Russia has a $179 billion trade surplus vs. the US trade deficit of $716 billion, a 0.5% of GDP budget deficit as compared to our 4.1% deficit and a current account surplus of $40 billion vs. a US current account deficit of $413 billion. Russia's unemployment rate is 5.5% vs. the US at 7.0%.

Stafford Smith, Seattle

"Experts say that unless Ukraine carries out overhauls,... the country’s economic problems will continue, raising the likelihood that the aid will be wasted."

For Yanukovich, who is not known to be a deep thinker, the money will not be regarded as wasted if it assures his political survival until the February, 2015, elections. It gets the weight of a bad bargain with Russia over gas prices off the country's back and buys him some time. When you are up against the wall, that's got to look pretty good.

Onno Frowein. Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Well Tim the EU is now being flooded with Bulgarians and Romanians since the EU ended their employment opportunities at home. Large companies subsidized with hundred of millions off Euro's like US Smithfield Foods put 90% of Polish and Romanian hog farmers out of business. The same happened to the many Bulgarian tomato- and 'Bulgarian Pepper' growers. Cheap labor taking jobs away from the domestic workforce will put even more pressure on the European social systems. It seems that the EU policy of expansion and austerity are directed to killing the SME's of the EU countries and contributing to the high unemployment of 27 million or 12.1% in the EU.

The Ukraine is lucky that Yanukovich decided for the aid from Russia since a trade pact with the EU would be nail to the Ukrainian coffin.

TMMSR, Chicago, IL

Well, I didn't know McCain was there....I guess he figures the third time is the charm since he couldn't get the U.S. involved in Libya or Syria. To all the critics of Putin (especially those of the U.S.) I really think it's time to realize that we have lost at the "game" we have exported to the world. No, not democracy, but that the dollar/ruble, currency rules. That's the game we play everyday in running our government. I don't see any difference in Putin offer, than those we seen in the last several weeks by states "bidding" for the new Boeing plant. Same game, same tactics. The money talks....the people just listen.

Joseph Huben, upstate NY

If McCain is involved we should flee. His primary goal is to defeat Obama anywhere and anyhow.

Bribery does work, until it doesn't.

BC, Hoboken, NJ

So, according to this report, "Senator John McCain ... told hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that the United States stood with them."

I'm surprised that he was in the Ukraine, why wasn't he in the Senate working on the budget deal? Did the State Dept. send him on this mission? Is he making official U.S. policy commitments ?

It is admirable that the people of the Ukraine are demonstrating to make their values known - but are they in for a 'let-down'? If a top Russian official had addressed the Occupy Wall Street protesters last year, asserting support, wouldn't Americans have had a justifiable feeling of 'mind your own business' ? Is there a definite need for the US to take an aggressive role in this situation?

Senator McCain: there are many problems Here In America that need to be addressed: briefly, Repair of infrastructure, Veterans care, Healthcare, Unemployment, Social Security, Minimum Wage, etc.

Patrick, Long Island NY

Dumb......spending over a trillion dollars and thousands of lives to win the love of another nation like Iraq.

Smart.....spending only 15 Billion dollars, in loans that is, and discounting the price of fuel to win the love of another nation.

Diplomacy is the way to a peaceful world, not military strength and conquest.

Strength through Peace!

Tim Kane, Mesa, Arizona

In 2002, the year before the invasion, Iraq's GNP was around $54 billion.

We should have gotten it lock, stock and infrastructure in tact with a few well placed bribes of under a billion dollars. Boy George was a stupid as Hitler marching into Russia and declaring war on the US. They just wanted to have a war to justify their existence.

[Dec 18, 2013] The who choices for Ukraine

The voice of CIA ;-)
svoboda.org

Q: Kiev announces that approximately 20 billion euros needed as financial assistance . To what extent do you share such evaluations ?

Vasily Astrov :

It's very difficult to define a certain amount, cost implementation of the requirements of the European Union for Ukraine ... After all, a lot depends on how soon she can handle it ? We do not know, is it about a 5- or 10 years, or for 15 ?

But experience has shown that fpr all the countries that recently joined the EU, thre convertion cost a lot of effort and money. Yes, to some extent, they were lucky - the necessary transformation of their economies was facilitated by the inflow of foreign investment. Based on their recent experience, we can cautiously hope that this could happen with Ukraine .

The estimate of 20 billion euros, in my opinion, is not exaggerated. Ukraine - a huge country, compared to other new Eastern European members of the EU, and the level of technological development is noticeably inferior to many of them .

Q: The European Union already has free trade agreements not only with Europe, non-EU countries ( Switzerland, Norway or Iceland), but also with a number of others - in particular, with South Korea or Chile. Furthermore, the EU began negotiations on such an agreement with the United States . But the U.S. has a current c 1994 Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA). And the U.S., even concluding an agreement with the EU, have not renounced it . As well as the EU - from their previous agreements . That is, they are parallel to participate in several .

In turn, the Customs Union (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan ) there no possibility of " parallel" participation in other similar agreements...

Vasily Astrov :

The rules in force in the free trade area and customs union differ greatly .

In the first case, the country may enter into new free trade agreement at its discretion. In a customs union - it's different. Its members must have a common customs rules and general tariffs on imports from third countries. That's why, if Ukraine joins the Customs Union of the CIS, it should comply with all the rules of the organization.

For her, it would mean, first, increasing their import tariffs, which are still quite low . And, secondly, Ukraine loses the opportunity to conclude a free trade agreement with the EU. Currently Customs Union has relatively high customs duties on imports from the EU . So here one excludes the other, there is a complete incompatibility .

[Dec 18, 2013] Ukrainians Protest Oligarchic Rule That Has Stripped the Country of Its Wealth

Sommers iether does not understand or does not want to talk about the fact that neoliberal model is about stripping assets from population and enriching Western banks and few local oligarchs who serve as a tool for transferring assets tot he West (aka neocolonialism) with IMF as a primary tool. The USA geopolitical game in the region since 1991 is to weaken and, if possible, partition Russia, so if to reach this goal Ukraine needs to converted into another Yugoslavia it's just a collateral damage to Washington politicians. There will be no Marshall Plan for Ukraine. Both EU and the USA are too neoliberal and shortsighted for that. Western Ukraine objectively is playing the role of fifth column for those neoliberal plans, despite the fact that their protest against oligarchic rule is genuine.
The Real News Network

SOMMERS: Well, John McCain essentially has been fighting the Cold War even after the Cold War's been over for some 20 years. So for some four decades he has actually been engaged in this protracted struggle against the Soviet Union and now its post Soviet Union incarnation in Russia. Essentially, he's interested in making sure that a Russian state does not get reconstituted, which could include some of the other former Soviet republics.

Now, this has geopolitical implications for U.S. interests in terms of ensuring that there's not a very, very strong bloc in Eurasia that controls this vast store of energy and minerals and brings into its orbit the countries around its border.

McCain has been very active in terms of trying to break Belarus, trying to get Lukashenko out of power. Of course, he was very active in terms of supporting Saakashvili and the republic of Georgia, and had some part, really, in instigating the state of affairs in the Republic of Georgia which led to the disastrous little war that occurred there a couple of years ago.

So this is just all part of his ongoing efforts in the region.

NOOR: Now, talk about what's driving these protesters, which are focused mostly on Western Ukraine, to oppose the closer ties with Russia and why they want closer ties to the European Union. And the deal with Russia will be part of the Customs Union, which is the Eastern European equivalent to the E.U.

SOMMERS: Sure. Well, Ukraine is a deeply divided country. If you think about the economy of the United States prior to the Civil War you see something analogous to the Ukraine today, although it was even worse--or, I should say, it's even worse today in Ukraine than it is [incompr.] the situation that we had before the Civil War in the United States. It's a country which has half of its population more or less linked to the economic interests in terms of heavy industries supplying the economy of Russia with both raw materials, leather goods. And then, of course, you have Western Ukraine, which is really not linked into that Russian economy in the same way that the Eastern part of the country is. And ethnically it's different as well. So you have a very, very significant ethnic division.

Now, in terms of the protesters in West Ukraine, I actually have a lot of sympathy with them. They've been misruled by an oligarchy for the past two decades in post-Soviet Ukraine that's done nothing but just strip the country of its wealth and sent it off via offshore financial structures to banks in Latvia, Cyprus, London, etc. So the country has not been developed. Its wealth has been looted.

And so you have a young population that feels as if they have nowhere to turn to, as if they need some kind of external solution to their problems. And I very much sympathize with that. I just don't think that it's going to come through the E.U. as the trade agreement was constituted.

NOOR: And can you break down the role of energy and gas pipeline politics in the region? It's been widely reported now that the Ukrainian president is going to meet with Russian President Putin to discuss a possible deal with Gazprom, who currently supplies Ukraine with 60 percent of its gas supplies.

SOMMERS: Well, this, of course, has always been an important issue throughout Eurasia, and that is the transportation or the transshipment of energy, although becoming a little bit less significant as new energy drilling technologies are coming online. But still, nonetheless, quite important. It's over the course of the past couple of decades. Ukraine has served as one of the primary transshipment pipelines for natural gas from Russia, which goes through Ukraine, which then goes to Europe, the European Union. So they are very concerned about making sure that those supplies are safe and secure.

Ukraine has been more or less pilfering gas from these pipelines for a couple of decades, and the Russians have more or less just had to put up with this. But also they've been playing hardball with Ukrainians by charging them really, really quite high prices for gas, which Ukraine really cannot afford. So now Ukraine is carrying some significant debt, in part because of very, very high prices. Russia is now offering to bring those prices down, trying to [incompr.] break and perhaps, you know, create a more sustainable situation.

NOOR: Finally, I want to end with a question that isn't often discussed in the mainstream media: what would a economic deal or economic reform in Ukraine look like that would actually benefit the people of Ukraine?

SOMMERS: I'm so glad you asked that question. That's the important one that's never asked. There's nothing wrong intrinsically with an agreement with the E.U. or the Russian customs union, and there's no reason that one cannot have an agreement with both, but it has to be a very different agreement. It has to be one which delivers resources to Ukraine, which is still a relatively poor country. It has to develop its economy in the fashion of, say, China over the past 30 years or, say, Japan in much of the 20th century. You need an agreement which invites investors in to partner with Ukrainian enterprises, not to buy Ukrainian enterprises up, but to partner with the Ukrainian create enterprises and help them develop the country.

An E.U. agreement, if one was signed, it should deliver significant structural funds to develop the country's infrastructure. It should have an agricultural regime of supports that doesn't drive Ukrainian farmers out of business, nor that just merely turns them into only exporters of grain to markets in the West. So an agreement which really develops Ukraine. And as Ukraine develops and produces goods, it therefore would have something to trade, and all parties would benefit. Everyone would become more prosperous as a consequence.

But that's not how trade agreements are constructed today. So, essentially I'm talking about a post-World War II Marshall plan for Ukraine and the kinds of trade agreements that were signed at that time, not just in terms of the aid, but in terms of how the actual trade agreements are constructed.

JEFFREY SOMMERS is ASSOC. PROF. of UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE

[Dec 18, 2013] Ukraine is part of Europe (with or without the EU)

"For the protesters across Ukraine, Yanukovich stole the dream... Young Ukrainians may not know who they are anymore and may have been seduced by global consumer culture and media, just as their parents were seduced by Coca-Cola and blue jeans a generation ago. " Yanukovich is the same member of newly minted "offshore aristocracy" as Yushchenko, Kuchma and Kravchuk. They all try to steal from the country as much as possible for themselves and their friends. That's the nature of oligarchic republics. Until oligarchic republic exist it does not matter whether Ukraine adopt association with EU (they will never permit joining it) or Custom Union.
December 18, 2013 | RT

Unlike most Western pundits, I have spent time in Ukraine, dwelled in Khrushchev's Kiev apartment blocks, journeyed by train to Odessa and seen the city’s port from the steps where Eisenstein filmed.

This is the land of Shevchenko, and the birthplace of Gogol and Prokofiev, Trotsky and Gorbachev. This is where Catherine the Great brought her empire to the Black Sea. Today, 40 percent of Russian Orthodox parishes are in Ukraine.

Vladimir made Christianity the official state religion of Kievan Rus in the year 988. By comparison, Spain was still a Muslim country.

In the 20th century, Ukraine suffered immensely under Stalin's insanity, designed and produced the T-34 tank that helped him defeat Hitler and was crucial to the greatest social engineering experiment in the history of man, a vast laboratory based on the theories of Europe's most influential thinker since Aristotle: Karl Marx.

Who would now suppose that Ukraine is not really part of Europe?

National identity crisis

Like many people in Russia today, Ukrainians feel that history cheated them. While Russians blame the Bolsheviks, the end of the Romanov dynasty and the brutal Communist system that dominated for so long, its atheism, structural mismanagement and inefficiencies... Ukrainians just blame the Russians as a bad influence, period. A generation after the triumph of Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union's curtain call; the promise of free markets, free people and great hopes for a sunny future, Ukraine is not improving and many see Yanukovich as a relic from a bygone era. He even looks like a 1950s version of Soviet man.

Twenty-two years after the red flag was raised for the last time at the Kremlin, Lenin's statue has been toppled and beaten with a vengeance by sledgehammer wielding toughs in Kiev. What does Lenin have to do with the EU? (I have fond memories of eating lunch in a fast-food joint across the street from this fine, granite specimen of Socialist Realism, which had gazed down on passersby since 1946.)

Rage sweeps across Maidan Square. Young Nationalists and Westernizers dream of a prosperous, democratic and sovereign Ukraine where transparency and the rule of law hold sway. The 1,300-page Association Agreement with the European Union was going to provide the template, require the adoption of 350 EU laws and eliminate tariffs. Monopolies would be dismantled and the Ukrainian economy would be rescued from stagnation. Finance would become available and the country saved from impending economic doom.

For the protesters across Ukraine, Yanukovich stole the dream. Their outrage at the president's decision to say no to the EU has much to do with deep Ukrainian identity politics and is actually a vote of no-confidence in Ukraine's past and present. No politician wins re-election when the economy is shrinking. Yanukovich may need to retire for the sake of his Party of Regions. The Ukrainian oligarchs will have the final word about his fate; they control the media in Ukraine.

Young Ukrainians may not know who they are anymore and may have been seduced by global consumer culture and media, just as their parents were seduced by Coca-Cola and blue jeans a generation ago. They do have real grievances, but the European Union and the International Monetary Fund will not affirm Ukrainian identity and bankroll the journey to the freedom and prosperity that was supposed to be delivered after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Last crumbs of the European pie

On the contrary, Yanukovich could not do the deal because the EU insisted on a sharp increase in gas prices to Ukrainian homes and the adoption of a neo-liberal agenda in Ukraine, among other requirements. Brussels designed the EU proposal to either be accepted, causing Yanukovich to fall from power, or to be rejected and cause Yanukovich to fall from power.

Ukraine signing the Association Agreement with the EU would undermine Russian export markets in Ukraine and open the door to US military bases in that country. The EU negotiations excluded Russia and attempted to force Ukraine to choose the EU at the expense of its big northern cousin. This strategy backfired and sent Ukraine into Putin's arms. But the young people and the naive people in Ukraine don't care about geopolitical chess games; they just want their piece of the pie... but it is pie in the sky to think the EU will make Ukraine rich.

The European Union is not a charity. It is an economic and political bloc designed to compete with the United States. The euro was created to compete with the US dollar. This bloc unified countries that were bitter enemies in the past and made them stronger by reducing the cost of doing business and facilitating trade among themselves. The end of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (barter club) in the east and the unification of Germany set the stage for the European Union to be what it is today: an economic giant with Germany leading the way. Today, when you board a commercial airliner, chances are about 50/50 you will be on board a European Airbus or an American Boeing.

Yanukovich made the right decision to avoid ceding control of Ukraine to the EU and IMF. The aim of the EU is to expand influence and the International Monetary Fund is notorious for policies and recipes that lead to perpetual debt and dependency of nations, especially in Africa and Latin America. Their agenda is to privatize industry and ensure compliance with American geopolitical goals.

Privatization can increase prosperity and sometimes American goals are altruistic, but it is naive to believe that Ukraine's association with the EU would solve Ukraine's economic problems and bring material benefit without ceding control to Western powers. Association with the EU and IMF would alleviate some problems in the near term and create new economic problems thereafter because Ukrainian industry cannot compete with Western corporations.

The Eurozone is sick

Spain has 25 percent unemployment, bankrupt provinces and a secession movement centered around wealthy Barcelona. Italy and Portugal can barely pay the interest on their bonds, which can never be paid off in full without creating euros out of nothing. Germany will not permit this. Hungary is in deep economic trouble and is experiencing a fascist revival. Then there is Greece. Ukrainians need to take a hard look over the horizon and take stock of what happens when the Eurozone suffers the structural failure of a member state. It’s called austerity, and it’s the new watchword all over Euroland. The details of the Greek default and tragedy are well known and do not need repeating here.

The situation in Cyprus doesn’t give much hope, either. In March, the European Union stole billions of euros from depositors at Cypriot banks. The EU called it a bail-in. Now they say they will be forced to do the same in other EU countries in the near future. In Cyprus, many of the victims were Russians. To be frank, the EU's attitude was that they had it coming because most of the Russian depositors are gangsters and oligarchs anyway. As for the Greeks, they are lazy and need to learn some discipline. Once Ukraine is associated with the EU and needs help, they will be viewed with similar disdain by Western Europeans.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund don't give anything away for free. They buy influence, interfere in the internal affairs and dictate the foreign policies of vulnerable nations in the interest of global banks and Western governments. Debt is their primary tool.

In Ukraine, the EU sabotaged itself by meddling in the Yulia Tymoshenko case before it had enough leverage over the country to dictate policy. President Yanukovich is holding out for a sweeter deal from the EU and Russia but patience has worn out and sitting on the fence is no longer an option. He opted for Russia but is unwilling to meet Russian requirements for more substantial financial relief, which Ukraine must soon obtain to avoid a deeper crisis and the fall of his government.

The Shanghai Cooperation Council may be the best option for Ukraine. In concert with Russia and China, Ukraine could partner with the BRICS. Muslim Turkey, long snubbed by the EU, has said it will also join the SCC if the European Union continues to deny it membership in the bloc.

Economic opportunity and democracy, the rule of law and transparency... are home grown, not imported from the EU. At the end of the day, Ukraine can, by itself, change for the better, uphold Western European standards, observe the rule of law, encourage entrepreneurship, encourage foreign investment and make Ukraine a great place to do business. If Ukraine continues to improve in these areas, it will, in time, be in a strong position to negotiate terms of trade with the rest of Europe and the world.

Daniel Bruno for RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

K C SARKAR 18.12.2013 13:10

USA never allows any country to flourish by taking different path except the one prescribed by IMF W BANK the surest&inevitable road to doom as already experienced by countries in EU Latin America and others.

Latin Americans countries after enduring grave sufferings under IMF World Bank tyranny had to choose alternative path from development after decades of incarceration.

Neo-liberal policies has never been able to benefit common people and economy of any country. Now Ukraine is now saved temporarily but it must be vigilant. Yanukovich showed statesmanship by resisting enormous pressure and taking correct decision.

[Dec 18, 2013] Russia Offers Cash Infusion for Ukraine

No default at least for the next year. Essentially Putin saved Ukraine from default which was expected within three months. Probably some speculators in Ukrainian bonds who put eggs in a wrong basket were burned.
NYTimes.com

The implications for the protest movement were not immediately clear, but Mr. Putin’s announcement, at a Kremlin meeting with Mr. Yanukovich, substantially alters the political landscape. It throws Mr. Yanukovich an economic and political lifeline that will spare him for now from negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, which was demanding significant changes to the government, judiciary and the economy in exchange for aid.

While Mr. Putin portrayed Russia’s assistance as a gallant move, requiring Ukraine neither to commit to the customs union nor to put in place any of the austerity measures demanded by the I.M.F., the rescue plan carries serious long-term economic and political risks. Experts say that unless Ukraine carries out overhauls, including increases in household utility rates, limits on government spending and pension increases, and improvements in the business climate, the country’s economic problems will continue, raising the likelihood that the aid will be wasted.

In addition, the political uncertainty raises the possibility of changes at the highest levels of government, perhaps even sooner than the presidential elections in February 2015.

Then there is the immediate investment risk. Russia’s rules for its national welfare fund require investments in countries with long-term bond ratings of AA or better; both Fitch and Standard & Poor’s rate Ukraine at B-.

[Dec 18, 2013] Russia will buy two-year Eurobonds Ukraine $3 billion

Dec 18, 2013 | REGNUM

Russia plans this week to buy a two-year Eurobonds issues by Ukraine for three billion dollars, said yesterday the Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, "Businessman " . According to him, they will be purchased by the National Welfare Fund. " Ukrainian government Eurobonds will be issued under English law on the Irish Stock Exchange. Coupon of 5% per annum," - said Siluanov .

He noted that total purchase of Eurobonds may reach $ 15 billion for 2013 - 2014 . "This year we decided to buy Ukrainian Eurobonds for three billion dollars," - said the Minister.

[Dec 17, 2013] 'Washington’s dirty hands are involved' in ongoing Ukrainian protests by Angela Davis

I think Angela Davis is wrong with the idea that swarming was used. Deception was not necessary as Western part of Ukraine desperately wanted to go to Maidan since 2010. They just needed pretext. Media dominance helps to brainwash people, but also is limited as people do not read sites or newspapers they don't like :-). After all Ukraine was under the power of completely pro-West Yushchenko government for six years (after famous Orange revolution). It's enough time to sign association with EU, if you wish that. And Yushchenko would sign such a treaty without any hesitation. So if this is just an operation of the US agencies, it is sign of incompetence. Far from a real masterpiece which should be included in a color revolutions textbook like Orange revolution was... Moreover, it was Yanukovich government which initiated and conducted long negotiations with EU. And then changed its mind. As for Maidan, I think the separation of Ukraine on Catholic West and Orthodox East make this far less interesting; in those circumstances creating new Maidan is not that difficult. Money needed are minimal. Let's say $30 millions would do it. In such a country latent protest is always present and you need just matches to get fire. After that it's self-sustaining as both parts of the country do not trust each other and are expecting provocations...
Dec 17, 2013 | VR

America thought it won Ukraine back in 2004 and it did for several years. But then Yanukovich was reelected, Yanukovich was democratically elected in 2004, the Supreme Court nullified the election, you remember all of this, and then the subsequent election elected his opponent Yushchenko and America had great advantage from that. When Yanukovich was reelected several years ago and America either liked him co-opted or ideally replaced. I am certain America would be very happy with simply co-opting him. The issue was really this: on one hand, getting him into the EU means it will be exploited for profits by US and by other western corporations.

The other issue was geopolitical, America has got a great length to isolate Russia, to isolate China, it encircles both countries with US military basis, it is installing so-called defensive missiles, that absolutely are intended for offense, they have nothing to do with defense. And the idea is pulling away all of the former Soviet republics and getting it into US orbit where we’ve got 3 former ones that are a part of NATO. We’ve got OPEC countries, a number of them as part of NATO. NATO was US-led absolutely. Washington wants all former Soviet Republics being part of NATO, again a long-term scheme to isolate Russia, to weaken Russia, do the same thing to China because America above all else wants unchallenged global dominance and the only two countries that really matter are China and Russia standing in its way of getting that. So, this is what this is all about.

So, you say that the US is involved in the current conflict and protests in Ukraine. Can you give us the idea of the mechanism?

They are funding the opposition, recruiting the so-called street hubs and the leaders of these protests different groups, former Ukraine boxing champion being one of them. Some years ago in the 1990 Turan corporations in America wrote two papers and they came up with the term “swarming”. The idea of swarming is essentially to do by manipulation what is going on in Ukraine right now. You get people arose for the wrong reason, you manipulate them, you make them believe that what is going on in their country is threatening their wellbeing and you convince enough people to take action by going out into the streets and protest and America enlists leaders and street hubs. That is what is happening in Ukraine right now.

[Dec 17, 2013] Ukraine: tale of two nations for country locked in struggle over whether to face east or west by Shaun Walker

West of Ukraine is the center of Ukrainian nationalism and is much better organized politically. Like Ireland Catholics they have its own paramilitary organization. And while numerically weaker, Catholics from West are supported by EU and the USA much like Croats vs Serbs in former Yugoslavia. In a way Yanukovich is a hostage of those forces and can do nothing about it without dissolving the country into two parts.
The tragedy of Ukraine is that it is close to default and can stay afloat only with new loans. From 2011 to 2013 export of Ukraine to Russia dropped ~25% (10.8% and 15.2%). In view of Maidan protests and EU interference (which can lead to fall of Yanukovich government, as the USA can pull the stings on oligarchs who control the media and part of parliamentarians) rating of Ukrain dropped further. While Russia gave the current government a quick bridge loan without excessive neoliberal demands it does not solve Ukrainian economic problems and first of all loss of Russian market. EU can't compensate that. If another Yushchenko come to power Russian market can shrink even further. And EU is not ready to compensate Ukraine for losses, moreover Poland can now demand a restitution. IMF wants neoliberal reforms, poor part of population be damned. With the the economic power of the USA and EU they can well push it through Ukrainian throat (with some help from financed by the same players (at ~$30 a day per protester) Maidan). Devaluation of grivna the IMF insists is a huge, possibly mortal blow for many Ukrainian who are already living on subsistence level with $300 per month salaries and US level of food prices.
December 15, 2013 | The Guardian

The core of the anti-government protest movement has come from western Ukraine, a region where Ukrainian nationalism is rife and people consider themselves already part of Europe. Unlike eastern Ukraine, the western area was not brought under Soviet control until the second world war, and distrust of Russia remains strong.

At a popular restaurant in Lviv, the biggest city in the west, a heavily armed man dressed in anti-communist resistance fatigues greets arriving diners with the words "Glory to Ukraine!" and demands to know whether there are any Moskali, a derogatory term for Russians, among the group. If Moskali are detected, a mock execution is carried out on the spot, gunshots ringing out as other diners tuck into their borscht and sausages.

The restaurant may be gimmicky, but the anti-Russian sentiment is real. In addition to the aspirational EU flags decking everything from the town hall to a statue of Neptune, there are also handwritten posters dotted around town proclaiming, possibly somewhat prematurely: "Russia Goodbye!"

... Many Ukrainians are still suspicious of the EU and of the nationalist west,

For their part, the eastern Ukrainians see the west as naive and lazy, out on the streets protesting while the workers of the east toil hard in coal mines and metal plants to keep the economy going.

"You're protesting. We're working," read a common sign at the pro-government rally.

As evening falls in Kiev, the two rallies continue to coexist more or less peacefully. But even if the truce is kept, and whatever Yanukovych does in the coming weeks, the long-term task of uniting the very different parts of this country is likely to vex Ukrainian leaders for many years to come.

x233

Pro-government rally, my ass. They are mostly the most vulnerable cut of the society: a) brought to Kiev under the threat of losing their jobs in state run organizations, b) paid per hour poor trash, c) pensioners from the southeast who actually believe the BS they are told.
I know that because some of my relatives were almost forced to go lest they lose their job.

doctorrobert -> x233

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the pro-government protesters were being paid and bussed in, but my suspicion is that much of the pro-EU protests are also being organised by someone else, too.

More to the point, it's just unrealistic to imply (if that's what you're doing) that there isn't genuinely a great deal of pro-Russian feeling (or at least wariness about the EU) in Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

Could also note here that the map provided doesn't tell us everything. The part labelled Western Ukraine is bigger, but the people and industry are mostly in the East.

RussianPete -> x233

More like those who don't have anything better to do and stand in the street (some get paid for it), and those who realize more time is needed for old soviet block including Russia to create good living standards for citizens. Meanwhile real financial, political, geopolitical agenda is hidden.Ukraine has many problems,when you can't be bothered to think of them all just blame Putin.Any mention of how US heavily sponsored orange revolution in 2010?To whom instability in the region is favorable and whom it sets back?

RobertDutch -> Wickywickyman

No way of splitting!!

Only Crimea region the majority is ethnic Russian, all other regions (including the eastern regions) the ethnic Russians are a minority and the number of ethnic Russians is decreasing every year (lowest fertility rate of Ukraine and most of the ethnic Russians are pensioners, who according to statistics, will die in the next 10 years).

Davo3333 -> doctorrobert

That is not correct. The Russians in the east and south of Ukraine identify themselves proudly as Russians, not Ukrainians.

There is a real possibility that the country will split into two with the West moving into the EU and the West and South into Russia and the Russian side offers both short and long term advantages over the EU option. With Russia they will have advanced industry opportunity but with the EU they will become mainly supplier of cheap labour to the EU countries with no industry remaining.

Nobul

The west Ukraine had been under "European" rule for over 300 years, but it remained backward, agrarian and poor, so why is it going to change this time?

giltedged

Basically the industrialised East which also includes the seaside resorts is subsidising Lviva. People in the East work whilst students in Kiev pout to American and other foreign media folk practising their English and the tough Svoboda organisers dream that a Fascist Ukraine will join the EU. The Svoboda people are the spiritual inheritors of the Bandera fascists who massacred Poles, Russians,Jews, Lvivians and Ukrainians

Czech and Slovaks split when they pretty much no reason to. The two nations in Ukraine should do so for every reason.

UralMan -> DeathByPartisanship

By the way, about looks and faces.

What an unpleasant photo. And is so different from headline photos of the articles about the anti-government protesters. With such images you don't have to read the piece to choose who would you like to be associated, at least on the subconscious level. Now, where did I see similar ways of propaganda?

Oh, yes, I do remember. There were posters with the attractive fit straight looking (and presumably talking) young people as opposite to the old overweight ones with canny looks and big noses.

Those posters were quite a few dozens years ago and somewhere in the middle of Europe... Strange some ways of propaganda seem to never die.

[Dec 17, 2013] Ukraine protesters return en masse to central Kiev for pro-EU campaign

December 15, 2013 | The Guardian
Some were disturbed by events on the maidan. "Their maidan could lead to a civil war, and we do not need that," said Mikhailo Karavayev, a 20-year-old businessman from Zaporizhia in eastern Ukraine.

"It's impossible that these people are just not working for a month, the country needs to work," said Alla Kravchenko, 59, who had come for the day by chartered bus and was dancing with a Party of Regions flag. She said the conflict should be resolved by negotiations and not by street protests. "We are one country, and nobody should be allowed to split us up."

With the often changing demands of the opposition leaders, the surprising durability of the Maidan protest, and the unpredictability of Yanukovych's decision making, few are brave enough to predict how the standoff will end.

Wackyjacky

Millions of Turkeys demanding to vote for Christmas.

debt2zero

Ok, Russia & US/Europe fighting over it. Bet you it has nothing to with democracy at all. What does it have?

"on the crossroads of major transportation routes from Europe to Asia ... Ukraine possesses considerable volumes of natural resources." (research 'googled-on-the-fly : not much oil/gas remaining to export, 9th world production Uranium)

Strategic importance / quite a broad range of mineral resources.

debt2zero -> debt2zero

Largest European country by area outside Russia / borders Russia / gas pipelines /

Currently base of Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol

Would make potentially excellent location for US military base once accepted into EU

debt2zero -> debt2zero

And in soon to be news ... CIA operatives spotted handing chunky brown envelopes to Ukrainian 'opposition'.

Generalisimo -> debt2zero

Ukraine will never be in the EU, make no mistake it is the world's greatest black-hole when it comes to money disappearing, it would be Greece x 1000 and the EU know it. The only chance for Ukraine to join EU would be if the country split in half and there was massive administrative reform in Western Ukraine.

inkyblob -> Generalisimo

Agreed. Ukraine will never be an EU member state and the EU officials brockering the deal know it too. With that in mind, what is the EU's interest in the Ukraine?

My guess would be that the initiation of an accession process would result in the opening up of the Ukrainian economy to foreign (i.e. EU and US) trade and the dismantling of state-owned enterprises - a process that EU and US corporations stand to profit from handsomely, as they have in other former communist states across Eastern Europe. During this process the Ukrainian government will quickly find it cannot balance its books and will have to borrow heavily - a shot in the arm for western financial institutions and a neat way for the country to come under the control of its debtors.

For the Ukrainian people this will mean a massive loss of jobs and either low-skilled labour for western companies or migration to the west to seek low-skilled labour in host countries. Of course, a small educated elite will prosper from EU money and projects and the proEU politicians will do quite nicely too. Meanwhile, the wealth of the country will slowly cross the border into the EU and the country will never again stand on its own feet (well, not for a generation or two at least). Of course, the kids on maidan don't see this - they think their country can become Germany over night.

I've seen it all happen already in Serbia and am quite sad that a whole generation of the Ukrainian youth are making the same mistakes.

All of that is not to say that the current leadership or closer ties to Russia are a particularly palatable alternative. Its definitely a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. In an ideal world the Ukraine would do well to emulate countries like Turkey ... But this is not an ideal world.

RedMangos

Is it true Western politicians, not NGO by the way, have been seen in Kiev?

Imagine say, the Brazilian president a senior politician to Occupy wall street.

Actually to be fair, there is no evidence yet, that McCain ( cold war warrior that he is ) is on anything but a solo mission.

P212121 -> RedMangos

but a solo mission

US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland was serving cookies on Maidan just yesterday or the day before. Add to this several remarks from US political figures, suggestions of sanctions and other types of pressure.

It beggars belief though that Ukraine just barely came out of the Orange Revolution, and here they go again, for a Lemon.

butchikatopulinka

What does Putin have to say about Ukraine? Let's hear it straight from the horse's mouth:

Regarding the events in Ukraine, they remind me less of a revolution than of a pogrom. And strange as it is, this all has little to do with Ukraine-EU relations. Because if you pay attention, no one is delving into these draft agreements, no one is looking at anything or listening to anything.
...
We believe that the situation will nevertheless become more normal, and that in the end the Ukrainian leadership, and Ukrainian people themselves, will determine their next steps for the near future and the long-term. Let me repeat once again, and I want to stress this: whatever choice the Ukrainian people make, we will respect it.

strangetown

Yet another article with no mention of Svoboda. A fascist far-right party is playing an important role in the events in Ukraine and not one word.

Tilipon -> strangetown

In Suria Islamism.
In Ukraine nazism.
But those facts is not used in EU press

BristolOn -> strangetown

Yes, that's quite "interesting" indeed. On the other hand you simply cannot read a single article about neighbouring Hungary, with some exaggeration not even about Hungarian cousine, which wouldn't mention Jobbik, a far-right party ... which seems to be a lot less extreme than this "pro-EU" Svoboda.

RussianFriend -> Tilipon

Naturally they are not.Otherwise they would have to provide intriguing details on the on the Ukrainian far-right. And this would trigger uneasy questions on who John McCain, Catherine Ashton, and all those top-rank Poles, Germans and Lithuanians have been actually meeting with.

Эд Остин

Having live and worked in Ukraine (and Russia for many years) the people are far more aligned to Russia both in mentality and economically (as well as a closely related language and many Russian speakers) that one wonders who is funding (=encouraging) these protests?

Putin makes many valid points.

itsmerob

If the Americans want you in the EU, the Ukrainian people should do the opposite. For the Americans this is a geo political issue aimed at further isolating and surrounding the Russians. If the Ukraine goes ahead with joining the EU they will find there country pillaged for its resources and have American missiles on it aimed at Russia thus making the Ukraine a target for the Russians. The fact that McCain is there spouting his bile should be of concern to every Ukrainian. The US couldn't give a dam about freedom and democracy. In fact they dislike freedom and democracy because they lose control.

Johnny Kent -> itsmerob

Spot on, and disgracefully, certain EU /Nato countries are fully supporting the US in this encirclement scheme.

Zaur Mugutdin -> ChukTatum

We will have to ask Ukrainians how air of freedom tastes, being out of work but closer to EU:)))

[Dec 16, 2013] Kiev Protests: Another CIA-Coordinated Color Revolution In Progress by Michael Thomas

December 13, 2013 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Who could argue that the moves and maneuvers taking place on the Ukraine geo-political chessboard are as surreal as they get?

The events occurring in Kiev are so transparent as to motive and purpose that one wonders if the CIA has all but abandoned their cloak and dagger MO of the past … in favor of living color revolutions taking place in real time. CNN must be jumping for joy at the prospects of improving their ratings plummet. They get to advertise and propagandize yet another CIA-conceived, coordinated, and controlled-from-the-top COLOR Revolution.

Can the reader imagine high level representatives from other countries, showing up in the midst of the most tense political standoffs in Washington DC, offering every kind of support to those Americans protesting against the US Federal Government? That’s exactly what US Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland is doing in the Ukraine at this very moment.

Were any other nation to meddle in US internal affairs, they would become an immediate target of terrifying Yankee gunboat diplomacy. The individuals involved would be promptly placed on the TSA No-Fly List list for the rest of their incarnation. That is, of course, if they even made it out of the US alive.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

What is particularly surprising about the current color revolution unfolding in the Ukraine is that this nation was the site of the very same CIA implementation plan back in 2004/2005. The Orange Revolution, as it was known at the time, was a classic CIA-engineered plot to impose their political outcome on the Ukrainian people. And they succeeded with flying colors.

That CIA-sponsored coup d’etat was so successful that it has since been used as a model for every other CIA-manufactured scheme that has toppled governments and reversed fair election outcomes the world over. In fact, the Ukraine is where the various social network utilities were used so effectively that the new MO has become known as the digital blitzkrieg. Never in human history have so many citizens been stampeded in the direction of overthrowing their government while being completely ignorant of the real forces manipulating the cattle prods.

Many commentators have wondered how the current protests have been so successful in light of their leaders previous experience with EU-US meddling in their domestic affairs. It was so obvious during the Orange Revolution 1.0 that the Western powers wanted to annul one election only to subsequently secure the victory of their chosen representative, Viktor Yushchenko. Can the Ukrainian people still be that unaware of the outright interference by foreign powers in their electoral process? Or, to overturn the recent presidential decision to postpone the signing of the EU deal.

Amassing a few hundred thousand people on the Capital square has become the weapon of choice for the CIA.

Ironically, if a few thousand angry protestors ever tried to congregate around the US Capitol building, they would be swiftly herded into fenced-in holding pens out of earshot of the closest Congressman. They would then be arrested, fingerprinted and ferried as far away from the scene of the crime as possible . . . never to fly again.

US-EU-NATO Juggernaut rolls into any town, any time it wants to

What is especially striking about the blatant intervention by the EU et al. in Kiev is their carelessness. The various ‘diplomats’ and leaders who are meddling seem not to care a whit about their extraordinarily aggressive and unrelenting intrusions. They just proceed to act with complete impunity. Then, the host nation — the Ukraine — permits them every opportunity to meddle without consequence. Every proxy is given an apparently free hand to execute their agenda unimpeded on behalf of the IMF & Company.

As a matter of fact, the Ukraine government response has been so dysfunctional and inappropriate that one wonders if the current Administration has been unwittingly co-opted by the same CIA subterfuge. It’s as though the President, Prime Minister and Parliament have been wired in such a way as to be perfectly reactive to the many strategically placed CIA cattle prods. Likewise, who has ever seen a body politic herded so easily as those who have shown up in the city square working for foreign interests which operate against their own national interests?!

The European Union has been nothing but a slow sinking Titanic.

This is precisely why the protests have been so fast in the making and fierce in their effect. With the southern flank of the EU (PIIGS) in such disarray, and the main economic engines of Germany and France ready to blow a gasket, the EU leadership is downright desperate. The Ukraine represents their last hope to prevent the final submersion of the Eurozone ship.

The Ukrainian people don’t even know that they are being corralled onto a ship in order to save a Titanic that has already hit an iceberg. Why would any nation at this point join the European Union in view of its gross mismanagement, trampling of national sovereignty, and frightful financial condition? The EU is clearly a quasi fascist/communist political construct designed to thoroughly disempower the citizenry of each participating nation. In this way it can be used as a very large and monolithic political, military and economic bloc to carry out the wishes of those who ultimately oversee the Eurozone.

The EU has become such an economic drain on the rest of the world, especially the US Federal Reserve, that its current and future indebtedness and unfunded liabilities are simply untenable. Hence, the Ukraine is looked to as a temporary savior because of its many large and robust markets, well established industrial base and transportation links to Asia, as well as it vast natural resources and raw materials.

Coup d’état by way of consensus, especially within US, EU, NATO leadership

Now you know why Western leaders, near and far, have snapped into action at the failure of the Ukraine to sign the landmark deal at the EU Summit. Also, why every CIA black op is being implemented and surrogate mobilized to reverse the President’s decision. In reality, the very existence of the EU depends on Ukrainian wealth because of its critical need to feeds its predatory version of corrupt, crony, corporate capitalism*.

What reigns supreme across the global landscape is the terror “ism” known as naked, predatory capitalism. It utilizes faux democracy and bogus ‘rights’ and globalization (aka resource theft) as its main mantras. The ability of its promoters to take down a nation using other tools like economic terrorism, currency manipulation, financial sabotage, and corporate espionage is now the most feared force on the planet among those victimized by such criminal conduct.

Truly, a slick and sophisticated form of New Age colonialism has been advanced with awesome speed and success throughout this New Millennium. With the penetration of the internet into every national nook and cranny, revolutions and civil wars can now be twittered and facebooked from the CIA offices at Langley. Even YouTube and Instagram have gotten into the ‘picture’.

As more of the world population becomes digitally connected, greater numbers of unsuspecting souls fall prey to every MSM fabrication that originates in the bowels of the CIA Directorate of Operations (now known as National Clandestine Service). The end result just may be a Color Revolution coming to a theatre near you … in a format, mind you, that is much more than the traditional living color!

*The authors have no problem with genuine free market capitalism that respects the sovereignty of each and every nation; however, that is not the predominant form operating worldwide today.

Reprinted with permission from author.

[Dec 16, 2013] The West’s “False Promise” to Ukraine

In 2013 export of Ukraine to Russia dropped 25%.
The American Conservative

Simon Shuster reports on the gap between Western rhetoric about the Kiev protests and what the governments are willing to offer:

So it remains to be seen whether Europe’s generosity can match Ukrainian needs. To save the country from defaulting on its debts, the government says it requires more than $20 billion just to pay off its immediate obligations, including at least $2 billion owed to Russia for natural gas supplies. Over the next seven years, Ukraine would need more than $200 billion to fund the reforms the E.U. is demanding [bold mine-DL], according to Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. And there is no way the E.U. would pony up anywhere near that kind of money, especially considering Ukraine’s reputation for corruption. “It’s a black hole,” says Stefan Meister, a Ukraine expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “If you put money into it, half of it ends up in secret accounts somewhere in Switzerland.” [bold mine-DL]

I’m trying to imagine a scenario in which leading European governments throw that much money at a corruption-riddled non-EU state, but I can’t see it. It would be a huge waste of resources on their part, and especially right now that is something that European governments couldn’t sell to their parliaments or their publics. That is especially true of EU member states that are suffering from their own severe economic and fiscal problems. Shuster concludes:

This week, the rotating presidency of the E.U. went from Lithuania, which has championed Ukraine’s integration with Europe, to the debt-wracked nation of Greece, which has little patience for charity cases other than its own. So in the next few months, just as Ukraine edges toward financial ruin, the concern of its western neighbors will likely fade away.

If that’s right, then the recent talk from Western diplomats and politicians of showing solidarity with the protesters will be revealed as so much empty bluster. Shuster writes:

But apart from these gestures, it is far from clear whether the West is willing or able to pull Ukraine out of its ongoing crisis. “It’s a false promise,” says Stephen Szabo, the head of the Transatlantic Academy, a policy research center based in Washington. “It’s going to lead to disillusionment in Ukraine.”

That should make us all wonder what the point of these shows of “support” really was, since there was never much chance that they would translate into real support. It would have been less misleading not to pretend that “the West” was coming to provide meaningful assistance when words appear to be the only thing that Western governments are prepared to offer.

philadelphialawyer
In the Shuster article, there was this too:

“But could the West have acted any differently? Could they have simply ignored the protests? Since the onset of the European financial crisis, talk of E.U. members pulling out of the bloc have become a lot more common than countries wanting to join. So these demonstrations gave the E.U. a badly needed ego boost. ‘The Europeans have been kind of inward-looking, even somewhat cynical about European membership and European values,’ says William Taylor, the former U.S. ambassador in Ukraine. So when they looked over at the crowds in Kiev waving E.U. flags, the Europeans realized that ‘these guys really put a high premium on the things we have,’ Taylor says. ‘And hey, maybe we should take inspiration from these Ukrainians.’

“But taking inspiration and posing for pictures is one thing. Offering membership and financial bailouts is another. So far, no one is inviting Ukraine to join the E.U., which has had enough trouble in the last few years absorbing the troubled economies of Romania and Bulgaria….”

In other words, while the EU has no intention, and never had any intention, of actually helping to solve Ukraine’s economic problems, indeed, the treaty was going to exacerbate them in several ways (costs of meeting EU demands for “reforms,” costs of paying back Russian loans, costs of increase in Russian natural gas prices), European leaders did get an “ego boost” and some sort of vague, Euro “inspiration” out of their encouraging the mobs.

That clearly makes it all worth it!

Some additional points…the article makes it clear that accepting the EU “reforms” would require (just as the last time that the Westernizers took over and instituted their “reforms”), massive hardships for Ukraine’s poorest citizens. Somehow, it is only rarely mentioned in reports about the brave protesters that they want to solve their country’s problems on the backs of their most vulnerable fellow Ukrainians. They don’t quite seem so noble when viewed in that light.

And, finally, can anything be more patronizing, more indicative of US condescending meddling, than the spectacle of Victoria Nuland, the official US State Department representative, attempting to hand out bread to the protestors in Kiev. As is they were street beggars, one and all, dependent on the West even for their basic calories!

Puller58

Exactly! With Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, the EU already has enough financial disasters to contend with so the Ukraine is a non-starter.

TomB

What’s depressing is that Europe and the U.S. didn’t take the opportunity to suggest a sit-down with Ukraine and any other interested countries in the Ukraine’s position—*and Russia*—and try to work out some joint, mutual, reciprocal easings of trade barriers between Europe and the U.S. and *everyone* at the table, including once again the Russians.

In other words, offer *Russia* itself such advantages of trade with the Euros especially that it overcomes their advantages of trying to deny such advantages to its former satellites.

And who would deny that it couldn’t *help* Europe to open up new markets for its good?

*That* seems to me to be real strategic thinking, rather than the shorter-than-short-term brain farts that we in fact see being acted upon.

[Dec 16, 2013] The main objective and purpose of the Ukranian opposition to this week to topple the Cabinet

Dec 16, 2013 | http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2369714

...Most of the country can not understand how it was possible to pre-approve the agreement in 2012, a year to discuss it, and then a week before the signing, it turns out that it is not suitable for the Ukrainian economy.

Western Diplomats Are Going to Disappoint Ukraine’s Protesters By Simon Shuster

Dec. 13, 2013 | Time

In the coming months, Ukraine faces some of the toughest economic times in its history, and the West’s proposed rescue package comes with some very painful strings attached. An emergency loan worth $17 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a global lender backed mostly by the U.S. and Europe, would force drastic reforms on the Ukrainian economy. By accepting the loan, the government would commit to devaluing its currency, slashing its budget and cutting subsidies on the price of natural gas for all but its poorest citizens. That would lead to a sharp spike in the cost of basic goods, including the bread that Nuland brought to the square on Wednesday.

For President Viktor Yanukovych, who is up for re-election in just over a year, these measures would amount to political suicide. On his watch, the economy has already fallen into a yearlong recession, pushed down by weak demand in Europe for Ukrainian exports, and in August, Russia made matters worse by cutting off trade with Ukraine as punishment for its drift toward the West. Squeezed from all sides, Yanukovych then turned away at the last minute from the E.U. integration deal, thus putting all aid from the IMF on hold.

On Thursday, as the pro-E.U. protests showed no sign of easing in Kiev, his government seemed to make another U-turn. It sent a delegation to Brussels to resume cooperation talks with the E.U., whose commissioner for integration, Stefan Fuele, said afterward that the E.U. would provide “more and more” assistance to top up the aid from the IMF. Fuele did not, however, provide any specific figures. So it remains to be seen whether Europe’s generosity can match Ukrainian needs. To save the country from defaulting on its debts, the government says it requires more than $20 billion just to pay off its immediate obligations, including at least $2 billion owed to Russia for natural-gas supplies. Over the next seven years, Ukraine would need more than $200 billion to fund the reforms the E.U. is demanding, according to Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. And there is no way the E.U. would pony up anywhere near that kind of money, especially considering Ukraine’s reputation for corruption. “It’s a black hole,” says Stefan Meister, a Ukraine expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “If you put money into it, half of it ends up in secret accounts somewhere in Switzerland.”

Commentary: Ukraine Another Egypt

Can this new Roman Empire size union called EU be governed ? It's too huge and interest of the constituents are too diverse. Ukraine might make the situation even worse with its Western provinces labor market already by-and-large oriented on EU economic space. even couple of million if Ukrainians from Western provinces can tip the scales in many EU countries.
The National Interest

While Yanukovych has demonstrated an awareness of the unexpected severity of the backlash against his decision to not sign the agreement with Europe, in truth there is little he can do at this point, even if he wanted to. Ukraine has $17 billion in outstanding gas bills and debt payments. The IMF has declined to restructure its lending. The future course of this country of forty-five million people hangs in the balance.

... ... ...

This breakdown in transatlantic consensus on eastern Europe was on full display at the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit, where President George W. Bush’s premature push for Georgia was rebuffed by Europe. The subsequent miscalculations by Georgia and Russia led to a very preventable war.

The crisis in Ukraine is more of the same—but with perhaps even greater risks. This time, it was the EU that advanced a strategy that was overconfident, unrealistic, and premature, while the US looked on with a distracted eye.

...Facing reelection in 2015 and presiding over an economy that is both highly dependent on the Russian market and Russian gas, and ill-equipped to benefit from European trade and to support EU mandated reforms, it would have been political suicide. One need not empathize with Yanukovych—a thuggish politician who corruptly rules an oligarchic economy—to appreciate the unenviable choice he was forced to face.

...Yanukovych was not simply being venal—although there was undoubtedly some degree of venality in his actions—when he dismissed as inadequate the $800 million EU financial assistance package; he was just being rational.

Building a stable security architecture is a competitive business. Under the Freedom Support Act, the US has invested over $3 billion in assistance to the Republic of Georgia, a country one-ninth the size of Ukraine. During Yanukovych’s meetings in China last week with President Xi Jinping, Ukraine already secured a $3 billion port development project. It costs to play.

...Alternately, suggesting that the best way forward is for Ukraine to move to an interim government is both impractical and irresponsible. Yanukovych has shown he won’t let it happen peacefully. And nobody has the votes to do so politically, as the failed no confidence vote recently showed.

...The region has had enough color revolutions and desperately needs to focus on more normalized processes of governance. Otherwise, it risks following the pathway of Egypt, locked into a series of popular revolts that prevent any leadership from effectively attempting to deal with the country’s dire problems.

Commentary: Ukraine Rejects Europe A Blessing in Disguise E. Wayne Merry

December 6, 2013 | The National Interest

Yes, the western part of Ukraine profoundly wants to join “Europe.” Yes, the Ukrainian oligarchs from the eastern part of the country very much want, as one Ukrainian commentator has put it, to “have one foot in Europe and one foot out” (not, mind you, one foot in Russia). However, that is not enough. The regime of Viktor Yanukovych is both strong enough and legitimate enough—for the time being—to pursue its “third way” option of seeking improved economic access with both Europe and Russia.

Therein lies the core problem: for twenty years, independent Ukraine has expected, demanded, and all-too-often received a special status, allowing it to benefit from its geography while playing by its own set of rules. Western governments—with Washington at the fore—have encouraged the Ukrainian political class to believe their country can forever have its cake and eat it too, and obtain the benefits of a dual orientation without reforming itself even to Russian standards, let alone to Western ones.

In the EU negotiations, Brussels bent over backwards to encourage Kiev to sign up to association status. Indeed, the European mistake—under pressure from Warsaw and Stockholm—was to treat Ukraine as if it already was in essence “European” and merely needed to adopt a few formalities. This did no favors to the people of Ukraine, and reflects a sad but established EU tendency of not rigorously enforcing standards with applicant states for either membership or association status.

This practice began with Greek membership in 1981 and includes accepting a divided Cyprus, admitting Greece and Cyprus into the Eurozone, and the premature memberships of Romania and Bulgaria, which by rights should today enjoy association status rather than full membership. The consequence is recurrent buyer’s remorse among EU governments and growing skepticism toward the European project among their populations.

[Dec 14, 2013] Thousands hit Kiev streets in rival rallies as mayor suspended over protest crackdown

Strategically it's oligarchs who are connected with West are the trump card of the West in Ukraine. Ukraine need to pay 2 billion in January and 7 billions of so in 2014 just a interest on state debt. The idea might be to sell sovereignty to highest bidder and get new loads from IMF . See Ukraine starts new talks with IMF on $15bn loan
RT News

Tens of thousands of people from across Ukraine have gathered in central Kiev for rival anti- and pro-government rallies. President Yanukovich suspended the city’s mayor and top security official over the brutal eviction of protesters.

The Ukrainian ruling Party of Regions has estimated that some 200,000 of its supporters have come to Kiev's European Square to back President Viktor Yanukovich and his cabinet’s anti-EU move.

Despite the Party of Regions’ estimate, local police have put the number of activists at around 60,000 people.

Many of the banners read, "We’ll save Ukraine!"

"There are many Kiev residents among protesters, who came to support the alternative point of view, which is different from the one being promoted at the nearby rally on Independence square,” the ruling party’s press office said. “They all unite in the opinion that it is necessary to stop the civil confrontation and restore peace and tranquility in the society."

Many Party of Regions activists arrived in Kiev on Friday, with the largest groups coming from the major cities of Donetsk - where Yanukovych once served as regional governor - Lugansk, Sevastopol, and Dnepropetrovsk.

"There are students, factory workers, coalminers and retirees," the rally’s coordination center said.

"I have supported the Party of Regions since 2004. I should be here. It is my duty to be here because I trust our President," one of activists from the eastern city of Lugansk told AP.

The Party of Regions has ruled out the possibility of resolving the country’s political crisis by force.

"Any conflicts, the most difficult matters should and can only be solved by the negotiating table. People should not be driven away from their work, from their families," Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov told supporters as he opened the rally at 2:00 p.m. local time.

The rally, which is set to last for two days, is just 200 meters away from Maidan - or Independence Square - where the opposition’s supporters have been camping out for three weeks of protests sparked by Yanukovich's refusal to sign an association deal with the European Union.

Follow RT's LIVE UPDATES on protests in Kiev.

Foreign Agent

Joining EU is out of question, to get Ukraine's infrastructure at EU level will cost over two trillion $, the bad roads, the clean up of collapsed polluted industrial complexes and not to forget Chernobyl would be a very heavy burden. The EU only needs markets to sell their products, even to countries that can not afford it.

See Greece that organized Olympics, but could not afford it. Many EU companies made their profit in Greece and now the EU taxpayer can pay the bills. Russia only needs Ukraine as a buffer against the EU. Maybe that is your fate when you are called оукраина, or borderland.

[Dec 13, 2013] Ukraine's protests are not about a yearning for European values

The Guardian,

... just one illustration of the fallacy of the concept – better said, the prejudice – that what is going on in the streets of central Kiev revolves around "European values" that are alien to Russia, and that Ukraine is once again facing a civilisational choice between "Europe" and Russia.

The notion that Ukraine needs to be detached from any links with Russia has been the primary error behind the European Union's clumsy and provocative approach to Ukraine under its so-called eastern partnership. The partnership initiative came from Sweden's Carl Bildt and Poland's Radek Sikorski, two of the EU's most anti-Russian and abrasive foreign ministers. Even after it was adopted by the EU in 2009, they continued to push themselves forward as its main champions instead of leaving the job to the more diplomatic Catherine Ashton and the EU's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fule.

It is no accident that the Bildt-Sikorski ideas took wing as Nato's hopes of getting Ukraine to join the ever-expanding Atlantic alliance were foundering on the unwillingness of most Ukrainians to take sides in the west's new cold war against Russia. Instead, Ukraine opted for neutrality. With Nato enlargement on ice, the hawks' new focus switched to dangling EU links in front of six former Soviet republics, from Azerbaijan to Ukraine. It is the classic stuff of zero-sum games which Russia has also adopted by recently creating a rival Eurasian Union with the same potential ex-Soviet members as well as the central Asian "stans".

Ukraine has long been a complex structure. This year is the 1,025th anniversary of the formation of Kievan Rus, the assemblage of east Slavic tribes under Christianity, and a timely reminder that many Slavs still see Kiev as Russia's mother city, long pre-dating Moscow. The western parts of what is today's Ukraine were later in the Austro-Hungarian empire, while the eastern part was under the Russian tsars. The split between Orthodoxy and Catholicism created further divisions.

Twenty years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence, the country's economy is almost equally linked to Russia and the EU. Its trade turnover with the EU is exactly the same as its turnover with Russia, and in both directions it has the same deficit, exporting less than it imports.

So the logical message from history, politics and current economics is surely that Ukraine should be allowed to co-operate with both sides without having any doors slammed. Yet the EU has consistently told the authorities in Kiev that even to sign an association agreement with the EU (full membership is not on offer) would not be compatible with being part of the Eurasian Union.

When Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, turned down the agreement which he had been expected to sign at an EU summit in Vilnius a fortnight ago, the surprise should not have been his abrupt change of mind but the fact that he had continued the negotiations with Brussels for so long. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, prompted the volte-face by threatening Ukraine with economic penalties but here, too, the surprise is that the Russian leader had not reacted to the EU's hard line sooner.

A comparison with Georgia is instructive. When the small Caucasian republic was led by the confrontational and rabidly pro-Nato Mikheil Saakashvili, the Kremlin could barely tolerate anything he did. With his departure, Putin accepted Georgia's signature at the Vilnius summit on a similar EU deal to Ukraine's while also improving Russia's own trade relations with Georgia.

... ... ...

The most urgent requirement is political rather than economic: how to end the confrontation on the streets. Yanukovych is right not to resign, as the more extreme of his opponents are demanding. He would be falling victim to the "curse of Cairo" whereby an elected leader is forced out by crowds. The street uprising against Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade in 2000 and the Orange protests in Kiev in 2004 were sparked by fraud and ballot-rigging. What took place in Egypt this year was not, yet its undemocratic echo spread to Bangkok last month, and now to Kiev.

Jonathan Steele is a former eastern Europe correspondent for the Guardian

loutraki

Every Scot I speak to cites his own personal financial situation as the criterion for next year's independence vote.

Every Ukrainian I speak to cites a "better future" in the European Union, i.e. better standard of living.

If hard cash is the most important criterion for seeking alliances and unions, then perhaps both Russia and Germany should agree to give Ukrainians a few billion in return for strict neutrality.

BlackHorse101 -> loutraki

Every Ukrainian I speak to cites a "better future" in the European Union, i.e. better standard of living.
In which Oblast is every? West, East, North, South. Have you spoken to the people in Odessa, Crimea....? How many Ukraines have you spoken to one, ten, hundred, thousand, million, forty five million?

Hmm always an absolute.

Taku2

Very informative and cogent article.

What this tells us, I suppose, is that America and Western Europe, in the form of the Empire building EU, are still fighting the cold war against the Russian Federation, with a view to stripping Russia of all her allies and weakening the Russian State.

Russia does have good cause to be suspicious of the Americans and the EU, both of which says, and probably also does one thing, but have the dissolution and/or emasculation of the Russian Federation as their eventual objective. If they continue to pursue the policies they are pursuing, America and the EU will see further wars and strife amongst the coountries of the former Soviet Union.

These or some of these countries could become as unstable as the warring countries in the Middle East. It certainly is not the way to achieve lasting peace.

There is also the question of what is the driving force behind this increasing encroachment of America and the EU into the former constituent countries of the Soviet Union; is it about exploiting their resources and cultivating them as markets for the Americans and EU countries?

CaptainChien

democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

Well thats western values in a nutshell.

How odd that people who have actually experienced the oppression of a marxist state and fear the reimposition of the ex KGB officer Putin's dictatorial values should choose to want such nonsense.

YojimboBeta -> CaptainChien

What are you even on about? The protests are about a trade agreement, not political reform, and not even to do with EU membership (which the EU has firmly hinted is *not* on the cards). They're objecting to a diplomatic decision by a democratically elected head of state who enjoys support from a large part of his nation.

This has nothing to do with some clumsy, binary "NATO vs Warsaw Pact" thinking - it's not 1983, you know.

hfakos -> CaptainChien

As opposed to the democratic paradise of the USA at one point run by George H W Bush, ex-head of the CIA, and then his son W. Given the Snowden revelations, it seems the West is far ahead of Russia in building a complete police state.

Spinozist

Catherine Ashton is "more diplomatic" is she? This morning in an interview carried by the Today programme she referred to "Yanukovych" (not President Yanukovych). Very revealing of the EU's attitude to anyone who resists their "diplomacy". Not that the Putin-dictatorship alternative is in any way attractive, but the hypocrisy of the EU and the US, supporting mass occupations of Kiev's main square while ignoring repression of the Occupy protesters and the anti-austerity protesters in the "democratic West", is breathtaking.

edwardrice -> KMAA

Ukrainians are pushing for an independent state that is democratic and therefore free from Russia.

Ukrainian is run by a few billionaire oligarchs. They'll decide what's best.

If the Ukrainians in the streets were threatening the billionaires right to
loot then the police would have cleared the protesters a couple of weeks ago.

''freedom and democracy'' are meaningless neo-liberal slogans when the majority are up to their necks in debt and can't earn enough to put food on the table.

Victor999 -> KMAA

Ukraine is a weak and impoverished state subject to the rape and pillage of its people and resources by Russians, Europeans and its own oligarchs. Russia is not the only country to have miss-used Ukraine - Poland, Prussia, Austro-Hungarian Empire - they all have had huge parts in the past subjugating the people of Ukraine.

The current EU, if it has a chance, will also rob Ukraine of its resources and force devastating economic restructuring upon them and forcing their markets open to rapacious European corporations.

That is what the current demonstrations are all about - when Ukraine failed to sign the rapacious economic agreement with the EU, they sent in the provocateurs to destabilise the country, just as happened with the Orange Revolution.

The European Corporate State smells blood.

Batcow

The protesters camping out in Kiev have more in common with yellow-shirt protesters in Bangkok than Europeans. They are a minority who believe that their whole country should be focused on making life better for them. They don’t believe in democracy because they know they are outnumbered, so they seek power by coup d’etat or ‘revolution’.

With closer ties to the EU they will soon be off to seek their fortunes in Hamburg or London, or better still by exploiting their own countrymen.

Wickywickyman

If you look at post-Soviet republics and Ukraine's other neighbours, in which are ordinary people's standards of living better, those which are now in the EU (the three Baltics, Poland, Slovakia), or those which are not (Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia)?

It's not hard for Ukrainians, especially younger ones with an education who have travelled a bit, to see that whatever the downsides of moving towards the EU, they have a better chance of moving forward that way than as Russia's little brother. The prevailing Euroscepticism in the UK makes it hard for people over here to understand what is going on in Ukraine.

edwardrice -> Wickywickyman

Read this: Latvia’s Economic Disaster as a Neoliberal Success Story

stuperman -> edwardrice

You continue to denigrate Latvia, as you have done over the last few days. Facts. It entered the economic crisis along with most other EU countries in 2008. Its economy was overheating anyway with people taking out loans denominated in euros. Wages were cut and jobs lost as the economy faltered. The local currency lost value against the euro making loan repayments more costly. Citizens when to other countries for work (which they had been doing since 2004). The economy has now stabilised and the country introduces the euro 1st.Jan.2014. The UK could not qualify for the euro presently (debt/GDP too high). There are not enough jobs in the country to attract its citizens back, and wages are still low. Its economy is no different to many other countries in the EU. At least its citizens had the get up and go instead of sitting at home and complaining about foreigners taking their jobs (2.5m unemployed in the UK and 500,000 jobs advertised).

edwardrice -> stuperman

You continue to denigrate Latvia, as you have done over the last few days.

You continue to ignore the fact that the Latvian economy has been devastated by neo-liberal economic 'reforms'. That's why the economy was 'overheated'. Neo-liberalism caused the global financial melt-down!

At least its citizens had the get up and go instead of sitting at home and complaining about foreigners taking their jobs

If the economy was strong people won't have to go abroad to work for shit wages in shit jobs. It really is that simple.

yugo

Attempting to "liberate' Ukraine may be high-minded of the EU, but it begs important questions.

Are there any geographical limits to an expanding EU? Include Armenia, Georgia and Turkey, and the EU would border Chechnya, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Should Kiev's young be encouraged to believe that the accord on the free movement of peoples will remain a bedrock principle of the EU? This accord will be further tested with the end of transitional restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants come the New Year, as well as Moldovan migrants given the ease with which Moldovans can acquire Romanian citizenship. The scale of uncontrolled immigration into Western Europe will be further augmented from Croatia, which recently joined, and in due course from six other western Balkan states.

Was it wise of the EU to entice Ukrainians into abandoning their economic dependence on Russia without offering transitional aid? Do we want a basket case on our hands? Will the EU's taxpayers consent to bailing out Ukraine?

BlackHorse101 -> yugo

'as well as Moldovan migrants given the ease with which Moldovans can acquire Romanian citizenship.'

The Serbs and Macedonians are also getting Bulgarian passports. I'm not sure of the numbers but the practice has been going on for a few years now.

The Romanian and Bulgarian Roma can also migrate to the wealth. The French and Italian governments would be tearing their hair out knowing the human Roma wave is coming. Bulgaria has built a fence to keep the refugees out from Syria/ Africa. In my opinion the Eu has turned into a mess with the open border policy.

KMAA

I am not sure what makes Radek Sikorski "anti Russian". The current Polish government, of which he is Foreign Secretary, has good relations with Russia and has been working to build a constructive relationship with Russia.

Jeremn -> KMAA

Good relations? Only compared to the last Polish government, now that was a thoroughly anti-Russian government.

Look up Sikorski, who he is married to (Applebaum), who his friends are (Edward Lucas), what he did at university (Bullingdon Club) and what his early career was (Murdoch).

Perhaps he represents Polish interests, perhaps he represents something else.

hfakos -> KMAA

Good relations underpinned by hosting part of the US strategic nuclear forces aimed at Russia. Sure.

slimriversofbabylon

The oligarchs are laughing all the way to the bank....kerching!

Jeremn

Credit where credit is due, this is a good article.

That Polish-Swedish-Lithuanian drive to isolate Russia will only push it towards developing Siberia and seeking friends with China. It will have no other place to go.

This will be bad news for Europe.

stuperman -> Jeremn

How did you get Lithuania into this? China has already commenced exploitation of minerals and energy in Siberia.

Jeremn -> stuperman

Lithuania has been really active in Ukrainian politics. From the Lithuanian embassy handing out gloves to protesters to actively supporting the opposition at the highest level:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18039795

GrelsM

This article helps fill in the blanks behind why the Russians are claiming some form of revanchism from Poland and Sweden behind this from the EU side.

BlackHorse101 -> GrelsM

It's not just Poland and Sweeden. Add Chek republic, Germany, Lithuinia, Holland, Denmark, Nato, USA. Kiev is Russia's birth place and they will fight for it tooth and nail. Just like the jews in protecting Israel, Russia will protect Kiev.

5abi

One thing no one seems to disagree with is that the Ukrainian government was elected after fair and free elections. If the protesters genuinely represent the majority of the population surely they can wait until the next elections. Of course if they are a vocal minority, instigated and financed by the usual suspects, then they are doing exactly what they are paid to do.

Just imagine before the illegal Iraq invasion if the protesters had decided to occupy government offices and set up barricades on London roads whether the BBC or other media outlets would have shown these demonstrators in such positive way?

hfakos

This silly drive by the EU to further isolate Russia will cost Ukraine deeply, especially in its high-tech sector. Roscosmos has just announced that it will no longer order and pay for Zenith rockets from the Russian federal budget, and who can blame them.

This practically will mean the end of Yuzmash, because the EU has no need for the Ukrainian (rocket) industry. But hey, you might gain the right to emigrate to the West and never return.

Lecovreur

The article makes a lot of sense.

May I add that this is what always happens when countries which never existed are created on wrong fault lines in the heat of the moment.

Ukraine was actually never a country and still isn't.

The east belongs to Russia and it's inhabitants are all in but name Russian. (I am just back from the east, by the way).

The west has remnants of the period when it belonged to the Hapsburg with some Catholic influence and it is further confused by the spell under the Soviet Union which shuffled the cards even more.
The world is sadly full of cases like this. The Middle East map was drawn on a table by post-colonialists who had no knowledge of tribal allegiances and long-held ethnic hatred. The results are all there for us to see.

Africa is in a league of its own. Hardly any country bears any relation to tribal fault lines, again the results have brought upon the continent unprecedented levels of mass violence and genocide.

Any Russia historian will tell you the the country reacts with fury and anger when it feels encircled and threatened by the Western powers (Napoleon, Crimea, Hitler, USA, EU), it had a thousand years of autocracy, seventy years of Bolshevik dictatorship and a quasi-mafia oligarchy for the past few years. Russia holds a deep complex of inferiority and suspicious paranoia towards the west and it is not about to change soon.

Going in like a bull in what they consider (rightly or wrongly) their china shop is never going to help.

[Dec 09, 2013] Whose sarin by Seymour M. Hersh

December 8, 2013 | LRB

But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.

The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’

[Dec 09, 2013] Guest Post The Triumph Of Ron Paul-ism

"Please continue to support the Ron Paul Institute’s efforts to advance Ron Paul’s important work. Read our website, share the articles, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you can please financially support our efforts. Ron Paul is winning. Let’s help him!"
Dec 08, 2013 | Zero Hedge

The American people are coming to the realization that everything Ron Paul has stood for in the last 40 years is true. He has been proven right regarding the Federal Reserve, the Military Industrial Complex, and the Warfare/Welfare Surveillance State. The American people have grown weary of inflation, wars of choice and being spied upon. Ron Paul’s consistently right message is finally making headway. He is a true American patriot.

America's Place In The World...

We Are All Non-Interventionists Now!

Daniel McAdams

Thursday December 5, 2013

We are witnessing the triumph of Ron Paulism in the United States. The corporate media will avoid reporting it. They try their best to ignore Ron Paul’s 30 plus year intellectual march through our institutions.

But the facts in Pew Research’s 50 year survey of US views of “America’s place in the world” do not lie: This year the highest percentage of Americans ever — 53 percent — agree with the statement that “the US should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” (See illustration below)

This means that despite the Mephistophelian temptations of the neoconservatives, offering war, interventionism, “responsibility to protect,” and humanitarian bombs, Americans are behind Ron Paul and the peacemakers — more than ever.

There is no major political figure in the United States who has more clearly identified himself with the cause of non-interventionism both at home and abroad.

When the Georgia/Russia war broke out in 2008, arch-neocon Senator John McCain incomprehensibly said that “we are all Georgians now.” He meant that we should go to war with Russia to back up a Georgian provocation. His slogan is laughable now, particularly as the facts have come out about the war.

But we can say this with all the facts to back us up: “We are (mostly) non-interventionists now!” We are in the growing majority, but still we have to fight the powers-that-be to get our message heard. The censorship and propaganda against our message is strong. The war machine does not give up easily.

Please continue to support the Ron Paul Institute’s efforts to advance Ron Paul’s important work. Read our website, share the articles, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you can please financially support our efforts. Ron Paul is winning. Let’s help him!

Pareto:

Dream is never gone. Just the dreamer. My favorite:

"Speak up, speak often
and don't worry about those that
at this point cannot understand,
as they can never un-hear
what we tell them."

~ Ron Paul ~

rubiconsolutions

"I am Ron Paul....."

Okay......so what now? Sure, Ron Paul has been right about a lot of things but that and $4.50 will get you a cup of coffee at SBUX. Then there's the real work to undo it all. How is that gonna be done now that everyone has been inculcated into passivity?

Ignatius

" ... — 53 percent — agree with the statement that “the US should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.”

And people wonder 'why 9/11 and why the police state?'

Ignatius

I'm speaking to 'why' JFK was killed. He went off the reservation.

He was 'going his own way and as he saw fit' and was killed for it by TPTB

Disenchanted

and...Told Israel to terminate their developing nukes for weapons program.

Funny how that one is rarely mentioned.

[Dec 09, 2013] Edward Lucas Satuday provocation: dezo about Ukraine joining Custon union played its role for mobilizing opposition on Sunday rally

Slightly edited Google translation... What a master of hypocrisy and deception this particular British journalist is... His colleagues from MI5 probably are really envious.
Dec 07, 2013 | vzglyad.ru

One of the major news Saturday in Ukraine and Russia was the twit of a British journalist, which eventually had to refute both Russia and Ukraine . In it he stated that that Yanukovich at a meeting with Putin in Sochi allegedly signed an agreement obliging Ukraine to join the Customs Union. Who injected this dezo and to whom it may be beneficial ?

" The eventual accession to the Customs Union of Ukraine was achived during the meeting did not specify... The agreement includes a one-time Ukraine tranche in the amount of $ 5 billion, as well as the conclusion of a new contract for the supply of gas at a price of 200 dollars per thousand cubic meters of gas instead of serving from 2009 rate of $ 500 ."

This twit message was published Saturday in his "Twitter" employee magazine The Economist Edward Lucas . According to him, Western governments shocked by such developments .Journalist insists that his information obtained from reliable sources. However, for some reason, he published such a sensational information on Twitter, not in the media and on his page on the social network.

This Twitter message was picked up by the media who actually passed it as news. It immediately aroused very strong reaction among the Ukrainian opposition. Not surprising, since some of the headlines sounded extremely provocative - "Yanukovich sold Ukraine to Putin."

For example, one of the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition Yatsenyuk said in an interview with Reuters, that the signing of the President of Ukraine of any agreement related to the entry into the Customs Union, will lead to a new protest . His colleague in the party "Fatherland" Mykola Tomenko Yanukovych demanded unveil text of the agreement with Russia, which he allegedly signed in Sochi.

... ... ...

On Saturday, President's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, Russia was forced to officially declare that Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych at a meeting in Sochi on Friday did not discuss the possibility of Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union .

He added that in the context of the forthcoming meeting of the interstate commission Russia - Ukraine presidents of the two countries " exchanged views on the possible continuation and development of cooperation in industry and high-tech fields, particularly in the aerospace and shipbuilding, rocket and space industry ."

According to Peskov, the presidents discussed bilateral cooperation in energy, closer positions on this issue, but did not reach a final agreement .

" The eventual accession to the Customs Union of Ukraine during the meeting did not specify . No documents to be signed during the meeting was not planned and have been signed ", - assured the administration of Ukrainian President also . Earlier, a source in the Ukrainian government said that the signing of the documents would be impossible as documents did not passed a standard Parliament discussion process.

[Dec 08, 2013] An Old Game With New Rules In Russia's Backyard by Edward Lucas

That's the same British Russophobe Edward Lucas who Sat, Dec 7, 2013 engineered a provocation about Ukraine joining Custom Union...
December 09, 2013 | RFEL

A former Soviet republic has its sights set on moving closer to Europe, a move staunchly opposed by Moscow.

With the Kremlin's tacit support, one of its majority ethnic-Russian cities votes to secede, sparking fears of violent conflict. Officials in Moscow vow to defend the rights of its smaller neighbor's Russian-speaking residents.

Ukraine or Moldova in 2013? Not quite. This scenario played out, peacefully in the end, in the Estonian city of Narva during the summer of 1993, less than two years after the Soviet Union dissolved. Today, the Russian-speaking residents of Narva -- EU passports in hand -- are far less restive.

The Kremlin's current drive to prevent Ukraine, Armenia, and Moldova from signing Association Agreements with the European Union has again focused attention on Moscow pressuring its neighbors into remaining Russia's sphere of influence.

But as the averted conflict in Estonia two decades ago illustrates, this is nothing new. Almost from the moment the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Russia has been leaning hard on its former vassals -- stoking conflicts in Georgia and Moldova and stirring unrest among Russian speakers in the Baltics and in Ukraine.

But while Moscow's policy toward its so-called "near abroad" has been consistent, analysts say the game in the post-Soviet neighborhood has changed dramatically. The West -- and particularly the European Union -- is becoming more proactive. The Kremlin has become more focused in pursuing its interests. And Russia's former Soviet neighbors have become increasingly confident in charting an independent course.

According to John Lough, a former NATO official who is now a fellow at Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia Program, this all adds up to the region becoming "an area of increased competition" between Moscow and the West.

"I think the Russian approach has become more coherent," he says. "But at the same time, those countries around it have become much stronger."

EU Gets Tough

Observers say the EU's more forward leaning profile in places like Ukraine and Moldova is a direct result of Moscow's tactics in the region, which have included boycotts, threats of trade wars, using energy to gain political leverage, and inciting unrest among Russophone minorities.

He believes the current situation "is teaching the EU that whether they like it or not they are in a geopolitical clash with Russia."

"There has been this naive assumption in the EU in the past that there are lots of win-win [situations] out there and if we only talk nicely to the Russians then everything will be fine," he says. "It's not. It's pretty much a zero-sum game and either you go with Russia or the EU. And I think the EU has had to fight much tougher than it's done in the past."

Moreover, as memories of the Soviet Union fade and Russia's neighbors become more comfortable with their sovereignty, they have become more willing to resist pressure from Moscow. Lucas says this tendency has been reinforced by the stronger European presence.

"The West has gotten much more entrenched in these countries and the national consciousness is more developed," he says. "People in Belarus or eastern Ukraine genuinely believe they are in a real country, whereas back in the early 1990s it hadn't clicked for a lot of people that the Soviet Union was over. So the national identities are stronger."

Lucas adds that trade in many post-Soviet states has been "hugely reoriented" toward the West creating "a stronger base for European influence."

Old Habits Die Hard

Nevertheless, Moscow still has cards to play.

Strong networks continue to exist between Russia's political and business elites and those in its former Soviet neighbors. Corruption remains rife and many prefer the clannish post-Soviet style of doing business than the more transparent model that integration with Europe would entail.

"The Russians know that their way of doing business is widely accepted in many of these countries and that there are people in the business and political elites in those places who would prefer to operate in the Russian way," says Lough.

Lough adds, however that even these elites are resistant to accepting a "diktat from Moscow" and that too much Kremlin pressure could drive them away. And, he says, others already "see what the Russians are offering as a scary proposition."

Nevertheless, Russia appears determined as ever to prevent Ukraine, Moldova, and Armenia from signing Association Agreements with the European Union at a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in November.

Instead, Moscow is pushing these countries to join a Russian-led customs union that already includes Belarus and Kazakhstan -- something Brussels says would be incompatible with an Association Agreement.

And at least in the case of Armenia, Russia appears to have been successful. On September 3, Armenian President President Serzh Sarkisian announced that his country would join Moscow's customs union project, in essence, scrapping years of work toward an EU Association Agreement.

Analysts say the unexpected move came after Russia threatened to cut off its military aid to Armenia, which would leave Yerevan vulnerable to its main regional rival Azerbaijan.

"The Armenians took the hint: If they signed the trade deal with Europe, Russia might sell more arms to their rival and expel the Armenians who live in Russia," Anne Applebaum, author of the book "Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-56," wrote in Slate.com.

Counterproductive Pressure

But having apparently cowed Armenia, Russia is having less success with Ukraine -- which Lough calls "the key prize" -- despite placing boycotts on Ukrainian goods and threatening Kyiv with rising gas prices, trade wars, and bankruptcy.

And on September 21, Sergei Glaziyev, a senior adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, upped the ante, darkly warning that Russian speakers in Ukraine's east and south would seek secession if Ukraine goes ahead and signs the Association Agreement.

But Glaziyev, who made his remarks at a conference in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, was met with boos, jeers, and catcalls.

"For the first time in our history more than 50 percent of people support European integration, and fewer than 30 percent of the people support closer ties with Russia," Ukraine's former Trade Minister Petro Poroshenko said in response to the Kremlin adviser according to press reports. "Thank you very much for that Mr. Glazyev."

Indeed, Ukraine's move closer to the EU -- and its defiance of Moscow -- comes under President Viktor Yanukovych, who won election in February 2010 on a platform of closer relations with Russia.

And the country's powerful Russian-speaking oligarchs in eastern Ukraine, once staunchly pro-Moscow, have been making it increasingly clear that they prefer closer relations with the EU.

Analysts say Russia's deep historical ties to Ukraine often cause Moscow to overplay its hand in dealing with Kyiv.

"Russia finds it terribly difficult to deal with Ukraine because it is such an emotional issue," says Lough. "The heart seems to get in the way of the head and invariably they seem to adopt policies that are counterproductive and wind up driving Ukrainians away."

Like in Ukraine, Moscow's efforts to persuade Moldova to forego an EU Association Agreement are also making little headway. On September 11, Russia banned Moldovan wines and spirits, claiming they contain impurities.

In response, Dacian Ciolos, the EU's commissioner for agriculture has proposed eliminating all restrictions on Moldovan wine imports ahead of Moldova's initialing of an Association Agreement. Moldova's Foreign Minister, Natalia Gherman, told RFE/RL that Chisinau is "strong enough to resist any pressure" from Russia as it strengthens ties with the European Union.

Analysts nevertheless expect Russia to continue ramping up the pressure on Kyiv and Chisinau in the two months remaining before the EU's Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

"We're still more in the overture to the opera than in the opera itself," says Lucas. "The people in the countries concerned know that there is a lot more that Russia can do. If you have an unpleasant dog and it growls you don't need for it to bite you in order to be scared."

Longtime Kremlin-watcher Edward Lucas is the International Editor for the British weekly "The Economist" and author of the book "Deception: Spies, Lies, and How Russia Dupes the West."

Economist Editor's Tweets Create International Incident As Ukraine Frets Over Russia Deal

A rumor Ukraine’s president had agreed to join a customs union with Russia provoked fury in Kiev, where protesters are calling for a million people to demonstrate Sunday. “Twitter is like striking matches and throwing them into the dark.”

[Dec 08, 2013] Ukrainian president agrees to join Customs Union

Funny that The Voice of Russia repeated this disinformation... Is not this voice of London ?
The Voice of Russia

Lucas writes that Yanukovych signed a strategic agreement with Russia in Sochi today. The agreement comprises $5bln with advanced payment, $200 gas price and joining the Customs Union. In addition, he reports, Yanukovych may receive $15bln from Moscow.

Lucas writes that western governments are shocked. This is unconfirmed information but the sources are good, he adds.

Voice of Russia, RBC

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_12_07/Ukrainian-president-agrees-to-join-Customs-Union-source-1274/

[Dec 08, 2013] Yanukovych's secret meeting with Putin raises questions of Customs Union promise

In Ukraine this provocation is like a petrol for the fire...

kyivpost.com

A secret meeting between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Dec. 6 has fueled speculation as to whether a deal was made for Ukraine at a later date to join the Kremlin-led Customs Union.

Yanukovych stopped in Sochi on his way back to Ukraine from a three-day working visit to China, where he met with officials in hope of shoring up investment deals in order to stave off serious economic problems in Ukraine.

He and Putin met in the Black Sea resort city to discuss new agreements on "trade and economic cooperation in different economic spheres and preparation to the future Strategic Partnership Agreement," according to a statement released by the president's press service.

But the fact that the meeting was the fourth of its kind in recent weeks further fueled speculation that a plan had been hatched for Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union, which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Armenia in recent weeks agreed also to join.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told journalists previously that the president would at some point soon visit Moscow, where a "major agreement" would be signed.

That "major agreement", according to a Kyiv Post source within the Ukrainian government who asked to remain anonymous because he was not allowed to speak publicly about the presidents' meeting, confirmed that a money deal was reached, but provided no specifics.

But Edward Lucas, a senior editor at The Economist, said via Twitter that the results of the meeting between the two presidents were much bigger than a deal for Russia to supply cash-starved Ukraine with much necessary financing.

"Wow! Hearing Yanukovich in Sochi today signed strategic agrt w Russia includes $5BN+ up front, gas price $200 + agrt to join customs union," Lucas said, citing his own sources.

The details of the agreement to join the Customs Union, which reportedly include billions up front for the country, as well as a huge price cut on gas, were being hammered out in Moscow late on Dec. 6, Lucas wrote.

The Kyiv Post could not independently confirm Lucas' news. A Kremlin official contacted by Kyiv Post denied to comment and said only to look for statements on the Kremlin's official website. As of 11:40 a.m. on Dec. 7, the only statement posted to the site confirmed a visit by Yanukovych to Sochi.

However, RIA Novosti, the Russian state-owned news agency, quoted Putin's head spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying that "Putin and Yanukovych at a meeting on Friday in Sochi did not discuss the possibility of Ukraine joining the Customs Union."

"Putin and Yanukovych did discuss the current state and prospects of bilateral cooperation in the financial sphere (between Russia and Ukraine)," Peskov added. "On all these topics in the near future negotiations will continue at the expert level."

Whether true or not, the news of a potential deal for Ukraine to join the Kremlin-led trade bloc is certain to incite anger on the streets of Ukraine, where tens of thousands have protested for more than three weeks the Ukrainian government's decision to abandon long-anticipated agreements on association and free trade with the European Union.

Ahead of Lucas' news, Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of the Batkivschyna faction, warned that the signing by Yanukovych of any agreement aimed at joining Ukraine to the Customs Union will cause a second wave of mass protests here.

"Their attempts to sell Ukraine to Russia will not lead to anything except one thing, and we are officially warning you: if Viktor Yanukovych tries to sign any agreement aimed at joining Ukraine to the Customs Union, it will cause another wave of protests in Ukraine," he said. "No one will let Yanukovych sell the country."

Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller can be reached at miller@kyivpost.com

[Dec 08, 2013] Protesters in Kiev Topple Lenin Statue as Rallies Grow by and

There is a shadow of Yugoslavia (or Libya) over Ukraine in a sense that three Western Ukrainian oblast (regions) representing probably less then 10 million of people have political desires and affiliations that the other 40 million and all industrial regions do not share... Ukrainian nationalists are as antagonistic to Russian and Jews (and by extension Russian speaking Ukranians of Estern regions) as Croatians. Similarly Western regions are Catholic, while the rest of the country is Orthodox and have different history with Western regions being the part of Habsburgs empire and Eastern regions part of Russian empire. Attempt of those regions to force the political will over the whole Ukraine might results in huge backlash which can split the country. Radicalism of Ukrainian nationalists from those three "oblast" is very similar to the radicalism of fundamentalist Muslims. They don't accept any compromises and are adamantly anti Russian and anti-Jewish (head of ultra-nationalist All-Ukrainian_Union "Freedom" party (founded in 1991 as the Social-National Party of Ukraine) Oleh Tyahnybok is listed as one of the most prominent antisemites and was denied on those grounds entry to the USA)... In the last parliamentary elections five years ago, Svoboda managed only 0.7% of all-national vote, but close to 40% in the Lviv region (BBC, Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine's ultra-nationalists, December 2012). In 2004, Tyahnybok was kicked out of former President Viktor Yushchenko's parliamentary faction for a speech calling for Ukrainians to fight against a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia" - using two highly insulting words to describe Russians and Jews - and emphasizing that Ukrainians had in the past fought this threat with arms.
Lviv obkast (2.7 million) is the center of what is called Galicia (regions that were previously part of Habsburgs Empire and under Poland rule (Poland’s Lwów Voivodeship (19211939)) from the end of the first to the beginning of the second world war). BTW Galicia was the center of the branch of Orthodox Judaism known as Hasidism.
December 8, 2013 | NYT

With the police nowhere to be seen in the city center, protesters in Bessarabia Square toppled the Lenin statue using steel cables and cranks as a crowd gathered to watch. “People were waiting for this for decades,” said one man in the crowd, Leon Belokur. “Now it’s happened.”

He pulled from his pocket a chip of granite. “This is a piece of Lenin’s hand,” he said.

Once the statue was down, men took turns smashing it with the sledgehammer. Onlookers chanted, “Glory to Ukraine!” and cheered the hammerers with cries of “Good job, guys!” as they shielded their faces from flying splinters of stone. One of the hammerers wore his hair in a Mohawk; another was a priest in black vestments. The protesters mounted a Ukrainian flag on the empty pedestal.

... ... ...

Heightening the tension is a severe and urgent economic crisis, along with Ukraine’s need to secure a financial aid package worth $18 billion or more. At the moment, that help seems most likely to come from Russia, but any agreement with the Kremlin is likely to spur further public fury.

Bill Appledorf, British Columbia

Looks like a rock and a hard place to me.

Russian oligarchy is obviously worse, but social democracy in Europe has long been teetering under the weight of neoliberalism.

DHK, Canada

The blackmail of Ukraine

Can you please bring up specific examples of Russia blackmail.

Ukraine has been an independent country for 20 years. The voters elect freely the president and the parliament.

Once again, the revolt of the minority creates illusion of their deeply rooted problem - an unbridgable division inside the country. Of course, it is easy to blame an external force for your own troubles.

John

This article has absolutely no context. It assumes that a the majority of the country is interested in the rule of law and capitalism. They are being held in check by rigid authoritarian leaders who prefer to look backwards towards isolation and dictatorship.

The reality is that Ukraine is a confused country. About half of the people live in the western half of the country. They are Catholics and consider themselves Europeans. The eastern half of the country is Orthodox and considers Russians to be allies.

In this situation, having a cohesive political culture is almost impossible. Half the country will always be at odds with the other half. Simple "majority rule" politics do not make sense in this context.

SAK, New Jersey

Hard to understand why Ukranians are so hung up on joining EU. Look at Greece and Portugal. Do they want to be like them?

I don't think they have many products that Europeans are dying to buy from them. The great benefit probably will be that they can go to London and Paris and work their in restaurants and bars just like Romanians and poles.

Marla, Geneva, IL

NYT Pick

It seems that Mr. Yanukovich has mis-calculated. He may not have expected this level of protest when he announced that he would not sign the Vilinus accords and the actions of the Berkut have given the protest an additional urgency.

In 2004, people did not want him as president because they feared he would bring the country closer to Russia.

The disappointments of the Yushenko administration (economic conditions and corruption) led the people to elect Yanukovich. A mistake on their part, but now they know that Yanukovich cannot be trusted to bring the country closer to Europe.

This is a second part to the Orange Revolution. And it is a wake up call to the U.S. on the dangers of our increasingly unequal society. We may not consider our 1% to be oligarchs, but they do have the ear of many of our politicians.

augustians, Chicago

Yanukovich miscalculated? Even if he did, there is another election right around the corner, throwing bricks at police and taking over state property is not the brightest idea that turns all of the protest into violence.

Somehow EU and US trying to inflame it more, by throwing some gas on fire instead of trying to calm the situation, where political process can take place instead of street skirmishes.

David, Brooklyn

Do they really want to become a member of a club that would have them as members? It's won't be as economical as they think with Putin's sanctions in place.

Market decisions are about timing, not impulse buying. Can the EU handle yet another Greece? Predatory lenders: On your Mark...Get Ready...Nyet!

Judyw, Cumberland, MD

Nothing is gained by mob violence egged on by the EU. The EU felt slighted at Vilnius and is now using street mobs to restore its position.

While this violence is all about western Ukraine,. nothing is wirtten by Easter Ukraine. And deal with the EU will disadvantage the east with its coal plants and coal workers. The selfish people in the streets of Kiev care nothing about those in the Donbass section which will be hurt the most by the EU.

The better economic deal is with Russia. The EU is smoke and mirrors and a lot of pain - look at Greece, Spain, Portugal etc. and you will what the future of Ukraine will be. The populace's view of a brighter future with the EU is based on the false promised the EU makes to every country - only with membership does the harsh reality set in -- that they are 2nd class countries and the EU is two tier zone and they are in the lowest tier in which Economic progress is a promise not a reality. The reality is AUSTERITY. Their view of the EU is a mirage and they need to take off their rose-colored glasses and see the reality of the EU.

Yanukovich is making the right deal for the WHOLE country and the people need to understand that and not be swayed by rabble rousers like Klitschko. This whole think reads more like the failed Orange Revolution trying to get control again despite the fact that it was a huge failure.

augustians, Chicago

Ukraine is not Russia, not first nor the last. It is not urban, nor cosmopolitan. Somewhat more educated than your average third world country.

There is a distinction between protesting against war, and throwing capital city into chaos because of a political decision, that could easily be reversed during the next election cycle. Ukraine is on the brink of the civil war, need we have another Syria?

bruce, nara, japan&greensville, ontario

Vitali Klitschko.....hmmm. if he was in the states, he'd probably be afraid of sticking his neck out. might lose endorsements from 'blue chip' companies.....

brooklynforchange, New York City

So, basically, when protesters throw rowdy raucous, gets violent, decapitates a Lenin's statue destroying history, and U.S. media finds continuous top-of-the-news coverage, we already know what's going on.

And I am not even a leftist.

Now that Syria didn't work out, maybe, it's Ukraine.

Simon, Tampa

The tone of the Times' articles on the Ukraine protests are so hopeful that this is another Western instigated "Orange Revolution." All Yanukovich has to do is out wait the protesters as winter hits. Our politicians/corporations did the same with the Occupy protesters. However, it is good to see that the Times cares so much about the Ukrainian protesters because it certainly never did about the Occupiers.

Jim, Paris

Occupy never raised the crowds and the sympathy of the American people like this Occupy never really knew what it wanted And it withered away for just that reason

Thomas Zaslavsky, Binghamton, N.Y.

Police power also had a lot to do with eliminating our Occupy movement.

TJS, New York

The Lenin statue in central Kyiv opposite the main market almost had the status of a historical monument. It was part of the background of daily life in Kyiv. When my wife and I served in the Peace Corps (1994-96) we walked past the statue each day. That this statue has been toppled is a rather ominous sign for the regime. The statue had survived Independence, the Orange Revolution and numerous Nationalist protests. Times have changed. During my last visit to Kyiv I drank my Starbucks coffee while seated below the statue. I suppose that scene itself was a revolutionary one. This current protest, the toppling of the Lenin statue, I suspect marks a change in the quality of Ukrainian political life. I suspect the gloves are off.

Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

You prefer to spell Kiev 'Kyiv'? Closer, I think, to the Ukrainian spelling but, I think, there are no generally accepted rules how to transcribe words written in Cyrillic.

Gloves may be off but, hopefully, real weapons will not be used. Ukraine is not Egypt, Syria or Lebanon. Will it become a real battleground? Not impossible

Perfect Gentleman, New York

I too walked past the Lenin statue, and spent time in Independence Square after the Orange Revolution. I hardly think the freedom to drink Starbucks coffee is revolutionary. Rather, I think it symbolizes replacing totalitarianism with the forces of corporate capitalism and greed, a different kind of totalitarianism. Meet the new boss ...

Behind Scenes, Ukraine’s Rich and Powerful Battle Over the Future By ANDREW E. KRAMER

December 6, 2013 | NYTimes.com

They are not sleeping in tents in Independence Square, but Ukraine’s ultra-wealthy businessmen, known as the oligarchs, perhaps pose as grave a threat to President Viktor F. Yanukovich as the demonstrators on the streets of this capital city.

Petro Poroshenko, a pro-Western businessman, said demonstrators and Ukraine’s oligarchs both want “modernization.”

“Do you think there is a big difference between people on the street and people with big business?” said the most visible, and the most pro-Western, of the oligarchs, Petro Poroshenko, a shipping, confectionery and agriculture magnate whose television station has been broadcasting round the clock from Independence Square.

“There is no difference in their love of their own country,” he said in an interview in the lobby of the Ukraine Hotel, overlooking the square, where the protesters appeared as miniature silent figures, waving flags and milling about bonfires. “At the end of the day, we are all talking about the modernization of the economy and the country.”

Protesters may be occupying government buildings and staging loud rallies calling for the government to step down, but behind the scenes an equally fierce — and perhaps more decisive — tug of war is being waged among a very small and very rich group of oligarchical clans here, some of whom see their future with Europe and others with Russia. That conflict was ignited, along with the street protests, by Mr. Yanukovich’s decision to halt free trade talks with the European Union last week.

Like other tycoons scattered throughout post-Soviet countries, Ukraine’s rich capitalized on the flawed privatization of publicly held assets to establish enormous fortunes, presiding over news media, banking, telecommunications, steel, coal and heavy industry empires. But in contrast to Russia, where President Vladimir V. Putin has barred the oligarchs from politics, Ukraine’s wealthy clans retain enormous influence, acting as a shadow cabinet with identifiable factions in Parliament. Mr. Poroshenko is himself a member of Parliament.

Their political stances tend to align with their places in the economy, with the more established families favoring integration with the West and a newer group — analysts say rapacious — around Mr. Yanukovich’s son favoring the Kremlin.

In this battle of the titans, the street becomes a weapon, but only one of many. And then looming over all the political battles is an imminent financial crisis. Ukraine, shut out of world markets and facing a yawning budget deficit, will need a cash infusion of around $18 billion by March to avoid default and an economic crisis with unknown but presumably dire consequences.

The warring camps of oligarchs have distinctly divergent interests that dictate how they approach both relations with Europe and the financial crisis.

On one side you have businessmen like Mr. Poroshenko, whose fortune was estimated by Forbes at $1.6 billion. He is typical of the older money here, people interested more in marketing their assets, whether through initial public offerings or attracting international partners, than grabbing quick profits.

They were hoping that an affiliation with the European Union and its more stringent protections of property rights would protect their interests. They are also more open to a proposed loan from the International Monetary Fund that would require a reduction in government energy subsidies and structural overhauls, including revamping the judiciary.

Mr. Poroshenko has been joined by Victor Pinchuk, the billionaire son-in-law of a former president, Leonid Kuchma, who on Wednesday joined several former Ukrainian presidents in signing a letter of support for the demonstrations. Ukraine’s wealthiest man, Rinat Akhmetov, is usually seen as a staunch backer of Mr. Yanukovich. But Mr. Akhmetov’s company, System Capital Management, issued a largely neutral statement saying Ukraine should seek integration with both Russia and Europe.

The trade deal with Europe, Mr. Poroshenko said, “is a way to modernize the country, to fight corruption, the way to have a fair court, freedom of press, democracy.”

“Modernization of the country is possible,” he said. “And unfortunately, by not signing, somebody is stealing the hope of the people,” the wealthy included.

On the other side is a group around Mr. Yanukovich, a coterie of secretive oligarchs, many with longstanding, close business interests in Russia, and none with a particularly strong interest in good governance, opposition politicians say.

“We don’t expect any of them to come to our side,” Yuri Levchenko, an official with the nationalist Svoboda party, said in an interview. “It is highly unlikely, because they know they won’t find a better partner than Yanukovich.”

Mr. Yanukovich’s son, Oleksandr, a dentist, who has become one of the richest men in the country during his father’s time in office, leads a group known as “the family” that has elbowed out competitors operating through a conglomerate called Management Assets Company, with interests in construction, banking and coal mining in the traditionally pro-Russia eastern Ukraine.

Another in the Yanukovich camp is Dmitry V. Firtash, another one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men, who made his fortune primarily as a “gas middleman” in Eastern Europe, one of the few allowed by Russia to act as a go-between in natural resources deals.

Through successive Ukrainian governments, Mr. Firtash cut deals to operate as an intermediary through a Swiss-registered company, RosUkrEnergo, in sales by Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, to Ukraine, a business worth billions. However, in 2009, the prime minister at the time, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, insisted that the Ukrainian national energy company buy directly from Gazprom.

Mr. Firtash’s longstanding ally in government, a deputy prime minister, Yuri Boiko, was in Moscow this week reportedly negotiating a three-month reprieve in Ukraine’s payments to Gazprom. If achieved, it would provide a critical financial prop to Mr. Yanukovich.

Mikhail B. Pogrebinsky, a political analyst in Kiev, said in an interview that some Yanukovich allies were enticed by the prospect of cheaper gas prices, which create instant profits in Ukraine’s energy intensive industries and opportunities for plunder. “They want to solve their problems with cheap gas,” he said.

Having controlled the presidency for only three years, many of the oligarchs want to postpone economic overhauls until they have amassed greater wealth, Serhiy Taran, the director of the International Democracy Institute in Kiev, wrote in the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta. “The young ones would like to go on frolicking for a while,” he wrote.

With their short-term focus, analysts say, these oligarchs are far more comfortable dealing with Russia than with Europe and the I.M.F., with their demands for fairness and transparency. From this perspective, it made sense for Mr. Yanukovich to play along with Europe as long as possible, to extract the best possible deal from Russia.

If this was the plan, as many analysts say, it was dealt a severe blow this summer, when the United States Federal Reserve sent signals that it might be ready to wind down its loose money policies, the so-called tapering. The Fed decided to hold off, but interest rates spiked anyway, and the damage to Ukraine was done. Already struggling with a trade deficit and plummeting reserves, it lost access to the financial markets, setting up the deadline to obtain financing early next year.

Among Russia’s strategic interests in Ukraine are the gas pipelines that provide access to European markets, as pivotal to the Russian economy as the Persian Gulf shipping lanes are to America’s. For the Kremlin, its national interest lies in keeping trade routes open to consumers of energy, rather than suppliers, and Ukraine — one of the most energy intensive economies in the world, with antiquated steel mills, train and car factories and fertilizer plants burning vast volumes of natural gas and coal — is an important consumer.

Russia has also emphasized to the Ukrainian elites the risks they run in joining forces with Europe. Roman Khudyakov, a member of the Russian Parliament, told journalists that “the majority of the businessmen in Ukraine know that in the event of joining the E.U., their plants will collapse overnight,” unable to compete on equal terms with Western companies.

Mr. Yanukovich has reached out to Beijing, traveling there this week during the height of the protests in Kiev in search of assistance, but came back with only some business deals, not cash. The Chinese, experts say, have no interest in interfering in a matter of vital interest to their ally in Moscow.

It remains to be seen whether Russia will help Mr. Yanukovich dodge the financial crisis next year. To date, Moscow has proposed solving Ukraine’s balance of payments crisis by reducing gas prices, but that approach, analysts say, is just as likely to produce profits for insiders as it is cash for the government.

[Dec 06, 2013] There Is No Global Struggle Between Democracy and Authoritarianism By Daniel Larison

December 6, 2013 | The American Conservative

Chrystia Freeland joins in exaggerating the significance of protests in Ukraine:

But as in 1989 the most important fault line in the world [bold mine-DL] today runs through a cold, crowded, euphoric public square in Eastern Europe.

Freeland is wrong about this, but her op-ed is interesting as a window into the thinking of people that say such things. If one assumes that there is a “global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism” going on, and if one also believes that the competing factions in Ukrainian politics represent different sides in this struggle, it might almost make sense to think that the most important fault line in the world runs through Kiev.

It would still be overlooking a number of more important and dangerous fault lines in East Asia or the Near East, but it would make a certain amount of sense. Since there is no such global struggle to speak of, and the different factions in Ukraine represent competing interests inside one country, all of this effort to impose a grand ideological interpretation onto these events is misguided and wasted.

If there is competition today between “democratic capitalism” and state capitalism, that is obviously a dramatically different kind of competition from the one between the U.S. and the USSR. Thinking of it as a continuation or extension of the latter, as Freeland does, is simply wrong. There is nothing like the Cold War going on today, nor is there even a “cool war” between two ideological camps. Democracy is not at stake in the contest in Ukraine, so we should stop pretending that it is.

[Dec 03, 2013] Putin: Kiev protests have nothing to do with Ukraine-EU relations, prepared ahead of elections

The Ukraine presents an interesting variant of Serbs vs Croats problem former Yugoslavia struggled with. Schemes of cooperation have been tried and have not worked. Now foreign powers capitalized on this. It is striking for some observers that the EU’s "liberal democracy" regime is propelling the West Ukrainian nationalist movement and considers them to be an ally in "eurointegration". Eurointegration with whom? But if we look at Croatia, it's not that surprising.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that riots in Kiev have no direct relation to Ukraine and the EU deal, but rather it's an attempt by the opposition to undermine the country's legitimate government.

“As far as the events in Ukraine are concerned, to me they don’t look like a revolution, but rather like 'pogrom'. However strange this might seem, in my view it has little to do with Ukrainian-EU relations,” Putin said.

Speaking in Yerevan during his official visit to Armenia, Putin argued that the protests in Ukraine had been prepared by the opposition in advance to undermine the legitimate government of the country. However, it is “apparent” that the opposition had meant them to take place during the Ukrainian presidential campaign in March 2015, the Russian President said.

“What is happening now is a little false start due to certain circumstances… This all has been prepared for the presidential election. And that these were preparations, in my opinion, is an apparent fact for all objective observers,” Putin stressed.

He has said that now the Ukrainian opposition is either not in control of the protests, or it may serve as a cover-up for extremist activities.

The footage from Kiev clearly shows “how well-organized and trained militant groups operate,” the Russian President said.

Nobody seems to be concerned with the actual details of the Ukrainian-EU agreement, Putin said.

“They say that the Ukrainian people are being deprived of their dream. But if you look at the contents of the deal – then you’ll see that the dream may be good, but many may not live to see it,” he argued.

Putin then explained that the deal offered to Ukraine by the EU has “very harsh conditions".

The Russian government presumes that the situation in Ukraine will be back to normal, and that the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people will determine their future on their own.

“I want to stress that, regardless of the choice of the Ukrainian people, we will respect it,” Putin said.

‘Kiev riots show signs of coup’ – Ukrainian PM

The Ukrainian authorities see “signs of a coup” in the attempts to block the government agencies by the protesters, but are exercising restraint, Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov said during a meeting with ambassadors from EU states and the US in Kiev.

Azarov said that some political forces have “an illusion” that they can topple the government, adding that the opposition is developing a plan, which involves taking the Ukrainian parliament building by force.

“Things have changed. On the one hand, we aren’t exonerating the law enforcement agencies, but on the other hand, politicians who are joining the action now are dramatically radicalizing the situation. The mass character of the action became uncontrollable or rather controlled by certain political forces,” the Ukrainian Prime Minister was cited as saying by RIA Novosti.

He then assured the diplomats that the government guarantees that force won’t be used against peaceful demonstrators in the capital, and that the necessary orders to the police not to use such force have been given. The Ukrainian authorities are expecting that the opposition will also abstain from provocation, he added.

Azarov told the diplomats that Ukraine has proposed some changes to the association agreement with the EU.

“We’d like to discuss the provisions, which bother us. We’d like our initiative to be treated attentively and maybe we’ll be able to achieve compromise,” the Ukrainian Prime Minister stressed.

He explained that some of the Ukrainian industrialists have appealed to the government with request for the changes, as the deal would otherwise “make the Ukrainian market too open”.

As the Ukrainian officials assured the EU that they had not given up on the bilateral deal, President Viktor Yanukovich on Monday stressed that he “was, is, and will be a supporter of European democratic values and standards.”

Yanukovich stressed that Ukraine wants more favorable conditions for the deal because the country’s economic interests are at stake. He said that a public debate must be held “so that society can give its evaluation of what we want to achieve, on what terms and why we put the problem as it is… It must be made clear that we are protecting our interests.”

[Dec 02, 2013] A readers guide to the protests in ukraine

Is this Arab Spring drama translated to Ukrainian ? Is this standard plot of color revolution which uses a large amount of young unemployed people, recession in economics which is balancing near bankruptcy plus money which can organize this mass and throw it against the corrupt government in order to get even more corrupt government and higher unemployment. Or, as Putin suggested, this is a premature start of Orange Revolution II planned for next presidential elections (the second occupation of Kiev by people from Lviv) ?
Dec 02, 2013 | washingtonpost.com

What’s in it for Ukraine?

The European Union offered an “association agreement” that would have given Ukraine loans and favorable trade relations with Europe, conditions providing long-term benefits but probably little short-term relief for an economy verging on bankruptcy.

[Dec 02, 2013] Ukrainian protesters besiege government buildings

The turbulent situation doesn’t bode well for Ukraine’s troubled economy, which has been in recession for more than a year.

“The blockade of government offices and the National Bank of Ukraine, and the risk of a general strike, leaves me concerned now over Ukraine’s ability to pay its way in the very short term,” said Tim Ash, chief emerging markets economist at Standard Bank in London.

Opposition calls for a strike were being headed by local governments in western Ukraine, where most people speak Ukrainian and lean toward the EU. In the industrial east of the country, most people tend to speak Russian and have a closer affinity for Russia.

... ... ...

“Yanukovych is now fighting for his political survival, and time is no longer on his side,” Ash said.

The opposition also was getting some support from Ukraine’s main television channels, which are owned by the country’s wealthiest businessmen. Instead of largely toeing the government line, the channels have begun to give a greater platform to the protesters.

This was a sign that the channels’ owners were unhappy with the government’s refusal to sign the EU deal and pursue better trade ties with Russia instead, said Natalia Ligacheva, head of media watchdog Telekritika.

TheStraightDope

"...The opposition also was getting some support from Ukraine’s main television channels, which are owned by the country’s wealthiest businessmen...."

Sounds like the Tea Party in the US or the moveon crowd that put Obama in office. Is there such thing as an opposition not owned by wealthy and powerful interests? I guess we wouldn't be reading about it if there was.

[Dec 02, 2013] Ukraine Defends Its Sovereignty by Justin Raimondo,

December 02, 2013 | antiwar.com

You’ll be forgiven if you don’t: Ukraine’s "color revolution," organized, financed, and planned in the West, blends into the rainbow gallery of failed Western-backed regime-change operations launched in the wake of the Soviet Union’s fall

... ... ...

The failure of the economy to improve, and the authoritarian impulses of the Orange revolutionaries, both played into the country’s growing disillusionment and the reversal of fortunes that put Yanukovich back in power. When Yushchenko, the former Hero of the Orange Revolution, ran for a second term in 2010, he received a little over 5 percent of the vote, and was eliminated in the first round.

If you thought this meant the end of the Western attempt to tear Ukraine out of the Russian orbit, think again: these people never give up. And they seem to have learned their lesson, this time refraining from personifying their cause in a fallible human leader, such as Yushchenko – or the even more flawed Tymoshenko – and instead latching on to an abstraction – the EU – as the flag around which to rally their troops.

... ... ...

The Eurocrats have their Ukrainian fifth column out in the streets of Kiev, attacking government buildings, engaging in hand-to-hand fighting with the police, and deploying the aggressive tactics we have come to know so well from the "color revolutions" of the past. Yet this Orange movement is dried up and rotten to the core, a juice-less phenomenon which holds up as a political ideal the faceless bureaucracy of Brussels, which is rightly hated from Greece to Spain to what used to be the free country of England. Good luck with that!

The pro-EU hooligans in the streets of Kiev are pawns in a larger game: the new cold war with Russia. This battle is being waged with the Europeans in the front lines and the Americans finagling and maneuvering behind the scenes, eager for vengeance against the one man who has successfully defied and outsmarted them at every turn: Vladimir Putin.

The end of the first cold war changed many things, but one indisputable fact of geography remained constant: the lands of the former Soviet Union constituted the single largest landmass out of the control of the Western powers. With the temporary power vacuum in the Kremlin, the West quickly moved in on the ruins, but their success, as in Ukraine, was limited.

... ... ...

The EU summiteers had to content themselves with inaugurating the entry of Georgia and Moldova into "associate" EU status – two countries which are the least European of any other EU candidate, with the possible exception of Turkey. If Georgia is part of Europe, then so is Mongolia – and that about defines the parameters of the EU’s ambitions, as the Eurocrats seek to extend their authority over a territory approximating the old Roman empire at its height. The next step for Georgia and Moldova is full EU membership – and assimilation into NATO’s military machine.

Pointed like a dagger at the heart of Russia, the Western military-political advance into the steppes of Eurasia is a challenge that isn’t going unanswered in Moscow. Yes, we really are going backwards in time: retro chic rules in the realm of Russo-American relations.

Ordinary Americans, naturally, derive no benefit from this renewed rivalry: indeed, we suffer, as international tensions drive commodity prices – like oil – through the roof and the ever-present threat of war looms large. Who profits? The weapons-makers who will outfit Georgia and Moldova with all the latest NATO-approved hi-tech military hardware. The banks who will make loans to "pro-Western" governments, and who will sell their debt: the politicians who will ride the wave of anti-Russian feeling whipped up by the Western media and piped into places like Ukraine by our "democracy-promoting" government.

The EU is a failed socialist experiment that exists to fund a huge (and hugely arrogant) bureaucracy and impose a bloodless ideological abstraction over and above the authentic nationalisms it seems to subsume. It is deeply authoritarian in that it provides no mechanism for member states to withdraw, and its super-centralist model is a prescription for tyranny if ever there was one. When a referendum is held on EU membership, and the results aren’t to the pro-EU side’s liking, the election is simply ignored and the Eurocrats mount yet another campaign until the "right" result is achieved.

[Dec 02, 2013] Ukrainians stage mass rally against Yanukovich's U-turn on Europe

Another color revolution ?

Reuters

f00:

Tyaniboh’s right-wing, nationalist Svoboda is pro-EU? The EU is anti-nationalist, barely-concealed Communism Lite.

“I want my children to live in a country where they don’t beat young people …”

Yeah, you’d rather live with the Third World scum that EU-mandated open borders will bring.

Whatever. Half of Ukraine is pro-Russia. Joining the EU is a non-starter, no matter what these “orange” rent-a-mobs want.

chyron:

Yanukovich fails because he thought he still can “suck from both teats” doing nothing. Or at least make Russia to pay Ukrainian bills permanently.

But times, they are changing. Most beloved animal in Ukraine is pig. So let’s put that way – nationals are trying to choose “animal farm with best feeding” not understanding really that they choose who will do the slaughtering soon.

yurakm:

Nice picture. Nice democratic demonstrators.

For those who do not understand Ukrainian:

The banner on an Ukrainian flag that the nice young people hold reads: “A day will come when we will hung Vitya!”

where Vitya is a diminutive for Victor, a first name of Ukrainian president.

November

[Nov 26, 2013] Pope attacks 'tyranny' of markets, urges renewal in key document by Naomi O'Leary

Yahoo News

Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?"

The pope said renewal of the Church could not be put off and said the Vatican and its entrenched hierarchy "also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion".

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," he wrote.

In July, Francis finished an encyclical begun by Pope Benedict but he made clear that it was largely the work of his predecessor, who resigned in February.

Called "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the exhortation is presented in Francis' simple and warm preaching style, distinct from the more academic writings of former popes, and stresses the Church's central mission of preaching "the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ".

In it, he reiterated earlier statements that the Church cannot ordain women or accept abortion. The male-only priesthood, he said, "is not a question open to discussion" but women must have more influence in Church leadership.

POVERTY

A meditation on how to revitalize a Church suffering from encroaching secularization in Western countries, the exhortation echoed the missionary zeal more often heard from the evangelical Protestants who have won over many disaffected Catholics in the pope's native Latin America.

In it, economic inequality features as one of the issues Francis is most concerned about, and the 76-year-old pontiff calls for an overhaul of the financial system and warns that unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence.

"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems," he wrote.

Denying this was simple populism, he called for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality" and added: "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."

Since his election, Francis has set an example for austerity in the Church, living in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace, travelling in a Ford Focus, and last month suspending a bishop who spent millions of euros on his luxurious residence.

He chose to be called "Francis" after the medieval Italian saint of the same name famed for choosing a life of poverty.

Stressing cooperation among religions, Francis quoted the late Pope John Paul II's idea that the papacy might be reshaped to promote closer ties with other Christian churches and noted lessons Rome could learn from the Orthodox such as "synodality" or decentralized leadership.

He praised cooperation with Jews and Muslims and urged Islamic countries to guarantee their Christian minorities the same religious freedom as Muslims enjoy in the West.

[Nov 24, 2013] Bad Government Software by

Is Obama incompetent, or he does not care ?
October 18, 2013 | baselinescenario.com

Edwardus

I used to work as a software developer many years (and generations of hardware and software) ago. The large systems integration houses tend to assign their worst staff to government projects and governments complain less about quality of work, and are less likely to go ballistic when projects fail (and many certainly do in both private and public sectors). To put a career bureaucrat in charge (responsible/accountable on the RACI chart) of a complex software development project is irresponsible.

I also question why they had to build from scratch when production code is available from third-parties, some of it written for consumer-driven healthcare (CDHP) which shares some of the Obamacare functionality. While those systems are far less complex in terms of constraints and total functionality, the software core of these systems contain (once again) production grade code that have been tested extensively. Why on Earth anyone would want to build this from scratch is beyond my comprehension, unless of course someone wanted to enrich one or more government contractors.

If read some inept excuse about the project team not being able to perform beta testing. The combination of using production grade code would reduce part of that problem, and of course stress testing (!) the code for greater-than-anticipated volume of users and transactions would have revealed any design or environmental problems early.

[Nov 24, 2013] Blowback, Second Edition The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson

That was what JFK assassination was about...
Amazon.com
Luc REYNAERT

Stealth imperialism January 11, 2006

In this hard-hitting analysis, Chalmers Johnson explains the goals and the hidden (from its inhabitants) functioning of the US hegemon: an empire based on military power and the use of US capital and markets to force global economic integration on US terms at whatever costs to others.

On the military front, the US population forgot G. Washington's warning: `avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.'

The US intelligence and military establishment is close to being beyond civilian control and becoming an autonomous system, whose colossal budget with its juicy cost-plus contracts is only controlled by vested ideological and financial interests. This book shows clearly that US presidents, like Carter or Clinton, had not the power to oppose the Pentagon's designs: perpetuate and develop the Cold War structures in order to consolidate its power. The ends justify all means as numerous intelligence or military interventions in the world show, which sponsored dictatorships, genocidal campaigns, war crimes, state terrorism and paramilitary death-squads. 90 % of all US weapons were sold, not to democracies, but to human right abusers.

On the economic front, globalization US style provoked economic disasters in South-Asia and South-America, throwing millions of people into poverty. However the US still urged its `allies' to buy weapons! This kind of globalization, which provoked still more economic inequality, will not be forgotten for a long time (see W. Bello: Dilemmas of Domination.).

By overstretching its financial means (weapon systems are profligate economic waste), the US risks a long lasting downfall of the dollar.

The US and its population need an industrial not a military or intelligence policy, because a new rival hegemon points at the horizon: China, which will be the superpower of the 21st century. China will not be contained. The US will have to adjust to it.

In a world of hypocritical and gagged media, Chalmers Johnson's much needed voice proposes human solutions for the world's problems: `bring most overseas land-based forces home and reorient foreign policy to stress leadership through example, economic aid, international law, multilateral institutions and diplomacy, instead of military intervention, economic bullying or financial manipulation.'

With its surprising comparisons, Chalmers Johnson sent a solid warning to the actual US establishment. A nation reaps what its sows. The blowback could be horrendous.

[Nov 24, 2013] What’s in CIA’s secret JFK files

Among the material that remains classified are the files of a number of long-deceased CIA officials who are believed by researchers to have had knowledge about the movements and actions of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s assassin, in the months before Dealey Plaza.

Some of these officials are also believed to have helped the CIA conceal this knowledge from the staff members of the two major official probes into the assassination: the Warren Commission, which concluded in its 1964 report that Oswald was the sole assassin; and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), whose final report in 1979 determined that there was a “high probability” that two gunmen fired at the president that day.

[Nov 24, 2013] Why Roger Stone’s JFK book has to be taken seriously

JFKfacts

Roger Stone is the first JFK assassination author to have worked in the White House and among the few who have personal acquaintances with JFK’s sucessors.

As a former aide to President Reagan and confidante of RIchard Nixon, Stone brings unique practical experience and personal contacts at the highest levels of American politics to a subject that has often been written about by people with neither.

Stone’s background doesn’t mean that his interpretation of November 22, 1963, is necessarily correct, but he cannot be dismissed as “conspiracy theorist” who is deluded about the realities of American politics and power.

To the contrary, he has far more first-hand experience with those Washington realities than an academic like John McAdams or a prosecutor like VIncent Bugliosi. I think Stone’s indictment of Lyndon Johnson deserves to be taken more seriously than anyone else’s precisely because of his White House experience.

In an email interview with JFK Facts, Stone opened up about his sources, why he wrote the book, and what he really thinks of Chris Matthews.

Q. To some liberal pundits, anyone who shows an abiding interest in the JFK assassination is seriously lacking in understanding of the realities of American politics, if not clinically mentally ill. I’m thinking of Cass Sunstein, Vince Bugiiosi, and Chris Matthews, for example. What’s your reaction to such pronouncements?

RS: I have been in the mainstream of American politics and have been a senior campaign staffer to three Presidents, having worked on eight national Republican Presidential campaigns. Long before I began my book, the House Select Committee on Assassinations essentially debunked the Warren Commission Report. The Assassination Records Review Board declassified enough documents to bolster the conclusions of the House Committee; there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. Oswald did not act alone — in fact I don’t think he acted at all.

My book is not disparate from many other groundbreaking works like James Douglass’, The Unspeakable; Phillip Nelson’s LBJ: the Mastermind of the JFK Assassination; Barr McClellan’s Blood Money & Power; Craig Zirbel’s Texas Connection; and Glen Sample and Mark Collom’s The Men on the Sixth Floor. I seek to build on these seminal works.

Yes, I believe that LBJ spearheaded a conspiracy funded by Texas Oil and assisted by elements of the CIA and the Mob. Yes, I think LBJ’s unique relationships with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, defense contractors, Texas Oil, and organized crime allowed him to spearhead a conspiracy. All had a stake in Kennedy’s death.

Candidly, I have know Chris Matthews for 30 years and have been on his TV show, Hardball. He is an egomaniac and pompous asshole who isn’t nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Liberals like Daniel Patrick Moynihan have done a disservice to the public by pigeonholing anyone who questions the Warren Commission conclusion as a “nut.” If this is true two-thirds of the people in America are “nuts.”

Stone’s book will be published in November 2013

Q. Where were you on the day it happened? Some people on the political right were known to have cheered the news? Did you hear any of that?

RS: I was 11 years old. I was in the Lewisboro (NY) Elementary School. Lots of my young classmates were crying. When the teacher asked why I wasn’t crying I said, “I’m a Republican.” Yet when I saw the photo in the New York Daily News of young John-John Kennedy saluting his father’s casket a few days later, I too wept.

Q. Your book reports on your conversations about JFK with Richard Nixon and John Mitchell about the assassination. How did you get these men to open up about such a sensitive topic?

I worked as a political advisor to President Nixon in his post-presidential years and spent many hours with him talking politics. Nixon liked a dry martini and he liked to talk politics. He was circumspect and never overtly said “LBJ did it” but he did say a number of things that more than indicate he believed this. My book details this. Nixon recognized Jack Ruby and knew him since 1947 as a “Johnson Man.” Upon seeing Ruby kill Oswald on national TV Nixon recognized him — and understood what had really happened in Dallas.

I first met John Mitchell at the Republican National Convention in 1968 when I was a volunteer assigned to the messenger pool. He wrote me a letter of recommendation to Mort Allyn to secure me a post in the Nixon White House Press operation. I had little contact with him during Nixon’s re-election because I was the youngest staff member at CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President) and my boss, Herbert L. “Bart” Porter, and his boss Jeb Magruder, both warned me that “direct contact with Mr. Mitchell was out of the chain of command.”

By 1976, Mitchell was out of prison and quietly helping me line up Republicans for Ronald Reagan, convincing former Kentucky Governor Louie Nunn, to serve on the “Citizens For Reagan” being chaired by Senator Paul Laxalt. Mitchell had a small office in Georgetown. We used to drink at a bar in Georgetown called the Guards. Mitchell confirmed that many of the same things Nixon said to me he had also said to Mitchell. Mitchell shared his own conversations with Nixon.

Also beneficial were my interviews of Ambassador John Davis Lodge who confirmed that his brother Henry Cabot Lodge, JFK’s Ambassador to Vietnam, had knowledge of the involvement of the CIA and Lyndon Johnson in JFK’s murder. I also interviewed long time Nixon aide Nick Ruwe who probably spent more waking hours with “RN” than any other individual, as well as John P. Sears, whose insights into Nixon and his thinking were invaluable.

I also had the opportunity to talk to Governor Jesse Ventura who’s research confirmed the link between the Bay of Pigs, JFK’s assassination and the downfall of Nixon in Watergate.

Q: In his memoir Bob Haldeman speculated that when Nixon spoke of “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” he was actually referring to JFK’s assassination. Did Nixon ever use that phrase in your conversations?

RS: Nixon ran a covert CIA operation to assassinate Fidel Castro when he was Vice President. Some of the CIA operatives and assassins involved in these plans, altered but not canceled after JFK’s surprise election, ended up working for the CIA in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. These same men, E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis were involved in the JFK assassination. They would surface again in Watergate.

It is important to recognize that in 1963 Nixon was completely out of power and considered politically washed up. Like LBJ, Nixon still burned to be President but he was considered finished. Nixon understood the connection between the Bay of Pigs and the Kennedy assassination and came to understand Johnson’s role in Kennedy’s murder. After his comeback election in 1968, Nixon demanded all CIA records on the JFK assassination seeking them for leverage and insurance.

In my book I make the case that Watergate, like the JFK assassination, was a coup d’etat a in which the CIA participated. Once CIA veteran James McCord was brought in on the Watergate burglary plan, the CIA knew what Nixon’s minions were up to. The Bay of Pigs, the JFK assassination and Watergate are thus inextriplicably linked.

Nixon’s effort to get the CIA to instruct the FBI to back off the Watergate investigation was a threat to expose the CIA involvement in the murder of JFK, which he knew grew out of the Bay of Pigs Invasion failure.

Q. When did you decide to write this book? And why?

RS: I have worked on this book for at least 10 years and have worked on it intensely for the last two years. I am greatly indebted to my researcher and co-writer, Mike Colapietro. Some will say that I have some partisan angle as my motive for writing this book. In fact, Republicans Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Earl Warren, Arlen Specter and John McCloy don’t come off well in the book. All play some role in the events of November 22, 1963.

Many people have asked me why I waited until now to write my book. When I told Mitchell I would write a book about the JFK assassination “someday,” he said, “on the 50th anniversary” and I agreed. I have honored that commitment.

Q. For some conservative commentators (I’m thinking Thom Mallon, James Swanson, and Gerald Ford), JFK conspiracy theories are a hobbyhorse that deluded leftists use to denigrate America and American power? Does your book denigrate America?

The evidence of a conspiracy is so overwhelming now that the vast majority of Americans believe they have not been told the truth by the government about the JFK assassination. It is important to note that John F. Kennedy was murdered not just because of his plans to wind down the Vietnam War, his entreaties for better relations with the Soviets and his efforts to repeal the oil depletion allowance but also because of his double cross of the mob after their support in the 1960 election and concern by many at the Pentagon about JFK’s drug use. Kennedy was in fact hopped up on intravenously injected meth during the 1960 debates as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK was no saint.

Q. I have always been personally skeptical about the “LBJ did it” theory because I don’t see much evidence that Johnson or his cronies knew about the existence of Lee Oswald, much less had contact with him or the ability to manipulate him. If LBJ organized the death of JFK what is your theory/evidence about who organized the patsy role for Oswald?

While Johnson was the primary mover of the assassination there is no doubt that the conspirators including the Dallas Police Department, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, both perhaps unwittingly as well as the Secret Service and the FBI, as well as rogue elements of the CIA. The agency set Oswald up as a patsy when fingerprint evidence demonstrates conclusively that the shooter from the sixth story window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository building was in fact Malcolm “Mac” Wallace, a longtime LBJ henchman whose ties to Johnson are thoroughly established and documented in my book.

Interestingly, LBJ acknowledged to both his mistress, Madeline Brown and his Chief of Staff, Marvin Watson, that the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s murder — not exactly his Warren Commission’s conclusion. LBJ was facing political ruin and prosecution and jail for corruption when he insisted on JFK’s visiting Texas and when Gov. John Connally insisted on visiting the Trade Mart and on the motorcade through Dealy Plaza.

I also delve in the LBJ the man. He was a monster. Power hungry, crude, vulgar, abusive, sadistic,vicious and often drunk, this is a man who reveled in his aides’ discomfort by conducting meetings while sitting on the toilet defecating. He had at least three illegitimate dhildren, two of whom are still living. I tie LBJ to at least eight political murders in his ascent to political power and his quest for money. Johnson’s capacity for lying, cheating and crime knew no bounds, which is why Jacqueline Kennedy said, “I never liked Lyndon Johnson and I never trusted him” and why Robert Kennedy described him as “an animal.” LBJ was a murderer, and perhaps even a functional lunatic.

“The difference between me and LBJ was, we both wanted to be President but I wouldn’t kill for it” Nixon told me in 1989.

Q. Correct me if I am wrong but I think you are the only White House employee since JFK’s death who has ever written a book about JFK’s death. Why do you think that is?

RS: I have been a participant in mainstream American politics for 40 years. I had unique access to a number of individuals who played pivotal roles in the entire drama. While I understand that many JFK assassination researchers believe the President was killed by “the establishment” or the “military – industrial complex,” which would include munitions manufacturers, defense contractors, Texas oil, the CIA, the FBI and numerous ambitious politicians. What these researchers don’t understand is that “the establishment” is not monolithic. Members of the establishment don’t necessarily move in concert. The establishment is racked with its own intramural contests, rivalries and struggles for political power. While it may be true that many establishment figures either knew about Kennedy’s murder in advance or at least acquiesced in it, they were not conspirators themselves. Because I have seen these struggles firsthand I believe I am uniquely qualified to write this book.

Q. When will your book reach stores and Amazon?

My book will be in stores November 6, 2013. Amazon will ship pre-orders at that time. I will do a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Dallas on November 22, 2013, as well as book signings in DC, Santa Monica and Ridgewood, New Jersey outside of New York City.

JSA

June 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I don’t know how credible Roger Stone is or isn’t, but as to LBJ telling Cronkite and others about a conspiracy, that doesn’t necessarily rule out his (LBJ’s) possible involvement. First of all, if you’ve read and studied Lyndon Johnson as well as I have, you would know that he was a crafty SOB, perhaps one of THE craftiest. He wasn’t stupid, at least where grabbing power was concerned. He knew that others suspected his involvement in JFK’s assassination from the beginning, people like Robert Kennedy, and others in the Kennedy Cabinet whom LBJ needed to work with if he was to take the reins of power effectively and then run for election himself in 1964. One of the ways to DEFLECT suspicion is to actively “help” in pointing fingers at someone else or at another group. To just remain silent leaves you looking vulnerable. Think about it. If you KNEW that you were innocent, you would work hard to try to find the culprit. LBJ was no fool, he knew that he had to act as if he were innocent and to play the part well he had to ACT as if he cared that the “true culprit” be found and brought to justice. He of course pinned it on Oswald, but he also had the communist tag as a back up, and the most clever part of this plan was, because of the communist ties (following his cover story) of Oswald, digging up too much information could directly antagonize the opponent, the USSR (or via Cuba as proxy), and lead to World War 3. One year after we almost exchanged nuclear missiles with the USSR, people were extremely sensitive about stirring up THAT hornet’s nest again. It truly scared people (well most sane people, not Curtiss LeMay of course). So not only would LBJ pin the possible blame on the Soviets (whom he knew back then because we were in a Cold War with them we could never PROVE they were not involved, Bill Walton’s trip sponsored in secret by RFK and Jackie notwithstanding). This ruse, of possible communist links, also was perfect in closing the case, in shutting down further discussion among elites who weren’t privy to all of the details but raised serious questions about the validity of the Warren Commission’s report and of the events in Dallas. LBJ worked aggressively to shape discussion of conspiracy in the JFK assassination AWAY from HIM and TOWARDS the USSR and/or CUBA. It was a brilliant strategy.

LBJ used to say that it was better to have a camel in your tent, pissing outside of it, than to have the camel outside, pissing into your tent. What he meant by this was to keep your enemies close, don’t distance yourself, and actively direct opinion, don’t passively sit by and let opinion get shaped by others. He did this with the JFK assassination in a very Machiavellian way. I have a friend of our family who told me once that Johnson kept a copy of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” by his bedside at one point while in the White House.

[Nov 16, 2013] The New Anti-Politics The Problem With Protesters Who Don't Want Power

It is true that Obama and his administration are incompetents; but the same was true for previous administration. And also Obama in just a Republican in Democratic cloth. I think on certain issues he stand to the right even from Reagan, to say nothing about President Eisenhower . Only completely delusional person can imagine Obama speaking about "military-industrial complex" the way Dwight D. Eisenhower did.
New Republic

The politics of anti-politics is a great American comedy. Contempt for Washington has become one of the primary qualifications for elevation to Washington. Those who despise government are desperate to join it; those who despise politics are politicians. And those who cherish government and cherish politics are ominously instructed by their consultants to be silent. Inside the system they pretend that they are outside the system, and denounce the institutions as if they are not talking about themselves.

Even the president poses as a marginal man, which of course has the effect of marginalizing him. Obama is reaping the harvest of his superiority to the sordidness of power: the revival of the American right in 2009-2010 was owed in part to his squandering of his early strength upon a prissy dream of bipartisanship, or post-partisanship-not of compromise, which has a place in a universe of conflict, but of a utopian sort of consensus in which “faction,” whose abiding reality is one of the central recognitions of the American method of government, is miraculously overcome. Obama came to lift us to a higher place, when a better place was all we needed. To feed a hungry man who comes to your door does not require a redesign of your kitchen.

The president’s high-minded misreading of the Republicans will stand as one of the most consequential delusions of our time. And it was entirely of a piece with one of the central teachings of Obama’s campaign, which is that people can be brought into politics by endorsing their alienation from politics—and that the answer to alienation is transformation, so that they can go directly from pre-political to post-political. This disarmed them against many disgusting Beltway developments to come, and prepared them only for disappointment. It is irresponsible to weaken people’s patience with imperfection. The Republicans, needless to say, do not regard themselves as too good for politics; and they are right.

[Nov 16, 2013] THE DANGEROUS MESS IN SYRIA GROWS MURKIER

August 12, 2012 | Eric Margolis

Syria’s murky, multi-level conflict continues to grow worse. So does public confusion here in the west as the US, British and some European media keep depicting Syria’s civil war as a simple passion play pitting the evil Asad regime in Damascus against mostly unarmed democratic protestors.

We saw this same one-dimensional, deceptive reporting recently in Libya that was designed to support foreign intervention. It’s as incomplete today about Syria as it was in Libya which, by the way, is turning into a dangerous mess.

My assessment based on reliable primary sources in Washington, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon:

Support for the Asad family’s Ba’ath regime, now in power for 41 years, is clearly slipping. But important sections of the armed forces, the 17 intelligence and security agencies, the powerful Alawai minority, most Syrian Christians, tribal elements and much of the commercial middle and upper class still back the Asad’s. In spite of intense western efforts to overthrow him, Bashar Asad, a mild-mannered former eye specialist, is still hanging on.

The US, Britain, France, and some conservative Arab allies have funded and armed the Syrian rebellion from its start a year ago. In fact, the US has been funding anti-Asad groups since the mid 1990’s. Arms and munitions are said to be flowing to Syria’s rebels through Jordan and Lebanon. Extreme rightwing groups in Lebanon, funded by western and Arab powers and Israel, are playing a key role in infiltrating gunmen and arms into northern Syria.

The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood has once again risen against the Alawi-dominated regime in Damascus. In 1982, this writer was outside the Syrian city of Hama when government forces crushed a Brotherhood uprising, killing an estimated 10,000 people and razing part of the city with heavy artillery.

Enter the jihadis. Recently, small numbers of al- Qaida veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have entered Syria and are using car bombs to try to destabilize the government. Current al-Qaida leader, Dr Ayman al- Zawahiri, has called for all-out war against the Asad regime.

Interestingly, the US, France and Britain now find themselves in bed with the very jihadist forces they profess to abhor – but, of course, whom they used in Afghanistan in the 1980’s and, lately, in Libya.

Add to this dangerous mix growing numbers of local militias in Syria who are battling one another and committing many of the atrocities against civilians, recalling Iraq and Lebanon’s bloody civil wars.

Washington’s key objective in Syria is to overthrow the Asad regime in order to injure its closest ally, Iran. There is so much anti-Iranian hysteria now in the US, that any blow against the Islamic republic is seen as good. Former US fears of a chaotic, post-Asad Syria are now forgotten in the rush to undermine Iran, by destabilizing Syria. Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, are baying for war against Syria as President Barak Obama tries to hold back the war hawks.

Israel, whose influence in Washington in this election year is unprecedented, is stoking war fever against Syria and Iran. Israel is delighted that the crises with both nations have eclipsed the issue of Palestine and of Syria’s Golan Heights, which were illegally annexed by Israel in 1981. Golan supplies on third of Israel’s total water. Israel’s objective is to see Syria splintered into feuding cantons like today’s Iraq.

France’s right wing, led by President Nicholas Sarkozy’s UMP party, has long desired to re-establish France’s former colonial influence in Lebanon and Syria. The Asad regime in Syria has been a thorn in France’ side for four decades, particularly so in Lebanon, which Syria still insists is a historical part of Syria. France hopes to duplicate in Syria its success in stirring up and profiting from the uprising in Libya.

Russia has been defending the Asad regime and is determined not to be outfoxed in Syria by a false “humanitarian” intervention as it was in Libya. China is similarly cautious. But both are slowly lessening their former staunch support of Damascus as seen by last week’s UN Security Council call for a new peace plan in Syria.

A cease fire is urgently needed. Syria must stop using heavy weapons in urban areas. But outside powers must also stop supporting violent armed groups that Damascus calls “terrorists.” There are no clean hands in Syria.

George Rizk

It is very interesting that the U.S. supported jihadist during the Reagan administration in Afghnistan, then they supported the al qaida work in Chechnia, then supported al Qaida again in Bosnia, then declared al Qaida to be public enemy # 1 after 9/11, then they gave al Qaida money and farms to depose Qaddafi, then they sent the same jihadists to Syria.

George


Mike Smith:

I read this story which primarily deals with the present state of Iraq, but also talks about how events in Syria may destabilize Iraq even further…

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,823838,00.html

It is amazing how the US and Israel are the biggest sources of unstablity in this region… and others as well

Russia may yet solve the Korean situation… if the US keeps its nose out.

Ray Joseph Cormier:

SYRIA: A WITCH’S BREW – ON THE ROAD TO TEHRAN
February 27, 2012

http://ray032.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/syria-a-witchs-brew-on-the-road-to-tehran/

Mr.Lee:

Mr. Margolis:

What we are dealing with here is a classic case of Imperial over reach. In the case of France and GB, the former colonial powers have this delusion that they are as influential as they were 200 years ago, and by extension tying their delusion to that of the US. The same US that is experiencing what the Persian, Roman and Ottoman Empires experienced. It is also becoming clearer that Al Qaeda is nothing more than a CIA intelligence creation to do the bidding of NATO when convenient.

So where does this lead to? No one can say, but do not let the recent actions by China and Russia at the UN fool anyone. This undertaking is about buying time, Russia will not give up its only Mediterranean port in Tartus. Secondly, both Russian and China have a military industrial complex as well. The more countries that fall to NATO, the less customer base these countries have. Thirdly, both China and Russia abhor being surrounded by hostile powers. This being said, can anyone really believe that these powers will allow themselves to become targets of NATO after Syria and Iran hypothetically fall?

Finally, the religious strain that exists between Sunni and Shiite has been made more profound by the abomination called Wahabiism. But this excludes the tension that is alive and well in the Sunni community with the various monarchies of the Arab Gulf States.

Say what you want, the Baathist ideology was more or less egalitarian.

In closing, this tension could lead to a conflagration that in turn could lead to a Global War. One thing that major wars have taught is that the outcome of these conflicts are never scripted of for gone. This is a lesson that NATO and Israel have yet to discover.

weldon:

Mr.Lee, I understand where you are coming from, but I feel it’s much closer to home than you may think!

A Good Doctor might prescribe a controlled dose of Wahhabi Islam medicine for what ails the religion of democracy. After all, the only thing we have learned from history is that we have learned nothing from history.

I have witnessed my Muslim “grown-up” neighbours boldly and ostentatiously brandishing machetes among other menacing implements of battle and intimidation for the better part of three years now on my street, and I don’t get many visitors anymore.

The 2006 census has put this city at 3.4% Islam, and I am sure it has very subtly tripled since then, but I really do not feel any more threatened where I am than I would on the democratic “uranium and gunpowder” side of town, and one of these days soon, I’m convinced western democracy is in for a huge surprise, on our own soil. Believe it!

solum temptare possumus:

weldon

If you are inclined to read a book that can give an understanding of your neighbours may I recommend this book by Lesley Hazleton.

After the prophet: the epic story of the Shia-Sunni split c 2009

Although Muhammad had many visions or spiritual experiences (if one believes), and the complete community of Islam believes in such revelations; the Sunni follow the sunna or the practices of the prophet and his writings (the Hadith) and scholary interpretation of the Qur’an.

The Shiat-ali, or Shia follow Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet. He aspired to be closer to Allah through spiritual asceticism. He was the true heart of Islam in those early days. While the Caliphs used sword against non-muslim, they also used violence against muslim brothers and sisters, forbidden by the words of the prophet. Ali used all methods to avoid this dictum. He rode to his death against overwhelming odds rather than submit to the co-caliph he shared the Islamic nation with.

Another author you might be interested in is Ibn Warraq, a life preserving pseudonym of an agnostic secular humanist Islamic scholar and outspoken critic of Islam. He is author to:
“Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out”
“Why I Am Not a Musllim”
“Virgins? What Virgins? And Other Essays”

solum temptare possumus:

Mr. Lee

An excellent point about the Russian and Chinese Military Industrial Complex. All countries with similar industries want to keep their people employed.

I disagree on your point about al Qaeda doing Nato’s bidding. The CIA may have helped form them early on as mujaheddin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, but the loose confederacy of Islamic mililtants want only to drive out the non-musllim invaders and impose a Sunni Islamic state over the rest of the Arab Middle East and then outward to the rest of the world. (see my reply to Weldon below). If the US government (by proxy the CIA) wants to fund them to overthrow the Alawite minority in Syria, I’m sure they will not turn down the help.
In your final paragraph, “In closing….”, the second sentence ending: did you mean to say…”…..that the outcome of these conflicts are never scripted OR A FORGONE CONCLUSION?

Nemesis: The True Story of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie O, and the Love Triangle That Brought Down the Kennedys

1.0 out of 5 stars This Book Is a JOKE!, March 4, 2010

By

J. Gertler "J.G." (New Jersey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Nemesis: The True Story of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie O, and the Love Triangle That Brought Down the Kennedys (Paperback)

This book is just ludicrous. It's filled with factual errors and rehashed gossip that have no basis in reality. C. David Heymann actually recycled some of this garbage in his Jackie and Bobby book, he didn't bother doing his research either. The William Holden story is a total fabrication, the man had a vasectomy in the late 1940's, and Jackie had just given birth to Patrick by her fourth cesarean section a few weeks before she went on the Onassis cruise, I highly doubt she was getting it on with Ari when she was still recovering from surgery and mourning her dead baby. Most of the sources that are quoted weren't even eyewitnesses to any of these events, it's just people who speculated that these things happened, if that was the only criteria to get into this book, Mr. Evans should have contacted me too! Anyone can invent a juicy story to make their contribution sound more interesting. It's a good thing that families can't sue after someone dies, because Mr. Evans would be paying huge settlements to the Kennedy and Onassis families. This book was just a lurid mess, it wasn't even fun to read as fiction, it was just too unbelievable and over the top. Mr. Evans obviously wanted to write the book in the most sensationalistic manner possible, it just comes off as cheap and shoddy. JFK, Jackie, Bobby and Onassis are portrayed as tabloid caricatures, and the only place any of these events occurred are in Mr. Evans imagination. A disgusting, depressing waste that will pollute your trash bin.

1.0 out of 5 stars THE RFK ASSASSINATION - EVANS IS WRONG!, July 20, 2005

By

Mel Ayton "Mel Ayton"
This review is from: Nemesis: The True Story of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie O, and the Love Triangle That Brought Down the Kennedys (Paperback)

The most sensational claim Evans makes is that Aristotle Onassis indirectly paid for RFK's murder.His 'proof' is shockingly inadequate.

Central to Evans's thesis are entries in Sirhan's notebooks which purportedly connected Aristotle Onassis to the assassin. Evans alleges Sirhan's notebooks make reference to Alexander Onassis's girlfriend Fiona, whom his father detested, and Stavros Niarchos, his shipping rival, whom he also hated.

However, Evans's juxtaposition of names to prove Sirhan wrote about killing Onassis's enemies is misleading. Sirhan had placed the name FIONA in a list of racehorse names - Fiona, Jet-Spec, Kings Abbey and Prince Khaled. The Arabic script consists of one sentence "He should be killed" (not "They should be killed" as Evans alleges) and does not refer to either Niarkos or Fiona.

The diary entry "Niarkos" remains unexplained, as do many other entries in Sirhan's notebooks, but there is no indication it refers to anyone on a Sirhan 'Death List'. The words in Sirhan's notebooks were the result of simple stream-of-consciousness ramblings he learned from Rosicrucian literature as ways to improve his life. The notebooks are filled with names of people Sirhan knew - Bert Altfillisch, Peggy Osterkamp and Gwen Gum for example, and people he didn't know like Garner Ted Armstrong. The entries which refer to $100,000 were simply Sirhan's obsessions about wealth and appear a number of times in the notebooks.

Also central to Evans's thesis was the implication that Sirhan had spent a three month period before the assassination being trained by terrorists or undergoing hypnotic indoctrination. Evans was wrong in stating Sirhan's movements were unaccounted for, or "a blanket of white fog" as he put it. Sirhan's movements in the months prior to the assassination leave no unaccountable period when the assassin could have spent a considerable amount of time being "hypnotically indoctrinated." In the year preceding the assassination Sirhan was seen frequently in the Hi-Life bar in Pasadena by waitress Marilyn Hunt.He was also seen in Shap's Bar during this period. In July 1967 Sirhan filed a disability complaint for workmen's compensation. Between July and September 1967 Sirhan's mother and brother Munir said Sirhan went often to the Pasadena library.Library records confirm he borrowed books during the so-called 'white fog' period. Sirhan's mother said her son `..stayed at home for over a year (sic) with no job'(October 1966 to September 1967). Sirhan, by his mother's account, often drove her to work during the time he was unemployed. On 9th September 1967 Sirhan began work at John Weidner's health food store.Weidner reported no long periods of absence up to the time Sirhan left his employ in March 1968. So how did Sirhan `emerge(ed) from this `white fog' in March 1968, (and) joined the (Rosicrucians)' as Evans states? (Author's note: Sirhan actually joined the Rosicrucians in June 1966.) And, as I point out in my review of Evans' book in Crime Magazine, ([...] ), Sirhan's movements in the three month period before the assassination leave no time unaccounted for.

Dominick Dunne is wrong - this book will not change history.

Author "johnnybrooklyn"

Dishy Non-Fiction Beach Read, August 7, 2004

The Cast of Characters in this book is unequaled for sheer social and political wattage: Bobby, Jack, Ari, Jackie, Princess Lee, Marilyn, Maria, Gore, Truman -- top-drawer icons of the 50's and 60's who possessed the cachet of first-name-only reocognizability. "Nemesis" gives the confluence of these starcrossed lovers -- and trust me, they all slept together -- a bloodless quality, as though we have stumbled into a smoky room in Hell where deals with the devil are made. But first we meet Christina, the daughter for whom the yacht (upon which so much of the power sex in this book takes place) is named. Mere months before her suicide, bright but doomed Christina drops a bombshell over lunch with the author, illustrating a connection between Bobby Kennedy's assassination and Aristotle Onassis' money.

Within each family many secrets were held, from each other and from the world. "Nemesis" depicts the outer edge of an age where secrecy was still available from the press as well, and politicians and other celebrities were able to live in half-shadow, to disguise the emptiness of their arranged lives. Their wanton dance of destruction in this environment is fascinating to watch. If the author had said, in one of his many footnotes, that he had strapped an old gypsy woman to a lie detector machine and verified that she was responsible for placing the curse on the Onassis and Kennedy clans, I'd believe him. You can't read about young Alexander Onassis dying in a plane crash without thinking of John Kennedy, Jr. Obviously, there is a pox on both their houses. How else can you explain
so much unhappiness and loss in the midst of so much privilege and wealth?

The story of Kennedy and Onassis lends itself to conspiracy theories. (Look at the two names together . . . each has seven letters with two consonants in the middle; that's got to mean something!) Mr. Evans has familiarized himself with the voluminous material available on the topic (including Anthony Summers "Goddess," which places Bobby in Marilyn's house the day she died) and he hacks through the forest of speculation surrounding the families with a silent chainsaw, stylishly, but at times indelicately, providing a stream of jaw-dropping facts and sublime quotes which recall Truman Capote as he decimated his beloved socialites in "La Cote Basque."

In fact, Mr. Evans runs the risk of casting doubt upon the veracity of his book because he's obviously having such a good time with the antics of his monsters . . . it is a tale about shady tale-tellers after all, and truth really is stranger than fiction. But to those as curious as Mr. Evans is about this era, his suppositions have the ring of truth to them.

In the absence of empathy or compassion, however, this book suffers. Every one of these creatures, with the exception of poor Maria Callas, seems to exercise their worst motivation at every opportunity.

Although the author makes it hard to see the principals as anything more than a pack of horny, sociopathic vampires drawn to each other in some kind of weird, karmic death embrace, you get the feeling he has given you the goods. I honestly feel I never need to read another word on Kennedy or Onassis after "Nemesis." Nor do I want to. (We want to see them hoisted up, but we don't necessarily want to see them beaten with sticks.)

Peter Evans has supplied a great read that appeals -- in spite of the occasional feeling that, even with all the footnotes and attributions and acknowledgements, he might not have it quite yet. There is the whiff of speculation. After all, Christina Onassis loathed Jacqueline Kennedy. So Evans has buttressed his central revelation with several sources who back him up in his assumption. It seems credible. "Nemesis" reads like a political thriller, which indeed it is, a real-life
"Manchurian Candidate." And if it's true, it is easily one of the most incredible and horrifying stories of our time

It's the kind of book where you stop at times and marvel at how beautifully, and savagely, written it is. And how talented Peter Evans is.

[Nov 15, 2013] Journalist Seymour Hersh on the truth behind JFK

Uploaded on Dec 6, 2010

Pullitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. In his book about JFK, "The Dark Side of Camelot," Hersh reveals how Kennedy plotted to kill Castro; how Kennedy's affair with Judith Exner left him vulnerable to blackmail; Kennedy's relationship with Marilyn Monroe; and his plans to pull out of Vietnam, but not before his re-election.

Frances Morey

Hersh sounds like he is blaming the victim. He focuses on behavior and attitudes that could have changed, and if we believe the things he says in that graduation address in 1963, did change, maybe as a result of the time he spent with Mary Pinchot Meyer, who idealistically believed in the power of peace.

Frances Morey

This speech is likely what sealed the deal in his assassination. He was talking peace and that is dangerous to the interests of the Military Industrial Complex. It can be found on YouTube as the Speech to the graduating class at American University in June of 1963.

Cris Columbo

Seymour Hersh is a traitor to America. Hersh has consistently demonstrated his allegiance to Israel & his Zionist coreligionists. At every turn he postulates defenses & propaganda that divert the American public from seeing his true motivation and sworn allegiance.

Patrick Alaggio

Hersh is full of BS and not up on current facts in this interview. Kennedy was mending bridges with Kruschev and through Kruschev with Castro, JFK inherited the assassination efforts of the CIA, which he swore to splinter into 1,000 pieces.

Jargon Ellie

This guy is a joke! What drugs is he on? Only Shills, Godbotherers and bitter people would believe this or even care. Why do JFK's sexual proclivities affect his occupation? They don't. Both he and Jackie were unfaithful, it was a game. She owned up to at least 2 affairs with William Holden and Gino Agnelli. He was a good President who saved the world from M.A.D. RIP.

larry wheeler

hoover was blackmailing jfk yet meyer lansky blackmailed hoover with photos of edgar giving clyde a blowjob on a palm beach balcony. the head of the fbi chasing reds and bankrobbers while the mafia had cut up the whole country.

Baza -> postmodern jerk

Kennedy initiated the Vietnam war, he authorized the use of napalm and chemical warfare against Vietnamese civilians which killed millions of innocent people, including women and children. All this bullshit about Kennedy taking on the establishment is total propaganda.

amscia

Disinformation and character assassination are popular CIA and FBI tactics. Hoover was a master of these tactics. They were hiring people without morals (like this author) to make false statements and repeatedly banging public minds with these lies and fake stories.

[Nov 15, 2013] Dr. Jerome Corsi: CIA Involved in JFK Assassination

Investigative journalist Dr. Jerome Corsi says Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone in assassinating President Kennedy. Corsi says the CIA was involved in the killing that Corsi describes as a triumph of the "new world order".

craxd1

Even though we have more and more people exposing what happened, and who was involved, I do not think the US government will ever admit to anything, especially about Johnson, even after George Bush Sr. passes on, which wont be much longer, over his failing health. The CIA will surely not stand for the information being released, as it would almost convict them to the point of closing the agency, permanently. JFK wanted them closed before he was killed.

Barry DeHatchett

Anti-Castro Cubans, Big Oil, Federal Reserve, Bankers, Secret Societies, Military Industrial Complex, Joint Chiefs, Mafia, CIA, FBI, LBJ, Union Leaders, Texas Police, and everyone else that hated JFK must have done it.

[Nov 15, 2013] Mae Brussell: Pentagon's destruction of JFK Assassination Evidence (12-11-1977)

Jan 28, 2012

Originally broadcast December 11, 1977.

Murder of Donald Donaldson, J.F. Kennedy Witness. Six FBI Agents killed. Pentagon destruction of J.F. Kennedy Assassination.

[Nov 14, 2013] FBI v. The First Amendment: The US Government's Investigation of Antiwar.com by Adam Dick

November 13, 2013 | Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Federal Bureau of Investigation documents released last week reveal the FBI investigated Antiwar.com, a website regularly publishing content critical of US foreign policy, for at least six years based on the content and audience of the antiwar.com website, as well as an asinine mistake by the FBI.

According to Julia Harumi Mass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which is representing Antiwar.com in a lawsuit against the FBI, the FBI produced in response to a document request in the lawsuit documents confirming "that the FBI targeted and spied on Antiwar.com [and the website's founding editors Eric] Garris and [Justin] Raimondo based on their First Amendment protected activity and kept records about that activity in violation of federal law." Mass elaborates on the anti-press freedom justifications for the investigation:

One of the factors that prompted the FBI to investigate the editors of the online magazine was that Justin Raimondo writes under this pseudonym. The content of a writer’s published opinions and whether they write under a pseduonym [sic] should never be used to characterize someone as a potential threat to national security, or justify an FBI investigation. The First Amendment protects anonymous speech too. News articles and the comments of the public should not be included in FBI intelligence files unless they’re necessary to a real criminal investigation.

The second flawed factor that prompted the FBI investivgation [sic] is that “many individuals worldwide…including individuals who are currently under investigation” view the website. Presumably people around the world, “including individuals who are currently under [FBI] investigation” view all kinds of websites and news sources. Being part of a successful media outlet should not make a journalist suspicious and should not be the basis for government surveillance.

In addition, Mass points to a mistake as a third factor prompting the investigation:

The third flawed and incorrect factor was the FBI’s mistaken conclusion that Eric Garris had threatened to hack the FBI website. In fact, Garris reported to the FBI that he was the recipient of a hacking threat to Antiwar.com. After reporting this threat, he was instructed to forward the email to the FBI, which he did. The FBI later concluded that Garris had threatened to hack the FBI website and placed him under suspicion.

It is an odd mistake for the FBI to interpret Garris's reporting of a hacking threat against the Antiwar.com website as a threat by Garris against the FBI's website. The flub up could have been rectified and an illegitimate investigation potentially prevented by just double-checking Garris's communication with the FBI. Instead, the asinine mistake remained uncorrected, allowing the investigation to proceed with a justification not rooted in concern about First Amendment-protected expression.

Of course, Garris, in reporting a website hacking threat to the FBI, was doing just what the FBI prominently recommends on its home page:

Reporting Crime
You can report violations of U.S. federal law or submit Information in a criminal or terrorism investigation as follows:
Submit a tip electronically
Contact your local FBI office
Contact your nearest overseas office
Report online crime or e-mail hoaxes

The FBI investigation of Antiwar.com began in 2002, the same year Attorney General John Ashcroft released new guidelines for domestic investigations that did away with restraints built into prior FBI guidelines adopted after examination of FBI and other government entities' abuses by the 1976 Church Committee investigations. The Electronic Privacy Privacy Information Center (EPIC) relates here the history of US attorneys general amending the 1976 guidelines periodically over the years, including making significant changes in 1983, to piecemeal strip away liberty protections. In an informative memorandum, which may be read here, ACLU Washington National Office Legislative Counsel Marvin J. Johnson explains how the 2002 guidelines changes allowed the FBI "to spy on domestic groups even when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing" and FBI investigations to "continue longer, with intrusive techniques and with less oversight, even when they produce no evidence of crime."

Of course, also throughout 2002, the George W. Bush Administration, along with advocates in Congress and the media, was working to increase public support for a proposed war in Iraq and maintain public support for an ongoing war in Afghanistan. A website featuring content critical of US foreign policy could hinder these public relations efforts.

Many Americans hoped that the election of a new president and his appointing of a new FBI director would end abuses such as the investigation of Antiwar.com and its founding editors based on shoddy and legally-dubious justifications. However, President Barack Obama has promised more of the same—not change—at the FBI. Obama first extended by two years the term of President George W. Bush appointed FBI Director Robert Mueler, while praising Mueler for setting "the gold standard" for leading the FBI. Next, Obama nominated for the position James B. Comey, Jr. who, at the nomination announcement, effusively praised Mueller's work as director.

Now that public opposition has prevented a US attack on Syria, will FBI investigations of individuals and groups opposing US foreign interventions increase?

As with US wars, strong public opposition is key for restricting the US government's illegitimate investigation and harassment of people and groups that oppose US government policies and actions.

[Oct 31, 2013] Americans have been lied to by Alec Baldwin

Message from the captain of Red October...
October 31, 2013 | newstatesman.com

Edward Snowden saw things he thought we, as Americans, should know. He valued the truth and thought you could handle it, says Alec Baldwin.

Obviously, we’ve been here before. The United States has been here before. The friction between democracy (or democracy as we like to think of it) and capitalism has often created agonising tensions and dramatic upheavals for America. Those spasms left us at least as demoralised as many Americans feel in the wake of the Edward Snowden-NSA revelations. The reality that the government is spying on Americans on a wholesale level, seemingly indiscriminately, doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, given the assumed imperatives of the post- 9/11 security state. People seem more stricken by the fact that Barack Obama, who once vowed to close Guantanamo, has adopted CIA-NSA policies regarding domestic spying, as well as by government attempts to silence, even hunt down, the press.

Americans, in terms of their enthusiasm for defending their beloved democratic principles in the face of an ever more muscular assault on those principles by the state in the name of national security, are exhausted. If you are a “boomer”, like me, and have lived through the past five decades with any degree of political efficacy, you can draw a line from JFK’s assassination to the subsequent escalation of the Vietnam war, on to 1968 with the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Chicago Democratic Convention and Nixon’s resurrection; from there, to Kent State, the Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s re-election, Watergate, Nixon’s resignation, Ford’s pardon, Carter’s one term and out, the curious Iran hostage situation, Reagan (who brings back a degree of the charm and affability that died in Dallas), Iran Contra, Oliver North, Bush the First (as in first CIA director to become president), Iraq the First, Clinton kills welfare, Gingrich shuts down the Congress, Clinton’s impeachment, the 2000 election, Bush v Gore, Bush the Second, 9/11, Iraq the Second, “Mission Accomplished”, the Swift Boaters, Afghanistan, Gitmo, Assange, Manning, Snowden.

I have left out a good deal. There is, of course, a lot that’s positive running through the American narrative during this time, but I think more bad than good. You look at all of this laid end to end and you’d think the US might have had a nervous breakdown. I believe it actually did.

Americans are pretty basic. Generally speaking, they are a “suit up and show up” type of crowd. In spite of images of rampant obesity running throughout the country, gun laws that border on madness and our debt ceiling made of Swiss cheese, more Americans wake up every day to participate in an experience defined by work, sacrifice and moderate self-denial. They are workaholics who exercise, eat fairly well, drink in moderation and refrain from drugs and extramarital affairs while, perhaps, fantasising about either or both. They are devoted to family, friends, churches and social organisations. They are generous with their money as well as time. When disaster strikes, America is a good place to be.

But one thing that Americans fail at, miserably, is taking their government to task when that government has lied to them, defrauded them, covered up its crimes and otherwise blocked them from knowing essential truths. In political terms, Americans have a strong devotion to afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable. They have a hard time contemplating any meaningful overhaul of the rules of their political system, preferring to say “Please, sir, may I have another” in the face of abuses of power. Americans, despite all of their claims to an “exceptionalism” among the nations of the world, have been lied to for so long about so many relevant topics, they have lost sight of what the truth is.

It seems more difficult, at least to me, to effectively assess historical events that came before my lifetime with the same perspective as those I lived through. Pearl Harbor, Nazi appeasement, Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Pumpkin Papers feel slightly more remote, more like history, than what’s happened since 1958, the year that I was born. And two great and urgent factors that emerged during my lifetime, I believe, have kept us in a type of karmic stall and prevented the US from growing into what it might have been. One is the Vietnam war and the other is the assassination of President Kennedy.

Kennedy died 50 years ago. Since then, Americans have honoured his legacy, or their somewhat beatified version of it, in every conceivable way. Countless schools, highways, bridges and even airports have been renamed in his honour. Kennedy is not on Mount Rushmore, but in the hearts and minds of many of my generation he exists on his own equally exalted plateau. Yet while a mere photo of Kennedy can still overwhelm one with a sense of loss, while innumerable books have been written and countless words have flowed that till the soil of who Kennedy was, what he stood for and what might have been if he had lived, Americans have not done the one thing you would expect such deep affection for a fallen hero would demand: we still don’t know who killed him.

How much has been written on this subject? Too much, perhaps. To wander into the rabbit hole of JFK assassination theory, one must prepare for a Lewis Carroll-esque tumble through a record, half a century in the making, that is among the greatest lies any society has ever been asked to swallow in the name of moving forward in order to heal itself.

No sane person believes Kennedy was killed by one bitter ex-marine. To be an American today is to accept this awful truth and to live your life with unresolved doubts about your country as a result. Those who promote the Oswald theory do so knowing that some Americans are still incapable of seeing the truth, or they are still working on behalf of the portion of the US intelligence community that remains invested in the cover-up.

Kennedy died because a hell-bent confluence of anti-Castro, pro-interventionist Vietnam war architects believed, after the Bay of Pigs, that Kennedy didn’t have the mettle that a cold war US commander-in-chief required. They swore that Kennedy had to go for the sake of national security. Enter a crew of FBI-monitored American Mafia bosses who had their own beef with the Kennedy White House. A little Fair Play for Cuba here, a bit of David Ferrie there, a touch of David Atlee Phillips and a dollop of Jack Ruby, and it all comes out in a way that adds up to more than a Mannlicher-Carcano and a sixth-floor window. Anyone with eyes can see that Kennedy was shot from the front. Why we haven’t demanded answers after all this time relates to why what happens to Snowden seems so essential to our future.

Snowden saw things he thought we, as Americans, should know. He valued the truth and thought you could handle it. He thought you needed it. Here, in America, 50 years after Kennedy was murdered, after 50 years of destroyed or altered records and vital evidence, someone risked his career, reputation and even his life to bring you the truth about what US intelligence is keeping from you.

I am uncomfortable, no doubt, with the idea that exposing secret government information could jeopardise the lives of US troops or operatives. The efforts of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden carry with them the possible risk of real harm to US forces and agents. But I believe that without a random appearance by the truth now and then, from whatever source, we learn nothing. We are thus doomed to remain on a course bound for not only threats to our own security from within, but a spiritual death as well. As long as we choose to remain in the dark we risk a further erosion of our true nature.

And then we become a nation defined only by our consumption. We are closer to that now than we have ever been. Watergate is the dividing line in the American consciousness, separating the time when we suspected from the time we confirmed certain truths about our government. Setting aside Nixon’s own political campaign operations, Watergate’s subsequent revelations about Vietnam alone changed for ever the way a generation viewed their country and its motives. The government knew the war could not be won and yet ventured on out of pride, greed, ignorance and hatred. Fifty years laced with singlebullet theory, Eric Starvo Galt, the LAPD destroying the RFK crime scene, J Edgar Hoover, the Chicago Seven gagged in court, Nixon, Laos, Howard Hunt, Daniel Ellsberg, Woodward and Bernstein, gas shortages, airline deregulation, Ed Meese, Richard Secord, Dan Quayle, “Read My Lips”, Shutdown One, Kenneth Starr, Richard Mellon Scaife, hanging chads, Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US, yellowcake, Valerie Plame, Cheney, birthers, Shutdown Two.

That is quite a run and a reality that bears certain consequences. I am mistrustful of my government. I think it lies to us, reflexively and without a scintilla of compunction, on a regular basis. That mistrust began on 22 November 1963. In honour of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, I stand for truth. I stand for more truth and transparency in government. The intelligence community believes that most Americans don’t want to know how the sausage is made. But I can handle it. I think most Americans, a pretty tough bunch, can handle it, too.

Alec Baldwin is an actor and author. Follow him on Twitter: @AlecBaldwin

[Oct 26, 2013] If We're Spying, Are We Still 'Allies' ?

NYTimes.com

Leaked documents indicate that the U.S. has spied on allies: the European Union, Brazil, France, Germany.

Is this a sign that the concept of “ally” should be redefined? Or, in the modern world, is such surveillance not really “spying”?

Diplomacy Requires Trust Among Allies

NYTimes.com

The Obama administration contends that a large portion of U.S. espionage activities are carried out to combat terrorism, but this does not justify the actions brought to light by the recent Edward Snowden-originated revelations. If Washington undermines its own leadership or that of its allies, the collective ability of the West to combat terrorism will be compromised. Allied leaders will have no incentive to put their own militaries at risk if they cannot trust U.S. leadership. Foreign leaders and their publics -- not just the ideological and murderous nonstate actors that have made terrorism a global phenomenon -- may demand retribution against Washington.

Citizen, RI

Diplomacy is based on trust, but not absolute trust. It would be dangerous and foolish for any nation to completely trust another. Anyone with an even rudimentary understanding of history and therefore human behavior knows why that is true.

Ted Folke, Pattaya, Thailand

The NSA may have an important role to play in national security matters, but right now it is a hi-tech Frankenstein run amok. Can anyone explain to me how invading the privacy and laws of our closest allies helps protect our national security? I think not.

However, if the real purpose is theft of economic secrets or blackmail - well, then we are have entered a world worthy of the STASI in the Academy Award-winning German film THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

And when the NSA is run by orivate contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton - well, it doesn't take much imagination to see how this private information could be abused. Just ask former CIA Director Davis Petraeus.

Bottom line is the United States is in a vulnerable position both economically and politically these days, and the country needs all the friends it can get. POTUS needs to send Clapper pacing and seriously clip the wings of the NSA - otherwise, one can assume the NSA has J. Edgar Hoovered him!

George, Culpeper, VA

When Charles DeGualle said that he did not need to see pictures of the Russian buildup of Russian missiles on Cuba because the word of the President of the United States was sufficient for him, was it because he had already seen evidence of the buildup but had decided to keep quiet to "les Americains"?

The French are well known to have a robust spy apparatus worldwide, as are the Israelis and a few other of our allies. However, spying of this type personally directed against a head of state should be reserved for our adversaries, not our allies, because of the type of consequences which are now unfolding.

Taxie, Chicago, IL

That espionage that had been going on in the pre-computer, pre-internet is irrelevant to this debate. The scale is completely different.

The target is eveyone. The only way for the Europeans to regain trust in the US is to be on equal foot with them in this -- meaning, resurrecting EU computer manufacturing, building an own, independent internet, and own software, own hardware. Would do miracles for their economy too.

Humanitarian, S E Asia

There is the soft power resource that the US is now losing. So, eventually such acts will do no more than expediting degradation of America as a super power.

Look Ahead, WA

We are doing a lot more than spying in Germany, we have literally been an occupying force since WWII. Even with the closure of more than 150 installations in Germany we still have nearly 50 left. We have 71,000 active military personnel in Europe, 46,000 in Germany alone and at least that number or more of military and civilian contractors.

What is our mission in Europe anyway? Not defending against the Soviet Union. If we are keeping the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal open, it is clearly for the benefit of the Europeans now that we are no longer dependent on Middle East oil.

Prosperous Germany spends 1.4% of GDP on defense and the US spends 4.7%.

I think its time to let Germany and Europe manage their own defense in coordination with us instead of leaning on the US. Its time to unwind our 175,000 foreign deployments and a lot more contractors, some making 6 figure salaries.

The terrorism argument presented here is particularly specious. Hundreds of thousands of deployed personnel in Europe and elsewhere failed to stop a couple of teenagers from a massive bombing attack in Boston with fireworks and kitchen pots, while warnings from Russia and a previous triple murder were not investigated.

Chrysoprase, District of Columbia

I don't get it. So the US isn't needed for defense in Europe because the major theat is gone, but at the same time Europe doesn't spend enough on defense and are therefore leaning on the US. Also, the US is actually there to keep the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal open... which refers to what - the Iraq war?

The bases in Germany were critical to the last two wars the US fought, both for logistics and for treatment of wounded soldiers. Without those bases or an equivalent substitute, the US is not able to project power in the middle east. All that's at stake for Germany is losing revenue in some economically weak regions.

Not sure about the terrorism bit, but there is a case to be made that much of the sigint from the region happens in European locations.

Look Ahead, WA

Map showing virtually no US shipping through Suez Canal but a vital shipping link for Europe to Indian Ocean (Persian Gulf, Africa, Asia):

Egypt Crisis How Important The Suez Canal, Shipping Routes Are To The US, Europe Business News Minyanville's Wall Street

Imagine Europe positioning 150,000 military and contractors and a lot of hardware in several countries in Central America to protect the Panama Canal and then invading Venezuela for nationalizing their oil sector, destabilizing Latin America.

Its correct that Germany was a key staging area and medical evacuation zone for the Iraq War. But that's the point, we probably would have shut down much more of German presence by now if we hadn't started a bloody and costly war in Iraq, destabilizing the region and leaving Iran the most powerful country.

[Oct 26, 2013] Spying on Allies Betrays American Values by Jameel Jaffer

NYTimes.com

The revelation that the National Security Agency is engaged in dragnet surveillance of American allies is just another indication, if one were needed, that America’s surveillance laws are in desperate need of reform. As we’ve seen, those laws give the N.S.A. broad authority to spy on people living in the United States. They give the agency even broader authority to spy on anyone living abroad. The N.S.A. appears to be using that authority aggressively — even exceeding it.

The N.S.A. should focus on individuals believed to present real threats. Surely this cannot justify dragnets on entire populations.

The N.S.A.’s defenders argue that foreigners living outside the United States do not have constitutionally protected privacy rights. This argument is a distraction. The United States is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which obliges it to respect the privacy rights of non-Americans as well as Americans. And whatever the constitutional rights of Berliners and Parisians, our surveillance policies should reflect our values. Americans once rebelled because King George III authorized warrantless searches of their houses. Now an American military agency is carrying out the digital equivalent of such searches the world over.

Charles, Clifton, NJ

To those detractors of Jameel's position, I think they are missing the subtle point that there is an actual expansion of surveillance by the NSA given the growth of technology. The ethics and even the political efficacy of the expansion of intelligence into nearly any domain remain at best a matter of debate today.

Certainly Jameel appears somewhat idealistic, but so does the other side appear overly optimistic of its capabilities. Advocates these new expanded intelligence measures rely on our fear, uncertainty and doubt to sell us the imagined efficacy of their intelligence mechanisms with the promise that the US will be able to prevent that next terrorist act.

Responding as one of the posters here did, I can say that this hope of effective surveillance is laughable as well.

It's a balancing act. There will always be an intelligence apparatus. Government will always apologize for it. In the extreme cases in (hopefully) the past, intelligence organs have tortured people in the name of Christian democracy. Let's see if we can inject some ethical behavior into intelligence functions in this digital age.

Allies Have Always Spied on Each Other by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones

How easily and cheaply professors can be bought those data ;-)

NYTimes.com

... Oh, and the Brits were in the 1921 poker game, too, decoding U.S. communications. Twenty years later, the British intelligence official Alastair Denniston commented on a proposal that in light of the now “intimate” relationship between America and Britain, the U.K. should cease to intercept US diplomatic telegrams. This was an admission that spying on U.S. top officials had been routine in the peaceful ‘20s and ‘30s. One interpretation of today’s British reticence on the Angela Merkel affair is that business continues as usual for British interceptors.

So it’s always happened, and no doubt always will happen. Professions of shock indicate either naivety or political opportunism. Either way, however, the shock of revelation is not trivial. As in the Japanese case, there can be serious repercussions. For a national leader to appear to have been off-guard and open to manipulation can be humiliating. The challenge for America is to keep itself informed without offending its allies.

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is emeritus professor of American history at the University of Edinburgh and author of "In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence."

Jon Chinn, Metropolis

Terrible historical analogies. You learned how to make these comparisons where? I think some graduate schools owe you moneuy back, as comparing early 20th century behavior in wartime to 2013 is, well, just ahistorical.

The old line, all countries do it, don't be naive, is such a tired trope.

This is NOT the nation we want to be. What about you?

AKS, Denver

What an empty contribution to the topic. I actually agree with his premise but what a way not to make a point. Far better reference is the Israeli spying on the US recently in the headlines or the leaked diplomatic cables indicating French spying on EU negotiations.

e coli, Tucson, AZ

Historians will be surprised to learn from Professor Jeffreys-Jones that Britain and German were allies during WWI.

Christian, Stuttgart

You are citing three examples of spying which either happen in or even triggered a war. And then you say this sort of spying is business as usual. its a bit silly - no ?

Plus - in IT and communication there is no 100% security. Ask any secirity guy. Look at all the power and cleverness of the NSA and then look at little Snowden, who made of with all their dirty underwear.

Now consider that apparently the White House has passed down A.Merkels phone number and that a direct attack on that phone has been initiated, apparently under supervision from the US embassy in Berlin.

This is the state of affairs. This is not about 'spying `Everybody does it.'
Rather this is how you loose credibilty, integrity and trust.

Jack, Illinois

Never knew Chancellor Angela Merkel was such a Drama Queen. Now we know that she is one and will have to treat her that way. Just like President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil with her similar protestations to the United States. Which of course has come to nothing, Rousseff had to put up a good show on her recent international stage at the UN. They are all like Captain Renault in Casablanca, "I am shocked, Shocked!"

Joseph, Boston, MA

Of course allies spy on each other. That's why Jonathan Pollard is in prison.

Peter, New Orleans, LA

Of course England spied on germany during WWI. They were officially at war.

The relevant information in this post is that England spied on the US during the interwar period, which I did not know. I imagine it's fair to say the countries were close to being allies during this period, but I'm not an expert on Anglo-US interwar relations.

So, just as England would have spied on the USA before WWII, to learn as much as possible about the US diplomatic outlook, I assume the US spies on our ally germany, to learn as much as possible about their diplomatic outlook.

The cold realpolitk reason for this is to strengthen the interests of the US. For instance, the position of allies like France and Germany is an important factor when considering something like a milatary strike on Syria, and private communications between foreign government officials could yield valuable insights to this end.

I have fewer moral qualms about this than I do about our goverment spying on private citizens. Legally, I don't know if we've violated German law or any treaty agreement between the US and Germany. (This has violated the spirit of some german law I'm sure, however, if the intellegence was obtained by, say, tapping into a satellite, then german law does not have jurisdiction, only a treaty between US and Germany would apply).

However, we seem to have violated some sort of unwritten diplomatic understanding, and that's unfortunate as it has harmed our interests. Hopefully we can ptach things up.

Economist's View 'Unemployment Edges Down as People Continue to Leave the Workforce'

How about a Reaganesque tax hike and spend like he signed Jan 6, 1983 when unemployment was 10.8%?

Reagan's remarks before signing the law hiking taxes 125% and increasing government spending to create jobs:

"Today, as this bill becomes law, America ends a period of decline in her vast and world-famous transportation system. Because of the prompt and bipartisan action of Congress, we can now ensure for our children a special part of their heritage -- a network of highways and mass transit that has enabled our commerce to thrive, our country to grow, and our people to roam freely and easily to every corner of our land.

"This bill was possible because of the contributions of so many Senators and Congressmen, many of whom are standing here today. Without their leadership, cooperation, and determination, this bill would never have become law.

"Anyone who's driven the family car lately knows what it's like to hit a pothole -- a frustration, expense, a danger caused by poor road maintenance. Woeful tales of highway disrepair have become part of the trucking lore. Bridges are crumbling from under us in many of our older cities while growth is being stifled in our newer ones, because the transportation system can't cope with the expanding population.

"Overall, we have 4,000 miles of Interstate Highway that needs resurfacing and 23,000 bridges that need replacement or repair. Our cities need new buses, new or rebuilt railcars, and track improvements that will cost $50 billion during the next 10 years. Common sense tells us that it will cost a lot less to keep the system we have in good repair than to let it disintegrate and have to start over from scratch. Clearly this program is an investment in tomorrow that we must make today. It will allow us to complete the interstate system, make most -- the interstate repairs and strengthen and improve our bridges, make all of us safer, and help our cities meet their public transit needs.

"When we first built our highways, we paid for them with a gas tax, a highway user fee that charged those of us who benefited most from the system. It was a fair concept then, and it is today. But that levy has not been increased in more than 23 years. And it no longer covers expenses. The money for today's improvements will come from increasing the gas tax, or the highway user fee, by the equivalent of a nickel a gallon -- about $30 a year for most motorists.

"The repairs and construction are expected to stimulate about 170,000 jobs, with an additional 150,000 jobs created in related industries. Another provision in this bill adds up to 6 weeks of unemployment benefits for people who have used up all their unemployment insurance. Such badly needed assistance will put more than half a billion dollars into the pockets of family budgets of our long-term unemployed.

"While the action we take today will bring some relief to those of us who so want to work and yet cannot find jobs, its principal benefit will be to ensure that our roads and transit systems are safe, efficient, and in good repair. The state of our transportation system affects our commerce, our economy, and our future.

"That's why I'm pleased today to sign House resolution 6211, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act for 1982. It will help America enter a brighter and a more prosperous decade ahead. And so saying, and before the bridges fall down, I'll get this bill signed. [Laughter]"

That 125% tax hike followed corporate tax hikes a few months earlier, and a payroll tax hike to preserve Social Security a few months later in April. Unemployment fell back to what it was when he won the election, reversing the unemployment caused by his disastrous job killing tax cuts.

Shutdown won't hurt Tea Party Column

Republican "marginals" such as Webster are vulnerable especially in states that President Obama won in 2012. There are 16 of them, and even if the Democrats win them all in 2014, it will still not give them the majority they need to take back the House. Even so, 16 Democratic wins would dramatically change the dynamics in the House by making Republican control vulnerable to even a handful of defections.

All of which may make moderate House Republicans even more vulnerable. They will need to keep their wary eyes not only on Democrats but also on threats from their own party. The Tea Party that reviles the moderates as RINOs — Republicans in name only — will likely challenge them in primary elections.

There is, of course, an entire year between now and the 2014 elections, and it is certainly possible that the agonies of 2013 will fade from the memories of the voters. But if those major sticking points over the budget and the debt are simply kicked down to road until next year, the memory of voters will be fresher.

Putting the shutdowns and brushes with default behind them as quickly as possible is imperative if these endangered moderate Republicans are to survive.

[Oct 20, 2013] 'Polarization'

"What would we call such a society? A banana republic"
October 19, 2013 | Economist's View
Comments on this post from Dan Little?:

Polarization: Suppose a country had come to the brink of financial catastrophe because the two parties in its legislature were unable to find compromises in the public interest. Suppose further that the discourse in that country had evolved towards a highly toxic and hateful stream of anathemas by one party against the other. And suppose that one party projects an unprecedented amount of vitriol and hatred towards the leader of the other party, the president of the country. How would we describe this state of affairs? And what hypotheses might we consider to explain how this state of affairs came to be?

First, description. This seems like a society on the brink of political breakdown. It is riven by hard hatreds, with almost no strands of civility and shared values to hold it together. One side portrays the other in extreme terms, with few voices that insist on the basic decency of the other party. (There is one maverick voice, perhaps, who breaks ranks with the extremists of his party, and who expresses a decent respect for his political foes. He is accused of being too soft -- perhaps a secret ally of the opposition.)

Here is how the point is put in a recent piece in the Washington Post:

Today there is a New Confederacy, an insurgent political force that has captured the Republican Party and is taking up where the Old Confederacy left off in its efforts to bring down the federal government. (link)
Consider this map of the distribution and density of slaveholding in the South that Abraham Lincoln found very useful in the run-up to the Civil War; link
.

Coast_Survey_Slave_Map-1500_opt

Compare this to a map created by Richard Florida in the Atlantic link:

congressdistricts_final_big-01

There is a pretty strong alignment between the two maps.

So where does the extremism come from? There is a fairly direct hypothesis that comes to mind: racism and racial resentment. We are facing a real inversion of the white-black power relation that this country has so often embraced. Perhaps this is just very hard for the president's opponents to accept. Perhaps it creates a curdling sense of resentment that is difficult to handle. This is certainly the impression created by the recent incident involving the waving of a confederate flag in front of the White House, an act not so different from a cross-burning in front of the home of a black family. And in fact, there is a pretty striking correlation between the heart of this anti-government activism and the distribution of slaveholding in the United States before the Civil War that is revealed in the two maps above.

Another possibility is that it's really and truly about ideology. The right really hates the president because they think he advocates an extreme left set of policies. The problem with this idea is that the President is in fact quite moderate and centrist. The health care reforms he spearheaded were themselves advocated by conservative think tanks only a few years earlier; the President's agenda has not given much attention to poverty; and the President has avoided serious efforts at redistribution through more progressive taxation. So in fact the President represents the center, not the left, on most economic policies.

So where do these trends seem to be taking us? I used the word "polarization" to describe the situation, but perhaps that is not quite accurate. The percentage of the electorate represented by the extremist faction is small -- nothing like a plurality, let alone majority, of the population. So the extremism in our politics is being driven by a fairly small segment of our society. Because of the extreme degree of gerrymandering that exists in many Congressional districts, though, these legislators are secure in their home districts. So we can't have a lot of hope in the idea that their own electorates will turn them out.

Maybe this society will cycle back to a more moderate set of voices and values. Maybe the public will express its displeasure with the extremist voices, and like good political entrepreneurs they will adapt. Maybe. But we don't seem to see the signs of thaw yet.

Michael Pettengill -> Joe Smith...

Obama has driven Republicans further to the right than ever by failing to occupy the ideological space that black radicals are supposed to occupy, whether the carpetbagger or the Black Panther Self Defense militia carrying hunting rifles for protection or the MLK opposing war and calling for anti-poverty programs that destroy the economy of the South based on sharecropping.

Instead, Obama is Reagan all over again. Conservatives weren't happy about how Reagan turned out, but for Obama being Reagan requires the Republicans be as far to the right of Reagan and Obama as conservatives have created the myth of the leftist liberal Democrats again the myth of Reagan from two decades of Soviet style rewriting of history.

I just love to point to Reagan's words on signing a 125% tax hike to fund stimulus job creation Jan 6, 1983:
http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/10683a.htm

Three months later, he hiked taxes to enshrine forever FDR's Social Security, Apr 20:
http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/42083a.htm

Can you imagine the attacks from Republicans if Obama said the following? Which Republican alive today, even out of the political game, would say this? Would Alan Greenspan admit he was involved in "saving" Social Security?

"This bill demonstrates for all time our nation's ironclad commitment to social security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire.

And this bill assures us of one more thing that is equally important. It's a clear and dramatic demonstration that our system can still work when men and women of good will join together to make it work.

Just a few months ago, there was legitimate alarm that social security would soon run out of money. On both sides of the political aisle, there were dark suspicions that opponents from the other party were more interested in playing politics than in solving the problem. But in the eleventh hour, a distinguished bipartisan commission appointed by House Speaker O'Neill, by Senate Majority Leader Baker, and by me began, to find a solution that could be enacted into law.

Political leaders of both parties set aside their passions and joined in that search. The result of these labors in the Commission and the Congress are now before us, ready to be signed into law, a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people.

Today, all of us can look each other square in the eye and say, ``We kept our promises.'' We promised that we would protect the financial integrity of social security. We have. We promised that we would protect beneficiaries against any loss in current benefits. We have. And we promised to attend to the needs of those still working, not only those Americans nearing retirement but young people just entering the labor force. And we've done that, too.

None of us here today would pretend that this bill is perfect. Each of us had to compromise one way or another. But the essence of bipartisanship is to give up a little in order to get a lot. And, my fellow Americans, I think we've gotten a very great deal.

A tumultuous debate about social security has raged for more than two decades in this country; but there has been one point that has won universal agreement: The social security system must be preserved. And rescuing the system has meant reexamining its original intent, purposes, and practical limits.

The amendments embodied in this legislation recognize that social security cannot do as much for us as we might have hoped when the trust funds were overflowing. Time and again, benefits were increased far beyond the taxes and wages that were supposed to support them. In this compromise we have struck the best possible balance between the taxes we pay and the benefits paid back. Any more in taxes would be an unfair burden on working Americans and could seriously weaken our economy. Any less would threaten the commitment already made to this generation of retirees and to their children.

We're entering an age when average Americans will live longer and live more productive lives. And these amendments adjust to that progress. The changes in this legislation will allow social security to age as gracefully as all of us hope to do ourselves, without becoming an overwhelming burden on generations still to come.

So, today we see an issue that once divided and frightened so many people now uniting us. Our elderly need no longer fear that the checks they depend on will be stopped or reduced. These amendments protect them. Americans of middle age need no longer worry whether their career-long investment will pay off. These amendments guarantee it. And younger people can feel confident that social security will still be around when they need it to cushion their retirement.

These amendments reaffirm the commitment of our government to the performance and stability of social security. It was nearly 50 years ago when, under the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American people reached a great turning point, setting up the social security system. F. D. R. spoke then of an era of startling industrial changes that tended more and more to make life insecure. It was his belief that the system can furnish only a base upon which each one of our citizens may build his individual security through his own individual efforts. Today we reaffirm Franklin Roosevelt's commitment that social security must always provide a secure and stable base so that older Americans may live in dignity.

And now before I sign this legislation, may I pause for a moment and recognize just a few of the people here who've done so much to make this moment possible. There are so many deserving people here today -- leaders of the Congress, all members of the Ways and Means and Finance Committees, and members of the Commission, up in front here, but it would be impossible to recognize them all. But, first, can I ask Alan Greenspan and members of the Commission -- I was going to say to stand -- [laughter] -- but there are others that are also standing here -- but the other members of the Commission to stand so that we can recognize them. Thank you. And their Chairman, Alan Greenspan.

And, now, as a special treat, I would like to ask two of our leaders from Congress -- first to step forward for a few words, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Tip O'Neill."

Lee A. Arnold:.

This broaches a huge discussion that we are going to be having for the next several months. I want to note a couple of baby steps:

A) Remember that this is how the Republican Party was born: on the brink of a polarized political-economic catastrophe. At that time, the question was whether new states admitted into the Union should be slave or free. The Democrats were almost entirely pro-slavery. Slave states meant more job opportunities for free white labor. The Whigs were divided on the issue, and they broke up. The new Republicans wanted free states, and Lincoln was the first new Repub president. We all know what happened next.

B) This time, it is NOT racist (though it certainly encourages racists).

C) All the parts of this new disaster were there already, in the GOP's astonishingly hateful reaction to Clinton. Most people now seem to forget the insane, toxic atmosphere that the Repubs created at that time.

D) It is a two- or three-part problem, a double- or triple-bind, that is going on. Be patient and try to wrap your mind around how this is working synergetically, because it is a doozy:

(1) The Repubs preach Thatcher-Reagan neoliberalism (e.g. "gov't is always inefficient," "tax cuts pay for themselves and cause growth," "gov't debt is dangerous," etc.) This is their religious mantra. Of course this stuff is nonsense (though many if not most Dems blabber it, too -- encouraged by the large number of economists who think Milton Friedman is a god -- but the Dems are more willing to entertain the thoughts of either gov’t or market solutions, on an empirical basis.) However, the Repubs have no other rhetorical strategies, indeed they may not be able to exist as a political party without these simple tropes.

(2) Not all Repubs may believe it absolutely, but since Reagan they have been preaching it to their most reliable voters, who are now mostly called the Teas, and who take it as true religion. Of course they have become a faction with power in the House, and so this is causing a split in the party, as Reaganomics runs into reality, (because tax cuts haven't been working, and because a bigger welfare state is unavoidable,) and the moderate Repub leaders are getting caught between the Teas, and governing responsibly.

(3) On top of this is something newly rediscovered in studies of climate change denialism (search-phrase "climate change communication"): There appears to be a social-group version of "cognitive bias" as developed by Kahneman & Tversky. This social version is similarly a growing area of empirical study. The key search-phrases are "motivated social cognition" and "cultural cognition". It is absolutely necessary to become a little familiar with this empirical literature. It is a real thing, and as a scientific result it is fascinating, and then frightening to consider: The basic idea of it is that people who feel their values are under attack will revert to their own insider-group beliefs, to fight the resulting systemic uncertainty and existential fear. Further, as people learn more, they do not correct themselves with the better knowledge: instead, they use the new knowledge to support their old beliefs. We see it in economists themselves, who recommend solutions for the economic crisis based on prior beliefs, then use their "science" to argue for their point of view. Of course both leftwing and rightwing are capable of falling prey to it, and now it has engulfed the GOP.

Put it together synergetically: the Repubs are pushing themselves further into something like a "social cognitive bias" to uphold inaccurate economic beliefs, while they cause two splits: one is within their own party, and another is between their party and scientific reality.

The fact that this scientific reality includes climate change may make this a global catastrophe.

Now, this doesn't doesn't mean that the Repubs won't do well in the next election, although they may appear to have temporarily botched it for themselves. Current demographics and gerrymandiering looks very good for them. Watch where the GOP takes it next: Into a full-court press to prevent Obamacare sign-ups. This is already happening in different ways at the state level, and the hacker websites are now predicting security breaches of the alternative national website. One of the two outcomes, i.e. whether Obamacare is publicly considered to be a qualified success, or an unmitigated failure, may decide control of both House and Senate.

Lee A. Arnold -> Peter K....

Well, Charlie Cook said that 14 more House seats are now in play for the election, due to the shutdown debacle, and this makes it possible for the Dems to win the House.

But it's still a year away, and voters don't have much memory beyond 3 months.

Demographics favors the Repubs this midterm, because younger voters tend not to vote in midterms, which also helped in 2010. Older voters don't realize that the Repubs don't intend to deliver upon the promises of smaller gov't, because the next spending cuts to support tax cuts for the rich would have to be spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare, or Defense.

Alex Blaze:.

I don't really see the correlation between the two maps. Note:

-The Black Belt's districts didn't sign the letter
-Virginia, which had a huge number of slaves, didn't have a single district sign the letter
-Along the Mississippi River, there are quite a few districts that didn't sign the letter
-Even the coastal areas of SC were less likely to sign the letter
-The Appalachian mid-South was more likely to sign the letter, but had a lower density of slaves

Other than that the South, generally, had more slaves, and the South, generally, is more likely to oppose the ACA, I really don't see the correlation. Getting down to the district level actually makes it apparent that the correlation isn't all the simple, probably because many of the descendents of those slaves voted for Obama and support the ACA.

What Little's post sounds like is a typical 2004 liberal rant about how every position on the right comes down to racism. Want to privatize SS? Must be because black people receive SS benefits. Picking fights with teachers' unions? schools? Because lots of teachers are black. The GOP wants more security at airports? Most likely to hassle racial minorities. Etc.

I'm not saying racism doesn't exist or that it doesn't motivate political thinking. It's just that there's a type of white liberal who doesn't really know how to argue in favor of these programs and against bad ideas so they instead make everything about racism because it's easier than actually knowing anything.

There are many possibilities why the right has gotten so extreme, and racism is high among them. There's also their general hatred of progressivism and downward redistribution (I don't remember the GOP welcoming Clinton's health care reform with open arms). There's political tribalism (i.e., anything Dems want is bad because they have to lose this game).

And the most obvious: income inequality. The rich are richer now than several decades ago, they control lots of media, enough to create a cocoon for their shock troops, and these folks live in a bubble where they actually believe that Obama is a leftist enacting leftist policy. I don't doubt the sincerity of many on the right; I just think they're wrong.

Little's choices are limited: 1) wrong because racism, and 2) right. Is it possible that they're just wrong and that that wrongness isn't 100% a result of racism? Because

Matt Young -> Matt Young...

But I cheat, not only looking at the data, but comparing it with the population mean center and the distribution of stimulus, as I remember it.

It looks like a full 65% of the Tea Party folks are east of the population center,(Texas Couny, Missouri), and they mostly surround DC, and they are mostly the same distribution that got stimulus, and they are likely small or medium states.

We are seeing the 30 Little Hoover states, and they just had a mini civil war with the Texas Republicans. Issue? The Little Hoovers thrive on discretionary spending, it is their multiplier greater than one. The main beak with Obamacare was crowding out discretionary spending.

The deal we got was simple, if you want peace, then the US Senate of Little Hoovers is now in charge.

Matt Young -> Matt Young...

I even counted them up. I have about 29 from the north and 33 from the south, and a few from old territories and middle states. So, clearly the maps are not related. No one on this blog will notice that fact, however. They will pick the key semantics and spin doonesbury fables for another 100 posts. Some stranger will come along and read my comment, and think we are delusional. Only on Thoma's blog do we get such humor.

EMichael -> Matt Young...

How many do you see north of the Mason Dixon Line that signed the letter.? I have four north of DC and west to Ohio.

And somehow you are shocked that the area around DC had a lot that signed the letter. Did you know Virginia was in the Confederacy?

Maybe you should hit the link cause your eyes ain't working too well:

"Half are in the South, and a quarter are in the Midwest. Not a single one is in the Northeast or the along the Pacific coast. All voted for Romney over Obama. As Lizza points out, using data from Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman, the average district in this "suicide caucus" was three-quarters white, compared to 63 percent white in the average House district."


I won't even bother to ask you to prove your "where the stimulus went inanity" came.

You make almost no sense every time you speak.

Matt Young -> EMichael...

The stimulus dots came from Jared. He posted how distributed the stimulus projects. Of course I, being from the colony, immedtaitely pulled up the population distribution. The dots yet again matched. I noted this at the time. The feeling among progressives is evidently to ignore the effects of mal democracy in the senate. The facts are facts; the tea party and the 30 little hoovers are the same faction. They did not derived from some ignoramous doonesbury fairy tale for simple minded progressives.

EMichael -> Matt Young...

I do not know who Jared is, and I really do not care to know.

Your rants about the Senate, as valid as they are, have absolutely no meaning under the Constitution and will never be changed in our lifetimes, and probably never in the history of the US. They are a total waste of time in terms of commenting on anything.

EMichael -> Matt Young...

And while you state " I read the data" it is clear you did not in other ways, focusing on Lincoln's map.

" To underscore how different the Tea Party base is, my colleague Charlotta Mellander at the Martin Prosperity Institute ran a simple correlation analysis looking at the share of a state’s congressional delegation that had signed the August letter to Boehner (and thereby made it into Lizza’s "suicide caucus") and key economic and demographic characteristics of the state. As usual, we point out that this is only a preliminary analysis, and that correlation does not equal causation. But a number of interesting patterns appear, in light of both the maps in this post and what others have written about these diehard anti-Obamacare Republicans in the past few weeks.

First off, Mellander found states with higher shares of suicide caucus districts to be less advantaged, less affluent, and less educated. The percentage of suicide caucus districts was negatively correlated with wages (-.30), incomes (-.33) and college graduates (-.36). States with higher shares of suicide-caucus districts were also less diverse – both in terms of immigrant and gay and lesbian shares of the populations (with correlations of -.33 and -.32 respectively). States with more suicide caucus district are also markedly less urban. The correlation between the share of members in the suicide caucus and levels of urbanization was significantly negative (-.5). Mellander also found a positive correlation between the share of uninsured residents and proportion of suicide cause districts, a fact that National Journal’s Ron Brownstein has noted.

Next, compare Lizza’s map to the ones that Brownstein put together before last fall’s election. These maps (below) chart the creative class vote (including scientists and technologists, business and management professionals, and arts, design, entertainment and media workers) by county in the 2008 Obama-McCain contest. (Keep in mind these maps use older data, gathered before the Tea Party even became a major force in American politics and they chart counties, not congressional districts).

Still, the basic pattern is clear. Notice how much of eastern Tennessee – a block of Tea Party dark red on Lizza’s map – shows up in the bottom third of counties for creative class membership. Tea Party areas like those in southern Missouri and northern Indiana also show up in pockets of red on the bottom map of low creative-class density. And some of the darker red regions that appear on the first map below, representing the nearly 43 percent of high creative-class counties that went for McCain, tend not to overlap with the 79 members of Lizza’s "suicide caucus" – through Nebraska and the Dakotas especially......

Now compare Lizza’s map to the next map (below), which shows the share of Obama and Romney votes by metro area. The deep red metros are largely in oil and gas-dependent metros of Texas, though places like Salt Lake City unsurprisingly make the list as well. Apart from these larger Energy Belt metros, comparing this map to Lizza’s shows how the Tea Party caucus represents the less urban, less dense places – the metros (and in general places that don’t even meet the definition of a metro) that are well below the densities required for innovation and real economic growth."

EMichael -> Alex Blaze...

Ever read Kevin Phillips on the topic?

Welfare queens driving cadillacs ring a bell?

States rights?

Been to any Tea Party events?

You are right though, it is certainly not just the South(but they got an awful lot more control there) and all Republicans are not racist.

But all racists are Republicans.

ken melvin:.

We're talking about a group of people who hated Lincoln for 100 yrs and still chant 'the south will rise again'. These are the original 'my way or the highway' lot. Why? Whence these beliefs, behavior? And, how are they passed along from generation to generation? Was the suspension of reason part and parcel rationalizing slavery. Was it a wired part of their Scot/Irish roots?

The west? Much of the now west was confederate during the Civil War and, later, states like Arizona saw many southerners resettle within their pre-statehood boundaries. Here too, the attitude persists.

Over the years, my friendships with various members of the Sioux tribe have led me to wonder if traditions aren't often passed along at grandmother's knee. Is something similar going on with the cracker/t-party types of today? If the psyche is formed by 5 yrs old, what process is being employed to transfer this value set? Is it merely emulation common to children. Do they see and hear what it is that they are supposed to believe and come
to believe? Is there a conscious effort on the part of southern parents to instill these 'values' in their offspring?

Religion? How much a role does fundamental religion and its associated disdain for science and religion play a role?

anne:.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/books/ebony-and-ivy-about-how-slavery-helped-universities-grow.html

October 18, 2013

Dirty Antebellum Secrets in Ivory Towers
By JENNIFER SCHUESSLER

In “Ebony and Ivy,” an M.I.T. historian looks at the role of slavery in the growth of America’s earliest universities.

Perplexed:.

The missing piece to this "puzzle" has a name & a long history, its called Anarchism, and it appears as a "strange, unfamiliar ideology" to those who are unfamiliar with this history (as in world history as opposed to "American History").

-"freedom to pursue life’s goals without state interference"

This is the foundation of the "Anarchists Movement." We have renamed it here on the island to hide the origins. The Americanized version is called "Libertarianism" but those who actually study history might well recognize it and know that Anarchism and Democracy cannot coexist; its a paradox, a choice must be made. Most Americans are virtually clueless about the differences and somehow believe its possible to govern & not govern simultaneously. It would indeed be a first if it ever worked.

The "freedom" Anarchists speak of is freedom from you, the majority, governing them, "the free." Freedom is just a catch-all so everyone can have a conversation using their own definitions while no-one really knows what's really being said by the other participants. We can all agree on "loving freedom" without ever realizing what's actually be said, proposed, and accomplished.

Since so few Americans have ever learned the history, they tend to "blur" together very different definitions (and meanings) of anarchism and anarchists, and fail to discern how these differing definitions impede the understanding of what the Anarchists were, and are, really about (see here, the distinctions are highly relevant http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anarchy). The Anarchists are really not about "anarchy" in the sense of 1b ("b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority"), or 2b ("b : absence of order : disorder (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disorder) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/utopian) society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government). These are the distinctions that make Anarchism incompatible with democracy. Democracy is a form of rule, a form of government. Anarchists deny that its helpful, or necessary, to have a "governing body." They believe that any attempts to govern are destructive to society. In their "utopian society" of "free individuals," there would be no need for a small "minority" of people to govern (any of this sounding familiar Randians?) To Anarchists (or Libertarians or whatever other label you choose), "liberty" means "liberty from "authority," from "being governed," from you, the majority, "governing," or "restricting in any way" their "freedoms." So democracy (rule by the majority) is entirely incompatible with Anarchy ("denial of any authority or established order"), and its also incompatible with "we are all in this together" and that some "authority" should intervene to prevent unjust results. In an Anarchistic utopia, unjust results don't happen, and "free individuals" will mobilize and come to the aid of victims of disease or disasters without any "authority" intervening to see that it gets done. This is what gets mixed into the "Randian cool-aid."

Bakunin laid it all out before Ayn Rand was even born; its not even very long ago, but Americans are so insular they refuse to even read it so they can maintain their illusion and continue to believe that it was "invented" here, see: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bakunin/stateless.html And read this for a quick summary of some of the "flavors" of Russian Anarchism (from the Black Banner (Chernoye Znamya) group to the non-violent, non-resistant Tolstoyism:

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/worldwidemovements/anarchisminrussia.html

While Ayn Rand might provide some entertaining fiction, if you really want to understand the Paul Ryan's, Eric Cantor's, Ron & Rand Paul's, and Mitch McConnell's of the world, you need to understand Bakunin, Tolstoy, Znamya, Kropotkin, Proudhon, Malatesta and Reclus et.al. Do you really think Greenspan's "shock" when he discovered that financial markets really do need to be regulated was a result of his extensive training in economics? And if you want to understand either McConnell's legislative strategy or Paul Ryan's budget calculations, you need to understand Machiavelli as well.

Under the ruse of the "Randian" philosophy, Anarchism in the U.S. has already had much greater political success and impact than it ever did in Russia. "Shrinking government," "drowning the government," and "starving the beast" are all Anarchist objectives. Greenspan was the chairman of the FED, McConnell, Ryan, Cantor, and both Pauls are elected members of Congress, Mitt Romney came dangerously close to being elected President. Isn't it about time we at least brought this out into the open so Americans can decide if what they really want is Anarchism? Would Americans really be voting for "Tea Party Conservatives" if they understood that they were voting for Anarchism INSTEAD of Democracy? Maybe it should be a conscious choice instead of a deception? Our ability to govern democratically has been brought to a practical standstill; is it just a coincidence that this is the primary objective of Anarchists? If you believe that, you don't understand what you're up against.

Its actually more than a bit amazing just how a ruse like this can go on for so long when there is so much written about it and published (already translated into the English language).

Ultimately its Loser liberalism at its finest. Everyone runs and hides when the Anarchists shout "socialist" even though the definition doesn't fit, but they can't even identify an Anarchist when they're standing right in front of them shouting "socialist" whenever they try to govern democratically.

DrDick -> John Cummings...

Yeah, anarchism and libertarianism are where the left wing and right wing meet in the lunatic fringe. While there are a number of similarities there are also equally important differences.

Roger Gathman -> Perplexed...

The anarchists were ever into cooperatives. I don't see this as being a very big issue for tea party types, who don't, for instance, want to pull down corporations. Anarchists of course took corporations and absentee ownership as the hallmark of baleful statelike power, power guaranteed by the state.

On the other hand, I do look at the dots and think savings and loans, the most enduring anarchist-like institution we have. And I think that many of those people who hate the government (and I, too, hate it) are the descendents of people who did understand cooperatives and did build savings and loans. There's a muddy echo of that in the anti-Wall street bailout theme that sometimes crops up among them.

Fred. C. Dobbs:.

This is more of an Existential Issue for Republicans than for the USA, I think/hope.

They will not Go Gentle Into that Good Night. What'd you expect?

Peter K. -> Fred. C. Dobbs...

Yes after they lose in 2014 and 2016, the careerists will think "wtf?" and the nervous breakdown will begin in earnest.

Joe Smith:.

" ... in the GOP's astonishingly hateful reaction to Clinton. Most people now seem to forget the insane, toxic atmosphere ..."

And a Republican judiciary became complicit in attempts to cripple the Clinton presidency.

EMichael -> Joe Smith...

Don't forget, Democrats give things to those people.

You don't have to be black to be hated and despised, it just makes it easier.

cj150:.

There is not polarization nor shared fault, it comes down to a group of fanatical extremists who are not able to win in the free democratic play and want to impose their "vision of the world" by force and the blackmail.

Main Street Muse -> EMichael...

Let's see if Typepad lets these words fly. Here's a quote from the NY Times story:

"The words [Lee Atwater] uses are not ones I would normally use in this blog, or anywhere in the opinion pages of the Times, but the quotes require them. [what follows are transcripts from the Lee Atwater interview - i.e. Lee Atwater's words as transcribed by the NYTimes]:

'You start in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘Nigger.’ That hurts you. It backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states rights and all that stuff and you get so abstract. Now you talk about cutting taxes and these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that’s part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. Obviously sitting around saying we want to cut taxes and we want this, is a lot more abstract than even the busing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger nigger. So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.'"

Thus spoke Lee Atwater in 1981 when Reagan was rising...

Tom in MN:.

I can't help but think that had Romney run in 2008, he could have run on his MA health care plan and had he won, implemented it without these attacks from the right. In addition, there would have been fiscal stimulus with no regard for the debt to get any GOP president reelected in 2012.

I still don't like calling it Obamacare based on the posters of him as a witch doctor on which it first appeared.

Concluding it's racially motivated sadly seems to be the only explanation that fits.

bakho:.

President Clinton was treated the same way, or perhaps worse than Obama. Racism does not explain it that well. A sense of entitlement does and a fear that changing demographics will change culture for the worse.

The TeaParty has plenty of racists, but they are a coalition including libertarians and others who want less bureaucracy and special interest entitlements. They feel entitled to the government benefits that THEY receive but dismiss benefits that OTHERS receive as unearned. Many of these people live in low tax no service areas. They pay taxes, on property and income, but they don't get benefits. This is the product of years of the GOP cutting taxes for the wealthy, shifting the tax burden to the Middle Class and slashing benefits. The Malefactors of Great Wealth have been steadily eroding benefits to the point where too few get them to win support (in many areas).

The program of cutting government benefits and shifting tax burden from the wealthy to the Middle Class has been the main program of the GOP since the 1960s. It is finally producing the anti-government, anti-tax revolt the Malefactors have desired. The only problem is that the Malefactors are dependent on the Government for much of their wealth.

DrDick -> bakho:

I agree that it is not just about racism, but race has a lot to do with it. There is a reason why the the GOP has been running on the Southern Strategy since Nixon. There is also a reason for the current geography of party affiliation. Clinton was also seen as strongly aligned with African Americans (some people called him America's "first black President").

Dan Kervick:.

Well, as long as we are indulging invidious tropes, let's trot out the old "stab in the back" one, shall we?

These old ethnic, regional and paranoid strains are nothing new, but they are intensified by economic stresses. Forty years of neoliberal economics - a creed that, sadly, has been warmly embraced by Democratic policy elites and their Wall Street backers - has helped to hollow out the US middle class, create obscene Gilded Age inequality, commercialize all human relationships, promote financialization and money-class exploitation of honest work, divided people along cultural and class lines, and given us a new philistine culture that is nasty, insecure, corrupt, shallow and cruel.

Even now, neoliberals continue to plow forward post-2008 as though nothing has happened, proposing little as a positive agenda beyond artificial asset value inflation via financial sector monetary injections and supply side giveaways to corporate rent-seekers, while working with billionaires like Pete Peterson to extend plutocratic stagnation. They are able to succeed in holding onto the center because they are so obsequiously obliging to all of the stakeholders in the existing rot. No wonder millions and millions of America feel like a hopeful future is slipping away from them.

kievite -> Dan Kervick:

Dan,

==== quote ===
These old ethnic, regional and paranoid strains are nothing new, but they are intensified by economic stresses. Forty years of neoliberal economics - a creed that, sadly, has been warmly embraced by Democratic policy elites and their Wall Street backers - has helped to hollow out the US middle class, create obscene Gilded Age inequality, commercialize all human relationships, promote financialization and money-class exploitation of honest work, divided people along cultural and class lines, and given us a new philistine culture that is nasty, insecure, corrupt, shallow and cruel.
=== end of quote ===
That's a real insight. I also think that economic stress is the major driver of Tea Party. The country experiences the same intensification of "old ethnic, regional and paranoid strains" that happened in Weimar Germany.

It will be interesting to see how early adopters of national-socialist ideas (predominantly small business owners) correlate with Tea Party membership (also predominantly small business owners). Although neoliberalism corrupted Tea Party program the similarity of demands is difficult to ignore: http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/

1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.
2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
3. A strong military is essential.
4. Special interests must be eliminated.
5. Gun ownership is sacred.
6. Government must be downsized.
7. The national budget must be balanced.
8. Deficit spending must end.
9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
14. English as our core language is required.
15. Traditional family values are encouraged.

Compare with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Program :

==== quote ====

16.We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.

and from Austrian program:

. . the German National Socialist Workers’ Party is not a party exclusively for labourers; it stands for the interests of every decent and honest enterprise. It is a liberal (freiheitlich) and strictly folkic (volkisch) party fighting against all reactionary efforts, clerical, feudal, and capitalistic privileges; but, before all, against the increasing influence of the Jewish commercial mentality which encroaches on public life. . . .

== end of quote ===

I think that there is an anti Wall Street component in the program of Tea Party too.

Juan H:

'' How would we describe this state of affairs? And what hypotheses might we consider to explain how this state of affairs came to be?'

Without having read comments [but intend to] --

A quasi civil war based on rise - and tensions - between//within interest groups [vertical] rather than classes [horizontal] plus poorly organized Leftist organizations which are rarely arm and arm with rank and file workers much less militarizing. The variety and number of interest groups may be the primary deterrent to a pre-revolutionary condition even as political legitimacy has been deteriorating.

Changer in form of organization from national and international to multinational to trans-national, which has also been a change in form of trade and employment - and, we can day, expansion of an urban peasantry.

So we hear about growth, naturally when the contrary has been the case for many decades -

''Post World War II economic history can be thought of as evolving within two
distinct political-economic regimes. The high growth Golden Age was based on socially or politically ‘embedded’ domestic markets, government responsibility for aggregate demand growth, and state control over cross-border economic activity. It lasted until the early 1970s, to be replaced, after a decade of turbulence, by the Neoliberal Regime, built on deregulation, liberalization, privatization, and ever-tighter global integration...

Unfortunately, Neoliberalism’s promised benefits have yet to materialize, at least not for the majority of the world’s people. Global income growth has slowed, productivity growth has deteriorated, real wage growth has declined, inequality has risen in most countries, the less developed nations outside East Asia have fallen even further behind the advanced, and average unemployment is higher.

Real global GDP growth averaged 4.9% a year in the Golden Age years from 1950 through 1973, but dropped to 3.4% annually in the unstable period between 1974 and 1979.

Dissatisfied with the instability, inflation, low profits and falling financial asset prices of the 1970s, advanced country elites pushed hard for a switch to a more business friendly political-economic system; global Neoliberalism was the result.

World GDP growth averaged 3.3% a year in the early Neoliberal period of the 1980s, then slowed dramatically to 2.3% from 1990-99 as Neoliberalism strengthened, making the 1990s by far the slowest growth decade of the post war era.2''

Structural Contradictions of the Global Neoliberal Regime
James Crotty

kievite -> Juan H:.

Juan,

=== quote ===
Unfortunately, Neoliberalism’s promised benefits have yet to materialize, at least not for the majority of the world’s people. Global income growth has slowed, productivity growth has deteriorated, real wage growth has declined, inequality has risen in most countries, the less developed nations outside East Asia have fallen even further behind the advanced, and average unemployment is higher.
=== end of quote ==

That the real economic base of the rise of Tea Party in the USA. Predominantly white, the USA middle class is falling behind, and, especially in lower, less educated, middle class, you can almost physically feel the huge level of rage. And readiness to support an extremist agenda. That what drives the Tea Party.

[Oct 18, 2013] A cautionary note about the GOP disaster By Jeff Greenfield

When Taft lost for the third time, in 1952, he said, “every Republican nominee since 1936 has been picked by the Chase Manhattan Bank.”
October 16, 2013 | Yahoo

Republican Party. Senator John McCain’s decades-old joke about the popularity of Republicans in Congress --”we’re down to paid staffers and blood relatives”-- is approaching arithmetical accuracy.

All of which tell us...a lot less than it might about the electoral prospects of the GOP.

The party had already begun an agonizing reappraisal of its condition after the 2012 presidential contest, where Republicans lost the popular vote for the fifth time in the last six presidential elections. It might seem as if the recent damage to the party’s brand, combined with the demographic challenges of a younger, browner and blacker electorate, all but dooms the GOP to years in the wilderness, unless the centrists wrest control from the party’s more militant (or zealous, or screw-loose) wing.

But maybe not. Why not? Consider, for openers, the Power of the Purse. Once upon a time, the big business/Chamber of Commerce wing of the GOP held the key to its finances. It was a big reason why the Midwest/small town element of the party could never get its longtime hero, Ohio Senator Robert Taft, nominated for president. (When Taft lost for the third time, in 1952, he said, “every Republican nominee since 1936 has been picked by the Chase Manhattan Bank.”)

In political terms, that hasn’t been true since Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964. The rise of the party in the South, and its rules that give extra convention delegates to states that vote Republican, have shifted the axis of power in a way that Republicans of earlier generations would have found inconceivable.

More recently, the financial power has shifted as well. With campaign-finance laws now essentially gutted, wealthy ideologues can provide more than enough cash to fuel a cause or a candidacy (as casino mogul Sheldon Adelson did for Newt Gingrich's presidential bid last year). If the pin-striped wing of the GOP thinks it can force Republicans to the center by threatening to cut off campaign contributions, it’s an empty threat. In fact, the more likely threat is that conservative outside groups like Heritage Action and Club for Growth will fund the primary challenges to any Republican incumbent who looks to move to the center.

Bottom line: Between the Internet and the deep pockets of the Koch Brothers and company, a candidate of the party’s most militant wing will not lack for resources.

But, doesn’t this mean that the GOP is on its way to nominate a presidential candidate so far out of the mainstream that he or she will go down to a defeat that will make losers to Goldwater and George McGovern look like FDR and Reagan?

Maybe. But consider: the latest shutdown-default farce has had another consequence even more dramatic than the unpopularity of the Republicans; it has made the public even more cynical about the whole process of government. (For the first time, polls have found voters saying they’d like to throw out all the rascals, including their own elected representative).

[Oct 10, 2013] Global Capitalism October 2013 Monthly Update

An excellent lecture
YouTube

fasteddie2013

I really like this guy. Makes sense with no bullshit

Robin Roth

As always, informative, urgent, interesting. I wish more Americans examined Richard's works. We badly need reform. What will it take? The people should be the priority!

[Oct 2, 2013] Staunch Group of Republicans Outflanks House Leaders by JONATHAN WEISMAN and ASHLEY PARKER

Oct 2, 2013 | nytimes.comleadership.html

Carolyn: Saint Augustine, NYT Pick

I really have mixed feelings about a group of Republicans that on the one hand seem intractable and punitive, but on the other, understand the personal political risks of their actions and are still willing to stand firm. It's hard not to admire that kind of conviction because it's clearly not motivated by money or political aspirations. Regardless of the fierce opposition and ridicule, people who stand by their heart are people who often prevail, not because they have the best ideas, but because they are the most plausible in terms of sincerity, and that sincerity is hard to deny because it's brave, and takes us beyond the realm of the usual phony posturing and corrupt slobbering that we have come to expect in Washington.

All that said, it's a tragic situation for which I blame both parties equally. It will be resolved, no doubt, but it will take its toll - not financially, as all furloughed folks will be reimbursed - but on the nation emotionally, because I think most of us know instinctively that we are toeing a civil war.

[Oct 2, 2013] 'Thank the GOP for the Shutdown and Holding the Economy Hostage'

Tea Party are economic terrorists...
September 30, 2013 | Economist's View

Rune Lagman

Yes, the Republicans are awful, but where are the prominent Democrats?

None of them seem willing to stand up for Main Street. All I here on the news is about the Rs killing obamacare; no D seem to speak up for it.

Matt Young

Politico has news about a one week delay in shutdown. The bubble puffed putting stocks back to break even and treasuries yields remain untouched. That gives another week for the big brokers to prepare for the market crash. Wealthy patrons will be thanking Senate democrats.

The Blorch

That gives another week for the big brokers to prepare for the market crash.

[It gives them a week to orchestrate a suckers rally]

ilsm:

The PAC for pentagon trough calls a few percent cut a "budget morass", misleading the baseline of the cuts is 100% increase from 2001.

Discretionary spending is not sustainable.

Sequester was around $100B in FY 13. In DoD less than 8% over 10 years of the inflated baseline of 2011.

Might be a little more in FY 14.

US government discretionary spending at around 9% is far too large a part of GDP, considering the paltry benefits from the burdens.

Joe Smith

"discretionary spending at around 9%is far too large a part of GDP"

I don't think there is anything magic or inherently terrible about 9%. The fact that a huge amount is wasted on defense is a problem.

ilsm

Nor is there a problem with SS, other than demographics mean it won't be hiding the annual deficits any more.

What the 'agitprop blither' says is unsustainable about entitlements is SS the big one will demand cash instead of lending cash in return for the $2.6T in special treasuries since reaganomics took over.


ilsm:.

The GOteaparty works for the .1%, austerity is a smashing success for the .1%, at the expense of the rest.

As the royals say: 'let them eat cake', no one in the GOP cares about results for anyone aside from the .1% and the radical conservative 'special interests' whose agenda is the toy of the .1%.

Dryly 41

Yes, but the .1% are paying for GOteaparty. The myth is that this is a "grass roots" organization-it is not. It's bought and paid for.

EMichael

Here is the other side

"A government shutdown, and the prospect of a default on the national debt, is pretty much the definition of economic uncertainty. Contracts are put in limbo. Future interest rates are unknown. A new healthcare system lies in the balance. And meanwhile, a whole host of issues that businesses need resolved in order to plan several years in advance -- environmental regulation, immigration policy, the tax code -- go almost entirely unaddressed.

These are the conditions brought upon us by a small core of Republicans who can't let go of their opposition to a law their colleagues passed three years ago. And yet, not long ago, many of those same Republicans were declaring that uncertainty is the economy's biggest threat. Let's go to the tape:

"I believe our mission as legislators is to liberate our economy from the things that impede growth...to provide clear policies, so that innovators and entrepreneurs have the green light to move forward and create jobs, without having to worry about second-guessing from Washington." - Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), May 2011

- “Uncertainty is the enemy of our prosperity." - Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), December 2010

"The biggest problem I have, Hugh, is we don’t need a temporary economy, which means we don’t need a temporary tax rate. A permanent extension of our current tax rates would allow businesses to plan five and ten years in advance, and that’s how you build an economy.” - Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C), December 2010

- "What I hear businesses saying clear as day is that when they are uncertain about the action of government in areas of regulation and tax reform, it creates a barrier to job creation. The uncertainty lies in areas of cost projections; it slows operations and stifles growth." - Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), February 2011

- "Businesses need certainty and employees deserve to know their jobs aren’t at risk because of ill-conceived federal regulations." - Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), March 2012

- "The current pervasive lack of certainty across this country is having a remarkably negative impact on our economy and on the general trust the American people have in Washington. - Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), February 2012

- "When I'm out and about in Ohio, the job creators want real certainty, they want the lay of the land. We just had a hearing on this today, and our panel of experts said if you keep increasing regulation, and you keep having temporary fixes, you're never going to fix the underlying problem, which is the uncertainty that exists in our market today." - Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), September 2011

- "Job creators across this country have made clear that resolving policy uncertainty in Washington and reducing the costs of government rules, regulations, statutes, and barriers to trade are some of the most effective things that a Republican controlled House can do to lay the groundwork for economic recovery and job creation." - Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), November 2010

- "We must do everything possible to get government to reduce both taxes and stifling regulation so that small business owners have the confidence and certainty they need to invest in their businesses, expand operations and create real jobs." - Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), October 2010


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/30/remember-when-republicans-were-worried-about-economic-uncertainty/

[Oct 01, 2013] Remember When Republicans Were Worried about Uncertainty

Oct 01, 2013 | Economist's View

Roger Gathman

In Hegelian dialectics, contradictions bear the impress of new orders - but in the era of the gotcha, contradictions are only a reminder of the old order - in which factions will pretend that some procedural tactic or some talking point is actually an ideological value, until they reverse themselves. This particular gotcha could simply measure the stakes for the GOP.

It is one of the strange convictions of the liberal or moderate mindset that conservatives either don't really believe what they are saying - that they are secretly grownups, and thus believe whatever the conventional wisdom believes - or that they are stupid. What if this is wrong?

It has been obvious for the last six years that they do mean it. They are willing to stage a general strike to get their way. They aren't joking. They do think Obama threatens business confidence, and they think that if their strike also threatens business confidence, it will ultimately result in a business friendly atmosphere. That is the point. That is what they are saying.

The tactic of playing "gotcha" seems to further blind those who play it: gotcha's don't matter. They matter to journalists, that's all.

And far from being stupid, the right seems pretty much to have created the narrow parameters in which this slump is being treated.

sglover
Superb. It would be nice if believing Dems had a quarter of the insight you show in your remarks. If they did, they wouldn't be totally blindsided every three weeks or so.

In this thread, and I'm sure lots to come in the next few weeks, we see lots of crowing about how foolish the Republicans are, how they'll suffer for the shutdown, etc, etc, etc. Certainly right now it looks like another pigheaded Tea Party antic. But as far as I can tell the congressional Tea Party vanguard comes from very safe districts; they have little to fear. And believing Dems seem to think that their own "leaders" won't roll over in the face of Republican intransigence. If that isn't blind faith, what is?

These remarks about Republican dau tranh are relevant here:

http://historyunfolding.blogspot.com/search?q=dau+tranh

Darryl FKA Ron
Great little article at that link there buddy. Douglas Pike overlooked the only possible counter strategy to dau tranh, which is competent leadership. What makes dau tranh successful in the first place is that it is pushing down hill, in the direction of gravity. All the examples given of the use of dan tranh were against governments that had already compromised their own legitamacy through some combination of incompetence, corruption, conflict of interest, or just plain abandonment of their responsibility to their own citizens. The purpose of the dau tranh strategy is to replace a flawed and/or weak government with a strong authoritarian oligarchy or autocracy. Our democracy has been half way there from the beginning, with the only true exceptions after Washington during the administrations of the two Roosevelts. The counter revolution (against dau tranh insurgents) does not have anything to work with in the US yet so far as leadership, but I still hope to see that change.
Charlie
That post you link to is pertinent indeed. I particularly appreciated this line:

"Their lust for power is much, much greater than their respect for the truth."

I still wonder if Team Obama has grasped this fully. They still seem to have this "let us reason together" thing happening. Perhaps it is for show, but nonetheless it doesn't seem like a promising counter to the radical GOP.

[Oct 01, 2013] The G.O.P. Definition of 'Negotiation' By DAVID FIRESTONE

NYTimes.com

There were outbursts of disbelieving laughter from Democrats on Capitol Hill last night when the final demand from House Republicans arrived shortly before the midnight shutdown: a conference to negotiate their differences.

Of all the things Republicans could have asked, a conference was the most ludicrous, because they have never wanted a serious negotiation. In most cases, they have outright refused to bargain with Democrats, or have done so, as in 2011, only when economic disaster was imminent.

President Obama’s hopes for a grand bargain in 2011 quickly disintegrated when Speaker John Boehner left the table, unable to make any concession on taxes. The sequester was supposed to be a temporary solution to the Republican threat of default that year, one that would be undone when the “super-committee” — a kind of grand conference committee — came up with a better plan. But Republicans refused to compromise in that group, too, and the sequester continues.

Earlier this year, Mr. Obama tried to entice Republicans back to the table with a budget offer to reduce the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, precisely the kind of entitlement cut Republicans like to demand in front of the cameras. (Democrats hated the idea.) But almost immediately, Republicans began trashing the concept, saying it was a “shocking attack on seniors.” The House budget chairman, Paul Ryan, said there could be no grand bargain if Mr. Obama insisted on tax increases for the rich. Again, no negotiation.

Over the rest of the year, Republicans repeatedly refused to agree to a conference committee with Senate Democrats. Why? Senators Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz said a committee might agree to even some of the Democratic proposals on tax and revenue increases.

The Republican position has been clear for three years: they will refuse to negotiate if negotiation could mean having to give something up. But they will loudly demand a negotiation over something that is not open to compromise, namely a settled law from 2009 they disagree with because it will show the necessity of government’s role in making health insurance available to all. A fanatic’s definition of compromise is when only the other side must give in.

At a half-empty bargaining table this morning, Majority Leader Eric Cantor accused Democrats of “silliness” in being unwilling to talk. But it’s not silliness; it’s experience. Democrats know, after years of being burned, that Republicans have no interest in true compromise. They only want to extort, and the long table is just a prop.

Seabrooker, SC

How long before the moderates abandon the so-called "Republican" Party and either ally with the Dems, or form a third Centrist party? They are stuck with Boehner, even though he belongs closer to the centrist party than the teabags. But he's thrown his lot in with the loonies - because they have him by the short-and-curlies. So Id' not be surprised to see some of the moderates peel off in the interest of showing there can be same Republicans.

Jason Shapiro, Santa Fe

Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-52) expanded the definition of terrorism to cover ""domestic,"" as opposed to international, terrorism. A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act ""dangerous to human life"" that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping. Additionally, the acts have to occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and if they do not, may be regarded as international terrorism.

Well let’s see, by literally shutting down the government I think there are many examples where situations have or will arise that are dangerous to human life because various regulatory functions involving food, drugs, clean air, clean water, etc. will not be carried out. As for subsections (i) and (ii) above, I don’t think you even have to stretch to find that the actions of the Republicans in the House fit easily within the rather broad language of the Patriot Act. It may not be a winning argument before a judge but I would not be embarrassed to present it. This in short, is why no one should hesitate to use the word “terrorists” when describing House Republicans.

Cliff J

Wait until the polls start coming out, probably tomorrow, the negotiating tone will change as more Republicans distance themselves from the Tea Party traitors. That's right. Traitors!!

Linda, MN

Speaker John Boehner is letting the Tea Party (Koch brother's hooligans) dictate to him, instead of being the House leader as he should be. So the Koch brothers and other 1%er's Republicans, won't send you any money for your next fund raisers and unless you get your way? Keep kicking the regular guy here, our memory is much more lasting!

KINDELAN, ISSAQUAH, WA

The GOP is committing party suicide. It's a group made up mostly of white men who one hesitates to refer to as adult males. Not to put too much venom toward them and their party, it's a dying thing anyway. This Boehner and Cruz, what a pair of misfits. Ah well, the sooner they self-destruct the better and since their path is one they can't change they are a party of losers. Time to move on folks, time to put credibility where it exists not with these hooligans.

Chris, California

John Boehner has shown himself to be a less-than-honest broker. All the grandstanding and posturing we've seen on the GOP side - the hollow accusations, the empty chairs at a faux bargaining table, etc., - cannot obscure the fact that the GOP operates with dishonesty and duplicity. President Obama and Democrats need to proceed with great caution.

While I have no doubt the current saga is painful for Speaker Boehner, he is showing no spine at all as Speaker. In fact, he seems to have turned control of the House over to its most radical members, led by Sen. Ted Cruz.

God help us all.

If Mr. Boehner can't be trusted as an honest broker, Mr. Cruz is downright bad news - a wolf in sheep's clothing. Although he recently donned the caricature of a buffoon by reciting "Green Eggs and Ham" on the floor of the Senate, a sinister quality surrounds him.

Mr. Cruz and the right wing of the GOP have gained considerable power in recent years. They are no longer just a wacko-fringe movement.

President Obama needs to be on guard, and needs to pay close attention to what's happening. There's much more going on here than meets the eye, in my humble opinion.

J Harris, Planet Earth

This Republican party has all the characteristics of an ex-spouse. Let's divorce them with our votes next year.

September

[Sep 28, 2013] Summers, Syria and the Fed By Ellen Brown

Sep 11, 2013 | Asia Times

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole." - Prof Caroll Quigley, Georgetown University, Tragedy and Hope (1966).

Iraq and Libya have been taken out, and Iran has been heavily boycotted. Syria is now in the cross-hairs. Why? Here is one overlooked scenario.

In an August 2013 article titled "Larry Summers and the Secret 'End-game' Memo," Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and US Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement (FSA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The "end-game" would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned, and "usury" - charging rent for the "use" of money - is viewed as a sin, if not a crime.

That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don't need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations.

Bank deregulation proceeded according to plan, and the government-sanctioned and -nurtured derivatives business mushroomed into a US$700-plus trillion pyramid scheme. Highly leveraged, completely unregulated, and dangerously unsustainable, it collapsed in 2008 when investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, taking a large segment of the global economy with it. The countries that managed to escape were those sustained by public banking models outside the international banking net.

These countries were not all Islamic. Forty percent of banks globally are publicly owned. They are largely in the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - which house 40% of the global population. They also escaped the 2008 credit crisis, but they at least made a show of conforming to Western banking rules.

This was not true of the "rogue" Islamic nations, where usury was forbidden by Islamic teaching. To make the world safe for usury, these rogue states had to be silenced by other means. Having failed to succumb to economic coercion, they wound up in the crosshairs of the powerful US military.

Here is some data in support of that thesis.

The end-game memo

In his August 22 article, Greg Palast posted a screenshot of a 1997 memo from Timothy Geithner, then assistant secretary of international affairs under Robert Rubin, to Larry Summers, then deputy secretary of the Treasury. Geithner referred in the memo to the "end-game of WTO financial services negotiations" and urged Summers to touch base with the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citibank, and Chase Manhattan Bank, for whom private phone numbers were provided.

The game then in play was the deregulation of banks so that they could gamble in the lucrative new field of derivatives. To pull this off required, first, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 Act that imposed a firewall between investment banking and depository banking in order to protect depositors' funds from bank gambling. But the plan required more than just deregulating US banks. Banking controls had to be eliminated globally so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws.

The "endgame" was to achieve this global deregulation through an obscure addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organization, called the Financial Services Agreement. Palast wrote:

Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods - that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules ginned-up by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in "bads" - toxic assets like financial derivatives.

Until the bankers' re-draft of the FSA each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives "products".

And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.

The job of turning the FSA into the bankers' battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

WTO members were induced to sign the agreement by threatening their access to global markets if they refused; and they all did sign, except Brazil. Brazil was then threatened with an embargo, but its resistance paid off, since it alone among Western nations survived and thrived during the 2007-2009 crisis.

As for the others:

The new FSA pulled the lid off the Pandora's box of worldwide derivatives trade. Among the notorious transactions legalized: Goldman Sachs (where Treasury Secretary Rubin had been Co-Chairman) worked a secret euro-derivatives swap with Greece which, ultimately, destroyed that nation. Ecuador, its own banking sector de-regulated and demolished, exploded into riots. Argentina had to sell off its oil companies (to the Spanish) and water systems (to Enron) while its teachers hunted for food in garbage cans. Then, Bankers Gone Wild in the Eurozone dove head-first into derivatives pools without knowing how to swim - and the continent is now being sold off in tiny, cheap pieces to Germany.

... ... ...

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, PublicBankingInstitute.org. In Web of Debt, her latest of 11 books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are WebofDebt.com and EllenBrown.com.

God Bless the USA!! By

May 23, 2013 | LewRockwell.com

We citizens of the US are represented by the very best of us. The Senate, in particular the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is filled to the brim with humanitarians, deep thinking wise men, and just good folks.

Surely, that must be true.

Why, only yesterday, most of these fourteen fine gentlemen and two fine ladies voted to provide aid to freedom fighters in Syria, including training and lethal weapons now, plus a $250 million starter fund for their government once Assad is hung or assassinated. While the committee is dominated by peace-loving Democrats, they are certainly channeling Ronald Reagan and who can say he would not be proud! As another testament to the era of the 1980s, the vote was a model of transparency and clear thinking!

I detect a bit of disbelief. Doubters need go no further than the membership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, filled as it is with the great military minds of Barbara Boxer and Marco Rubio, environmentalist and professional politician Ben Cardin of Maryland, and clean water activist and leader in various Iran sanctions legislationBob Casey of Pennsylvania. Check out the great record of public service, government efficiency, and tax-fighting of New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen – who simultaneously fights to maintain “her” two military bases and unhindered funding thereto, who happily voted “Yes, God, Yes” on the bill.

And who can forget union and public school fighter Bob Menendez, who chairs the committee, and his wise words yesterday,

The greatest humanitarian crisis in the world is unfolding in and around Syria…Vital U.S. interests are at stake including the stability of the Middle East, loose chemical weapons, and the danger that Syria becomes a safe haven for extremists. The United States must play a role in tipping the scales toward opposition groups and working to build a free and democratic Syria.

I get chills just reading that, and who wouldn’t have wanted to be sitting in that committee room to bask in the glow of American principles and statesmanship!

Of course, doubters among you might suggest that greater humanitarian crises exist, and have for far longer, and with greater human cost. Perhaps you are thinking of the little you know about eastern Congo, or one of the many places the US is already “aiding” with “training and lethal weapons,” such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mali, Sudan, Somalia, etc. Perhaps you have some vague idea about suffering and death relating to the blockaded and sanctioned Palestinians, or those starving in North Korea, or even the US-funded prison for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo! If you are thinking that these cases even approach the ethical scope, importance, urgency and actionable-ness of Syria, you are sadly mistaken.

Why, even calm and clear thinking Republican Marco Rubio became emotional and “insisted that it was critical to help groups battling the well-armed, pro-Assad forces and radical jihadists.” Vital and critical, to the US as we know it, and as we believe her to be – that shining city on a hill, arms open, and always ready to help those seeking to throw off the yoke of an invasive, unelected, and unaccountable government led by a despot who doesn’t share the vision of the people and is arming against them.

I’m only surprised that more money and assistance was not immediately approved by the Senate committee, and can only say godspeed to this bill in the Senate, and in the House.

It is amazing that the three naysayers in the Foreign Relations Committee were not publicly marched out and held in stocks for the rest of us to laugh at! I mean seriously, Senator Udall (New Mexico) was suggesting that weapons given to the rebels in Syria might end up in the hands of our enemies! Like when has that ever happened? What a fool!

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky commented, “…the U.S. is war weary and reluctant to get involved in a murky conflict with so many factions. …There is no assurance that the weapons would end up in the hands of “liberty-loving, Jeffersonian-type of democrats.” He went on to point out that the existing law forbids the passage of this bill, specifically that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force does not allow intervention in Syria and another bars weapons to Syria.

I can imagine the jeering and the laughter in the room when these idiotic ideas were voiced! Thank goodness we could count on the highly respected public servant Senator John McCain to be appropriately derisive.

Of course, behind the scenes, we have the active support in this effort to militarily aid the Syrian rebels, even the al Qaeda connected ones such as Jabhat al-Nusra, by both the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Pentagon. Of course, neither of these groups benefit from war, chaos, confusion, and a vibrant military intelligence, arms, and public commentary marketplace in the Middle East, and no one would ever be so stupid as to suggest that. Nonetheless, they both reluctantly came on board with this proposal to aid Syrian rebels because indeed, this is a humanitarian crisis, not a political one, and it can only be dealt with militarily.

Everybody knows that.

Suggestions that members of the Senate Committee take some of their considerable private wealth and influence and raise the funds to train, arm and transition a new government into Syria were shrugged off, with one Senator saying “What good would that do?”

Fools' Crusade Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions Diana Johnstone 9781583670842 Amazon.com Books

Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem, Israel)

Very interesting, February 19, 2008

History has already forgotten the destruction of Yugoslavia and the role fo the Great Powers, the U.S. and Nato in that destruction. Most people have already come to associate themselves with the narrative of romantic victims in Bosnia and Kosovo and have accepted the interpretation of the Serbs as barbaric and 'nazi' like. The was in Yugoslavia and the western response was one of the great propoganda victories for journalism and the media, one that has been repeated elsewhere in India (Gujarat riots) and Israel (the Intifada).

During the Yugoslav wars some 500,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Croatia, Slovenia, Kosovo and Bosnia with the active collaboration of former Ustache in Croatia, Islamists and Bosnia and the U.S. The bombing campaign against the Serbia, the collective punishment, all in the name of humanitarian relief, was a massive scam. The vilification of the Serbs was a great injustice.

All of this is shown to be true and accurate in this interesting book. The only mistake it makes is connecting the Yugoslav wars to U.S hegemony and claiming that the U.S harmed Serbia in order to be more powerful. Serbia never stood in the U.S's way. Instead the U.S manipulated the situation in order to ally itself with Muslims, so as to get favor in the Middle East, and also to distract the American public from Clinton's affairs.

Seth J. Frantzman

name withheld, October 3, 2006

By been there, saw it

As an intelligence officer from a NATO country who spent three long, and two short tours in Bosnia, I must say the information provided in this book is disturbingly accurate. While the first US and NATO troops on the ground (IFOR) at least made an attempt to present a neutral front, all semblance of neutrality went out the window with SFOR. SFOR was a blatant pro-Muslim, pro-Croatian force.

Several observations for other readers who disagree--what would be the reaction in the world press if Germany re-adopted the Nazi flag? Yet the Ustasa Nazi Croation flag is completely accepted and Serbs who were living in Croatia certainly remembered that flag.

How is it that the world bastion of democracy-the United States-can directly intervene in a free and open election in the Republika Serpska and remove an elected president, Dr. Poplassen, and forceably install a corrupt US puppet. (this was witnessed first hand.) Enough venting; for people interested in purchasing this book, be prepared. The story told is not what you will remembe for their criminal depredations across the globe. Do not be concerned by charges made by some reviewers of "low scholarship"; this book is solid in what it sets out to do, expose a fraud for what it is, and remind genuine progressives and leftists that US foreign policy has yet to be used to advance anything really good for humanity or this planet. George Clooney, Mia Farrow, Angelina Jolie, Oprah--for what it's worth, are you listening?

Hemingway (Australia)

A Very Good Book, March 30, 2013

I would firstly say to ignore, or to at least treat very cautiously, the one star reviews of this book. It is quite evident that some of the reviewers have not read the book, but are simply challenging it's premise on moral grounds. Secondly, there is an obvious emotionally charged bias against this book - its a book that challenges the most fundamental truths of not only what happened in Yugoslavia during the 90's, but also of US foreign policy of which we have witnessed 'blow back' to in the most tragic and spectacular fashion.

The people who rate this poorly are the very same people that, time and time again, believe so willingly anything the western media tells them (they probably still believe that the Vietnamese *did* attack US ships in the Tonkin Gulf, and that Iraq does have WMD's...). They are the 'moral majority' fed on lies and ignorance. But being morally correct makes them feel better and it makes them better people - and not inhuman monsters that question the legitimacy of claims made by governments that have, throughout history, sought to distort the truth for political aims (in reality economic ones). I hope these same reviewers have condemned the US for the millions of Vietnamese civilians that were murdered by the US govt during the Vietnam War..and that Nixon, Johnson et al should be found guilty of the 'joint criminal enterprise' of murderous US aggression in Indochina. Hmmm...i wonder.

Let us not forget that crimes were committed during this war..as they are in every war..and that BOTH sides committed them. This is something that this moral majority seems to forget. No one is disputing the crimes, but only the intent (as this is the basis of the so-called 'justice' being metered out by the ICTY). What is being disputed is the readiness of media agencies to only report those crimes committed by the Serbs. This readiness was founded not on the preservation of peace, or some genuine humanitarian objectives, but on individual gain, and for broader geopolitical aims that in the process have attempted to ruin a country and its reputation.

The book itself is very well written and very well documented. Even 6 years after it's publication, little in the way of additional facts have surfaced that could be said to refute the arguments raised in this book.

Buy this book. It is worth every cent.

Alejandro Cheirif

Based on evidence and reason, not propaganda!!, August 3, 2005

This review is from: Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions (Paperback) Diana Johnstone's text is extraordinary. One of the main difficulties when dealing with social reality is that no one is neutral. When a particular point of view regarding any issue is supported by those who have the power to influence the flow of information, then the general understanding of that particular issue is biased. This is true for the bombing of Yugoslavia in particular, and for the general understanding of the whole conflict. The reason is that those with power to influence the flow of information had a strong motivation to do it -- putting it into context, US-led NATO needed a justification for their intervention, which in reality had more to do with building oil-pipelines, installing US military bases in Kosovo and control-reconstruct the area, and NATO credibility, than with anything regarding the conflict in Yugoslavia (for anyone who knows anything about politics this should be no surprise, a state act solely out of concern for its national interest). However, the bombing was rather catastrophic for people in Yugoslavia, even for Kosovo Albanians.

In any case, as Johnstone's book demonstrates with strong evidence and the use of reason (the hardest weapon against state propaganda), the US and NATO largely succeeded in their aims, demonizing Milosevic and the Serbs, and reducing the Yugoslav conflict to slogans -- such as the so-called "ethnic cleansing" of the Albanians in Kosovo, or the comparison of Serbs to Nazis and of Milosevic to Hitler. For anyone interested in understanding the conflict, those claims, although widely supported by the mass media in the West, are not only false but rather absurd, and its most immediate consequence is a generally biased understanding of the conflict. What Diana Johnstone does is to demonstrate this bias, widely supported by state propaganda and, surprinsingly, most of the mass media, and compare it with what, as far as evidence can take us, the reality of the Yugoslav conflict from as early as the XIVth century (in the case of Kosovo) through 2000. So, for anyome willing to reason about the conflict instead of following slogans, this is a great book to challenge mainstream accounts.

Sanel Hadzic (Manchester)

Ultimate book on civil war in Yugoslavia, November 29, 2005

Many brainwashed and angry Bosnian Muslims are trying to discredit this book through reviews on this site. However, their poor knowledge of their own radical leadership (Alija Izetbegovic)and real causes and roots of Bosnian war will always cause a problem for them when they encounter such a serious and factual book as this one. Most of the facts that Johnstone writes about are INDISPUTABLE and they can be easily checked. Further more, real intellectuals, historian and political activists know who Diana Johnston is and most of them consider her work to be completely independent, factual and objective. For example, Noam Chosmky always (latest in his Guardian interview)states that Johnston's book (Fools Crusade) is probably the best one ever written on wars in Yugoslavia. He often points out how she was prevented from publishing it at first, but when outcry from academical community became too loud, the book was finally published. And why is this?

Well Dianas' book is really something and after reading it you will clearly know this:

*Bosnia and Croatia had nationalistic leaders in power during the Wars in Ex_yugoslavia and THEY WANTED the war at any cost, because only like that they could get (illegal) recognition and state independence.They were supported by Germany, Austria,Vatican and USA and later whole WEST (as we know it, but also in case of Bosnia -whole World Muslim community and in the case of Croatia- Croatian Nazi emigration and Fascistic groups from all over Europe).

* Serbia had a non-nationalistic leader, Milosevic, who was a communist and who wanted to preserve Yugoslavia (Communists in Yugoslavia did not go hand in hand with nationalists,they were always opposed to NATIONALISM, they propagated " BROTHERHOOD and UNITY" between all Yugoslav nationalities and Milosevic was no exception- check testimony of Lord Owen in Hague). Serbia was supported by Russia, Greece and later China and therefore, of course, bound to loose Western media battle and War.

* Franjo Tudjman (president of Croatia) and Alija Iztebegovic(president of Bosnia) were both convicted nationalist, who both spent time in prison for their nationalism, during Old Yugoslavia and Tito regime. Milosevic was never accused of nationalism, on the contrary, he was a member of communist party when he took power in Serbia.

* Tudjman was sponsored and supported by Croatian Nazi emigration and his plan and goal was Great Croatia, which would include large part of Bosnia and parts of Serbia as well- check writings and testimonies of both EU and UN envoys in Yugoslavia, Lord Carrington and Lord Owen.However, his ultimate goal was expulsion of Serbs from Croatia proper. This plan originated from Croatian Nazi State during II World War, when Serbs were treated equal to Jews in Croatia and were massively exterminated (close to a million just in Concentration Camp JASENOVAC).Then it was Croatian Fuehrer (Croatia was a most faithful ally of Hitler) Pavelic who instructed that "one third of Serbs in Croatia has to be expelled, one third forcibly converted to Catholicism and one third has to be exterminated". They couldn't finish this monstrous plan then, but Tudjman and New Croatia did, especially in 1995s' operation "STORM" when 350.000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed in several days from Krajina, territory within Croatia which was overwhelmingly populated by Croatian Serbs for 5 centuries. Before the 1990 Wars in Yugoslavia, Croatia had around 20% Serbs living on its territory . Now, after the war there is less than 2% of Serbs in Croatia. Tudjman has many times shown his nationalistic and often Fascistic side to the World, but being Western ally, that was forgiven to him ( His most infamous quote is " Thank God that my wife is neither Jewish and neither Serb"; he has also written a book in early 1990s in which he denies holocaust, especially the one against Serbs, reducing the number of victims in Concentration Camp Jasenovac from close to a million to just around 50.000!)

* Alija Izetbegovic was not supported by Nazis, but he was rather Nazi himself and a radical muslim, once considered to be "The right hand man of AYATOLLAH KHOMEYNI" . During II World War he has served as nazi soldier in Bosnian Handzar division. Bosnian muslims, like Croats were Hitlers' ally. Izetbegovic formed strong links with Iran and radical muslim groups in Middle East in 1970s. That is when he was sentenced to prison by Tito (just like Tudjman several years later) for his radical nationalistic views. In his book, 'Islamic Declaration', which earned him a jail sentence he demands a truly fundamentalist "muslim" state in Bosnia, without scope for non-muslim institutions or existence of other religions.The book scathingly attacks Attaturk's reforms and holds up Pakistan as a model to be followed. Izetbegovic says on page 22 : " There can be no peace or coexistence between the "Islamic faith" and non- Islamic societies and political institutions.". What to say more.... Lord Owen openly blames Izetbegovic for War in Bosnia, and in his book,'Balkan Odyssey', which is available from AMAZON, he states that it was Izetbegovic who wanted the war at any cost, that it was him who broke most of the peace treaties and that he was probably supported by USA in this. Owen claims that that was the only way for Izetbegovic to get independence for Bosnia, since Muslims in Bosnia make up only around 37% of population, against 24% of Croats who wanted their parts of Bosnia to join Croatia and 33% of Serbs who wanted to stay within Yugoslavia and NOW probably want to be joined with Serbia. So, in peace, there was no legal foundation for recognition of Bosnia as independent state-that is why Izetebegovic wanted war.In his book Owen, and here Diana Johnstone, state that Muslim leadership used "all available means" to get "International community"(West) behind them. That includes shelling their own people, staging false massacres (like the one in Sarajevo market) and intentionally sacrificing Srebrenica, knowing that there will be terrible reprisal from Serbs, since Muslim divisions in Srebrenica were terrorizing Serbian population in villages around for several years. All of these dirty and inhumane tricks brought USA to stage in Balkans, which used these cowardly acts (particularly Srebrenica) to wage a war against Serbs on "humanitarian grounds" in support of "defenseless" and "moderate". In fact, neither they were defenseless (They were sponsored by ALL muslim countries with money, weapons and voluntary holy fighters "Mujahedeens") and neither they were moderate (as you can see Muslim leadership was very radical, although most of the simple and ordinary people were moderate-and this is why is so hard for them to see their leader Izetbegovic and his actions for what they really are....But to be sure what kind of person Izetbegovic is, you should read Johnston's book or even check following links: [...] and [...])

* Slobodan Milosevic was not a true nationalist and neither a radical guy. He has been demonized in the West, often compared to Hitler or Saddam Hussein, but truth is quite opposite. He was not an angel either but of all the leaders that were one way or the other engaged in war (Tudjman, Izetbegovic and later leaders of KLA) Milosevic is by far the least of a nationalist. That is why communists from all over ex-Yugoslavia did support him and many of them still live in Belgrade

Milosevic was obsessed with Yugoslavia much more than Serbia or "Great serbia". He stood for BROTHERHOOD AND UNITY and equality between all nationalities and his Serbia remained the MOST MULTIETHNIC society in Balkans. And under him Serbia and Montenegro were still called YUGOSLAVIA. Furthermore, Milosevic has allowed Croatian and Muslim minorities in Serbia to scientifically ENLARGE during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia- over 70.000 muslims escaped Bosnia to Serbia and were given same rights and treatment as Serbian refugees and maybe even more Croats came as refugees from Croatia,mostly mixed together with their partly Serbian families.And that is to the opposite of ethnic cleansing against Serbs that was committed in Croatia, Kosovo and parts of Bosnia. This is what Lord Owen stated in Hague, as witness in trial against Milosevic. This is what also Diana Johnston factually documents in her brilliant book...And this is what i can tell you from my personal experience. I came with my family as a refugee from Bosnia, we were small part of these 70.000 muslims that escaped "modernism" of Alija Izetbegovic and came to Serbia. We were accepted well and treated equally with all other Serbian refugees. Today my family lives in Serbia and has no intention of going back to this "New Bosnia". And as far as for Milosevic, his greatest sin seems to be that he was communist and (last) russian friend in Balkans. And this is unforgivable in our "democratic" and "free" west (where i live now). So it didn't matter who Western allies were in Balkans (or anywhere else)- Nazis or radical Muslims, as long as they were fighting russian friends and communists....

* For me the best point in Johnstons book is the story of Fikret Abdic, my leader and a leader of true moderate muslims. He was widely known as "Babo", a truly moderate muslim which wanted Bosnia to stay within Yugoslavia. As Diana states, his story has been never told in West since it doesn't fit in to "official" version of truth: How could Alija Iztebegovic and his followers be moderate when compared to Abdic and his followers? First one was a radical Muslim connected with most radical Muslim countries and organizations and the other one was a moderate Muslim who believed in mutual coexistence of Muslim and other cultures.That is precisely why Iztebegovic saw Abdic as the greatest danger and war actions against him were the most severe. This is why around 70 000 of us, who supported Abdic had to escape as refugees- to Serbia!

Well many more things to mention and talk about from this book, but these were some main points that i think would be very interesting for potential readers. Again, this book is simply untouchable when it comes to Wars in Ex-Yugoslavia and the best way to check it is to read it! Here is a link to Diana Johnston's latest article on Srebrenica, which is the key point of argument for those who are trying to discredit this whole book- most of them being my brainwashed compatriots:[...] and a link to an truly independent international expert research group on Srebrenica:[...]

Go and get this book, you will be telling everybody about it.

Mike Finch (UK)

Diana Johnstone has produced easily the most comprehensive and readable book on the decade long conflict in the Balkans. She examines thoroughly both local and international players and provides a variety of angles and backgrounds to the driving forces behind them. What fascinated me most though is the elegant style and lucidity with which she is able to deal with such a variety of apparently complex issues. An American who has spent much of her life in Europe she is clearly fluent in several languages. Her sources are thus not only from the (often over simplistic) English-speaking world, but also German (she is particularly good here), French, Serbo-Croat and even Italian ones. With that remarkable range of sources and angles the author examines the Western intervention and the dismantling of a sovereign state as well as the Western media reporting to justify it. And she links and references her writings extremely well. It felt as though one had been through two or three comprehensive volumes instead of her highly readable paperback. There appears to be everything in the book. From the history of the region, seen from the vantage point of both the locals as well as the many intervening and occupying foreign powers, to the present day power balances and New World Order agendas. She takes on the Western governments and the corporate media and points out how they, often deliberately, misrepresented the conflict. And how the liberal left was taken in by it all and effectively ended up dancing to the tune of the only remaining superpower. She makes it clear early on where she stands with regard to the officially proclaimed devil of the piece i.e. the Serbs. "I am pro-Serb," she writes, "only if that means that I consider Serbs to be human beings like everybody else, neither better nor worse."

Since the whole story propagated by Western reporting relies on the assumption that Serbs are highly abnormal, Johnstone has no problem in taking the overtly racist accusations against them apart. And, of course, once you succeed in taking away the devil away from moralising Western governments, their many NGOs and the mainstream media, the real agendas soon become exposed. Is one to really believe that US-NATO intervened against Serbia on behalf of "peace" and "human rights" or even to "stop genocide" or to build the largest US military base outside the USA, Camp Bondsteel in the Nato occupied Serbian province of Kosovo? Much of that has meanwhile also become clearer to many on the left, except that many still shy away from Yugoslavia, subconsciously embarrassed at having bought the storyline on Bosnia years earlier. Johnstone deals with the West's most profiled case, Srebrenica, and the universally repeated accusations of "genocide" by focussing on the Western media's own emphasis that Bosnian Serbs had separated the allegedly executed men from their womenfolk. "One thing should be obvious" comments Johnstone, "one does not commit genocide by sparing women and children". She might have gone further and concentrated on the most frequently used figure of 7.000 men estimated by the US to have been executed at Srebrenica. This is routinely referred to as the "biggest war crime since WW2" or even "since the Holocaust" as a BBC Panorama program on Srebrenica would have it. One might of course have taken somewhat lower comparison figures than six million as a WW2 reference. For example the execution of 200.000 at Hiroshima or 130.000 at Dresden, which rate neither as war crimes nor genocides among those accusing the Bosnian Serbs of both. Nor, of course, was there any distinction made between men, women and children in the aforementioned places. Also remarkably, the artillery fire, which the two warring factions at Sarajevo were using against each other, was attributed to one side only and then not compared to bombed cities in WW2, but in several instances no more no less than Auschwitz (!).

The author however does not make the mistake of concentrating merely on local sides but looks at the agendas of the major international players, grouped together in their so-called International Community. Their aims are now much more clearly visible over a decade then during their own media blitzes. The bottom line of the superpower agenda Johnstone concludes is "globalisation, and it signifies world economic domination enforced by military means"

A highly commendable book to all those who want to understand the techniques and methods which had duped many in the antiwar and antiglobalisation movements as they failed to see the wood for the trees. The fools in the "Fool's Crusade" are certainly not NATO and the Western governments.

A Customer

The most realistic book on Wars in Ex-Yugoslavia, June 21, 2004

This review is from: Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions (Paperback) This book is masterpiece! Breaking the silence on the greatest lie ever sold.....Deals with real reasons for war,explains that Izetbegovic and Tudjman were MOST RADICAL NATIONALISTS strongly supported by the West, and presents them in their real light....Uncovering all that you didn't and couldn't know about all sides. The only book that comes close to this one is Kurt Koepruner's book, which is unfortunately only available in German. But, if you have a real interest in break up of Yugoslavia, look for a documentary "Yugoslavia-An avoidable war", an award winning film, featuring Lord Carrington, Lord Owen.....and many others who saw the whole situation through very different eyes. Many of the stated things from Johnston's book are featured in the documentary.As i said, this book is great, but it is "isolated" on this site.

By "isolated" i mean that Amazon did not provide any links to any truly similar items.... I have noticed, together with some friends of mine, that listmania links that follow this book (and some other important works on Balkan affairs) do not even FEATURE this book. That means that if you do want to find similar material you will not be able to, because links and lists that follow have almost nothing in common with the book you are seeing on the page. Why was this done to this particular book and some othet books on Yugo affairs, that offer different side of story, i do not know. But here, i will try to provide interested customers of Amazon with some list that DO FEATURE this book and all those that are truly similar to it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/14ROEM03KMOB2/ref=cm_lm_byauthor_title_full/103-2676158-7514207 http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/3FXPR115WM5AM/ref=cm_lm_byauthor_title_full/103-2676158-7514207 http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/35DMDNEK4NSDN/103-2676158-7514207?%5Fencoding=UTF8 http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/2X4EP24726YTT/103-2676158-7514207?%5Fencoding=UTF8 The only book similar to this, that is available on this page is Parenti's " To kill a nation" which is indeed the most similar work to Johnston's. However, no other books or lists offered on this page through different "criteria" have anything in common with "Fool's Crusade".

[Aug 28, 2013] War With Syria and Its Repercussions

Antiwar.com

Why would Obama risk directly entering the Syria maelstrom at this point? Several reasons:

  1. Assad is winning the war against Obama’s Islamic extremist rebels. Bombing Assad will thus give the rebels a boost, extending the war (assuming there is not a full US invasion).
  2. Obama has invested much political capital into the conflict; if he backs out now, he loses political credibility domestically and internationally. When a US president doesn’t back up his threats, he looks weak; and “projected strength” is now a backbone of US foreign policy, which keeps weaker nations aligned and “rival” nations submissive.
  3. Destroying or weakening Syria will drastically weaken Obama’s two other regional rivals: Iran and Hezbollah.
  4. Most importantly, the landscape of the Middle East is changing fast, and US influence in the region is quickly deteriorating. An action in Syria will remind the region that the US is intent on staying, and that its threats are to be respected. Obama will not simply preside over a dying empire; he must go “all in” to secure US ”national interests” in the region.

For these reasons and others Obama seems intent on going to war with Syria, although it won’t be called a war. Obama will say that he’s declaring a “no fly zone” over parts of Syria to provide a “humanitarian corridor” for refugees, which requires that he destroy the Syrian air force, ground to air weaponry, and other military facilities, i.e., war.

[Aug 28, 2013] An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing

Attack on Syria gives definitive answer to the question "Who rules America?". It also completly discredited Kerry.
The Guardian

The two former colonial powers that carved up the Middle East between them, Britain and France, are as ever chafing for a slice of the action as the US assembles yet another "coalition of the willing". And as in Iraq and Sudan (where President Clinton ordered an attack on a pharmaceuticals factory in retaliation for an al-Qaida bombing), intelligence about weapons of mass destruction is once again at the centre of the case being made for a western missile strike.

In both Iraq and Sudan, the intelligence was of course wrong. But once again, UN weapons inspectors are struggling to investigate WMD claims while the US and its friends have already declared them "undeniable". Once again they are planning to bypass the UN security council. Once again, they are dressing up military action as humanitarian, while failing to win the support of their own people.

The trigger for the buildup to a new intervention – what appears to have been a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta – certainly has the hallmarks of a horrific atrocity. Hundreds, mostly civilians, are reported killed and many more wounded, their suffering caught on stomach-churning videos.

But so far no reliable evidence whatever has been produced to confirm even what chemical might have been used, let alone who delivered it. The western powers and their allies, including the Syrian rebels, insist the Syrian army was responsible. The Damascus government and its international backers, Russia and Iran, blame the rebels.

The regime, which has large stockpiles of chemical weapons, undoubtedly has the capability and the ruthlessness. But it's hard to see a rational motivation. Its forces have been gaining ground in recent months and the US has repeatedly stated that chemical weapons use is a "red line" for escalation.

For the same reason, the rebel camp (and its regional sponsors), which has been trying to engineer a western intervention in the Libya-Kosovo mould for the past two years to tip the military balance, clearly has an interest in that red line being crossed.

Three months ago, the UN Syria human rights commission member Carla Del Ponte said there were "strong concrete suspicions" that rebel fighters had used the nerve gas sarin, and Turkish security forces were reported soon afterwards to have seized sarin from al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front units heading into Syria.

The arms proliferation expert, Paul Schulte, of King's College London, believes rebel responsibility "can't be ruled out", even if the "balance of probability" points to the regime or a rogue military commander. Either way, whatever Colin Powell-style evidence is produced this week, it's highly unlikely to be definitive.

But that won't hold back the western powers from the chance to increase their leverage in Syria's grisly struggle for power. A comparison of their response to the Ghouta killings with this month's massacres of anti-coup protesters in Egypt gives a measure of how far humanitarianism rules the day.

The Syrian atrocity, where the death toll has been reported by opposition-linked sources at 322 but is likely to rise, was damned as a "moral obscenity" by US secretary of state John Kerry. The killings in Egypt, the vast majority of them of civilians, have been estimated at 1,295 over two days. But Barack Obama said the US wasn't "taking sides", while Kerry earlier claimed the army was "restoring democracy".

In reality, western and Gulf regime intervention in Syria has been growing since the early days of what began as a popular uprising against an autocratic regime but has long since morphed into a sectarian and regional proxy war, estimated to have killed over 100,000, balkanised the country and turned more than a million people into refugees.

Now covert support has become open military backing for a rebel movement split into over 1,000 groups and increasingly dominated by jihadist fighters, as atrocities have multiplied on all sides. While the focus has been on Ghouta this week, rebels have been ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of Kurds from north east Syria across the border into Iraq.

Until now, the western camp has been prepared to bleed Syria while Obama has resisted pressure for what he last week called more "difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment". Now the risk to US red line credibility seems to have tipped him over to back a direct military attack.

But even if it turns out that regime forces were responsible for Ghouta, that's unlikely to hold them to account or remove the risk from chemical weapons. More effective would be an extension of the weapons inspectors' mandate to secure chemical dumps, backed by a united security council, rather than moral grandstanding by governments that have dumped depleted uranium, white phosphorus and Agent Orange around the region and beyond.

In any case, chemical weapons are far from being the greatest threat to Syria's people. That is the war itself and the death and destruction that has engulfed the country. If the US, British and French governments were genuinely interested in bringing it to an end – instead of exploiting it to weaken Iran – they would be using their leverage with the rebels and their sponsors to achieve a ceasefire and a negotiated political settlement.

Instead, they seem intent on escalating the war to save Obama's face and tighten their regional grip. It's a dangerous gamble, which British MPs have a responsibility to oppose on Thursday.

Even if the attacks are limited, they will certainly increase the death toll and escalate the war. The risk is that they will invite retaliation by Syria or its allies – including against Israel – draw the US in deeper and spread the conflict. The west can use this crisis to help bring Syria's suffering to an end – or pour yet more petrol on the flames.

AllotmentDaily

More effective would be an extension of the weapons inspectors' mandate to secure chemical dumps, backed by a united security council, rather than moral grandstanding by governments that have dumped depleted uranium, white phosphorus and Agent Orange around the region and beyond.

Spot on!

[Aug 28, 2013] ‘The West wants to install a puppet regime in Syria’ Strategic-Culture.org

Looks like plans to bomb Syria are pretty old. Below is almost a year old article that mentioned possibility of imposing by force a puppet government, similar to what happened in Libya and Iraq.

18.11.2012 | Strategic Culture Foundation

France is set to raise the issue of lifting an EU arms embargo against Syria at an upcoming meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Journalist Neil Clark told RT western imperial ambitions have come at the expense of Syria's popular will.

RT: London and Paris have said they'll raise the topic of lifting an EU arms embargo in Brussels on Monday, hoping for direct weapons deliveries to the rebels. Do you think their wish will be granted?

Neil Clark: It's back to 2011, isn't it? It's Libya mark two, because back in February/March 2011, it was the same scenario, wasn't it? What we have is, we get together some opposition puppets if you like, knock our heads together, call them the government of Libya and now Syria, and then we work to end the arms embargoes. And very soon you'll be hearing talk, I expect, of no-fly zones. This is all part of the plan to topple President Bashar al-Assad, and of course things haven't gone to plan for the Western powers, have they, because President Assad is still in power. It wasn't meant to have gone this way, so now they are going back to what they did last year.

RT: If Western states begin official arms supplies, wouldn't nations that back the Syrian government have the right to do the same?

NC: Oh, absolutely, but this hypocrisy has been absolutely glaring. We had [British Foreign Secretary] William Hague, and then we had French leaders and the Americans claiming that Iran is backing Syria. And of course we have the furore with the Turkish bringing down a Syrian plane, which they claim was carrying Russian guns to Syria, and of course we never saw those. So the hypocrisy for the Western powers is absolutely glaring; It's okay for us to arm the rebels in Syria, but for anyone else to arm the Syrians, it's not allowed.

RT: Britain says it wants a political transition plan from the new Syrian opposition coalition before it recognizes them as legitimate. Why is it that Western allies other than France haven't jumped on the bandwagon and recognized this new coalition?

NC: I think the Americans are a bit concerned at the moment. [President] Obama is caught between two stones here. After what happened in Libya, he's a bit concerned the weapons will get into the hands of people who may turn and use them against the US a year from now as they've done there.

I think the French are the most aggressive of the lot, even more aggressive than Britain. [French President] Mr. Hollande is trying to recreate the French empire I'm afraid. I mean, 40 years ago the great Charles De Gaulle, and now we have the grotesque spectacle of so-called Socialist Francois Hollande actually trying to recreate the French empire following on from [former President] Sarkozy. The French line is absolutely appalling what they're doing here; they have absolutely no right at all to say who the government of Syria is. It's up to the Syrian people to decide that. And I expect Britain will follow unfortunately on Monday of next week.

RT: The new opposition coalition’s founding document expressly rejects any talks with the regime. With that in mind, how can the alliance expect to achieve peace?

NC: They don't want peace. What they want is the violent removal of President Assad. That's been clear form the start. We've already got a democratic framework in Syria. We had the constitutional vote back in February; 87 percent of Syrians voted for it. We had elections in May There has been every possibility of change in Syria through the ballot box, but the West doesn't want that because they know that President Assad is too popular. The Ba'ath probably has majority support inside Syria. So they can't go down that root, and therefore they need violent regime change…because that's the only way they are going to get what they want, which is a puppet regime in Damascus.

RT: If they want that regime change, would Turkey be the country to actually spearhead the military operation bearing in mind it’s now in talks with NATO to set up missiles on its border with Syria?

NC: It's very likely that would happen because the likes of Britain, France and the US wouldn't want themselves to be taking the lead in this. They would like a Muslim country, preferably Turkey, to take the lead, otherwise people are just going to say this is a Western operation, which it is. And of course Turkey has changed its policy on Syria. In the last 18 months it's moved towards the Qatari/Saudi/Gulf bloc. So I think the West would much prefer for this sort of intervention, when it comes, to come through Turkey. I think what we're going to get next week is more talk about no-fly zones, which is interesting because we've got Gaza going on; we've got the Israeli air force bombing Gaza. And of course there's no call for no-fly zones there from William Hague and Francois Hollande, but of course there will be for Syria?

RT: So if removing Assad will cause even more volatility and instability in the region, it would be better off to keep him there at the moment, wouldn't it?

NC: Well, it's up to the Syrian people. My line on this is, the Syrian people must decide this. The majority of people want the government to stay. We had a rebel commander a few weeks ago bemoaning the fact that in Aleppo and other cities, 70 percent of the people in Syria are behind the government. This is why President Assad is still in power. So you have this grotesque spectacle of western powers shouting from the rooftops they are keen on democracy but they don't want to allow the people's will in Syria to prevail. They want to impose by force a puppet government, and what would happen is a Libya mark two. If Assad is toppled, we would have more chaos in Syria, more death and destruction, but the west doesn't really care about that, it doesn't care about what is happening in Libya at the moment. What it cares about is a new government in Damascus which would privatize the entire economy and cut links with Iran and Hezbollah and allow the move against Iran to take place, because it is all about paving the way for war against Iran.

[Aug 27, 2013] Robert Johnson on Oligarchy at Culture Project's IMPACT 2012 Festival

They are stuffing their life boards, not trying to save the ship

rayme4raw

Holy Crap, and why am I the first commentor. He just said what I've been thinking about the elite. They don't have a way out, they don't want to be leaders, they want to get as much stuff as they can until it all comes crashing down. DHS may have bought 1 billion hollow point bullets for us, trust me, the American people have enough bullets for the elite.

lynnybee888:

excellent video. withdraw your support from this system; purchase as little as possible, do NOT take out loans, withdraw your money from banks & do NOT used their credit cards. give Ben Shalome Bernanke back his worthless fiat money & save yourselves by purchasing metal. we don't need no stinking big government; the whole system is a scam, a wealth transferance mechanism & it started in 1913 in earnest we don't need no stinking government debt borrowed from private banks @ interest.

[Aug 17, 2013] How to Stay Awake During Obama Speeches: Play Bullshit Bingo

February 26, 2010 | naked capitalism

Via e-mail:

1. Before Barrack Obama’s next televised speech, prepare your “Bullshit Bingo” card by drawing a square. I find that 5″ x 5″ is a good size — and dividing it into columns –five across and five down. That will give you 25 1-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:

Restored our reputation
Strategic fit
Let me be clear
Make no mistake
Back from the brink
Signs of recovery
Out of the loop
Benchmark
Job creation
Fiscal restraint
Win-win
Affordable health care
Previous Administration
At the end of the day
Empower (or empowerment)
Touch base
Mindset
Bipartisan
Trust
Inherited as in “I inherited this mess”
Relief for working families
Unprecedented
Accountable (or held to account)
Free market
Reform

Players can make substitutions to this list, but only one phrase can be used in any one block. Alternatives include:

Change (as in “change you can believe in)
Universal health care
Brought the economy back from the brink

3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout ”BULLSHIT!”

Testimonials from past satisfied “Bullshit Bingo” players:

”I had been listening to the speech for only five minutes when I won.” - Jack W., Boston

”My attention span during speeches has improved dramatically.” – David D., Florida

”What a gas! Speeches will never be the same for me after my first win.” - Bill R., New York City

“The atmosphere was tense in the last speech as 14 of us waited for the fifth box.” – Ben G., Denver

“The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed “BULLSHIT!” for the third time in two hours.” – Harry A. Chantilly

[Aug 14, 2013] Umpire Strikes Out By Andrew J. Bacevich

Review of American Umpire, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Harvard University Press, 440 pages
August 13, 2013 | The American Conservative

ArizonaBumblebee:

I could make a strong argument about the benefits to mankind of imperial regimes. Certainly this was the case with the Han Chinese, Roman, Ottoman, and British empires. But we would be amiss if we didn’t briefly address the downsides to empire.

Maintaining empire is an expensive proposition. I am not familiar with the Chinese dynasties, but I do know that the Roman, Ottoman, and British empires all eventually became financial basket cases. In virtually all of these instances imperial overreach was a major factor. Does this sound familiar? Read David Stockman’s latest book to get an idea of how America’s warfare state is leading it to financial ruin.

Second, all imperial regimes become arrogant and smug in their attitudes and actions toward outsiders and internal dissenters, which result in constant wars or domestic repression. Britain and France fought numerous wars over the centuries as did the Mongols and the Han Chinese and the Romans and the Persians. Wars and imperialism go hand in hand.

Finally, the idea that the United States is not an imperial power is preposterous on its face. Ask Evo Morales, whose presidential plane was forced down recently on the rumor he just might have Mr. Snowden on board. Or ask the leaders of countries in Latin America who have had to endure in recent decades death squads, resource exploitation, and invasions directed by the Washington elites. Or ask former President Morsi of Egypt, if you can locate him. The idea that America is not an imperialist power is amazing rubbish!

James Canning:

Yes, how convenient to omit discussion of the idiotic and illegal American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Economist's View Paul Krugman Milton Friedman, Unperson

Main Street Muse:

"The point, however, is that modern conservatism has moved so far to the right that it no longer has room for even small concessions to reality. Friedman tried to save free-market conservatism from itself — but the ideologues who now dominate the G.O.P. are beyond saving."

The really scary thing is that the right-wing ideologues own the GOP - and they do so because they get votes. Look at what's happening in North Carolina - let's hope it is not a bellwether for the nation.

Peter K. -> Mark A. Sadowski...

I'm sorry I'm just an amateur in this area, but seems to me that Fed is favoring one area of the economy, the housing market, and pumping demand into that area by easing credit conditions. I can see why it wants to do this since the banks are heavily tied up in the housing market. (Essentially it's pumping demand into the financial sector). Easing credit for the banks allow them to provide more loans to all other areas of the economy, whichever will be most profitable for them.

What are the special effects of Treasuries? Lowering the Federal government's borrowing costs, allowing it to engage in more fiscal spending than might otherwise be the case?

I see open market operations as monetary policy. They calibrate interest rates. Once at the zero bound, the central banks has to resort to other measures.

Isn't the Bank of Japan buying construction bonds? Would that be fiscal? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abenomics

Mark A. Sadowski -> Darryl FKA Ron...

"MarkSki would probably say that Bernanke did not use monetary quickly and aggresively enough to provide liquidity, but I am not sure that liquidity would have played out as well in the investment banking shadow finance world as well as in commercial banking. In any case, there would have also been an exceptional opportunity in ARM resets than were indexed to prime rate had the Fed rate been lower when the resets occurred. MarkSki may ride in later to explain the rest."

I'll go much further than that and say that tight monetary policy caused the recession.

Every recession since WW II has been preceded by an inverted yield curve during the previous 5-19 months. The Fed essentially has control of the short end of the yield curve, and hence is able to prevent yield curve inversion. Yield curve inversion is symptomatic of tight monetary policy.

The yield curve became inverted in August 2006 and stayed that way through May 2007. The recession started in December 2007:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?graph_id=75581&category_id=0

The financial crisis which started nine months later was a symptom not a cause of the recession.

Lafayette -> Mark A. Sadowski...

{I'll go much further than that and say that tight monetary policy caused the recession.}

You seem to forget that there was a SubPrime Mess (that created Toxic Waste debt instruments), which caused a seizure of the American Credit Mechanism in the fall of 2008, and sparked the Great Recession of 2009.

I submit this was the real catalyst.

[Aug 08, 2013] Jeffrey Sachs watch the interview in full - the Guardian

Apr 13, 2012 | YouTube

Jeffrey Sachs in conversation with Larry Elliot. As a former special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, Jeffrey Sachs is undoubtedly one of the leading international economic thinkers of his generation. As part of the Guardian Open Weekend, Professor Sachs discusses world economic issues with a live

See also Jeffrey Sachs on Wall Street bankers - the Guardian

[Aug 03, 2013] Somewhere Over The Rainbow: The West Calls The Gay To Arms Against Russia by marknesop

Uncle Volodya says, “Human beings, who are almost unique in their ability to learn from experience, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
August 2, 2013 | The Kremlin Stooge

Somewhere over the rainbow
nonsense rules; boycotting vodka, a gay intifada
and playing us all for fools

Once upon a time, your ranking within the western freedom-and-democracy club was a reflection of how much you loved Israel. Suddenly, in a bizarre turn of events that has getting-even-for-Edward-Snowden written all over it, the metric has shifted to how much you love homosexuals. And Russia – unsurprisingly – is the center of a circle of pointing fingers as the homophobic flavour-of-the-year, because of what western media insists on referring to as its “anti-gay law”.

Sniffing the heady aroma of empowerment, the gay community was quick to react. Gay bars from Vancouver to London to Chicago to San Francisco have vowed to remove Russian vodka brands from their shelves. Gays of the world, unite to free your oppressed Russian brothers and sisters!!

It’s hard to overstate how stupid this all is, and you could be forgiven for being a little weary of it, because you’ve seen it before: in the embarrassing and much-ridiculed “Freedom Fries” fiasco. Back then, the target was France, because its surrender-monkey government would not climb on board the Get Iraq bandwagon. Just for fun, a blast from the past, would you like to see an excerpt from the speech made before the U.N by senior French surrender-monkey Dominique de Villepin, in a desperate attempt to put the brakes on the idiot train before it jumped the tracks? Allons-y, mes amis.

“To those who believe that war would be the quickest way to disarm Iraq, I say it would establish gulfs and create wounds that are long in healing. And how many victims, how many grieving families?

We do not subscribe to what may be the other objectives of a war.

Is it a matter of regime change in Baghdad? No one underestimates the cruelty of this dictatorship and the need to do everything possible to promote human rights. That is not the objective of UNSCR 1441. And force is certainly not the best way to bring about democracy. It would encourage dangerous instability, there and elsewhere. Is it a matter of fighting terrorism? War would only increase it, and we could then be faced with a new wave of violence. Let us beware of playing into the hands of those who want a clash of civilizations, a clash of religions.

Or is it, finally, a matter of reshaping the political landscape of the Middle East? In that case, we run the risk of exacerbating tensions in a region already marked by great instability. Not to mention that in Iraq itself, the large number of communities and religions already constitutes a risk of a potential break-up. We all have the same demands: more security, more democracy. But there is another approach beside that of force, another path, other solutions.

We understand the profound sense of insecurity with which the American people have been living since the tragedy of 11 September 2001. The entire world shared the sorrow of New York and of America, struck in the heart. I say this in the name of our friendship for the American people, in the name of our common values: freedom, justice, tolerance.

But there is nothing today that indicates a link between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaida. And will the world be a safer place after a military intervention in Iraq? I want to tell you what my country’s conviction is: no.”

Was he right? Damn skippy he was, right as rain on every point. But America went ahead with the “Freedom Fries” dunce’s opera anyway. There are not too many people in the Anglosphere today who remember that as other than the epic piece of stupidity it was. But the point is, when you burn your fingers on a hot stove, it is supposed to foster an instinct in you that will prevent it from happening again.

Have we learned anything? Apparently not.

Would you like to see the law that has vested so much clout in international gayness that banning vodka is going global, and has miffed cities – hard to imagine the childishness, I know – severing their “twin” relationships with Russian cities? All right, then.

The Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences (Collection of Laws of the Russian Federation, 2002, No. 1, Article 1, No. 30 et al.) shall be amended as follows:

1) add Article 6.13.1 reading as follows:

“Article 6.13.1. Propaganda of homosexuality among minors

Propaganda of homosexuality among minors -

is punishable by an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of four thousand to five thousand rubles; for officials –forty thousand to fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities – four hundred thousand to five hundred thousand rubles”;

2) in Article 28.3, Section2, Clause 1 figures “6.13” shall be changed to “6.13.1”.

President of the Russian Federation

EXPLANATORY NOTE
to the Draft Federal Law “On Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences”

Propaganda of homosexuality in Russia took a wide sweep. This propaganda is delivered both through the media and through active social actions that promote homosexuality as a behavioral norm. It is especially dangerous for children and youth who are not yet capable of a critical attitude to the avalanche of information that falls upon them every day. In this regard, it is necessary to primarily protect the younger generation from the effects of homosexual propaganda, and the present bill pursues this goal.

Family, motherhood and childhood in the traditional, adopted from the ancestors understanding are the values ​​that provide a continuous change of generations and serve as a condition for the preservation and development of the multinational people of the Russian Federation, and therefore they require special protection from the state.

Legitimate interests of minors are an important social value, with the goal of the public policy toward children being to protect them from the factors that negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual,and moral development. Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Federal Law № 124-FZ of24.07.1998 “On Basic Guarantees of Child Rights in the Russian Federation” directly states the obligation of public authorities of the Russian Federation to take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigning that harm their health and moral and spiritual development.

In this connection it is necessary to establish measures to ensure intellectual, moral and mental security of children, including the prohibition onto perform any act aimed at the promotion of homosexuality. By itself, the prohibition of such propaganda as an activity of purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of the information that could harm the health and moral and spiritual development, as well as form misconceptions about the social equivalence of conventional and unconventional sexual relationships, among individuals who, due to their age, are not capable to independently and critically assess such information cannot be regarded as violating the constitutional rights of citizens.

Given the above, a bill suggesting amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences was prepared to introduce administrative responsibility for propaganda of homosexuality among minors. In this case, administrative responsibility is established not for the sheer fact of the person’s homosexuality, but only for propaganda of homosexuality among minors.

This bill imposes the right to make records of administrative offences for public actions aimed at propaganda of homosexuality among minors on the law enforcement officials (the Police), and trial of cases of administrative offences– on the judges.

Please note – this law does not, in any way, prohibit adults from being gay, or being seen to be gay. You’ll see why that’s important in a minute. It introduces administrative punishments – fines – for the promotion of homosexuality as a behavioral norm to a minor child. In Russia, that means anyone aged 16 and under. The explanatory notes are at pains to point out “administrative responsibility is established not for the sheer fact of the person’s homosexuality, but only for propaganda of homosexuality among minors.

Since this anti-gay law has so infuriated homosexuals all over the world, only two possibilities exist – (1) they have not actually read it, and have no real idea what it says, but are content to follow mob rule because the empowerment is too exciting for them to bother considering they may be advocating from a position of ignorance, or (2) they demand the right to market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to children aged 16 and under. Because behavior other than that is defensibly not against the law.

Own it, my gay brothers and sisters – which is it?

I’d be interested to hear why gay people demand the right of access to minors. Kids 16 years old and under are still in school. Do they need to learn The Gay Way for purposes of basic sex education? Why? What does where you intend to stick your penis have to do with learning how to put on a condom correctly? Kids already learn it; after that, it’s pretty much point and push. Is it to protect them from sexually-transmitted diseases? Already part of the focus of basic sex education. To protect them against unwanted pregnancy? Ha, ha. Is it to teach them tolerance, so they will not pick on gay people when they get older? Schoolchildren already learn that it is wrong to discriminate against people because they look, act or worship differently, and there have been far fewer suicides of Russian schoolchildren over anti-gay bullying than there have been in western countries; they must be doing something right.

I doubt that persons of the same gender holding hands or exchanging low-key demonstrations of affection is going to be regarded as “homosexual propaganda”. Unless perhaps the two are schoolteachers at work in school, in which case no public demonstrations of affection – whether homosexual or heterosexual – are permitted. But say it’s on a city bus, where minors are present. Do you really think if two women on the bus are holding hands, a SWAT team is going to smash in the windows and drag them away? Come on. However, if they’re playing sloppy tonsil-hockey in front of everyone, that is offensive to a broad spectrum of society and simply being gay does not grant you absolution from responsibility to behave respectably in public. Elderly people still have a functioning sex drive, too, and are an identifiable social group. Grandpa and Grandma sitting on a bus seat together holding hands – no problem. Grandpa with his tongue down Grandma’s throat and his arm up her skirt like he’s prospecting for gold – big problem. Perhaps I’m getting the wrong impression, but it seems to me that gay-rights advocates are crusading for the right to behave with complete hedonism in public. And if there is a group that loves to act out in public more than homosexuals do, it must be the Stratford Theatre.

The law says you may not market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to minor children. Well, is it? If homosexuality is natural and normal, why can’t homosexuals reproduce naturally? If it were natural and normal, there would be only one sex, and it would blaze out in a single generation, or it would be capable of high-function asexual reproduction or we would all be born hermaphrodites, a plug-and-play species. Since none of those conditions prevail, I believe we must conclude that homosexuality is not the normal or natural state – and, furthermore, that it is a state at which humanity arrived all by itself, without input at the drawing-board by The Creator.

That notwithstanding, it must be acknowledged that the gay community has provided the world some of its finest playwrights, poets, artists, performers and philosophers – in fact, due to the late closeted nature of homosexuality, imposed upon it by revulsion and persecution in decades past, it is very likely the gay community provided the world with giants in every field of endeavor, but their sexuality was a puzzle-piece which remained undiscovered. For that, it is owed a debt of gratitude, and at the very least homosexuality must be regarded as a reality that is not going to be discorporated, frightened, wished or legislated away.

Understand me – I get that love is love, and I’m not arguing you should deny the call of your heart if that’s what you really feel, just because some of society disapproves. The same resistance was encountered by interracial relationships, and nobody thinks anything of that any more. But a law which restricts pitching homosexuality to minor children is not unreasonable. Neither is teaching basic sex education in schools pitching heterosexuality. It is focused on preventing sexually-transmitted disease – which is a concern for homosexuals as well – and preventing unwanted pregnancy, which is not. It is not disadvantaging homosexuals, and it is not anti-gay.

Which is why it is particularly disappointing to listen to the coded rhetoric of Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, as he “blasted Russia’s hateful anti-gay law“. Mr. Baird and others allegedly “raised concerns” both before and after the signing of the law, which suggests that Mr. Baird is well aware of exactly what the law says – God knows politicians should all have learned by now not to blather about issues on which they know nothing. Therefore, he knows the law applies only to the propagandizing of homosexuality to minor children, which is those 16 years old and younger. There are all sorts of red herrings, such as that gay Olympic athletes may be arrested, and that simple displays of affection such as holding hands or displaying the rainbow flag are now banned. Really? Show me. No specific examples of “homosexual propaganda” have ever been provided – activists complained the meaning was not clearly defined. Homosexuality has been legal in Russia since 1993 – 10 years before it was legal in the United States, and even that was pushed through only in the shocked aftermath of the gruesome torture murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

Policymakers are knowingly misrepresenting the Russian law, and gays are responding unthinkingly, because they perceive an outpouring of western support for gay rights which is, in fact, an illusion. The gay are simply being used as a battering ram to put pressure on Russia, because the west has no other way.

I mean, there’s no appetite for a gay boycott of oil, is there? Think you can get gay people to stop using any means of gasoline-powered transport, and convince them to put on a sweater instead of turning on any non-electric heat? After all, Russia is the world’s largest energy producer. But that will never happen, because three of the USA’s top five companies are oil companies. Oh, and Saudi Arabia is a close ally. Where, incidentally, the penalty for any same-sex activity is death, or life imprisonment; you pays your money and you takes your chances.

I mentioned earlier that Milan, Venice and Turin had severed their “twin” relationships with Russian cities in outrage over the “anti-gay law”. However, Milan remains twinned with Dakar, Senegal, where any same-sex activity is illegal and punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Turin remains twinned with Kazerun, Iran, where any same-sex activity is illegal and punishable by death. Venice had only two twins; since it dumped St Petersburg in a show of solidarity that likely had the gay community in tears of emotion, it now has only one – Esfahan, Iran. Yeah, that’s right. Give me sodomy, or give me death.

Stolichnaya vodka, often referred to as “Stoli” by regular vodka drinkers, is the target of choice in the gay purge of Russian vodka. It’s actually made by two different companies; the one which markets the vodka being pulled from gay bars in Canada and the United States is really made by SPI Group, a company based in Luxembourg. The CEO, Val Mendeleev, says, “the Russian government has no ownership, interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group.”

Oh, look; New York City gay bartenders dumping Stoli on the street, in a gay symbolic protest in front of the Russian consulate. I’m sure that will hurt their feelings, since it was bottled in Latvia and made by a private Luxembourg company. That’s OK, the Latvians do not need jobs, it’s a very wealthy country. Yes, I was being sarcastic – the per-capita GDP in Latvia was just a little over $5,000.00 a year in 2012. Additionally, the gay community in Latvia begs the world not to boycott Stolichnaya – not just because it is only tenuously Russian, but because gay Latvians fear a backlash of hatred will be directed against them.

And here, in another of those weird double exposures, is a story about Young Americans For Freedom gathering at the French consulate in New York City in 2003, to pour French wine into the gutter. Freedom fries, anyone? Incidentally, the CATO Institute pointed out at the time that boycotting French wines would hurt California manufacturers, because they would have to lower their prices to get under the artificially-depressed price of French wines. But damn, a boycott sure feels good, doesn’t it? We’re doin’ something!!

Those who are fond of pretzel logic, riddle me this: how did we get to a point where the Russian Orthodox Church’s lack of support for the unrestricted freedom of homosexuality is an intolerable restraint which requires an international gay assault to overcome it….cheered on by the political class and press of the country in which the penultimate president was elected with the enthusiastic support of evangelical voters? George W. Bush carried every state in which there was a significant Southern Baptist presence. You better believe religion mattered then, oh, yes, and the newly-elected president was quick to reward those who had helped him: with the establishment of the National Day of Prayer, the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, and the re-imposition of the gag rule with regard to abortion services in American foreign aid. You remember the Southern Baptists – they’re the ones the religious press was talking about back then when they said, “When we talk to evangelicals about political issues, we actually hear them talk much more about gay marriage than about abortion. It’s not that they’re not concerned about abortion. But it’s like people have been fighting that battle for a long time. Everyone knows this script. There’s a sense that if there’s going to be movement in one direction or another, it’s going to be relatively minor…Whereas with gay marriage, there’s a feeling that they’ve just gotten hit with a tidal wave, and that society as they know it, and as they think it should be, is being destroyed rapidly. It’s urgent. It’s an emergency. And something has to be done about it.” Mmm hmm. Gay marriage is going to destroy society. That’s right there at home, folks, if you’re not too busy boycotting Russian products to punish them for not being sufficiently welcoming of homosexual rights to chat up minor children.

In case you’ve forgotten, it was the ultra-radical Westboro Baptist Church which picketed the funeral – the fucking funeral, if you can believe it – of Matthew Shepard, carrying signs that read “No Tears For Queers”, and “Fag Matt Burns In Hell”, and others which featured crude stick figures in sexual positions. The Supreme Court upheld the church’s right to free speech. Just in case the sublety of that point slipped by you, let me re-frame it – it is apparently fine for the U.S. Supreme Court to legislate against gay rights in the interests of the majority who are not gay – in any event, it has not inspired a gay boycott of black robes and oak paneling. When Russia legislates in a manner which is even perceived to champion the rights of the majority – and 16.5% of the Russian population is 14 and under, I find it hard to believe a higher percentage of Russians are homosexual – it’s simply unacceptable. The Westboro Baptist Church is a hero to websites like godhatesfags, which described Shepard as someone who “…lived a Satanic lifestyle [and] got himself killed trolling for anonymous homosexual sex in a bar at midnight.”

But I don’t want to interrupt your high-fiving each other for how you’re bringing Russia to its knees.

Western policymakers, and the mainstream press which are their mouthpiece, are encouraging militant gay activism by hyping the vodka boycott to make it seem larger and more effective by far than it actually is, at the same time they are pushing gays and gay-rights activists toward demanding a boycott of the Sochi Olympics so that it will appear to them it was their own idea. Drunk with imagined success and tingling with imagined acceptance, the gay community thus far is going along with it even better than the initiators could have hoped. There is no broad support, politically or otherwise, for an Olympic boycott, and the athletes at least want nothing to do with it. But if a powerful special-interest group could develop support based on the narrative that Russia must be punished for its barbarity, and sacrifices must be made for the greater good…

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe the manipulators seriously think they’re going to be able to achieve a total boycott. But I believe they would happily settle for gay activism turning the Sochi Olympics into one gigantic rainbow protest. And it is this that would do the most damage, because the authorities would have to react and there would doubtless be incidents which would be spun as a brutal authoritarian crackdown on human rights, with bonus negative publicity for Russia while creating a distraction which would see the protests remembered as the defining story of the 2014 Olympics rather than any feats of athletic achievement.

The gay community thus far is happy to cooperate – delirious with excitement, in fact – by boycotting vodka which is neither made in or owned by Russia. A state of near hysteria prevails over a law perceived to discriminate against homosexuals which specifies in its text that no administrative penalty may accrue to anyone simply because they are gay. The same gay community which claims to yearn for autonomy, to be treated like everyone else, is gathering itself for an assault on Russia because it will not allow gay people to have a parade… which advertises their difference.

Gay activists who were truly focused on strategy and advancement of gay rights would know enough to demand up-front compensation of the policymakers in the form of domestic reforms at home, rather than running about waving rainbows and shouting down a law they do not understand. But the string-pullers know their weakness, and they dangle in front of gays an opportunity to scream in the face of everyone who ever called them fag or dyke or pansy or queer. The sad thing is that illusory arm around the shoulders, that gay momentum, will fall away just as soon as the gay footsoldiers have served their purpose.

And for that they will throw away the patient work of years of building acceptance, as the gay community will almost certainly be blamed for the worsening of international relations that would inevitably result from a deliberate attempt to sabotage the 2014 Olympics.

Disappointing, to say the very least.

kirill:

Great article, Mark. I like especially the highlighting of the breaking of twin cities links that are outright hypocrisy. This whole hysterical farce highlights once again that the west is not interested in facts when it comes to Russia. Fabricated narratives, lies and hate are all the west has to offer to Russia. And Russians are supposed to respect the west!

Let them “ruin” the Sochi Olympics. They will be leaving a stain on themselves that will be hard to undo in the coming decades. The truth has a habit of slowly leaking out and the lie that this Russian law is anti-gay is just to brazen to be construed as some innocent misunderstanding or over-zealousness on behalf of a “suffering” minority.

[Aug 02, 2013] Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden

August 1, 2013 | naked capitalism

ScottS:

I’m not sure why people are so cynical about Obama’s proclivity for playing 11-dimensional chess. Isn’t the fact that he’s playing the game against his own party, against his own ethnicity, against his own class, and against his own country evidence enough that he’s playing a far more complicated game than most?

Though it does boil down to selling out, which isn’t as hard to follow as rationalizing it.

profoundlogic:

How ironic that an average person like Snowden (certainly not average in the character category) could be such a remarkable thorn in Obama’s side. Snowden has taught us all a valuable lesson in the value of truth.

Interesting to watch how the credibility trap continues to grow for Obama. As you mention, it may not be the abuses themselves that result in the big O’s undoing, but the ensuing cover-up and lies.

“People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”

John Kenneth Galbraith

MRW:

The people advising Obama aren’t interested in America. They are only interested in Israel. And Israel has a national, strategic, and economic interest in keeping the security state functioning with the public-private relationships that its defense contractors, security contractors, and telephonic partners provide them. For example, it is inconceivable that the utility AT&T, in its pre-breakup days, would have routed all call record data through an Israeli (foreign) government-backed company for billing of US customers. Now, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, et cetera, do.

Further, General Keith Alexander has outsourced US strategic interests to private contractors outside US jurisdiction that cannot be curtailed or controlled directly by US law, or the quaint notion of the express wishes of the American people. They can only be curtailed or controlled by Alexander himself, and as James Bamford pointed out this past month, Alexander as the head of Cyber Command has his own army, navy, and air force that is not under the direct control of the US President.

Cocomaan:

Cornell West was talking with Larry Lessig in an interview and went into detail about “simple virtue” and how threatening it is to the state. Very good interview, I highly recommend it.

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/tavis/local-tavis-1026900.mp3

from Mexico:

Wow!

Fifty percent of congress-persons leave congress to go to work on “K” Street as lobbyists, with an average increase in pay of 1,452%.

And yet juxtaposed to this we still find folks with “simple integrity,” as West goes on to explain:

And yet in the end we do have a significant number of fellow citizens who just want to be decent. I think it’s just fundamentally a moral and spiritual issue. When you look at the words of Bradley Manning and Snowden and others, they really talk about conscience; they really talk about trying to do what’s right regardless of the consequences. And that really is in the end an issue of integrity… It’s a matter of them being willing to sacrifice and being willing to disclose truths that they know could lead toward their destruction of their lives.

–CORNEL WEST

What West said reminded me of something Susan Neiman wrote:

Moral Clarity – Facing Gallows

Are there moral laws that bind everyone—wherever they come from, whatever they believe? The greatest philosopher of modern times walked up to this question and turned sideways, refusing to answer directly. Instead, Immanuel Kant reached for a parable.

Imagine, he says, a man who claims temptation overwhelms him whenever he passes what the 18th century discretely referred to as “a certain house”. No matter what he tells himself beforehand, when he reaches the whorehouse he has to go in. He’d like to be prudent, he’d like to be faithful; perhaps he thinks sex is one thing that doesn’t belong on the market. But no tie of love, no fear of disease or shame is stronger than the claims of the flesh. Can we understand him? Easily, says Kant. But what if a gallows were installed before the whorehouse on which he will be hung immediately after emerging from its sin-sating depths? Suddenly he discovers he can withstand temptation very nicely, thank you. For however bright ordinary desires may be—for sex or wealth or any other form of mortal pleasure—all of them pale before the desire for life itself. No life, no consumption: all the sweets of the world put together cannot weigh against that.

Let the same man be summoned before an unjust ruler, and given a choice. The ruler intends to execute an innocent subject fallen afoul of his regime, but the semblance of law demands the appearance of just procedures. Someone will write a letter denouncing the innocent, bearing false witness to a capital crime. Our roue is asked to do it. Should he refuse, the ruler will make sure he is executed himself.

As in the first case, Kant thinks it’s easy to imagine being in this fellow’s shoes. But unlike the first case, we suddenly waver: we do not know what we would do. Kant always emphasized the limits of knowledge, and one of the things we never know for certain is the inside of our souls. None of us is so righteous as to be sure not to crumble in the face of death or torture. Most of us probably would. But all of us know what we should do: refuse to write the letter though it cost our own lives. And all of us know that we could do just that—whether or not we would totter in the end. In this moment, says Kant, we know our own freedom, in a breath of awe and wonder. Not pleasure but justice can move human beings to deeds that overcome the strongest of animal desires, the love of life itself. And contemplating this is as dizzying as contemplating the heavens above us: with this kind of power, we are as infinite as they are.

[....]

[We should never] be urged to live rightly because it’s in our self-interest to do so. Such arguments leave us helpless whenever morality and self-interest part company; in the times when they don’t, we don’t need morality to move us.

So how do you answer the skeptic who asks why he should be moral? Kant says you do it by talking about heroes: those who risk their lives rather than resign themselves to injustice. “Here virtue is worth so much because it costs so much.”

[....]

“What’s absolute, ” says Cornel West, “is what I’m willing to die for.”

http://www.einsteinforum.de/fileadmin/einsteinforum/downloads/victims_neiman.pdf

Chris Rogers :

@ from Mexico,

Good insight from Kant and many thanks for sharing.

I am reminded though that in the movie “V for Vendetta” the heroine is held captive by the man of the Guido Fawkes mask – our hero, during weeks of torture, Evie refuses to give up her friends, knowing full well they, and most likely herself, would be killed regardless of the outcome.

The end of that particular scene, when Evie believes its better to die, than betray, is the moment she’s overcome by all human emotion, love of life, love of freedom and a love of all that’s good in humanity.

Its a very powerful movie despite being based on a comic, and one regular posters should view or review again – particularly given the fascist trends so evident in the USA and UK presently – its a good dystopian warning that offers hope.

nonclassical

…Snowden is bushbama version of bushcheney’s WikiLeaks…

we, the American people, must be thankful for both…and contrast within, to LIES…

b :

a. Thanks for quoting me.

b. “If the NSA knows what Snowden downloaded (as they assert they do) they should be well aware of what he can publish. ”

I believe they do NOT know what he downloaded. Unless the NSA has a very diligent access and logging system (which for efficiency reasons does not make sense) a sysadmin like Snowden can delete the traces of access he had to a machine or file. The NSA does not know what Snowden got.

In yesterdays hearing the NSA robot said they did not know yet how Snowden did what he did. If that is true they can not know what he has.

(The NSA does not even know if he left a bug in the system or some kind of time bomb like virus. It will take month for them to be sure that their systems are not corrupted. Quite mess in that data shop.)

Yves Smith:

Thanks for paying a visit!

Well, even if they feel compelled to lie, their actions still are remarkably nonsensical (or as you said re Obama, arrogant). If they don’t know what he has, they should assume the worst. And they aren’t acting that way (well they are in their desperation to get him, but with the info having gone to Greenwald, that horse has left the barn and is in the next county) as least in terms of what they’ve been saying to Congress.

Bob:

My thoughts would be that that is the exact reason they are so extremely obsessed with getting him. They want him so they can put the screws to him to find out what Greenwald has so they can know what needs to covered up. Right now they don’t know how much of their a** is hanging out.

Antifa:

It’s important to note that Snowden was hired in the role of “infrastructure analyst” at Booz Allen. They advertised for someone to fill that role and Snowden was an absolute catch for them. He could do awesome things on the keyboard, according to those who knew him.

What does an infrastructure analyst do? Test the system. Put on a black hat for the good of the company and see where the weaknesses in the network and security protocols are. To do that, he or she has to be able to get in and out AND cover their tracks, just as an expert outside hacker would do.

Edward had the run of the place, and a thumb drive, for three months, and only left when he was completely satisfied. He had his way with them.

So no, there is no real way short of peeling Edward’s skin off to discover exactly where he went and what he took from Booz Allen and the NSA. The blowhards in Congress and the bureaucrats atop the NSA have no idea.

If Snowden is taken or disappeared, the NSA will then treat anyone who publishes the rest of his material similarly, no matter where they live or what nation they are a citizen of. The gloves are off to save their secrets, and their own asses.

hunkerdown :

That’s escalation. If discretion in releases doesn’t buy any indulgence, their next disgruntled infrastructure analyst might not be bothered to exercise it. Training documents and presentations are one thing to have exposed, but there are crown jewels, such as sources and methods, cipher details, keying material, source code, and email server contents, that once disclosed could irreparably damage billions of dollars in black ops investments throughout DoD and might even be fatal to the agency (and, though we may hope to find the teachable moment, probably to the discloser as well).

Richard Kline:

What Antifa said, but some what differently, and then more. Snowden is a two-level problem for the NSA.

The first and highest level problem is _how_ Snowden knows what he knows. That is, what he knows about how the NSA’s data gathering operates systemically, and how it’s internal structures work; just as Antifa remarks. Snowden BEAT that system, in that he got in, got data, got out, and they didn’t know until he told the world. Now, Ed Snowden has publicly promised not to reveal this kind of ‘structural knowledge,’ because in principal that could harm ‘real national security’ as opposed to the obscene simulacra of that concept which is the workaday perception in the minds of the Securacrats and the ultimate insiders of Permanent Washington. But who knows how Ed will feel months or years from now? Or if the Russkis will worm it out of him; “We have ways . . . .” goes the thinking. Ed Snowden walking free and unafraid is more dangerous to the NSA as of today than an armed nuclear missle in flight given what he knows of their big iron and little bugs. Getting him back before he squawks anything of that ‘structural knowledge’ is Mission One for them, and hence for the President. Greenwald & Co. may very well _not_ have much if any damaging components of such ‘structural knowledge’ since Ed said he was keeping mum on that. So there may still be time, from the securecrats’ standpoint. Obama is stalling for time therefore, hoping to figure some way of getting Snowden out of circulation before the ‘iron’ gets shopped, deliberately or inadvertently. Or at least until the NSA can reconfigure internally on the hurry-up to keep themselves from getting hoovered via Ed’s keys should they come out. That has to be a worry against simply assassianting Snowden too: he could have a ‘dead man drop’ of those keys. Don’t be surprised if he hasn’t left them a message to that effect which neither he nor the securecrats have chose to make public.

Snowden also presents a second-level problem for the President even more than the NSA in _what_ he knows. I can think of at least two potential reveals, or two-and-a-half, which would get Barack Obama and his main crew in an all night stew to defense, delay, and deny. Just guessing, but when Greenwald says ‘bigger to come,’ this is where I go.

1) We me find out that the NSA has systematically snooped on every member of Congress since long since, and in particular monitors all communications of those thought to be ‘politically unsound’ such as Grayson, McDermott, Rand Paul, or, yes, Amash. Folks who might actually take a call from *cough* _Julian Assange_, or ‘an agent of a foreign power,’ or ‘an Islamofascist sympathizer’ who might try to funnel data to said Congressperson which proved embarassing or worse to the Prez and the securecrats. I mean, what is the _highest_ value domestic intel out there for those who RUN the security state? Com-taps on dissenters; as always, ever. So that at least the securecrats know what’s coming before it’s out. Or better (from their viewpoint) can catch someone from the other team showing a little too much of their hand. Or, maybe as sweet, can get something incriminating, or at least indiscreet, on said member of Congress to break their arm on a critical vote. If Congress thought Greenwald was about to spill _that_ kind of snopping program via telelink to the whole Democratic Caucaus of the House, I can definitely see Barack Obama getting his skinny ass plunked in front of the screen between two flags on the hurry-up.

2) It is very telling that despite the international shennanigens of the NSA already revealed we have heard nothing from the Near East, and absolutely not a whisper of Israel. Now, this is an area of perceived ‘national security [sic],’ and so Snowden may just not be going there. But that strikes me as ridiculous, since we know that Israel and the US are interlocked at the basal ganglia level on intell and black op wire-work in the Near East. Much of that is dirty work, and not a little of it might have nothing to do with mad bombers and much to do with heads of state. I suspect one reveal to come would be that the US systematically snoops all internal communications at the head of state and Defense Ministry level of every country bordering Israel—and runs this by Israeli filters. Not ‘direct sharing’ but simply allowing Israel to glean most everything obtained while the US ‘looks the other way.’ Consider that: the US effectively bugs all military and state communications in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all else, and lets Israel have a look in passing. Can you imagine Obama and the NSA being in an epileptic froth to try to get out in front of something like THAT? They may not know if Ed Snowden can prove it, but it seems highly likely that the US-NSA is doing this, so they have to believe that Snowden _could_ reveal it. And them are Big Potatos. Even if Ed got Dead, they could still upset quite a few pretty apple carts if they got rolling.

2.5) A further reveal which might be available to Snowden would be if he had evidence that the NSA wasn’t just scanning transmission data in other countries, specifically in the Near East, but was actively _falsifying transmission data WHICH DID NOT EXIST_. It seems highly likey that they US is doing this, both on its own and in collusion with Israel. This, for instance, is specifically the counter-charge that Hezbollah made when suspicious phone data records in Lebanon were produced to impute that Hezbolla could or did orchestrate the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The issue of falsfied transmission records has come up in other instances as well. This, again, treads closer to ‘national security [sic]‘ but at the same time is completely bogus info that at least is used to mislead international justice bodies and the American Congress, but which, far worse, could easily be used as a pretext for military action. “We caught them plotting ON THE PHONE (*hahahahaha* who’ll ever know?).” The concept that the NSA could fake records of discussions in other countries and that military action could be launched in consequence of such black-op fakes should send a chill down every spine. I could see Snowden revealing something like that. And THAT kind of reveal would hit like a .40 Magnum round taking out the right testical of the NSA. Again, the NSA very likely does this kind of thing, so they have to assume that Snowden could know and might chose to reveal it. Hence the frenzy.

This is a GREAAAAAAAAAAT show, I’ve gotta say . . . Information wants to be free, and freedom wants to be informed. It’s only the unfreedom salesmen who have a problem with that . . . .

Code Name D:

If you forgive the pop-sociology, what they are doing is actually quite predictable. To Obama – this is a publicity problem, nothing more. It’s Wikileaks all over again, laving it to the grunts and cubical-drones from the press core to clean up the mess while Obama focuses on more important maters.

But I suspect there may be some very different thinking going on here over at the NSA. This is NOT a security operation, but something else entirely. I have argued on my own blog that NSA is more like a deep-data broker. GE has gone on a media blitz promoting deep-data as the next big thing, and GE apparently has significant connections to NSA. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

In other words, this is more a market agenda, rather than a security agenda. And the data being collected by NSA is not really intended for security, which is likely why they believe NSA is not violating the law. But rather they are collecting information with the intent of giving corporations the privilege of data-mining the data-stores for what ever agenda they wish to bring. It has accord to me that this may be just another approach to selling role-on deodorant.

Privacy rights in this regard are already non-existent. But corporations have been under pressure by consumers to tighten up privacy policies. One possible true function for NSA is to be a means of bypassing these restrictions, allowing corporations to claim they have tight privacy policies while secretly mining the data behind the NSA security curtain. This may also be about industrial espionage as well, with NSA pulling for US corporations against competition from Europe, China, and India.

All speculation of course. So perhaps I should go and take my anti-conspiracy theorist medications before I find connection to 911.

LucyLulu :

You have company in your tin-foil conspiracy theory beliefs. I have the same suspicions as you. I wouldn’t discount that the NSA continues to operate as a security organization but no reason it can’t be a dual function entity. If it’s not doing the commercial work itself, it’s working in cooperation with companies that are. The public/private partnerships that Obama touts at work.

We have reports of private organizations doing similar work already, such as Endgame, allegedly working in cooperation with Uncle Sam. As revealed by Anonymous a couple years ago, for a mere cool $2.5 million, a company can purchase 25 exploits from Endgame, exploits which are no longer limited to crashing networks and stealing data but now can do actual physical damage.

a :

I wonder if Snowden might test Putin by standing innocently by while Greenwald or the Guardian keeps releasing more damaging info, saying, “Hey, I’m not the one releasing this stuff. They are.”

Thus keeping his promise to Putin to stop releasing damaging info about the USA as the price for refugee status in Russia. Technically.

Poking the Russian bear is risky.

willibro :

That assumes, of course, that Putin’s public statements about not “inflicting damage to our American partners” were anything but pro-forma/diplomatic ass-covering. Under the current circumstances, he can point to the same excuse as Snowden: “Dude, horse is already out of the barn, I’m not riding it anymore.”

Kurt Sperry :

This is a real possibility. One can safely assume that Snowden mentioning that he could access even the President’s private email communications was a very deliberate and very blunt signal, a shot across the bow. If he could have done so and made a point of mentioning it, surely he was canny enough to actually do so. Even if he didn’t do so, it seems likely the head spooks believe that he might have. The desperation hangs thick in the air here doesn’t it? The Morales fiasco, the incredibly clumsy handling of the whole thing, the unforced errors, it all points to panicky, sweaty fear being the driver of the administration’s response.

They (or Obama) evidently think he may have some real dirt, the kind that could pose a real or even existential threat to them.

Let us all fervently wish that is in fact the case. I want to see Obama and the US security state twisting in the wind, exposed, helpless and just waiting for the next bombshell to hit. “Looking back” can be cathartic.

Jeff W :

some real dirt

As I said in this comment a little over two weeks ago, Edward Snowden himself said, in his first interview, in answer to a question about what he “didn’t end up doing,” said,

Anyone in the positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia; they always have an open door as we do. I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world. The locations of every station, we have what their missions are and so forth.

That’s a pretty clear statement of what he actually had access to. That to me is even more of “a shot across the bow.”

Of course, what’s not clear to us (or, judging from the fascinating comments above, even to the NSA, which, in itself, would account for the air of desperation on the part of the administration) is whether or not he actually took that information regarding rosters, missions, station locations—his denial seems to be more aimed at how he did not seek to profit from what he had access to—although I would say, as I suspect you would, that he is definitely canny enough to have done so.

I took his statement

I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.

more as an indication of just how pervasive and completely without controls the surveillance actually is; his phrase “if had a personal e-mail” indicated (to me) that his ability to wiretap the President was purely for purposes of illustration. But, if, in fact, no one knows what Snowden took, even that comment might be, as you say, “a very deliberate and very blunt signal.”

Kassandra :

I’ve ehard they can’t even find their OWN emails. So the package may already have opened. In any event, their “surveillance” certainly didn’t stop the Tsarnov brothers…..or whoever…..

Jim Haygood :

XKeyscore’s ultimate justification is summarized in the concluding sentence of the NSA’s statement:

“These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad.“

Got that? If you don’t blindly support the NSA, then you don’t support the troops.

Or to state the case in the opposite sense, until the m*****f****** troops are brought home — every bleeding one of them — permanent war means permanent surveillance under de facto martial law.

To stop the NSA, stop the war(s).

Cocomaan:

Find me a single person in a powerful position in Washington DC that endorses peace.

I haven’t found too many.

citizendave:

To echo that idea, a marriage between privacy and security will be doomed to failure because of irreconcilable differences.

As long as we have permanent war, Defense will want the kind of security NSA tries to provide.

The best way, or the only way, to reduce the desire for security is to work for peace.

The USA is responsible for a big part of the permanent state of war.

To protect our privacy we must persuade the USA to stand down from our permanent state of war.

Until we achieve peace, our right to privacy will be like the ideal expressed in our founding documents, that all people are created equal. It turns out that equality is a goal, not a fact. The fact of our privacy in the past was a function of the lack of technology. It appears it will be necessary to work to establish actual privacy the way we have worked to establish actual equality.

kimsarah:

In peace or war, all this meta-data must have some value on the black market, with so many unscrupulous private contractors potentially having access to much of it.

Start following the money, and we might find out how much this NSA program is costing the taxpayer, and who has ownership and political connections to the private companies operating it.

It then becomes obvious why the biggest blowhards like Feinstein and Rogers are its biggest defenders.

DaveAlaska:

kimsarah, Booz Allen Hamilton for one has insidious threads connecting it to America’s power-elites from several presidential administrations beginning with GHW Bush’s. The Carlyle Group hedge fund owns 2/3 of BAH. Check out the board members and try to fathom the depth of foreign policy intrigue emanating from that toxic mix alone. The AIPAC nexus with the Beltway is another profound horror to the autonomy of this nation. We are not only lost, we are owned by the power mongers of the world.

from Mexico:

The documentary film The Power Principle does a great job of giving a short 15-minute or so history of what happened to Russia after 1989, beginning here at minute 44:28, which goes a long way to explain why relationships between the US and Russia are so strained:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qJE_rPvEgE&feature=player_detailpage&t=2669

Pokey:

No one so stunningly unqualified to be an executive could be an inept politician, but until he started flailing around in his Snowden hissy, it’s hard to think of any issue or principle that made a difference to him. The king of empty rhetoric is as pathetic as he is pompous. But he is probably better than Romney or McCranky (by 2008) would have been in his office.

Enrico Malatesta:

The Ruling Party has “binders of sociopaths” just waiting to fill POTUS, SCOTUS, etc…

If you think it was only Roberts, Kagen, & Obama they have been grooming, suggest you check out this version of Swiftboat Kerry:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/26/what-john-kerry-really-did-in-vietnam/

Emma:

In a rat race, the winner is still a rat.

Synopticist :

I’m just loving this story.

Obama can’t understand that full spectrum dominance doesn’t apply when his nightmare whistleblower is safely tucked away in Moscow. Even Bush would have got his head around that fact. Just imagine the uproar if Bush had forced down Morales’ plane.

(I think this contributes to the internal debate about what Obama is like as a man within out own NC sphere. Rather than the evil Manchurian candidate who knew what he was doing all along, which is what I might call the “Lambert View”, this shows that he’s actually just a fairly inept politician and negotiator.)

Anyway, I’d like to point out another marginal influence here, and that’s the situation in Syria. Putin knows that Obama’s and the securicrat’s “arm Al qaeda’s bitches in the clearly non-moderate FSA” policy is wildly unpopular, and that strengthens his hand somewhat. He can shove Obama around a bit more than he would otherwise be able to do without arousing the bi-partisan ire that a Russian president normally would.

Dan Kervick:

I suspect that you are right in attributing some of this to Obama’s frustration over his loss of personal power and prestige. He is also showing pique over the Democrats’ unwillingness to rubber stamp his preference for old crony Larry Summers.

The Morales affair was totally unhinged, risking the resurrection of 100 years of bitterness over gringo political domination, all to to catch one programmer.

So in the end I think this is about more than Obama’s personal feelings. The spooks and thugs manning the 12-year regime of GWOT abuse and overstepping are now seeing the possibility of the end of the road, with the blown-up careers and prison sentences the unraveling will bring. They know what Snowden knows, and Obama must be under intense pressure to keep the lid on it all.

I’m worried that Obama might lash out militarily at something to reassert presidential and state authority.

Francois T:

Dan, The very fact that Obama is pushing for a spectacular failure (Barry Ritholz expression) like Larry Summers is proof positive that he totally lost it.

Malmo :

Exactly. The Summers push defies all political logic short of one becoming completely unhinged.

Dan Kervick:

I don’t think that in itself would show he had lost it. Politicians routinely opt for the usual established party hacks and insiders to fill big positions. Lots of people in the old guard are friends of Summers, and that’s just government as usual. But Obama’s willingness to start shredding US foreign policy priorities and relationships in a mad pursuit of one lone whistle-blower seems different.

Malmo:

Right. And I think he’ll go with Yellen at the end of the day. This trial balloon isn’t going over with anyone, including his own party. Not the time for a lightning rod trail balloon, much less one that he needlessly appoints, who could very well be rejected.

CB:

Don’t underestimate Obama’s capacity to cut off his nose to spit his face. Egomaniacs will do that from time to time.

Patricia:

Over the last 3-4 years, the people at the top have become increasingly careless of image, making less and less effort to bring consistent messaging/cover. I think Obama has been assuming, after long dirty work built on top of Shrub’s admin on top of Bush Sr on top of…., that the whole oligarchy thing is sewed up tight. Gift-wrapped global empire with an NSA bow.

I’m sure Obama knew there would be pushback but I suspect he planned that it would appear after he left office. Instead, his filth is being globally exposed while he is yet in office, against his wishes, and he’s indulging narcissistic rage, which only further exposes him, ripping off his suave sophisticated image. There have been hints of his malice before, but not like this. He might not yet recognize what he’s doing, or he is so angry that he doesn’t care, but surely the people around him are aware and know it matters, at least a little bit.

It must not be easy to be Obama, with his combination of empty-suitism, narcissism, pressure to perform for the oligarchs, (likely) vague threats of blackmail via NSA, etc.

I am delighted.

But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama’s work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn’t collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people “qualified” to run the country, and they’ll pull from it. Voila.

from Mexico :

Patricia :

But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama’s work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn’t collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people “qualified” to run the country, and they’ll pull from it. Voila.

The dream of global domination runs like a thread through Western civilization, starting with the Spanish Habsburgs in the 16th century and continuing with Napoleon and Hitler. Many people, such as Jonathan Schell writing in The Unconquerable World, believe the current neocon project for world domination will end just like the others did.

I’ve always admired the following passage from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace:

All historians are agreed that the external activity of states and nations in their conflicts with one another finds expression in wars, and that the political power of states and nations increases or diminishes in direct proportion to success or defeat in war….

An army suffers a defeat, and at once a people loses its rights in proportion to the magnitude of the defeat, and if its army suffers complete defeat, the nation is completely subjugated.

So it has been (according to history) from earliest times to the present day. All Napoleon’s wars serve to confirm that rule. In proportion to the defeat of the Austrian armies, Austria loses its rights and the rights and powers of France increase. The victories of the French at Jena and Auerstadt destroy the independent existence of Prussia.

But suddenly in 1812, the French win a victory near Moscow, Moscow is taken, and after that, with no further battles, it is not Russia that ceases to exist, but the French army of six hundred thousand, and then Napoleonic France itself…

The victory did not bring the usual results because the peasants Karp and Vlas (who after the French had evacuated Moscow came in their carts to plunder the town and in generally personally failed to manifest any heroic feelings) and the whole vast multitudes of others like them, did not bring their hay to Moscow for the high prices offered them, but burnt it instead…

[T]he cudgel of the people’s war was raised with all its menacing and majestic might, without regard for anyone’s taste, or for the rules, or for anything else, but with obtuse simplicity and utter efficacy it rose and fell, belaboring the French till the whole invasion was extirpated.

Anon:

Why do you think that the push for Summers is the least bit sincere? The very fact that Summers’ personality can generate such pique in almost any forum demonstrates just how credible his candidacy is. He strikes me as uniquely positioned- an upper level economist so thoroughly offensive to both the left and right that almost any credible alternative will sail through the wake…of his bilge, to abuse the metaphor.

Of course Yellen is better qualified. Of course she’ll be elected. But having Summers as the putative alternate serves to discredit any of her potential detractors, leaving them looking like misogynists and economic cranks. And this, I suspect is the point. The most material difference in Yellen’s and Summers’ perspectives is the broader economic benefit of QE. In this regard, I’m in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Summers that QE hasn’t been demonstrated an unalloyed good. If he is the face of policy skeptics, particularly while markets serially hit all time highs (today, included) then no deeper public consideration of the policy is necessary, right?

molehill :

America’s ГУОТ installed Obama and they will uninstall him if he doesn’t restore the blissful ignorance of the subject population. It’s Snowden or Obama, it’s that simple. If Snowden is returned, his former employers will torture him to death. They have a sinking feeling that Snowden is not a lone wolf.

If Obama doesn’t stop the drip-drip-drip it’s going to loosen the massive foundation of unacknowledged crime that props up this regime. The family jewels are not secure. The regime has had 50 years. Now their time is running out.

Cache Is King:

I just read the news that Russia granted conditional asylum to Snowden and so I popped off a message of thanks to the nearest Russian consulate by way of fax.

The fact that I don’t give a rat’s ass anymore whether the CIA, NSA, DIA or DICK monitored that is of blindingly significant import.

When the people you are oppressing begin to lose the fear of telling you to shove it, the beginning of the end is in sight. I just don’t care anymore. Just an average guy who has had enough.

That should be something to shake the foundations if anyone at HQ is REALLY paying attention.

ohmyheck:

This image reflects your comment: “Never Push a Loyal Person To the Point Where They Don’t Give a Damn”

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p75x225/524320_10151802976345320_745032554_n.jpg

psychohistorian :

I don’t think people are giving Snowden enough respect.

I think he knows he has chosen an interesting way to commit suicide, and like Aaron Swartz, he hopes his life makes a difference in our world.

Of course Yves, he would have been safer in the transit zone but the play had to change acts to keep the consciousness level up. On top of some well planned and executed bit diddling, he is playing the data release for all its worth.

Are there any who believe that eventually all that Snowden has will be released? I would argue that that genie will not go back into the bottle and it has yet to be seen if the movement this truth showing is creating will take on enough momentum to bring down our current “government”…..it would not burnish Obama’s image if that were to occur.

However this plays out, I am all over nominating Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize like Manning. Might as well try and get it to those who really deserve it.

I hope we have a chance to build a better world than the wreck we are being handed by the plutocracy intent on destroying everyone’s home for their control and enjoyment.

Gerard Pierce :

It’s oly a metaphor, but the operative idea comes from the prisons and the streets – with 9-11, the US got punked. That’s an idea that has a lot more meaning and emotional charge than most people acknowledge.

The result is that the neo-cons and war-makers were able to take charge of large parts of US policy and large parts of the US government. (Can you spell Homeland Security?) These same people are neurotically sensitive to any new challenges to US power.

Fifteen years worth of failed or f#cked up military adventures have left these people in a state of emotional fragility. And a collapsing economy has not done much to improve their mental state.

The ones who are not foaming at the mouth are allied with outfits like the Chertoff group and working hard to make as much money as they can while supporting their shared ideology in the background.

And Obama is their whipping boy.

Cynthia :

Seems to me that this is where the “Occupy Wall Street” movement should be intersecting with “The Tea Party” movement. Can we get together and fight the Government-Corporate monster, or are we too busy hating each other as directed by our lying snooping puppet masters and their media lackeys?

washunate

Agreed. To me, that’s what was so valuable about the occupy protests. They showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was Democrats at the heart of enabling the police state and all the oppression and racism and unconstitutionality it entails.

It’s also what I enjoyed so much about the Dem pundit temper tantrums around people like Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald.

That reminds me, this is another delicious angle of what is making the Obots so pissed. Greenwald is still beating them. The Dem pundits even now making this personal about Greenwald and Snowden rather than about the story are helping to drag out the story while revealing their own irrelevance when it comes to discussing substantive matters.

Cynthia:

What people seem to be missing is that Snowden spent a month at Moscow airport because the USA voided his passport while he was en-route to South America. Once he landed, he could go no further. As it happens, Russia is a big enough player to stand up to the American government’s bullying — and of course, it is ironic that one country (with a history of internal oppression) is now cast into the role of hero by sheltering a refugee from another country whose long-time motto has been “the land of the free”.

As for the secrets Snowden revealed: they are not plans for bombs or military orders of battle. Rather, they demonstrate that Americans are now deeply ensnared in the folds of a military/espionage/corporate complex, where new technology makes it that much easier to sidestep and negate Constitutional rights. He did not sell these “secrets” for personal gain; he placed himself in personal peril because of them. That is the classic definition of “hero”.

Hugo Stiglitz :

To quote the group Anonymous, “When exposing crimes becomes a criminal act, you are ruled by criminals.”

Sandwichman:

John Poindexter and Robert Gates… Iran-Contra… Total Information Awareness… Mujahideen… the “Reagan Doctrine”…

Lying to Congress?

John Poindexter: “Found guilty of 2 counts of false statements, 2 of obstructing Congress, and conspiracy. Given 6 months in prison for each count, to be served concurrently.”

Robert Gates: “Testified falsely about when he first learned about the Diversion (received a report on it during the summer of 1986 from CIA official Richard Kerr ["Gates claimed that he did not recall the meeting."]). Also helped prepare Casey’s false testimony.”

Poindexter appointed head of the “Information Awareness Office” in February 2002. Gates was appointed Secretary of Defense by George W. Bush in 2006 and retained in that position by President Obama.

http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2013/07/are-those-nsa-contract-spooks-really.html

Roger Bigod:

I raised the issue of kabuki re the Amash Amendment. Clearly the vote was an enormous setback for the Surveillance State, an “unwelcome surprise” as we diplomats like to say.

My congressman’s vote is still a mystery. He’s an impressive guy in many ways — worked his way through college and medical school, successful family practice, chain of fast food restaurants, popular with constituents in a safe Republican district. The only part of the Bill of Rights he’s enthusiastic about is the 2nd Amendment.. But he voted for the Amash Amendment. There’s no reason for him to go against the leadership, so I wonder if he got a dispensation. The only reasons I can see for him to vote that way are (1) worry that beyond some point surveillance would be electoral cyanide, (2) recognition that as a member of the Outer Party he and others in his position are easy targets of blackmail.

There are some other mysteries in the Snowden revelations. With the massive surveillance, it should have been easy to unravel the drug trade. This suggests a large involvement by the government. The other obvious target is the financial system. Transactions may be encrypted, but any M&A activity will leave a huge footprint of phone calls, travels to company headquarters, involvement of law and accounting firms. All it would take is one junior analyst to run some social network analysis. I’m cynical enough to believe that all those thousands of underlings were as pure as the driven Snowden.

Jess :

Your assessments regarding blackmail, the drug trade, and financial activity would appear to be dead on.

Guess I’ll be seeing you soon in the Gulag.

dSquib :

Obama is more perturbed about losing the semblance of running a “tight ship” than any national security concerns. Or probably any imperial concerns, for that matter. I think he’s a thoroughly superficial person in all aspects. Say what you will about imperialism, it requires an affirmative belief.

There’s Obama, and there’s McCain, Graham, Schumer and so on. These people are addicts. They disturb me more than Obama, who for his basic lack of character I don’t think has the appetite for the long haul of imperial service. They scare me, because they are terrified at the faintest whiff of decline in status, America’s or their own. They and Obama WILL do something really, really big and stupid, I just hope it’s to their own ruin and not everyone else’s.

Sandwichman:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Iran-Contra affair involved illegal activity and cover-up of that illegal activity engaged in by intelligence agency officials to circumvent “safeguards” against infringements on “the rights of Americans to engage in political activity free from government surveillance” that were enacted by Congress in response to the findings of the Church Committee of extensive illegal activities by the CIA, including COINTELPRO. And here we go again… and again… and again.

The report is concerned primarily with the FBI’s COINTELPRO counter-intelligence campaign, but also discusses the CIA’s Operation CHAOS, whereby the CIA engaged in domestic intelligence work in violation of the CIA charter. Other agencies including the NSA and Army Intelligence are also discussed. Illegal electronic surveillance, mail opening, infiltration of dissident groups, “black bag” break-in jobs, media manipulation, IRS targeting, and the intense campaign waged against Martin Luther King, Jr. are all subjects of this report. The overriding theme is the violation of the rights of Americans as identified in the U.S. Constitution.

It should be noted that the activities that eventually morphed into Iran/Contra commenced with covert arms supplies to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan PRIOR TO (and in the view of some, helping to precipitate) the Soviet invasion.

In addition to convicted felon John Poindexter’s role in establishing the Total Information Awareness program that was supposedly defunded by Congress but actually continued with “classified” funding to renamed components, the retention as Secretary of Defense by Obama of Bush appointee Robert Gates needs to be viewed in the context of Gates’s “disquieting” activity and testimony during the Iran/Contra affair and subsequent investigation.

From Chapter 16, “Robert Gates,” of the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Conta Matters, Lawrence E. Walsh:

Kerr told Independent Counsel that he did not recall Gates referring to other rumors of a diversion at this meeting. The Select Committees’ report of the interview did not contain the statement that Gates was aware of “rumors” of a diversion, but it did state that Gates told Kerr to “keep him informed.” Accordingly, the evidence was clear that Gates’s statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support North’s activities without informing North’s superiors or investigating. By October, when Gates claimed he first remembered hearing of the diversion, Casey ordered an inquiry and later made a report to Poindexter; but, by then, the Hasenfus aircraft had been shot down and Casey and Gates were beginning to cover.

Gates’s defense was that he did not recall the Kerr meeting. To say the least, this was disquieting. He had been told by a very senior officer that two of President Reagan’s personal priorities were in danger — not something an ambitious deputy director of central intelligence would likely forget. Allen was acting as a whistle-blower in a difficult situation. His concern was for the safety of the hostages and the success of the efforts of the President. His information suggested serious malfeasance by Government officials involved in a clandestine and highly sensitive operation. Even though Gates may have believed Allen to be excessively concerned, could such an expression of concern be forgotten, particularly after it had been corroborated within a few weeks? Logically, Gates could ignore or forget the Allen report only if he already knew of the diversion and he knew that Casey and Poindexter knew of the diversion. Gates also was on the distribution list for highly reliable intelligence that should have informed him of the pricing dispute among Kangarlu, Ghorbanifar, and the U.S. Government, although it did not refer specifically to any diversion of funds. Gates claimed that he rarely reviewed the intelligence. North testified that he did not discuss the diversion with Gates or in Gates’s presence. Gates also never met with Richard Secord, whom Gates was aware of only as a “private benefactor” (the CIA’s term for non-Government donors to the contras) by July 1986.

Notwithstanding Independent Counsel’s disbelief of Gates, Independent Counsel was not confident that Kerr’s testimony, without the support of another witness to his conversation with Gates, would be enough to charge Gates with perjury or false statements for his testimony concerning the timing of his knowledge of the diversion. …

The evidence established that Gates was exposed to information about North’s connections to the private resupply operation that would have raised concern in the minds of most reasonable persons about the propriety of a Government officer having such an operational role. Fiers and Cannistraro believed that Gates was aware of North’s operational role. The question was whether there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates deliberately lied in denying knowledge of North’s operational activities. A case would have depended on the testimony of Poindexter. Fiers would not testify that he supplied Gates with the details of North’s activities. In the end, Independent Counsel concluded that the question was too close to justify the commitment of resources.

There was conclusive evidence that in October 1986, following the Hasenfus shootdown, Clair George and Alan Fiers obstructed two congressional inquiries. Gates attended meetings where the CIA’s response to these inquiries was discussed. None of the evidence, however, links Gates to any specific act of obstruction.

Read the Church Committee report, vol. 2. Read the Walsh Independent Counsel’s report.

Here’s a better link for book 2 of the Church Committee report:

http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs94th/94755_II.pdf

ulsatime:

With all the signs of frayed temper and no patience from the WH, I keep wondering if they could be that open about being pissed off? The whole reaction to Snowden has seemed very unmanaged, like barely restrained panic, especially after the Moralles jet incident. I can see where some of the foil-wearing types get ideas for their double-tripple secret agent hallucinations now.

The Russian badgering has been the most laughable part so far, but perhaps that is for domestic consumtion. If there is really no more back channel effort going on than that, we are in a very bad way. The emperor seems to be getting some very bad advice, or the good advice is going out the window. We will know in a few years when the books come out.

Yves Smith:

That’s a good synopsis of what is bothering me. Obama and the US are looking frazzled. One incident might be a replay of the Kissenger cultivating the image that Nixon was nuts (as in might do reckless, crazy things, as in drop the Big One) but this is clearly not strategic and if it’s posturing, it’s awfully lame.

And yes, the Obama call to Putin looked like either super misplaced ego or back channels had broken down, neither of which is good.

Hugh:

Obama is notorious for his lack of poise in private meetings. He is famously hostile to anyone who disagrees with him. He is a classic little tin god of academia, encouraged in a small, insular environment to think he’s god’s gift to everything. I’ve heard more than one academic call this president “a brilliant Constitutional scholar” — this president who has done more to undermine the First Amendment than all other presidents in the past 100 years combined. Obama hasn’t lost it, he never had it.

tongorad

Obama is merely re-branded status quo. It took Obama’s historic presidency to kill any momentum for political change, probably for generations. To be honest, I regard his supporters with outright disgust and even hatred. It’s hard to imagine finding any common ground with anyone so easily compromised.

Dingo:

As PCR suggests, all the NSA has to do now is create some sort of false flag terror, and all will fall in line to maintain the Stasi state

Sandwichman:

Right on cue!

“US Warns Al-Qaida Could Strike Embassies, Other Targets”

http://www.voanews.com/content/us-to-close-embassies-august-4/1722140.html

July

[Jul 28, 2013] Michael Hudson Obama’s Master Class in Demagogy 101

“Obama masquerading as a minority group baglady whilst in reality being the bagman for the Plutocracy …”

July 28, 2013 | naked capitalism

MaroonBulldog:

July 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm

BHO as emblem for the aggressive minority that is plundering our public resources–but it’s not just Orwellian.

Just as the fasciscts and the Stalinists copied each other’s techniques, so we need the combinded dystopian visions of Aldous Huxlley and George Orwell to guide our understanding of current circumstances. Newspeak is not enough, we must be subjected to soma and feelies, too.

Newspeak=it’s not just what BHO says, it’s mostly the way he puts it Soma= QE/ZIRP is an addictive drug. Feelies= the pornographic perversion of the news, infotainment.

Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/obamas-master-class-in-demagogy-101.html#gXgTGPAUR1VE2oAK.99

readerOfTeaLeaves:

July 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Before the rent is extracted, we’ll have a collapse of political legitimacy. The act of privatizing public infrastructure will accelerate this problem.

NotTimothyGeithner:

July 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Political legitimacy has already been lost.

The lack of outrage by the American public over of defense cuts and at Snowden despite widespread bi-partisan agreement about the evils of defense cuts and Snowden. The American people don’t care what our electeds say about national defense.

Even if it was kabuki, the vote total against the NSA signified they are very worried about their electoral viability, especially Democrats. Republicans are a neo-Confederate rump party, and the majority of the Democrats felt they needed to publicly oppose the President, the leader of their party, on a matter with national-security implications. Has this ever occurred?

At some point, there will be a Lehman-like event. The division created among non-Republicans by Obama will lead to inaction, and the alliance of Romney-types and Teabaggers won’t survive another bailout. The Teabaggers will demand something they already have which is power over the GOP which means they can’t be appeased into supporting a bailout.

When 70% of households live pay check to pay check, people who want to be Congressman and the true believers in Congress (there are some) are going to find an audience for an anti-bailout message. Anyone who wants to win state-wide in Congress has to vote against a bailout. They will not save the banks*.

I don’t think there is a workable majority anymore, or the defense cuts would have been restored, Syria would be the target of a bombing campaign, and so forth. Unlike Bush who was never really popular, I think Obama bought his own press, and I doubt Obama would be capable of honestly explaining the situation in a way that he could present a reasonable path forward. Most of his speeches suffer from cognitive dissonance or are feel good speeches which ignore problems and make governing seem like its supposed to be easy. Even if he understands the problem, I doubt he is capable of moving anything forward because he would have to admit to over 4 years of moral and policy failures.

*You might say, people fell for it last time. They did, but promises were made. Problems for governments arise after promises are broken. The Democrats elected in 2006 kept all of their promises for the most part. The Democrats elected in 2008 did nothing but protect the wealthy. They lost. The remaining Democrats used fear and had the advantage of Romney to carry them over the line. Promises won’t be tolerated because popular reaction to Snowden’s status as a whistleblower, claims about WMDs in Syria, and the defense cuts has demonstrated the time for promises has past.

Thor's Hammer:

July 28, 2013 at 8:44 am

What? You are advocating that the US abandon the one successful technology sector left in the economy? Under Obama our weapons exports have grown from being merely the dominant world supplier to holding a total monopoly position as the supplier of nearly 85% of the world’s weaponry. We lead the world in advanced drone devices and instruments of remote surveillance and assassination. Our cyberwarfare capabilities are unmatched, creating a comparative advantage not just for our military, but for our international corporations and financial organizations by providing them with advance knowledge to front run the competition. Our new Utah data center will cement that superiority, symbolizing the dominance of a truly great world power.

What would you have us do, revert to ancient times when we were a nation of farmers and manufacturers of outmoded machines like automobiles?

ifthethunderdontgetya

“Public-Private Partnership”: Socialize the costs (including losses), privatize the profits.

Schofield:

It’s just got to raise a wry smile Obama masquerading as a minority group baglady whilst in reality being the bagman for the Plutocracy. I’m sure that increasing numbers of Americans are now seeing him for the phoney he really is!

Phrase:

Michael Hudson’s article and quote is so appropriate :

“As the famous quip attributed to George Burns, Groucho Marx and others puts it: “The secret of life is sincerity and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

As the ‘show’ and celebrity culture continues, Michael Hudson reminds me, that it is important to be continuously aware of the current multi-national corporate agenda. … For me, this crony-casino-predatory capitalist ideology, has concentrated the neoliberal agenda’s implementation process, into supra-national institutions, which tirelessly, and on many levels, chips away at national sovereignty and any link between a social contract and the ‘rights’ of civil society. …

One especially egregious, and to my mind, … arrogant example would be, … the rush-to -the-bottom trade agreements, … bi-or-multi-national types negotiated in secret … (NAFTA, or the latest secretive TPP/CETA) … wherein the corporate-controlled investor-state resolution body’s decisions to impose fines thwarting regional autonomy, … gutting the nation’s ‘public purse’, … and thus, further demonstrating that … principled resistance is futile … because all are meant to see that their sovereign nations, fellow citizens, their communities, their civil society, their culture, … at this point in time have no power to resist the international corporate/financial hegemony. … ( Or, was the EU really planned to succeed, and if so, for whom ? ) …

Of course there are powder points which the hegemonic forces attempt to manage in one way or another. If the TBTF global financial institutions can’t destroy an independent nation’s economic health by selling the latest financial innovations of mass destruction, which furthers social collapse, … austerity to poverty, … there are always many other means such as sanctions, drones, covert intrusions, … etc., … with seemingly an unending supply of ‘captured-cash’ to cajole the undeserving. … For me, civil society clearly realizes how ‘illegitimate’ those publicaly financed economic bank bailouts are,… not to mention other ‘odious’ debt types. … However, i remind myself that those TBTF banks are ideologically challenged global institutions, … who’s job it is to wage economic war in order to maintain hegemony and the status-quo for the ‘ever needy, and always greedy’. … It is inherent to ‘the system’. … And yes, main-stream media will never question the predatory ideology behind the dominant business model. So, it is up to civil society to dig deep to expose the hidden rot, the lies, and the mendacious hypocrisy as Cornel West would say. Yes, given the track record, the actions, and directions which the hegemony furthers, … i cannot ’trust’ the intent of centralized power, especially one so unaccountable and supra-national. Let there be no mistake, imperialism has found home in the stratosphere and the various ‘emperors’ are clearly nude. I don’t think that main-stream media can put humpty-dumpty back together again, but the charade continues as skilled orators spin the discredited lines in the sticky web. … Hey, if things get too bad, just go out and consume, … there’s always the credit card. … Really ! Clearly, i am an anti-globalist at this point. I am anti-crony-controlled, casino capitalism, and the managed non-free market of bloodied invisible hands denying the nature of their crimes against humanity, community, and the human rights of life, liberty, autonomy, equality, dignity, safety, freedom from fear and repression/oppression, and going hungry … etc.. I believe that the integrity of the nation-state and the eventual ability of a deliberative, democratically, representative authority to clearly articulate the ‘social contract’ for the public good is salient. … At this point, imho, … we need …‘protectionist national policy’ … to resist the momentum of the adolescent neo-liberal ideology; … short-term predatory economic elite solutions sanctioned by the captured influence pedlars, … which gains traction only because those actions are … embedded in fear based hype …, presented as being the only solutions to ameliorate the pain threshold so many experience. … Real leaders would lead by example, do more good, and leave the ‘ratings’ to take care of themselves. Main-stream media’s movie creates the illusion that your character, one’s role, is protected, exceptional, even favoured by some ‘god’ ’s blessing, … when really the urban abattoir of todays main-street … includes everyone in the initial stages of the third milenium’s information age’s horror show; … the emperor knows that credibility has been lost, the captured representatives know that their actions clearly allows the public to see that the job of legislatures is to manufacture consent for faux public policies that their destructive immoral ideology needs to be sustained. … So, like many others, i believe that there is tremendous pressure growing in communities and regions, … movements towards becoming locally sustainable. That would surely disrupt the global agribusiness and production models which information technology has enabled. … Again i think of the work and writings of Gar Alperovitz. … Regional pain can create a sense of local community solidarity which can be directed to create different forms of co-ops which empower and restore individual autonomy, dignity, and collective solidarity, … working together with an aim, and on a scale which is legitimate in the eyes of the participants, … because its viably pragmatic, real, and within grasp. … Maybe that is why there is such a rush to push large groupings into bankruptcy (Detroit), … to make sure such decentralizing movements remain emaciated. … But alas, we know sociopaths seem to flock together in the group-think, thinking toxic carcinogenic thoughts. … The main narrative is careful to avoid mentioning peace, and sustainability, … because such words would recognize higher-orders of thought, … and therefore are goals beyond the skill-set of the ’greedy’, … and therefore the last thing for example, ALEC would push for because that work is not valid in their neo-liberal paradigm and ‘economic’ only lexicon. … . To my mind, if we don’t trust the movers and shakers with global economies of scale, let alone national and regional concerns, … what should we do ? … I would suggest that ‘support’ for ideologically friendly corporate enterprises is positively motivating. … And the issue of economy of scale may identify that … too large … is just greed on steroids. … America, at one time seemed to love the idea of monopoly, of oligopoly, of celebrity, of spectacle, of escape, …etc.; … maybe now its closer to, many people still support that old life-style consumer heaven, … or, maybe those days are in the rear-view mirror. … We will see ! … But, hanging on to the known, … at a time of the seeing such engineered aggravated assault is traumatic and lethal. … It is stressful to critically analyze, and challenge the status-quo; … difficult to live in that grey-zone, … difficult to juggle diverse perspectives, … especially when we are conditioned to believe there is no choice (TINA), and encouraged to divert attention our attention to jingoistic-mental-candy floss and the marching band ! (How is the music program in publicly funded schools these days ? ) … Oh well ! To resume, maybe one path to getting there is to clearly recognizing, and articulate, … which multinational corporations and franchises should not be supported … supported because of specific fundamental moral, ethical, environmental, social, and individual reasons. … ( How many B-corps (beneficial corporations) are encouraged in your neighbourhood ? ) … Even to articulate and build consensus behind the definition and importance of those fundamental principles is a large task. … Hey, … there are some who will reach for a gun when the thought of a ‘social democratic society’ challenges their ‘comfort zone’. … ? … So it is very important to reclaim co-opted words because their historical lineage provides a culturally rich body of thought from which to paint the new picture. … Therefore, words and ideas need to be reborn to allow an alternative paradigm to be sensed, and envisioned in this image-based culture. … We do have a history, but we need not repeat old mistakes, or allow tyrants to prosper. … We are living in a potentially wonderful yet critically transformative time when robotics, automation, etc., can free the body and mind from the techno-slavery of the surveillance security state. I just thought of the ‘Zeitgeist’ movies and of Peter Jacobs, and of numerous others. … They have done such a great job, and provided such a needed service, … in helping us in this ignoble present ‘crisis’, … by revealing the dominant paradigm’s, … nasty, underlying, ideological assumptions, and the resulting troublesome social-cultural-political and economic consequences. … The micro. supports the hierarchical macro. which interacts and further edits the micro. … Things are connected, but life needn’t be spent caught in the spider’s web. … Are we actually getting ready to endorse on a mass scale a more horizontally equitable model as the basis for the evolving dominant narrative ? … And if such a novel paradigm is taking shape in our ‘collective consciousness’, … if our vision of the future is moving beyond the need or thought of more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction ( psychological, material, financial etc. ), … would not a lot of the toxicity of current ideas, thoughts, and deeds, … atrophy naturally ? … I believe that most … ‘folks’ … would like to look back in relief, … in realizing how close we came to the ‘wall’. … There is nothing ‘great’ in this ‘great recession’ ! … Hopefully we won’t be remembering how many had to fall, or how much more pain was needed before the adolescent greedy repented in shame. … ! … ( that’ll be The DAY ! ) I’m not holding my breath. … However birth of the blues, … oh sorry … i mean the NEW … is never easy; … even in the presence of clear, moral, and ethical principles demonstrated by the current and past actions of the metaphorical midwives . … Do you think that those fundamental principles are represented in the group-think represented under the covers of … Obama-care, or Harper-care, or Koch-care, or EU-care, … etc. … ? … ! [… Snowden-cares ! … ? … Michael Hastings cared ! …] In any case, and in summation, … and if you are interested, … one of my favourite CDs is Dickey Bett’s “ Pattern Interrupt “ and “ Duane’s Tune “ ! … I wonder how, what form, and if, … such a pattern interrupt could work on today’s dominant narrative built to support this current paradigm of infamous debacle and the truly tiny in the midst of such grandiose largess ? … … best regards ! … phrase … 07/28/13

Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/obamas-master-class-in-demagogy-101.html#gXgTGPAUR1VE2oAK.99

Ms G:

“Obama masquerading as a minority group baglady whilst in reality being the bagman for the Plutocracy …”

Beautiful! FTW!

Jim in SC:

Response to Mark Glomski:

What’s ironic is that landlords–at least of the single family home variety–are not making any money, and haven’t for a long time. Dramatic rises in property taxes in our state have squeezed the landlords’ profitability to nothing. In the long run, people will stop providing property to rent, and that will create a bigger problem than we can envision now.

No one is interested in addressing the regulatory overkill that makes real estate twice as expensive as it should be. Why? Because it is the middle classes ox that would get gored. Bad politics.

Crystal

Regulatory overkill in real estate? Surely you must be smoking something. Great place to launder moolah. Obviously, the bitching sounds from landlords on rental properties depends on scale and size. Since taxes aren’t an issue to the bigger landlords that don’t pay them. Homesteaders have a bigger expense to worry about presumably if they purchased in the past 15 years. I don’t know why the hicks/gentry refuse to rail against the big corporations and government contractors (that inhale your tax dollars for their so-called efficency in running Government functions) – and pay jack squat on their corporate campuses, water bills or even pay their employees – since that too is covered by the Gum’mint.

Michael Fiorillo

In addition to seeking to privatize the nation’s transportation infrastructure, Obama is also the chief enabler of the smash and grab effort to destroy local home rule and privatize public education.

Take a look at Chicago, where his former chief of staff is closing public schools, laying off unionized staff, and opening charter schools staffed by Teach For America scabs.

As others have said before, it was nefarious brilliance that led the Overclass to put putative Black man in the position of administering the demise of the New Deal and Great Society.

Arthur Wilke:

In a recent issue of The Nation ( http://www.thenation.com/article/175085/chicago-rising ) there’s an encouraging report on organized resistance in Chicago by a coalition of community groups including a now mobile Occupy contingent and investigations into a challenging terrain, various often obscure financial records of the City of Chicago’s operations.

Hugh:

The federal government through its fiat currency can pay for whatever it wants. That is it can use its power to create money to direct, not create, resources to projects in the public interest. It can send money to both state and local authorities to do this as well. It can balance out any potential conflicting calls on resources by taxing the rich far more heavily. Obamatalk focuses mainly on infrastructure projects and “growing” the economy, but in fact this redistribution of resources could be used in other ways as well. It could be used, for instance, to create a right to a real, meaningful job paying a living wage. As Susan the other I believe has pointed out numerous times, there is a crying need in this country for people to engage in activities that are not very productive (in the sense currently used) but of high social utility, like raising and educating our kids and taking care of our elderly. Such jobs would not “grow” the economy except in terms of the increased demand these income could supply, but they would make our country a better place to live and improve our lives.

That is what could be done. But because we live in a kleptocracy, it is not what will be done. Instead we are told that there is very little money, except for tax cuts for the rich, imperial wars, and handouts/bailouts to our criminal banking sector. Public/private partnerships are another scam which grows out of the lie of scarce money. They give the rich and the corps (which are essentially the same thing) a cut of the action of what should be government only activities. They are another way of selling off the commons. Moreover, in a lot of these scams, government assumes most of the risk and the profits (and for the private side, there must be profits, and higher prices to pay for them) go mostly to the private side. Public/private partnerships are, in other words, just another kind of looting.

Paul Handover:

Dear Michael Hudson, What a fascinating and educational essay! (Apologies in advance for this rather wordy comment from me.)

The reason why I found the essay so interesting is that I am a recent immigrant to this fine country, in that I am a Brit living in Southern Oregon with my British wife, who is a US Citizen as well. I was admitted to the US under a fiance visa in October 2010, married and settled down in Payson, AZ before moving up to the Grants Pass area of Oregon just 9 months ago.

More relevant background to this comment (did I see you stifle a yawn!) is that during the period 1979 – 1986 I came to the US on business frequently; I had two US distributors, East Coast and West Coast, and my ex-West Coast distributor has been a close friend for over 30 years.

Therefore, I think that I have a perspective on both the UK and the USA over these years. Which can be neatly summarised as an increasing burden of Government on its peoples.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a raving extremist of either political wing! Just a guy born in 1944 who had the fortune to be able to work hard building a business, which was sold in 1986. Ergo, I am not typical of the millions of decent, hard-working men and women who work right up to their day of retirement, and often beyond.

So the over-riding impression of the last 30 years is one of increasing costs of living, on both sides of the Atlantic, increasing bureaucracy and increasing inequalities.

But there is one other impression from recent years that worries me greatly; again on both sides of the ‘pond’.

It is the increasing dishonesty of governments. It was this aspect of Michael Hudson’s essay that really smacked me in the face.

We have two gigantic social problems that are being almost completely ignored by the US and UK governments.

One is the level of economic hardship that one sees all around. It’s scary: scary bigtime. In the other article in today’s Naked Capitalism, Lambert Strether wrote (of China): “One of the most reliable indications that things are not well in an economy or a society is a rise in street trading and increased harshness in enforcing the rules that control it. When people can’t find proper jobs or can’t stand the ones that are available, they go to the streets with a barrow-load of vegetables, a swatch of scarves or a tray of cheap plastic toys. Sometimes they have licences; often they do not.”

Who else has noticed the only ‘retail’ growth is the rise of Thrift Stores and the explosion in yard sales?

Who else of my age sees clearly that the days of a family being able to live comfortably and happily with the father out at work and the mother at home able to bring up the children are long, long gone?

The second is that in the past, we have had economic hardships purely as a result of social consequences. Now we have on top of the present economic challenges, a planet that is close, if not already past, a climate tipping point.

As was written over on the Patrice Ayme blog, “Methane belching could create an incommensurable planetary emergency tomorrow. Or in a century. We don’t know. I find telling that Total SA and major companies in Russia, Japan, China are betting dozens of billions of euros that the warming of the arctic will accelerate significantly within a couple of years.”

But no, governments continue to promote “growth”. Not a hint of any openness and honesty from our leaders that there is, at a minimum, cause for concern! No sense that we could be on the verge of an utter collapse of civilised society.

Any obvious solutions? No! Not at least until we have some political leadership that sees integrity as the over-riding value of government.

I will close by quoting the last paragraph from a post published today by an English blogger, Alex Jones, because his words say it all!

“Conclusion

The State must act always according to its nature and purpose, to benefit all equally and never to advantage one at the disadvantage of another, to do so results in the negative outcomes as seen today in Syria. The State is part of nature, thus bound by the same natural laws as any bee or flower. It is good action to match human laws to the purpose and nature of the State, and to the overall natural order, thus the State enjoys prosperity rather than what befell the Roman Empire when it ignored the spiritual wisdom of its own religion.” (Link: http://liberatedway.com/2013/07/28/society-3-the-state-and-you )

km4:

80% Of US Adults Are Near Poverty, Rely On Welfare, Or Are Unemployed | Zero Hedge http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-28/80-us-adults-are-near-poverty-rely-welfare-or-are-unemployed

EXCLUSIVE: SIGNS OF DECLINING ECONOMIC SECURITY http://bigstory.ap.org/article/exclusive-4-5-us-face-near-poverty-no-work-0

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

The gauge defines “economic insecurity” as experiencing unemployment at some point in their working lives, or a year or more of reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.

Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, which is conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.

[Jul 28, 2013] FOMC Preview Economic Slowdown

Jul 28, 2013 | Calculated Risk

psychohistorian:

The Big Lie technique is alive and prospering under our “talented” leader.

It is a stroke of genius having a titular representative of our most recent slave “race” be the key tool in our current Shock Doctrine event of class warfare….guess who are losing.

Orwell didn’t even see that one.

Into Neo-Orwellian social devolution we march.

Outsider wrote on Sun, 7/28/2013 - 7:38 am (in reply to...)

Michael Hudson: Obama’s Master Class in Demagogy 101 « naked capitalism

Another excellent analysis by Michael Hudson.

From

How can American industry compete when some 40% of the salaries it pays its employees must be paid for housing, 10 percent more for credit-card and other bank debt, 15% for FICA wage withholding for Social Security and Medicare, and 15% more for income tax withholding and for sales taxes? Before employees can start buying the goods and services they produce, they must spend about three-quarters of their income on the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector and taxes that havebeen shifted onto their shoulders?

Meanwhile, the companies themselves have been managed by financial officers whose idea of making money has been to debt-leverage, so that more and more cash flow has been used to pay back bondholders and to buy up company stock (thereby increase the value of the stock options that the managers give themselves), instead of to reinvest inexpanding the business at home?

to

Here’s the problem that President Obama did not address yesterday: Today’s debt deflation and economic shrinkage are pushing federal, state and local budgets into deficit. This is forcing public spending to be cut back proportionally. That cutting will push state, local and federal budgets even further into deficit. This is why we are hearing calls to start selling off public infrastructure – to buyers who will become new customers for Wall Street investment banks.

It is the same phenomenon we are seeing in Europe. The newest economic prize is the right to buy rent-extraction rights to turn public roads into toll roads and similar rentier tollbooth installations. All this increases the cost ofliving and doing business, making the economy high-cost even as it is beingimpoverished.

Read more at Michael Hudson: Obama’s Master Class in Demagogy 101 « naked capitalism

km4 wrote on Sun, 7/28/2013 - 7:42 am (in reply to...)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©: July 28, 2013 at 8:05 am

“Public-Private Partnership”: Socialize the costs (including losses), privatize the profits.

Read more at Michael Hudson: Obama’s Master Class in Demagogy 101 « naked capitalism

km4 wrote on Sun, 7/28/2013 - 7:43 am (in reply to...)

Schofield: July 28, 2013 at 8:32 am It’s just got to raise a wry smile Obama masquerading as a minority group baglady whilst in reality being the bagman for the Plutocracy. I’m sure that increasing numbers of Americans are now seeing him for the phoney he really is!

Read more at Michael Hudson: Obama’s Master Class in Demagogy 101 « naked capitalism

[Jul 25, 2013] How Does America’s Middle Class Rank Globally #27

Jul 23, 2013 | Zero Hedge

Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

We are number 1 right? USA! USA! No one can beat our wealth creation machine, our economic dynamism, our level playing field and our bastions of higher education. We have a middle class that is the envy of the world, right?

Well, like so much of the “American dream” we have been force fed for a generation or more, this perception is not based in reality whatsoever. Sure it may have been the case for a couple of decades immediately after World War 2. Before the military-industrial-Wall Street complex fully took over the political process, but it certainly isn’t true any longer. Myths die hard and this one is particularly pernicious because it prevents people from changing things. As James Baldwin said:

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

From the Huffington Post:

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet’s riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that’s what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we’re number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution — fifty percent of the adult population has more wealth, while fifty percent has less. You can’t get more middle than that.

American Middle Class

* Side note: May want to cross Cyprus off the above list…

The Huffington Post also provides a list as to why this is the case. While I don’t agree with all of them, I agree with most. Here are a few:

They go on to correctly note:

Is there one cause of the middle-class collapse that rises above all others?

Yes. The International Labor organization produced a remarkable study, (Global Wage Report 2012-13) that sorts out the causes of why wages have remained stagnant while elite incomes have soared. The report compares key causal explanations like declining bargaining power of unions, porous social safety nets, globalization, new technologies and financialization.

Guess which one had the biggest impact on the growing split between the one percent and the 99 percent?

Financialization!

Ding ding ding.

Full article here.

[ZH: because it never gets old...]

Why America is NOT the greatest country in the world, anymore. - YouTube

[Jul 6, 2013] Obama: NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Has More Documents

June 27, 2013 | wlrn.org

The National Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado said they will not be bullied by the United States into making a decision on the Snowden case.

Alvarado hinted that the U.S. was using money from the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) as leverage in the Snowden case.

...To further poke the United States, Ecuador's Interior Ministry tweeted that it was offering the United States $23 million in annual aid for human rights training.

That is the same amount offered by the United States to Ecuador as part of the ATPDEA.

lotan > crypticsaga

Leaker is not the appropriate term. According to the Patriot act and article (I think its 215) that the government references to justify that their actions are legal, the article only allows surveillance and data mining of someone with a connection to or suspected terrorism. They are data mining millions of Americans, and it is clearly illegal.

Thus, Snowden is a whistleblower. He revealed corrupt, illegal activities of an entity and that entity is not pleased. That entity even has the backing of the entire media conglomerate and are being told to paint him as a leaker instead of a whistleblower.

wazzel

ATPDEA is just a business arrangement. Countries like Equador may "get" $23M, but there are serious strings attached to every penny of it. They MUST use American Company "X" for steel, they must use American Company "Y" for its Engineering... and on-and-on. Usually the projects for which $23M is provided will cost twice as much, but that's OK because as luck would have it, the terms and conditions also stipulate that additional funding MUST be supplied by American Bank "Z" at a predefined interest rate.

The tight connection between lobbyists and these kinds of agreements are deeply corrupt and work just like the rest of the "Foreign Aid Industry".

[Jul 04, 2013] Online Egyptian nightmare for Erdogan By Victor Kotsev

Asia Times

While the Turkish government spent much of the last couple of years branding itself as a paradigm for Egypt and other Arab Spring countries, the reverse is now taking place: Egypt is becoming the nightmare scenario for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The violent phase of the protests in Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities is over, for now, but the struggle to set their legacy has only just begun, and Erdogan would be well-advised to take a lesson from the mistakes of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

True, the danger of a military coup in Turkey at the moment is close to zero, if only because Erdogan has locked up an entire army college (some 330 officers) on charges of plotting against him. But the parallels between the two countries run far beyond the superficial. For the record, so too did Egyptian still-President Mohammed Morsi try to purge the army last year, although he only removed a few top generals.

Most importantly, both countries are experimenting with moderate political Islam, and the experiments have produced mixed result as far as genuine democracy is concerned. It is true that Islamic radicals (extremists) and Islamic conservatives (moderates) are two very different species which have fought in the past, and it is also true that the Turkish government, in particular, has implemented a number of popular reforms. However, another fact is that the moderate Islamists' majoritarian understanding of democracy is radically different from that of more liberal constituencies present in both countries.

The Turkish and the Egyptian governments - both democratically elected - have cracked down on the press, rolled back some civil liberties and planned to change the constitutions in ways many citizens found unacceptable. Enter Taksim square and Tahrir v. 2.0.

The dangers of social friction become more acute as the economy declines. Egypt is in dire straits, while Turkey is currently widely lauded as an economic miracle, not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe. Erdogan deserves much of the credit for this, though the painful economic reforms executed by the previous government, which led to its downfall, also contributed.

However, n investors seeking to escape the low returns in the US and Europe as well as the dangers of Greece and other countries offering higher yields, many analysts expect it to pop in the next year or two. What would happen then is anybody's guess.

[Jul 04, 2013] The Excavator Egypt protesters were against Obama, too (CNN)

The Excavator

Egypt protesters were against Obama, too (CNN)

"Egyptians love Americans but they don't love U.S. foreign policy." - Reza Sayah.

The majority of Muslims love Americans and American culture. The ones who don't are CIA-funded Al-Qaeda terrorists and stupid, Saudi-brainwashed Salafist types that hate everybody, including Muslims, and who spread terror in the Muslim world as well as in the West with the help from their imperialist masters.

Millions of Egyptians pushed the latter Islamist extremists to the side by removing the Muslim Brotherhood president from power and basically told them to take a hike. Whether they will cause trouble in the coming weeks or go down without a fight still remains to be seen.

[Jul 04, 2013] No 'peace at home' in Turkey

Jul 04, 2013 | Asia Times

Since AKP's 2011 electoral victory, this sentiment has translated into diminishing transparency and accountability by key government figures. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AKP's leader and the Turkish prime minister, and a handful of close collaborators have ostentatiously disregarded calls by trusted advisors to consider the average citizen's concerns and be more inclusive of the 50% of Turkey's population that has not voted for AKP.

Lack of government transparency, such as in southern Europe, and arrogance towards citizens and their fundamental freedoms, such as in the Middle East, have paved the way to an explosive manifestation of the sense that enough is enough, resulting in three deaths, over 1,000 injuries and 1,700 arrests.

Some observers claim that the crisis started with a kiss, referring to a ban in May by Ankara's authorities of displays of affection by couples in public areas that triggered youth demonstrations in the capital. Others point to earlier signs of discontent.

In May 2012 and the following fall, Erdogan challenged women's rights to abortion and caesarean section for giving birth, repeatedly proclaiming that women should have a minimum of three children. Women's associations took to the streets.

More recently, the Turkish parliament, where the AKP holds 326 of 550 seats, passed legislation severely restricting the promotion and consumption of alcohol, and Erdogan has promised high taxes on alcoholic drinks.

Secularist Turks, some of whom have voted AKP in past elections because of the government's economic performance, have begun complaining that Erdogan is interfering with people's lifestyles in an unacceptable way. At the same time, citizens are tired of an excessively liberal economy that has increased the income gap between the bourgeoisie and the working classes.

[Jul 04, 2013] Egyptians Reject Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera

July 4, 2013 | The Excavator

Al Jazeera doesn't cover reality because it isn't a news organization, but an ideologically driven propaganda network.

An excerpt from, "What's Up with Al Jazeera English's Egypt Coverage?" by Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer (Foreign Policy, July 3, 2013):

There's been an abundance of -- deserved -- criticism of CNN's coverage today, which spent much of the morning focused on the ongoing George Zimmerman trial while giving short shrift to the showdown between the military and Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

But if CNN's ears should be burning right now - what about Al Jazeera English? Around noon, EST, just as tensions in Egypt were peaking -- as rumors swirled of tanks taking to the streets in Cairo and President Mohamed Morsy being held under house arrest -- the Qatar-based broadcaster was showing viewers in the United States ... a regularly scheduled special about undocumented immigrants in America? (The channel switched to live Egypt coverage a few minutes before 1 p.m. EST, but continued to intersperse other programming.)

June

[Jun 24, 2013] What We Have Learned From Afghanistan by Ron Paul

Quote: "Last week the Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar with the US government’s blessing. They raised the Taliban flag at the opening ceremony and referred to Afghanistan as the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan"—the name they used when they were in charge before the US attack in 2001."
June 24, 2013 | Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk

Last week the Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar with the US government’s blessing. They raised the Taliban flag at the opening ceremony and referred to Afghanistan as the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan"—the name they used when they were in charge before the US attack in 2001.

The US had meant for the Taliban office in Doha to be only a venue for a new round of talks on an end to the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban opening looked very much like a government in exile. The Karzai government was annoyed that the US and the Taliban had scheduled talks without even notifying Kabul. Karzai’s government felt as irrelevant to negotiations on post-war Afghanistan as they soon will be on the ground. It seemed strangely like Paris in 1968, where the US met with North Vietnamese representatives to negotiate a way out of that war, which claimed nearly 60,000 Americans and many times that number of Vietnamese lives.

For years many of us had argued the need to get out of Afghanistan. To end the fighting, the dying, the destruction, the nation-building. To end the foolish fantasy that we were building a Western-style democracy there. We cannot leave, we were told for all those years. If we leave Afghanistan now, the Taliban will come back! Well guess what, after 12 years, trillions of dollars, more than 2,200 Americans killed, and perhaps more than 50,000 dead Afghan civilians and fighters, the Taliban is coming back anyway!

The long US war in Afghanistan never made any sense in the first place. The Taliban did not attack the US on 9/11. The Authorization for the use of force that we passed after the attacks of 9/11 said nothing about a decade-long occupation of Afghanistan. But unfortunately two US presidents have taken it to mean that they could make war anywhere at any time they please. Congress, as usual, did nothing to rein in the president, although several Members tried to repeal the authorization.

Afghanistan brought the Soviet Union to its knees. We learned nothing from it.

We left Iraq after a decade of fighting and the country is in far worse shape than when we attacked in 2003. After trillions of dollars wasted and tens of thousands of lives lost, Iraq is a devastated, desperate, and violent place with a presence of al Qaeda. No one in his right mind speaks of a US victory in Iraq these days. We learned nothing from it.

We are leaving Afghanistan after 12 years with nothing to show for it but trillions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives lost. Afghanistan is a devastated country with a weak, puppet government—and now we negotiate with those very people we fought for those 12 years, who are preparing to return to power! Still we learn nothing.

Instead of learning from these disasters brought about by the interventionists and their failed foreign policy, the president is now telling us that we have to go into Syria!

US Army Col. Harry Summers told a story about a meeting he had with a North Vietnamese colonel named Tu while he visiting Hanoi in 1975. At the meeting, Col. Summers told Tu, "You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield." Tu paused for a moment, then replied, "That may be so. But it is also irrelevant."

Sadly, that is the story of our foreign policy. We have attacked at least five countries since 9/11. We have launched drones against many more. We have deposed several dictators and destroyed several foreign armies. But, looking around at what has been achieved, it is clear: it is all irrelevant.

Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

[Jun 19, 2013] Obama loses German hearts and minds ahead of Berlin visit By

Not surprisingly, the US foreign policy elites don’t much enjoy being supervised. But it looks like the USA elite now loses moral ground in almost any area...
Jun 18, 2013 | Yahoo

But with Guantanamo still open, Obama under fire for sanctioning lethal drone attacks abroad, and recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s global electronic surveillance programs, many Germans are taking to the streets and the Internet to protest his visit.

While thousands have gone online to vent their frustration on Twitter using the #GreetObama hashtag, several hundred leftists staged a colorful demonstration on Monday afternoon in Berlin.

Under sunny blue skies, Obama was bashed for everything from the NSA’s spying to failing to end racism in the United States. The stage was even adorned with a poster showing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. uttering his famous line, “I have a dream.” Underneath was Obama saying, “I have a drone.”

While two pensioners held aloft a banner reminding Obama that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, one man, who refused to give his name, wore a handwritten sign around his neck with a warning about the particularly German concern of personal privacy: “Democracy: Citizens watch government. Tyranny: Government watches citizens.”

Standing nearby, Jochem Visser said he had waited patiently three hours to see Obama speak in 2008. But five years later, the 37-year-old activist wasn’t eagerly awaiting Obama’s return to the German capital.

“Many progressive people in Europe hoped something would change, but he’s just continued with the same old American power politics,” Visser told Yahoo News.

... ... ...

Though many Germans still clearly prefer Obama to his Republican opponents in the U.S., the latest disclosures about the NSA’s seemingly insatiable appetite for surveillance have tested their loyalties. Even the country’s biggest newspaper, Bild, mocked his enthusiastic campaign slogan “Yes we can!” by changing it to “Yes, we scan.”

“Of course I’m disappointed. Like everyone else, I had big hopes for Obama,” said Steffen Wenzel from Politik-digital.de, a public service platform promoting democratic discourse online.

“Things have taken on an Orwellian dimension. If someone in Germany writes something critical about the U.S. government, will it affect their ability to enter the United States?”

[Jun 19, 2013] Ron Paul: Obama’s Syria Policy Looks a Lot Like Bush’s Iraq Policy by Ron Paul

June 17, 2013 | RonPaul.com

President Obama announced late last week that the US intelligence community had just determined that the Syrian government had used poison gas on a small scale, killing some 100 people in a civil conflict that has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. Because of this use of gas, the president claimed, Syria had crossed his “red line” and the US must begin to arm the rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.

Setting aside the question of why 100 killed by gas is somehow more important than 99,900 killed by other means, the fact is his above explanation is full of holes. The Washington Post reported this week that the decision to overtly arm the Syrian rebels was made “weeks ago” – in other words, it was made at a time when the intelligence community did not believe “with high confidence” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

Further, this plan to transfer weapons to the Syrian rebels had become policy much earlier than that, as the Washington Post reported that the CIA had expanded over the past year its secret bases in Jordan to prepare for the transfer of weapons to the rebels in Syria.

The process was identical to the massive deception campaign that led us into the Iraq war. Remember the famous quote from the leaked “Downing Street Memo,” where representatives of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration discussed Washington’s push for war on Iraq?

Here the head of British intelligence was reporting back to his government after a trip to Washington in the summer of 2002: “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

That is exactly what the Obama Administration is doing with Syria: fixing the intelligence and facts around the already determined policy. And Congress just goes along, just as they did the last time.

We found out shortly after the Iraq war started that the facts and intelligence being fixed around the policy were nothing but lies put forth by the neo-con warmongers and the paid informants, like the infamous and admitted liar known as “Curveball.” But we seem to have learned nothing from being fooled before.

So Obama now plans to send even more weapons to the Syrian rebels even though his administration is aware that the main rebel factions have pledged their loyalty to al-Qaeda. Does anyone else see the irony? After 12 years of the “war on terror” and the struggle against al-Qaeda, the US decided to provide weapons to the allies of al-Qaeda. Does anyone really think this is a good idea?

The Obama administration promises us that this is to be a very limited operation, providing small arms only, with no plans for a no-fly zone or American boots on the ground. That sounds an awful lot like how Vietnam started. Just a few advisors. When these few small arms do not achieve the pre-determined US policy of regime change in Syria what is the administration going to do? Admit failure and pull the troops out, or escalate? History suggests the answer and it now appears to be repeating itself once again.

The president has opened a can of worms that will destroy his presidency and possibly destroy this country. Another multi-billion dollar war has begun.

[Jun 14, 2013] Don’t Forget Syria by Philip Giraldi

June 13, 2013 | Antiwar.com

News about President Obama’s program to listen in on nearly all telephone conversations in the United States, which Antiwar.com has been warning about for over two years, has preempted much of the alarming coverage about Syria. But one should not assume that lack of reporting means that the hawks are not continuing their efforts to intervene. Try to remember the successful formula for how the Iraq War was initiated. In the wake of the First Gulf War, the oppressed Shi’ites of Iraq rose up against dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam put down the rebels by force, killing tens of thousands. This produced a series of sanctions from initially well-meaning though clueless foreigners, at least one of whom thought that killing half a million Iraqi children would be “worth it.” Pressure came from Iraqi expats and their largely neocon politician and media allies to “do something.” In the case of Iraq, 9/11 happened, providing a golden opportunity to shift the narrative to what appeared to be a genuine threat to the United States. Those who wanted war quickly discovered that it was not really necessary to have any facts to justify the use of force to oust Saddam so they invented a series of lies to make the case, lies that were picked up uncritically by the media.

The tale of what has been going on in Syria is in some respects quite similar. Dictator, popular revolt, violent suppression, alleged use of chemical weapons, and an acquiescent media that tells only one side, much of it consisting of fabricated information. Plus Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to stir the pot by alleging government atrocities while likening the rebels to latter-day George Washingtons, just as they and others did regarding Iraq and Libya. President Barack Obama is resisting, but it now appears that armed intervention is right around the corner, particularly as the Europeans have agreed to provide weapons to the rebels.

The accepted story to date reads something like this: nearly everybody hates the Syrian government and would like to replace it. Turkey wanted a friendly regime in Damascus dedicated to keeping the Kurds in check. The U.S., with no actual interests in Syria, has decided to interfere on behalf of the dissidents while pretending to be neutral. It foolishly provided President Bashar al-Assad no way out of his self-created box by breaking off diplomatic relations and passing legislation to include the Syria Accountability Act of 2004, which together insured that a negotiated solution would never be possible. Saudi Arabia meanwhile had been for years itching to overthrow al-Assad and replace him with a pliable Sunni regime that will be both anti-Iranian and non-secular, adopting the intolerant Wahhabism that the Saudis have been exporting worldwide.

In a scenario reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War, everybody opposing al-Assad lined up behind their proxy, an insurgency active since March 2011 that was largely funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar but allowed to operate out of Turkey with the sometimes active, but more often passive, connivance of a number of Western powers, including Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. The original intention was to overthrow the admittedly dictatorial al-Assad quickly and replace him with a more representative government of some kind, leaving the details to work themselves out at future date. Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and Iraq (ironically) meanwhile have lined up behind the Syrian government.

The rebels’ largely ad hoc political organization that was the counterpart to the Free Syrian Army ultimately evolved into the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (Syrian National Coalition) in November 2012, somewhat reminiscent of Ahmad Chalabi and the ill-starred Iraqi National Congress. It has been trying to define itself ever since, but it did initially successfully exploit the anti-Syrian sentiment among leading politicians in Washington and Europe while skillfully manipulating the media narrative to suggest that the al-Assad regime was engaging in widespread atrocities and threatening to destabilize its neighbors, most notably Lebanon. As in the case of Iraq, Syria’s possession of weapons of mass destruction was introduced into the indictment of al-Assad and cited as a regional threat, a theme that was quickly picked up both in Washington and Tel Aviv.

If there was a model for what was planned for Syria it must have been the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or possibly the United Nations-endorsed armed intervention in Libya in 2010, both of which intended to replace dictatorial regimes with representative governments that would at least provide a simulacrum of accountable popular rule. But the planners must have anticipated a better outcome. Both Libya and Iraq have become more destabilized than they were under their autocrats, a fact that appears to have escaped everyone’s notice. It did not take long for the wheels to fall off the bus in Syria as well. As in Iraq, the Syrian exiles had no real constituency within their homeland, which meant that the already somewhat organized resistance to al-Assad, consisting of the well-established Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups, came to the fore. Al-Assad, who somewhat credibly has described the rebels as terrorists supported by foreign governments, did not throw in the towel and leave. The Turkish people, meanwhile, began to turn sour on a war which seemed endless, was creating a huge refugee and security problem as genuine terrorists mixed in with the refugees, and was increasingly taking on the shape of a new jihad as foreign volunteers linked to al-Qaeda began to assume responsibility for most of the fighting.

The proposed alternative government of the Syrian National Coalition was quickly recognized by Washington, the Europeans, and the Arab League, primarily because it promised some kind of democratic and pluralistic future for Syria and control over the disparate and sometimes radical elements in the Free Syrian Army. Everyone underestimated the actual extent of the radical Islamist role in the revolution. The Coalition soon demonstrated that it had little authority over most of the actual rebel combatants and scant ability to enforce standards on the cadres who were fighting the Syrian Army. Emphasizing its political divisions and also its essential powerlessness, in January the Coalition was unable to agree on who might be part of a transitional government to run the areas controlled by the insurgents, largely because the Muslim Brotherhood was unwilling to cede authority to other groups. Since that time it has failed to agree on possible conditions for initiating peace negotiations with the Syrian government, only coming together on the demand that al-Assad cannot be part of the solution while also demanding that a supply of weapons to further their cause as a precondition. Planned peace talks in Geneva have stalled as a result.

One central issue that will probably not be confronted directly is the competing objectives of the various supporters of the insurgents, which should have been visible right from the beginning. The U.S. and the Europeans clearly envisioned some kind of humanitarian intervention which would lead to a new, more representative government, but that was not the goal of Turkey, which sought a pliable replacement regime that would cooperate in controlling the Kurdish minority, Ankara’s primary geopolitical security concern.

And then there are the Saudis, who have not been on the same page at all. Saudi Arabia’s rival as regional hegemon, Iran, is viewed in Riyadh as ascendant due to the rise to power of a friendly Shia regime in Iraq resulting from the American invasion and regime change. This has permitted the development of a geographically contiguous Arab bloc closely tied to Tehran and its regional interests, running through Iraq, across Syria, and connecting with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. To break up that de facto coalition, the Saudis, who see Syria as the weak link in the chain, have sought to replace Assad’s Alawite-led government with an essentially fundamentalist Sunni regime espousing Wahhabism that prevails in the Kingdom, a view close to the more radical insurgents and hostile to the secularists. It would also make the country’s significant numbers of Christians, Alawites, Shi’ites, and Kurds potential victims of the arrangement.

All of which means that the Saudis believe in change in Syria, but on their own terms, and they actually oppose enabling the populist or democratic evolution favored by the West. In fact, Riyadh has been actively engaged regionally in doing what it can to contain the unrest resulting from the Arab Spring so that the populism does not become untidy and spill over into Saudi Arabia itself. This has meant that from the beginning Saudi objectives in Syria have differed from the goals of either Turkey or the Western powers, which should have been seen as a recipe for disaster.

And it gets even more complicated. In spite of their tendency to support religious groups rather than secular ones, Saudi Arabia views the Muslim Brotherhood’s “political Islam” as one of the divisive elements that has destabilized hitherto reliable countries like Egypt, unleashing forces that could ultimately threaten the Saudis themselves. As a result, working through their surrogates in Lebanon and in Turkey as well as in Jordan, they have systematically and deliberately starved most of the Free Syrian Army of money and weapons, instead diverting their assistance to the militant Jabhat al-Nusra, a Salafist group alleged to have links to al-Qaeda. Al-Nusra is generally regarded as the most effective insurgent group when it comes to fighting, but it advocates a strict Sunni religious state as part of a worldwide Caliphate under Sharia law when the fighting is concluded. It has also become a magnet for the foreign jihadis who have been drawn into the rebellion, an issue that has raised concerns in Washington because of the likelihood that any successor regime to al-Assad could easily be dominated by a well-armed and disciplined Salafist minority.

Syria is de facto in a bloody civil war that is approaching stalemate with the government still firmly in control in most provinces but not quite able to eliminate the rebels, while the United States and Europeans have no good options and the Turks are increasingly playing damage control. If there is a solution to the conflict it is not readily discernible, and it is now doubtful whether some kind of resolution by force could be imposed even if Washington and the Europeans were inclined to do so, which they are not.

Iraq is already a broken state. More than 1,000 Iraqis died in sectarian violence in May alone. Syria’s death toll is unknowable but it is likewise in danger of ceasing to exist as a nation-state. Its collapse could inspire a new global jihad and provoke violence throughout the Middle East, while its chemical weapons could easily fall into dangerous hands. Israel is already threatening to intervene, which could produce a major regional conflict. Well-armed bands of the most radical of the insurgents taking the lead in the conflict without any political direction or control cannot be what anyone envisioned two years ago, but that is what has emerged, with the United States again looking on like a helpless giant.

Press freedom A heavy-handed approach

FT.com

The Associated Press was told by the DoJ this month that it had secretly obtained the phone records of 20 of its reporters as part of an investigation into a March 2012 story by the news agency into a foiled Yemen terrorist plot.

The inquiry into the Yemen story was one of two ordered by Eric Holder, Mr Obama’s attorney-general, last year. The second, which is also being pursued vigorously by prosecutors, is into news reports, largely in The New York Times, about US-led cyber sabotage of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Mr Rosen’s walk-on part came when The Washington Post revealed that an FBI agent had sought access to the reporter’s private Gmail account as part of an investigation into the leaking of a CIA report on North Korea.

... ... ...

In a speech at the National Defence University updating the administration’s terrorism policy, Mr Obama reiterated his determination “to enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information”.

... ... ...

In an interview with the Daily Beast, published on Monday, Mr Holder seemed to acknowledge prosecutorial over-reach with the press and damage to his image.

Dallas01

The Obama White House leaks sensitive national security information when it serves their political purpose and tries to prosecute Rosen for a nothing, no consequence story about what North Korea might do if we impose sanctions - again a politically motivated prosecution. Holder shops for a judge that will grant the subpoena after being rejected several times.

What a ridiculous article. Why is the FT OK with being made to look foolish by running these articles on the developing scandals - all with a positive Obama spin and all lacking the facts that are emerging daily and being reported by the real press. You would be better served just staying quiet and thought to be ridiculously biased then publishing this and proving the suspicion.

Report Legal Tender

This is not about national security- it is about message control.

The administration appears to be scared to death that details of its decision making process and competence (or lack thereof) will be disclosed to voters.

There have been dozens of leaks deliberately made by the administration that endangered national security. I could not believe when it was disclosed that the OBL raid had recovered computer files and documents within days of the event. A president and administration serving the country would have kept that info quiet until the leads were chased down or floated a story that "little could be recovered because OBL was able to burn some of the materials".

The political manipulation against the interests of the US got to the point where Sec Def Gates had to tell the White House "national security" team to "shut the f.. up"

That minor leaks (like the Fox news and AP scandals) were so vigorously pursued and with the direct intervention of the AG while major damaging leaks were ignored, shows that marching orders came from the top and were driven by politics. That the leak investigations not only targeted govt employees (well within the rights of the administration) but trampled on the constitution and personal privacy of citizens with little or no perspective, logic or analysis of risk/reward shows that these were intimidations and witch hunts.

Acts like these are better fit for a secretive, paranoid cult than a constitutional republic.

fiatsceptic

An unusual FT headline – I credit the “Analysis” label for allowing McGregor to hold the Obama-loving headline writers at bay. The Watergate-comparative lead – though not directly comparing Obama to Nixon – is rather bold by FT US coverage standards as well. But the assumption that the snooping on Rosen was really related to national security is unwarranted.

The theory that the Obama Administration’s snooping and political speech suppression is part of an “anti-leak” policy won’t run very far, for reasons hinted at in the five paragraphs just above the “Holder takes the heat….” section heading: Leaking is a core Administration tactic. For a good recent analysis of this, see JBachman in The Hill (http://thehill.com...s-whistleblowersf) Highlights:

“…there has been a rush in the mainstream media to declare the DOJ’s actions to be part of what they claim to be President Obama’s aggressive pursuit of those who would leak secret information to the press.” [That’s you over the past 10 days, FT…… continuing….] “The reality is the Obama administration has either authorized or acquiesced to the leak of information that is deemed politically beneficial, while relentlessly investigating and prosecuting those who reveal information that reflects poorly on his administration and the U.S. government.” Ibid.

France’s struggle is against much more than gay marriage by Mark Mazower

FT.com

The restoration of democracy, supported by the creation of a governing elite to carry it out, was central to President Charles de Gaulle’s reshaping of the republic after the second world war. That elite’s achievements are in doubt as never before. Arguments over whether to increase English-language instruction in universities degenerate into shouting matches over how to preserve the global reach of la Francophonie, while the plight of the underperforming higher-education sector goes largely unremarked.

Then there is Europe. Since the 1950s, France’s role as co-driver of continental integration has served as the modernisers’ preferred route to grandeur. But the European crisis has sharply knocked popular support for the project, as a Pew Research Center survey this month confirmed.

Much the same is happening elsewhere on the continent: since the economic crisis, confidence in globalisation has collapsed and political sentiment is turning inward. The result is a new focus on the nation and its future. In France, few wish publicly to mark themselves as extremists by claiming inspiration from Vichy or from colonial days.

Instead, these activists of the right take the wartime language of collaboration and resistance and turn it against those who now lead the republic. It is the administration of François Hollande that must be resisted in the name of French values. To these historical allusions, they add what really counts for them: the language of existential moral danger and national demographic catastrophe that has been around as long as the republic itself. This now includes new threats – not Germany, not communism, but the kind of perspective that allows someone such as extreme rightwing historian Dominique Venner, who killed himself last week in Notre Dame cathedral, to see opposition to gay marriage and Islam as twin aspects of the same mortal battle.

The French remain as gloomy as any in Europe about the future of their country and their children. Legalising gay marriage will have little impact on either. But Sunday’s march was not about reality; it was about symbols and fears. Activists’ hopes for a national spiritual rebirth through this issue will, polls suggest, be disappointed. But the underlying anxieties will not go away. France’s long struggle to come to terms with its dwindling global stature goes on.

The writer is professor of history at Columbia University and author of ‘Governing the World’

May

[May 30, 2013] Democracy and Pseudo-Science by Michael Ruse

May 30, 2013 | Logos

Tolerance

Now, I think that tolerance demands that one accept the views of others in this respect, meaning that they have a perfect right to hold them, although frankly I am not sure that the other side would reciprocate. (I suspect that the value of letting others have their values is one of the values at issue here.) But it doesn’t mean that I have to accept them in a quiescent sort of way or have no right to argue against them or to try politically to prevent their ideas and values prevailing. I can do everything in my ability to block them – as indeed I personally have done for the past thirty years with respect to all forms of Creationism.

Democracy is a precious thing and there are always forces trying to prevent it or to circumscribe it – in our own society particularly, when you think of the grotesque gerrymandering that goes on when drawing up congressional districts or the absurd qualifications that are demanded before one is allowed to vote. It is a nice balance between recognizing that democracy means that others can believe and do what one finds offensive – pretty silly, as I have said – and making sure that no one abuses that right to try to stop you holding ideas that they find offensive – pretty silly. Remembering also that democracy does not mean that every idea deserves a level playing field.

We have the right and the obligation to judge ideas in the light of past experience and if they fail the test then they should be so judged.

None of this sounds very easy, but whoever said that the important things are easy?

[May 27, 2013] Chris Hedges On the State of Modern Journalism

Move to an image based culture is one of signed of triumph of corporate BS in modern society.
May 9, 2013 | Jesse's Café Américain

Chris Hedges - The State of Journalism University of Western Ontario - YouTube

On March 13, 2013, the Faculty of Information and Media Studies Undergraduate Students' Council (FIMSSC) at The University of Western Ontario proudly presented Chris Hedges and his talk on the state of journalism and his book "Empire of Illusion", the second event in the FIMS Undergraduate Speaker Series, sponsored in part by the FIMS Undergraduate Student Fund.

Chris Hedges is an American journalist specializing in American politics and society. Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of several books including War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction—Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), Death of the Liberal Class (2010) and his most recent New York Times best seller, written with the cartoonist Joe Sacco, "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt" (2012).

Chris Hedges is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990--2005).

In 2002, Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received in 2002 the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University[2] and The University of Toronto. He writes a weekly column on Mondays for Truthdig and authored what The New York Times described as "a call to arms" for the first issue of The Occupied Wall Street Journal, the newspaper giving voice to the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park, New York City.

In this talk, Hedges explores the relationship between dominant media institutions and recent socioeconomic trends by discussing some of his experiences as journalist for The New York Times, as well as some of the topics covered in his book, Empire of Illusion.

Special thanks to the film crew for making this video possible: Tyler Benning, Cody McFarland, and Nicole Landsiedel.

[May 26, 2013] An empty language for empty-headed executives by John Kay

Jul 12, 2005 | John Kay

Most bullshit is simply to fill space, written by word processor, read by nobody, this material is generally innocuous. The worst abuses of the language now come from business people and management gurus. If bullshit tells you nothing else, it tells you something about the organisation that excretes it.

When George Orwell wrote his magisterial essay on Politics and the English Language in 1946, public bullshit was political bullshit. There is still a lot of that about. Election campaigns in Britain, constitutional arguments in Europe, and global summits in Scotland have produced political bullshit in quantity.

But the worst abuses of the language now come from business people and management gurus. In the last year, books by the Australian writer, Don Watson, the Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s, and my colleague Lucy Kellaway have attempted, in very different ways, to dissect this phenomenon.

Lies and spin communicate, but what they communicate is false. The defining characteristic of bullshit is that it does not attempt to communicate at all. Bullshit has the vocabulary and syntax of ordinary language, but not the meaning. The metaphor is not apt. What we describe as bullshit is more like candy floss – when you bite into it, there is nothing there.

The symptoms of bullshit are familiar. The repetition of stock phrases which can be parroted without thought – change drivers, organisational transformation. Words are given meanings different from their ordinary sense – government spending is called investment. Bullshit creates new words – empowerment, creovation™ – but these do not define original ideas, but describe concepts too nebulous to be expressed by terms with known meaning. Bullshit is characterised by prolixity – “serving customers better” becomes “striving for continuous improvement in the customer relationship management space”.

Why do people talk or write when they have nothing to say? Sometimes there are good reasons. When the Queen pays a royal visit, her remarks tell people nothing other than that she is present, but that purpose is important. Some of what senior executives do has this symbolic role. Such speeches are properly short, and banalities suffice.

These representative occasions are sometimes used to good effect, by orators who connect with the emotions of their audiences. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is still inspirational, and Ken Livingstone’s words on the London bombings last week showed some of the same gift for language. But people who lack poetic skill are wise to stick to tested clichés.

So most bullshit is simply to fill space. Sometimes people do not want to speak but are required to. The growing culture of audit and accountability has stimulated such obligatory communication – read any corporate risk assessment or statement of auditors’ responsibilities. Written by word processor, read by nobody, this material is generally innocuous.

But the purpose of bullshit is often deceptive. The squirming politician, forbidden to lie but unable to tell the truth, must bullshit. And so must Martin Lukes. He cannot describe what he and co-colleagues are doing because they are not doing anything: their time is spent in office politics and in diverting the resources of the company to their own interests. The popularity of the joke reveals that most employees of large organisations recognise some reality in this account. Less venally, a senior executive is unwilling to talk substantively about corporate strategy but too vain to remain silent. And so he rambles on, repeating long words and exhausted phrases.

‘Why don’t they get up and walk out?’ asked a distinguished academic, sitting next to me as we waited our turn to speak at a corporate event: layer of bullshit was piled on accumulated layer. They didn’t get up and walk out partly because the conventions of the corporate world differ from those of universities. But not all the audience had noticed that the words they heard meant nothing. If you are asked to report on implementation milestones towards key performance indicators, you are obliged to reply in the same language. Before long you speak this way yourself.

Proper academic training, which emphasises substance over form, is an antidote, and many universities still provide it: business schools, where both faculty and students must disguise how little they know, sometimes do the opposite. The most powerful enemy of bullshit is ridicule, and the most powerful ally of bullshit is the corporate conformity that makes such ridicule impossible. The more authoritarian the culture, the more bullshit. If bullshit tells you nothing else, it tells you something about the organisation that excretes it.

[May 13, 2013] Ron Paul What No One Wants to Hear About Benghazi

InvestingChannel

Congressional hearings, White House damage control, endless op-eds, accusations, and defensive denials. Controversy over the events in Benghazi last September took center stage in Washington and elsewhere last week. However, the whole discussion is again more of a sideshow. Each side seeks to score political points instead of asking the real questions about the attack on the US facility, which resulted in the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Republicans smell a political opportunity over evidence that the Administration heavily edited initial intelligence community talking points about the attack to remove or soften anything that might reflect badly on the president or the State Department.

Are we are supposed to be shocked by such behavior? Are we supposed to forget that this kind of whitewashing of facts is standard operating procedure when it comes to the US government?

Democrats in Congress have offered the even less convincing explanation for Benghazi, that somehow the attack occurred due to Republican sponsored cuts in the security budget at facilities overseas. With a one trillion dollar military budget, it is hard to take this seriously.

It appears that the Administration scrubbed initial intelligence reports of references to extremist Islamist involvement in the attacks, preferring to craft a lie that the demonstrations were a spontaneous response to an anti-Islamic video that developed into a full-out attack on the US outpost.

Who can blame he administration for wanting to shift the focus? The Islamic radicals who attacked Benghazi were the same people let loose by the US-led attack on Libya. They were the rebels on whose behalf the US overthrew the Libyan government. Ambassador Stevens was slain by the same Islamic radicals he personally assisted just over one year earlier.

But the Republicans in Congress also want to shift the blame. They supported the Obama Administration’s policy of bombing Libya and overthrowing its government. They also repeated the same manufactured claims that Gaddafi was “killing his own people” and was about to commit mass genocide if he were not stopped. Republicans want to draw attention to the President’s editing talking points in hopes no one will notice that if the attack on Libya they supported had not taken place, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today.

Neither side wants to talk about the real lesson of Benghazi: interventionism always carries with it unintended consequences. The US attack on Libya led to the unleashing of Islamist radicals in Libya. These radicals have destroyed the country, murdered thousands, and killed the US ambassador. Some of these then turned their attention to Mali which required another intervention by the US and France.

Previously secure weapons in Libya flooded the region after the US attack, with many of them going to Islamist radicals who make up the majority of those fighting to overthrow the government in Syria. The US government has intervened in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the same rebels it assisted in the Libya conflict, likely helping with the weapons transfers. With word out that these rebels are mostly affiliated with al Qaeda, the US is now intervening to persuade some factions of the Syrian rebels to kill other factions before completing the task of ousting the Syrian government. It is the dizzying cycle of interventionism.

The real lesson of Benghazi will not be learned because neither Republicans nor Democrats want to hear it. But it is our interventionist foreign policy and its unintended consequences that have created these problems, including the attack and murder of Ambassador Stevens. The disputed talking points and White House whitewashing are just a sideshow.

[May 03, 2013] Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the Penumbra of Terror by Justin Raimondo

May 01, 2013 | Antiwar.com

The Boston Marathon bombers had help

The semi-official story coming out of Washington, and the Western media, is that the Tsarnaev brothers were “self-radicalized” loners, “losers,” as their uncle Ruslan put it, unconnected to any larger organization or terrorist network. The poor babies were so alienated by life in America – where they had been given refugee status, welfare payments, and, in Dzhokhar’s case, citizenship – that they suddenly decided to carry out a terrorist act in which three were killed and hundreds wounded.

Move along, nothing to see here …

There’s just one problem with this story: it’s unraveling.

As we learn more about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s travels through Russia – he visited Dagestan, and went to Chechnya, in 2012 – and the Russian media examines his trail, a picture emerges of the penumbra of terror that hovered over and around him. Two names have cropped up: Makhmud Mansur Nidal, an 18-year-old of Chechen and Palestinian heritage, and recruiter for the Chechen insurgency, who was observed meeting with Tamerlan six times, and William Plotnick, a Canadian of Russian ethnicity – and, like Tamerlan, a boxer – who traveled to Dagestan in 2010. There Plotnick was interrogated by the authorities – who gave Tamerlan as one of his contacts: the two had communicated online via the web site of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

Plotnick came to Toronto, Canada, at the age of 15, the son of Christian ethnic Russians from Siberia: like Tamerlan, who was a Golden Gloves champion, Plotnick was a rising star in the world of amateur boxing, where he won medals and was praised by his coach as having Olympian potential. However, his conversion to Islam in 2009 put him on a different path – and he wound up dead less than three years later, in a firefight with security forces in the hinterlands of Dagestan.

Plotnick’s parents were puzzled and worried about their son’s sudden transformation into a religious fanatic, but their remonstrations were to no avail. One day they found a note on the kitchen table, informing them that he had gone to France “to celebrate Ramadan,” after emptying the family bank account of $3,500. Months passed with no word from him, until they found out he had – somehow – turned up in Moscow, where he was staying at the apartment of a mutual friend from Toronto.

From there he went on to Dagestan: by this time his frantic father had contacted Russia’s FSB, and they paid him a visit: they interrogated him about his online contacts, and he gave Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name – which is how the Marathon bombing mastermind first showed up on their radar screen. The FSB released Plotnick and told him to go home: instead he went back to Moscow, briefly, but soon returned to Dagestan and joined up with the Chechen insurgents.

Plotnick starred in one of their propaganda videos – really, a recruiting video – which was circulated around the internet. He interviews a Turkish recruit, asking him “What do you do?” “Terrorism” is the reply. “I kill kaffirs.” Sitting down next to him, Plotnick addresses his audience directly:

“We have food to cook and eat, thanks to Allah. And also have brothers and try to do as much as we can for Allah. Kafirs, you’re not going to get what you expect. Allah is with us. He protects us. You don’t have a protector.

“We will kill you. We’re going to build plans against you. But no matter how many plans you make, nothing is going to succeed because whatever He described in His book is the truth. Allah is the truth. All of you others are waste, garbage.”

Plotnick was killed in an ambush by security forces on July 13, 2012. Tsarnaev left for the United States three days later.

We’re going to build plans against you” – plans in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev played a key part?

The answer to that question is not yet clear, but there is some evidence pointing in that direction. To begin with, the two were in communication, and it’s possible they could have met in person when Tamerlan attended a boxing event and visited his aunt who lives in Toronto. Secondly, on his Youtube site, Tamerlan posted videos valorizing Plotnick’s group, led by one Gadhzhimurad Dolgatov, a Russian convert to Islam and a local commander of the Caucasian “Emirate” Chechen terrorist group. Dolgatov was killed in a shootout with security forces in December of last year, in Makhachkala, the regional capital of Dagestan where Tsarnaev stayed during his Russian sojourn and where his parents live today.

All of this raises some intriguing questions, but for the moment let us step back and look at the bigger picture. Clearly, there is an extensive recruiting effort by Chechen terrorist groups to draw in fighters from around the world: Plotnick, and apparently Tsarnaev, were drawn into this web. But what kind of help did they have? How did Plotnick, who only had $3,500 Canadian on him when he left for France, manage to live abroad for months and travel to Russia? What did he use for money? Tsarnaev’s financial condition was similar: how does an unemployed ex-boxer travel to Dagestan and otherwise support himself? There are news accounts saying the Tsarnaev brothers may have financed their terrorist plot by selling marijuana, but how does one travel to Dagestan and otherwise move about with no regular source of income?

For that, we turn to the Russian daily Izvestia and the Russian-1 television network, which report the contents of an intelligence dossier leaked by Col. Grigory Chanturia, of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which claims that, in the summer of 2010, an organization calling itself the “Caucasian Fund,” or, alternately, the “Kavkazsky Fund,” co-sponsored with the Washington, D.C.-based Jamestown Foundation a series of “seminars” for North Caucasian youth – and that Tamerlan was one of the attendees.

The Fund was set up after the Georgian-Ossetian war, with $2.5 million expended to do “outreach” to “North Caucasian youth.” The program brought in Chechens and others from the European diaspora, and reportedly encouraged the participants in their militance: is this how Plotnick made it from France to Dagestan?

In response to these reports, the newly-elected President of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, made a remarkable statement that has been completely ignored in the Western media:

It is possible that terrorists had been trained in Georgia, but the investigation is underway. Let’s wait for its results. We will get a lot of new information, maybe even some shocking findings. There are suspicions that the authorities worked with terrorists and militants. If this information is confirmed, this will be shocking.”

To say the least.

In response to the charge that the previous government had been in the business of harboring terrorists, former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, on a visit to the US, said “America will not take Ivanishvili’s words seriously.”

Perhaps not, but it seems passing strange that the elected President of one of our biggest allies in the Caucasus is investigating this possibility, while the American media – which has been obsessed with tracing the trail of the Boston Marathon terrorists – has so far ignored the Georgian connection.

That the Saakashvili government had every interest in destabilizing Russia’s hold over neighboring Dagestan is beyond dispute: the two countries fought a war in 2008, and were bitter enemies well before that. According to Radio Free Europe, a report by the new Public Defender in Georgia says that the Georgian Interior Ministry under Saakasvili “recruited and flew to Tbilisi from Europe up to 120 refugees from the North Caucasus, primarily Chechens, to undergo training prior to crossing the border into Russia and joining the insurgency. The men were housed in apartments in Tbilisi, trained at the Shavnabada and Vaziani military bases, and issued with licenses for their weapons.”

Izvestia says the Caucasus Fund was shuttered in late 2012 because it had attracted the FSB’s attention, and one former official of the group is quoted as saying the organization has been almost entirely defunct since January. However, they do have a web site, and, conveniently an American office in Boston. They are described here as a commercial venture, with capitalization of $92 million. $30 million of that comes from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a joint US government-private sector agency. Both the Fund and the Jamestown Foundation deny any involvement.

While the details still have to be fleshed out, one thing is clear: Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s journey to the finish line at the Boston Marathon wasn’t the hegira of a “lone nut” who acted without direction, compatriots, or outside help. Remember Plotnick’s last known message to the West: “We’re going to build plans against you.”

And so they did.

The Georgian connection points to a classic case of “blowback.” A covert operation conducted against the Russian government, originally, that got out of hand – and came back to bite the hand that fed it. The irony here is that such figures as Zbigniew Brzezinski, who sits on the board of the Jamestown Foundation, were responsible for the anti-Soviet “strategy” that allied the US with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when the Russians invaded – a ruse that backfired spectacularly on September 11, 2001.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

I’m having great fun on Twitter these days, and I urge you to join me on this wonderfully interactive site: you can do so by going here.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Forward by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy my biography of the great libertarian thinker, An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), here.

[May 02, 2013] M of A - More Arms For Destroying Syria

May 02, 2013 | moonofalabama.org

KenM:

I posted this a couple of weeks ago at another blog, but think it's relevant to the conversation:

RE: the US on Syria, there seems to be three major factions competing as to whose scenario is executed :
  1. currently still in charge seems to be the ‘humanitarian/liberal’ interventionalists led by Suzanne Rice, Hillary Clinton, Suzanne Nossel, etc. (whom Obama seems to clearly favour) who set the whole bizarre GCC/NATO/Israel/Jihadi/ ‘Human rights’ NGO circus off in the first place ;
  2. The revamped neo-cons, who favour much the same but with greater direct military involvement – more leading from the front than behind;
  3. And the conventional military along with what is left of the old realist foreign policy establishment, who want the whole thing wrapped up & to start focusing on limiting the damage.

A critical point looks to be coming up after June 19th, & MK Bhadrakamur has an excellent article on the subject :

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2013/04/16/obamas-choice-grab-syria-or-keep-nobel/

This looks to be manouvering by both the liberal interventionists & neo-cons on both sides of the pond, joining hands to try & kick off a full-scale military intervention by NATO by recycling the chemical weapons bullsh*t.

They likely realise this is their last chance, as the jihadists are now losing badly inspite of the vast amount of weapons & money thrown at them, but they are getting some heavy pushback from various quarters.
Expect the rhetoric to ramp up by the interventionist crowd over the next month, especially on the chemical weapons story.

Posted by: KenM | May 1, 2013 9:16:27 AM | 9

Mr. Pragma
While I value Bandrakhumars thoughts I think he is limited by his very experience. I know that from a good friend who is in international politics. Those people are in what one might call a fuzzy middle layer.

To explain the 3 layers:

The lowest one is what is sold to and seen by citizens (which can be compared to a TV show)

The middle one is the layer of formalisms, policies, diplomatics and the like. That's the layer around the real power and toward media is. Parlaments are an example or diplomats.

The highest layer is of course the real power and, connected to it, secret services, special ops, etc.

That part of the real decisions that can (or need be) be communicated, albeit usually codified, beautified or simply bent to fit an image, are handled, processed, communicated through layer 2; those that are to dirty, illegal, etc. are handled and processed through layer 1 appendices (secret services etc.).

Whatever obama and Putin discuss is either completely worthless diplomatic circus or will not be told for years to come.

One example: "the usa will help with security at the Olympic games" is pure diplomats-bullshirt. Putin would never accept any zusa involvement (beyond a dozen or so fbi agents), neither would he accept - or trust - any help of zusa with the real source of terrorism (and potential Sochi problems), the caucasus-terrorists financed, used and supported by the zusa.
In the very best of cases this offer of help could be interpreted as diplomatic speak for "O.K. we, the zusa, aren't the super power any more and we just can't afford any longer to piss off Russia. Therefore we will not any longer support caucasus terrorists". And even that would be worthless. Zusa can't be trusted and particularly not by Russia.

It might help to remember something that very much influenced Putins views and now gives him a position of experience concerning Syria.

During jelzins times and particularly as implemented by the "young" prime ministers the zusa willfully implemented a plan to completely destroy Russia once and forever. They had "laws" written by american "advisors" which basically stripped Russia completely and began to take away her resources basically for free. Furthermore they destroyed the core of Russias industry.

Adding insult to injury they sold this policy as "help" to build a democratic Russian state.

Putin stopped that process of willfull deterioration and plundering costing immense poverty and even many, many deaths. *That* is one of the reasons why Putin has profound support in Russia. The can have usaid, golus, navalny and whatnot blahblah and whine protest as much as they want; this just doesn't sit with people who have an uncle, a son, a sister, a neighbour whose former employer was completely and willfully destroyed until Putin came to stop it and built something up.

Strangely enough almost nobody knows about that zusa created nightmare in jelzins Russia. Must have somehow overlooked that, our "democratic, free media" ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 1, 2013 1:59:52 PM | 25

bevin

"...that process of willfull deterioration and plundering costing immense poverty and even many, many deaths. "

It would be interesting and very instructive to estimate how many deaths did result from the systematic destruction of the Russian Republic. If the same methodology that has been employed to determine that Stalin and Mao were responsible for millions of deaths, is used my suspicion is that the policies enforced in Russia by the Yeltsin regime, under International pressure, will have caused many millions of premature deaths. And that Clinton and Bush Sr will be regarded by posterity as criminals whose actions dwarfed the Ukrainian famines in the time of collectivisation, which, after all can be blamed on western sanctions quite as much as on communist land reform.

It might interest you, Mr Pragma, to learn that the word poppet, in English slang, means a young sexy woman.

Posted by: bevin | May 1, 2013 3:55:40 PM | 33

neretva'43

Obama doesn't. I think Putin does.

In Russia it is highly, say, personalized political system. Deep or Shadow State, while exist, is not (yet) developed or institutionalized. In essence he is the leader. In the U.S. president can be anybody he/she is just happy salesman with policy already set in place and strictly enforced by state bureaucracy and its henchmen. Reason being: they are terrified not end up as Rome. If you "make the waves" you end up like Kennedy. Second thing both countries run very different history and school of thought.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 1, 2013 4:00:22 PM | 34

Pat Bateman

I'm inclined to disagree with you on that, but speculating about what the Russians are really thinking is probably a waste of time.

Instead, Robert Fisk has a new series from inside Syria that is worth reading. When he talks about "prowling through mountaintop positions" and accompanying the Syrian army through the forests of Latakia and the cobbled streets of Aleppo, I'm inclined to believe that he has a good grasp of the realities on the ground, which is the most important thing.

And, as b points out in the latest propaganda splurge from the SOHR, the "rebels" are being squeezed. Will Obama give the green light for more arms before they pop?

Posted by: | May 2, 2013 6:04:49 AM | 63

Paul

re: the Sibel Edmonds idea of Russia ditching Syria

There is an update on her website saying that Kerry is visiting Syria, and that things show a warming in the Russia-US relationship. It looks to me that one can make a much better case that the US is trying to get out of the mess by ditching the insurgents. Just look at the headlines. An example is Yahoo, which has this:

"Syrian president showing renewed confidence

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies are showing renewed confidence that the momentum in the civil war is shifting in their favor, due in part to the rapid rise of al-Qaida-linked extremists among the rebels ..."

The headline if the US was about to bomb Syria would be:

"Syrian dictator goes to the scene of his latest crime

Syrian dictator Assad visited the area where human rights activists say the dictator's troops used chemical weapons on civilians. Survivors of this brutal attack crawled to a humanitarian refugee camp in Turkey and were interviewed by CNN ..."

Posted by: Paul | May 2, 2013 6:05:48 AM | 64

'The Great Degrader'

Paul Krugman says the biggest problem with George Bush wasn't the things he did, it was how he did them:

The Great Degrader: ...I sort of missed the big push to rehabilitate Bush’s image; also..., I’m kind of worn out on the subject. But it does need to be said: he was a terrible president, arguably the worst ever, and not just for the reasons many others are pointing out.

From what I’ve read, most of the pushback against revisionism focuses on just how bad Bush’s policies were, from the disaster in Iraq to the way he destroyed FEMA, from the way he squandered a budget surplus to the way he drove up Medicare’s costs. And all of that is fair.

But I think there was something even bigger, in some ways, than his policy failures: Bush brought an unprecedented level of systematic dishonesty to American political life, and we may never recover.

Think about his two main “achievements”, if you want to call them that: the tax cuts and the Iraq war, both of which continue to cast long shadows over our nation’s destiny. The key thing to remember is that both were sold with lies. ... Basically, every time the Bushies came out with a report, you knew that it was going to involve some kind of fraud, and the only question was which kind and where.

And no, this wasn’t standard practice before. ... There was a time when Americans expected their leaders to be more or less truthful. Nobody expected them to be saints, but we thought we could trust them not to lie about fundamental matters. That time is now behind us — and it was Bush who did it.

The media also echoed the Bush talking points on tax cuts and the war without giving them the scrutiny and skeptical eye they deserved (I got so tired of hearing the false claim that the Bush tax cuts would pay for themselves). There has been an admission that, well, maybe a few mistakes were made, but has the media learned its lesson? The ability of Republicans to use the same tactics in recent political debates suggests the answer is no.

April

[Apr 10, 2013] John Nichols Obama’s Social Security cuts are austerity

Kleptocratic elite attack on the population... And Obama, former moderate Repug, now occupies position right to W. Bush.

It is wrong economically, and politically.

“Social Security is not driving the deficit; therefore it should not be part of reforms aimed at cutting the deficit. The chained CPI, deceptively portrayed as a reasonable cost-of-living adjustment, is a cut to Social Security that would hurt seniors,” says former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. “There are several sensible reforms to Social Security that should be considered to help make it sustainable, including lifting the ceiling on income subject to Social Security from $113,700 to $200,000 or more, as well as instituting a 1 percent raise in the payroll tax rate, a rate that hasn’t changed in over 20 years.”

Reich, a Democrat, warns that the president’s plan abandons a historic partisan commitment.

“(Ever) since Social Security’s inception in 1935 and Medicare’s 30 years later, Republicans have been trying to get rid of them. If average Americans have trusted the Democratic Party to do one thing over the years, it’s been to guard these programs from the depredations of the GOP,” explains the former Clinton administration Cabinet member. “Why should Democrats now lead the charge against them?”

The president’s pursuit of a “grand bargain” was quickly rejected by House Speaker John Boehner.

Yet, despite the record of Republican obstruction, the White House has placed a major Social Security cut on the table.

“Social Security is too important to the economic security of the American people to be used as a bargaining chip,” says Nancy Altman, a founding co-director of Social Security Works. “The president’s own secretary of the Treasury and former director of the Office of Management and Budget has written about the budget, ‘The problem is not Social Security; the problem is the mismatch between outlays and revenues in the rest of the budget.’ Applying the so-called chained CPI to Social Security cuts the benefits of every single Social Security beneficiary, now and in the future. The very groups who worked the hardest and voted in the highest percentages to re-elect the president — working families, women, people of color, young Americans — will be the ones hurt the most by the cuts the president is reportedly including in his budget.”

That’s a message that was echoed frequently as details of Obama’s plan were revealed late last week.

Progressives pushed back against the president’s plan to cut Social Security benefits by more than $120 billion over 10 years.

“This is not a minor tweak, as its proponents contend,” says Sanders. “Under Obama’s proposal, according to the Social Security Administration, 65-year-old retirees would lose more than $650 a year by their 75th birthday, and more than $1,000 a year would be cut from their benefits once they reach 85. The proposed change would also affect more than 3.2 million disabled veterans receiving disability compensation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 a year at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65. Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children would also be cut.”

The senator from Vermont: “What the president is proposing is going to hurt a lot of people.”

Sanders is not going to let that happen without a fight. He says he will “do everything in my power to block Barack Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients through a chained CPI.”

To that end, Sanders has launched a petition opposing the president’s approach. It reads:

“At a time when the middle class is disappearing, poverty is increasing and the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing wider, we demand that the federal budget not be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country.

“A federal budget that reduces the deficit by cutting cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and disabled veterans, raising the Medicare eligibility age and lowering tax rates for the most profitable corporations in this country is not a grand bargain. It is a bad bargain.

“We oppose the chained CPI, a new way to measure inflation and consumer prices designed to cut benefits for Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and their survivors.

“We are strongly opposed to benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the needs of our veterans.

“We demand a budget that puts millions of Americans back to work in decent-paying jobs.

“We demand a budget that makes sure that the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations pay their fair share.”

Within hours of White House confirmation of the president’s plan, the petition had attracted tens of thousands of signatures.

“Social Security and Medicare are the most popular programs ever devised by the federal government — and among the most successful,” explains Reich. “Together, they have dramatically reduced poverty among the nation’s elderly, one of the great triumphs of modern times.”

That’s a triumph worth defending.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/john_nichols/john-nichols-obama-s-social-security-cuts-are-austerity/article_3725c413-9b98-5d96-bc1c-027764d65610.html#ixzz2Q79S2072

A billion for fifth column financing, is this OK ?

RIA Novosti

The Russian Federation has 654 non-governmental organizations that receive, as it turned out now, money from abroad.

654 organizations -- a whole network across Russia, including all of its regions," - said the president. For four months they have received more than 28 billion rubles, Putin said.

March 31 1987 Margaret Thatcher Interview to Soviet TV

Rosbalt.ru

Sinbad

Уже тогда начали игру в поддавки

(Lookslike they already stared the gave of checkers giveaway

Did Boris Berezovsky Kill Himself More Compelling, Did He Kill Forbes Editor Paul Klebnikov

Forbes

Godfather of the Kremlin (1946-2013)

Paul Klebnikov’s body was barely cold on July 9, 2004, when Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky whipped out his tongue from its holster and publicly called the 41-year-old editor of Forbes-Russia “a dishonest reporter.” It was an odious thing to say, not least because Paul’s family was only starting to digest the news that he’d been shot nine times from a semiautomatic pistol as he walked out of his Moscow office. He survived a ride in an ambulance that wasn’t equipped with functioning oxygen equipment, but apparently died in a “stuck” elevator at a Moscow hospital.

Yesterday it was Berezovsky’s turn — his body was found in his locked bathroom in his mansion in England. A day earlier, he gave the last interview of his life, ironically enough to Forbes-Russia, where he told the reporter in a London hotel lobby that he had nothing to live for. And while it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead so soon after they expire, I think the 67-year-old oligarch has earned an exception here. Klebnikov was (and remains) the only investigative reporter who exposed Berezovsky for what he truly was: a corrupt, dangerous thug, a chronic (court-certified) liar, and – as Paul wrote in Forbes magazine and in a 2000 biography of Boris — the “Godfather of the Kremlin.”

Paul paid dearly for his groundbreaking investigative journalism about Berezovsky, in terms of six years of time-consuming and unwarranted litigation brought against him and Forbes by the onetime billionaire. (More on that case later.) He may also have paid for it with his life. That’s because Boris has long been one of the main suspects for masterminding the contract-killing of my old friend and colleague. Berezovsky’s sudden death may unlock long-kept secrets that could prove his guilt, or vindicate his claims that he had nothing to do with it. At least that’s my hope, for the sake not only of the Klebnikov family, but also for Berezovsky’s descendants.

For nearly nine years, the Klebnikovs have worked tirelessly for justice — meeting with Russian officials, prosecutors, lawyers, anyone who might have a shred of information to share about the case. “Boris Berezovsky was a symbol of everything that went wrong in Russia in the past 25 years,” Paul’s brother Peter told me today. “I will not miss him. The Russian government is convinced he killed Paul. It’s conceivable; he certainly was evil enough and unbalanced enough to do it. But we have seen no evidence from the Russian side. Therefore we urge President Putin to produce the evidence and finally mount a serious investigation into who ordered my brother’s murder.”

One fear is that, instead of Berezovsky’s death creating a space for more sunlight in the case, it could have the opposite effect. “Our ongoing concern is that there will be a lack of incentive and interest on the part of the Russian prosecutors and the Russian government to continue to focus on the open investigation,” says Michael Klebnikov, another brother of Paul’s. “We’re still looking for clear answers as to who is responsible for the murder of an American citizen who was doing his job.”

In 2005, a year after the assassination, I decided to launch an investigative media alliance called Project Klebnikov. Our goal has been to try and keep a flame burning under the unsolved case, and to encourage and assist other reporters to continue the work that Paul was doing there. The group’s members include Bloomberg, The Economist, Forbes, Vanity Fair, and some of the best and most seasoned investigative reporters in the world. Given the dire economics of investigative reporting nowadays (and the fear that Russia reporters live under), our work has ebbed and flowed. But we’ll never give up. Klebnikov was the first American reporter to be murdered in Russia, and with his silencing the world lost one of its foremost experts on the vast and murky crossroads of Russian organized crime, Kremlin politics, Chechen terrorists, billionaire oligarchs, and the spread of Russian mafia conglomerates around the world.

Paul Klebnikov (1963-2004)

Several months after Paul was killed, the Kremlin announced that the case was solved and closed, and that a Chechen rebel leader, fugitive, and onetime Moscow gang boss named Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev was the mastermind. The announcement, with no evidence to support it, was met with some skepticism — and some reports had it that Nukhayev actually died long before Paul’s death. Nonetheless, in a brief meeting with the Klebnikov family in New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, President Putin himself insisted Nukhaev was their man, that the fugitive would be captured and prosecuted, and that he would personally oversee the case. But that never happened.

Two Chechens with alleged links to Nukhaev were arrested and charged with being the hit men, but their trial was closed to the public and press, with all the participants under a strict gag order by the judge. Nonetheless, a reconstruction at the time by me in Forbes of what went down in that courtroom raised serious questions about Russia’s criminal justice system. In short: Despite a seemingly-solid case by a team of the country’s best prosecutors, the suspects were acquitted, and one of them was allowed to disappear before an appeal of the case could be heard. (At one point in the trial, a female acquaintance of one defendant recalled the men speaking shortly before Klebnikov was murdered about a “big job,” for which they were to receive $3 million from London.)

Like Berezovsky, Nukhaev had a motive. He was also furious about a book that Paul had written about him — this one published in 2003 and titled “Conversation with a Barbarian.” Over the next year, Paul was gathering string for future articles that linked Nukhaev and other Chechen warlords with Berezovsky. One focus of his was possible links to Berezovsky involving the misuse of Chechnya reconstruction funds, following the second Russian-Chechen war in 2000.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting. Last summer, Berezovsky’s Chechen links came to the surface in a $6.5 billion London lawsuit that he had brought (and lost) against Roman Abramovich, a rival Russian oligarch. Abramovich claimed during the trial that Boris had links to Chechen terrorists, while an ex-Chechen separatist claimed that Boris financed separatists in the 1990s. Berezovsky denied the allegations, but the judge in the case declared in the end that Boris had been an “unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes. At times the evidence he gave was deliberately dishonest.” At other times, the judge concluded, Berezovsky had “deluded himself into believing his own version of events.” She ordered him to pay Abramovich’s legal fees, which exceeded $100 million.

Of course, Klebnikov had concluded that much about Berezovsky nearly two decades ago. Recalls Forbes’ London counsel, David Hooper, one of the world’s top media-defense lawyers: “The man was a fairly polished liar because one of the things that Paul accused him of was how he milked his links with [Russian President Boris] Ycountry’s legal system and financial markets with relative impunity.

The police appear to have ruled out foul play in the godfather’s unexplained departure. Meanwhile, a longtime Berezovsky lawyer and spokesman wrote on his Facebook page that he was told it was suicide. If so, I’d like to imagine Berezovsky was thinking about Paul following that Forbes interview –the only one he had granted after his defeat to Abramovich. “Berezovsky died alone, broke and depressed,” says Musa Klebnikov, Paul’s widow. “I wonder if he had a bad conscience.”

But guessing what Boris was ever feeling, thinking, planning, or doing in his life was a hopeless task. He was a master of intrigue, deception and manipulation. A former mathematician, he was always a few moves ahead of his enemies, like a great chess player. Among his feats: Surviving many assassination attempts, including a 1994 car bomb that decapitated his chauffeur. (Boris walked away unscathed.)

I had my own experience with Berezovsky’s duplicity. More than a decade ago, I penned an expose about Russia’s aluminum industry, in which Berezovsky was a big player. At the time, he announced that he wanted to buy Kommersant – Russia’s leading business newspaper — but before he “could,” a newly formed New York company called American Capital announced it had already done so. At a press conference in 1999, American Capital’s “owners,” two previously unknown businessmen, declared they were not connected to any Russian businessmen; shortly thereafter, Berezovsky said he was sorry he’d lost the bid.

In fact, Boris had bought the paper from American Capital. The transaction was a bit complex – but classic Berezovsky. According to a London-based billionaire named Simon Reuben at the time, the $22 million for the purchase was provided to Berezovsky by a Russian named Lev Chernoy — who Simon (and his brother David) had partnered with in a Russian aluminum enterprise called Trans World. Those funds, Simon told me, were sent to Chernoy via Morgan Stanley — and then deducted from Chernoy’s Trans World profits.

Back in those days, while Paul and I had become competitors (he at Forbes, me at Fortune), we would help each other on complex Russia-related cases when we felt we could. In a sense, we were rivals on the same team. Two months before he was gunned down, I alerted him that a source had provided me with European law enforcement documents that described a meeting between Berezovsky and several known mobsters at a villa in France. I told Paul that I’d give him the papers when I saw him next, but that day never came. He would have been the one reporter, perhaps the only, who could have made sense of it.

And what of the Berezovsky-vs-Forbes libel lawsuit? It was a classic case of “forum shopping” — as UK plaintiff-friendly libel laws are among the Western world’s harshest for journalists to overcome. Berezovsky maintained that the article falsely accused him of crimes. “It [Paul's expose] was a most incredibly authoritative piece,” recalls Forbes attorney Hooper. “It was amazing how he accessed the information and put together his [Berezovsky's] finances.”

But by a narrow 3-2 decision, the House of Lords ruled that, despite Boris’s lack of ties to the United Kingdom, the case could be brought to trial nonetheless. Recalls Hooper: “What was unfortunate was, here was an article that had nothing whatsoever to do with England or English people, and Forbes had a small readership in England of less than 1% of it’s total circulation — and the story was absolutely fine under US law. But the [UK] judges indicated that the story means Berezovsky is being accused of being responsible for murders. Really, what Paul was saying was just that a great many of his business colleagues were dead — and that this was a very murky, bloody pool that Berezovsky was swimming in. It was a very good example of the injustice of the English libel laws.”

In 2003, after six years of grueling litigation, the suit was withdrawn after Forbes published a clarification. (By then, curiously, Berezovsky had somehow managed to fast-track himself into Britain as a political refugee.) Both sides of the libel case agreed to walk away, each absorbing their own legal fees. But last August, following the judge’s blasting of Boris as a liar in the Abramovitz case, and ordering him to pay his opponent’s legal costs, Forbes considered taking action against Berezovsky. It was discussed whether a claim should be brought against the Godfather of the Kremlin for perjury, as well as a demand that he reimburse the magazine for its legal costs as a result. In the end, it was decided to let bygones be bygones. After all, so many people were chasing Berezovsky for money that Forbes would have had to get on a very long line.

Paul Klebnikov: A Remembrance

Richard Behar is the Contributing Editor, Investigations, for Forbes magazine. He can be reached at rbehar@forbes.com

How Russia Went Down A Dead End - Forbes.com

March

[Mar 25, 2013] Boris Berezovsky, RIP by Justin Raimondo

Mar 23, 2013 | Antiwar.com

The death of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky will doubtless provide plenty of grist for numerous conspiracy mills – indeed, he was the fount of many such tall tales, claiming the Russian government was behind not only the death of Alexander Litvinenko, but also engineered the bombings in Russian cities attributed to Chechen terrorist groups. The man who stood at the epicenter of London’s anti-Putin Russian community – where many of the oligarchs and other crooks have sought refuge from justice – was the equivalent of a Russian 9/11 "truther," who, as the judge in a recent court case involving Berezovsky put it, was an "inherently unreliable witness" who "regarded truth as a transitory concept."

His vast fortune – acquired under dubious circumstances in post-Soviet Russia – was largely gone when he died. He had recently lost a lawsuit against rival oligarch Roman Abramovich, and he also faced several other legal threats, including one by his former girlfriend which sought to freeze his assets. Reportedly nearly penniless at the time of his death, resorting to selling several valuable paintings and other items acquired over his rapacious career, according to his lawyer he "was almost living in poverty" at the end. Although the cause of his death is not known, according to news reports the exiled oligarch was found on the floor of his bathroom, which had been locked from the inside: friends say he was being treated for severe depression.

Although some of Berezovsky’s longtime supporters are hinting at foul play – the usual scenario of a KGB-Putin plot, as was cooked up in the Alexander Litvinenko polonium poisoning case – it seems likely the impoverished and dispirited oligarch either took his own life or else died of sheer stress.

If indeed it was suicide, then the timing may be key to understanding his motive. Barely a week before he was found dead, it was announced that the long planned official inquiry into the Litvinenko affair, scheduled to start in may, had been delayed to October. Various reasons have been given for the delay: the British government has been very slow to release documents to the court of inquiry. In addition, the Brits are insisting evidence of Litvinenko’s dealings with MI6, the British intelligence service that paid him monthly fees of £2000, be kept secret, and that certain witnesses be allowed to testify anonymously. Indeed, Sir Robert Owen, the coroner in charge of the inquiry, has threatened the British media with sanctions if they so much as hint at the identity of these witnesses.

To begin with, this murder – if murder it was – occurred in 2006. To say that the documents aren’t yet ready is hardly credible. While Litvinenko’s widow blames the Russians for the delay, what’s interesting is the intervention of Foreign Secretary William Hague, who wants to keep key evidence under wraps. It is generally assumed that the secrecy request has to do with Litvinenko’s widely known relationship with British intelligence, but this isn’t necessarily the case. While Mrs. Litvinenko remarked at the last hearing that it’s hard to imagine a body less interested in getting to the bottom of the case than the Russian authorities, perhaps it is the Brits who don’t want the truth to come out. After all, the Russians have agreed to hand over thousands of documents and have publicly stated their intention to participate in the inquiry, while the British agencies involved haven’t even begun to search, in some cases, for the requisite documentation.

Litvinenko was a protégé of Berezovsky: it was the Russian oligarch who funded Litvinenko’s anti-Russian propaganda campaign, through his "Civil Liberties Foundation," and it was the Berezovsky public relations machine that broadcast the accepted media narrative of the Litivinenko case: that the poisoning had been carried out by the "KGB" – always using the Soviet era acronym, instead of the actual name of the Russian agency known as the FSB – out of revenge for Berezovsky’s activities abroad. After fleeing Russia ahead of an indictment for massive fraud, embezzlement, and other financial crimes – crimes which lay at the very foundations of his huge fortune – the Russian oligarch went on a crusade to discredit and ultimately overthrow Vladimir Putin, and to support the Islamist insurgency in Russia’s former province of Chechnya. Under Berezovsky’s patronage, Litvinenko – a convert to Islam – wrote a series of books purporting to prove Putin and his supporters were behind virtually every terrorist attack in Russia attributed to Chechnyan terrorists. According to their story, it was all a hoax designed to perpetuate Putin in power.

While this was laughed at in Russia the same way we laugh at the Truthers who insist it was the US government itself that brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11 – via "controlled demolition," or whatever – the anti-Russian anti-Putin propagandists made use of it in the West, where it was uncritically repeated.

The British government cooperated with this nonsense, declaring Berezovsky a "political refugee," allowing him to avoid extradition to Russia to answer for serious crimes. They backed up the Berezovsky-manufactured narrative of Litvinenko’s death as a "KGB plot" – and now they are delaying the inquiry into Litvinenko’s death, laughably claiming that, six years later, they aren’t "ready" to go ahead.

Something doesn’t quite smell right here – and Berezovsky’s sudden death, probably by his own hand, should send alarm bells ringing for longtime observers of the Litvinenko case and Berezovsky’s role in it.

The narrative woven by the semi-official Western media around the Litvinenko case – that it was all a Kremlin plot to murder a marginal critic of the Putin regime – just doesn’t make sense. Why would the Russians kill him in a manner that would leave a radioactive trail stretching from Moscow to London?

Any serious effort to uncover the real facts of the case would give at least equal weight to a number of alternative explanations for Litvinenko’s bizarre death. To begin with, there are indications that Litvinenko was involved in a nuclear smuggling scheme, and according to news reports it wouldn’t be the first time. Since Litvinenko was being entirely supported by Berezovsky, it is worth asking what the exiled Russian oligarch’s role was in all this. Was Berezovsky involved in the smuggling of nuclear materials? If contamination from this led to Litvinenko’s death, surely Berezovsky’s role, if any, would come out in the inquiry – or is this what the British government is desperately trying to keep secret?

Litvinenko had also evidently gone into the blackmailing business, and was reported to be extorting several Russian Mafia figures, claiming to have sources inside the FSB that would provide the dirt on any number of Russian expatriates, threatening to make their darkest secrets public. As Litvinenko’s patron, surely Berezosky had knowledge and perhaps direct involvement in this project. If Litvinenko was killed by one or more of his intended victims, and this came out, then Berezovsky would likely have been implicated in the blackmail scheme. There are those who even speculate that Berezovsky was himself being blackmailed by Litvinenko.

If Berezovsky killed himself, it is worth asking: why? His closest friends and associates are even now saying he wasn’t the suicidal sort: that he was a fighter who loved life passionately. If Berezovsky took his own life, he must have had a very good reason. If he thought he was about to be exposed as having been complicit not only in perpetrating the fraudulent narrative around Litvinenko’s death, but also as having committed far more serious crimes that would have led to his irrevocable disgrace – nuclear smuggling, blackmail, and perhaps worse – then suicide would have been the only way out.

Throughout his life, Berezovsky was a ruthless player in a game that involved stolen billions, international intrigue, and the fate of nations. He looted the Russian economy, and fled when his crimes were uncovered, serving as the mouthpiece and financier of a Western-orchestrated propaganda campaign against the country of his birth. In the end, he wound up broke, and alone, pursued by the demons of his past. Whether those demons will catch up with him in death remains to be seen.

[Mar 09, 2013] The strategy in Syria has failed By Sean Fenley

Mar 09, 2013 | Asia Times

While Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was questioning the former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, during his secretary of defense nomination hearing, she mentioned chemical weapons and Syria. I think that the good Senator Gillibrand should be aware that the so-called Free Syrian Army is a real threat with their chemical weapons too. They have been backed by disreputable American allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are Wahhabi states that repress women, have terrible civil liberties, and no democratic rights whatsoever for their people.

They are antediluvian states that are ripe for Arab Springs, and having genuine democracy sprout up in them. Saudi Arabia has invaded neighboring Bahrain, and has continually worked to repress a grassroots democratic movement/revolution there as well.

Syria is undeniably authoritarian, but it is a complex society with many sects, that are protected much better under the Arab nationalist Bashar al-Assad government than they would be under a Salafi/Muslim Brotherhood Islamic fascist potential successor state - a state like that of Mohamed Morsi's Egypt (where virtually all of the Coptic Christians have resigned from his ranks).

I have great fear for the Alawites, the Druze and the Christians of Syria: the Melkites, Syriacs, Maronites, Chaldeans and other groups, should these Salafi and Wahhabi killers, backed by retrograde American-allied governments, gain power. Laurent Fabus, the French Foreign Minister, has said, "We cannot let [Syria] degenerate into a conflict of militias." Gerard Araud, the French Permanent Representative to the UN, has stated that "We are creating a Somalia in the heart of the Middle East."

The best answer is to urge Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop their destabilization. A non-violent political solution that can assure that Sunni Islamic fundamentalists do not come to power is the only path. The Syriacs/Arameans - who speak Aramaic the language that Jesus Christ spoke - want a dialogue among all of the groups with no preconditions; they want a ceasefire; they want the stopping of the importation of all foreign weapons; they want an abeyance of the economic sanctions; and they want an ending to the recruitment of foreign fighters into their land.

Moaz al-Khatib, who leads the Syrian National Coalition, the group of exiles who support armed intervention against the Syrian government, and who are backed by the Western and Gulf Arab countries, now advocates talks with Bashar al-Assad's people. Several civic groups that have rejected the armed struggle and opposed foreign military intervention also favor a ceasefire and a negotiated solution straightaway/forthwith.

The US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) need to call off their running dogs (Turkey too has been in this sordid mix as well), let clearer heads prevail, and not simply rush to expel a regime that is independent of them, but that they may not like fully 100%. They may not like that their corporations do not have free rein there, and they may not like that they do not string pull/puppetmaster the Syrian political leadership - and albeit that is just tough!

Syria, being allied with Hezbollah and Iran, is not amenable to them, but it is imperative nevertheless that Sunni fundamentalists do not take over power in this state. Instead of shortsighted geopolitical goals, and the national interest of Israel, the US and NATO have to work for a broad-minded political solution/plan now! They must not settle solely for the current philosophy of the barrel of the gun. That is a depraved and ignoble strategy, and moreover one that is being orchestrated via folks who have been classified as being coarse, savage death squads, and even wholly terrorist by a number of credible reports.

Sean Fenley is an independent progressive, who would like to see some sanity brought to the creation and implementation of current and future, US military, economic, foreign and domestic policies. He has been published by a number of websites, and publications throughout the alternative media.

Murat Tasar · Clemson University

Agree 100% with the author. Sorcerer's apprentice at it again. Look what happened in Irak, and Afghanistan, and Libya, and.... but do we ever learn from our mistakes.

Now it's Syria, next Turkey. When all of MENA is nothing but failed states, then what?

[Mar 06, 2013] Lessons of the Sequester

March 5, 2013 | The Baseline Scenario

Bayard Waterbury

And the tragedy of the plutocratic America continues unabated. As they say, follow the money. Wherever the money leads us is where the answer lies. In this case, we are searching for the answer to the question regarding why no sane and sensible solution to the budget may be found, either on the expenditure side or the revenue side. And, as always, the answer is simple. The money tells us that our government is owned by the wealthy, and is therefore not going to make any changes which would change the direction of the money flow. Making sensible choices, all of which are easily reached through rational thought, and we all know them, would require far more fairness in taxation, and sanity in governmental appropriations, none of which may be achieved since they would all result in a rebalancing which has the effect of reducing the amounts of money going to or being protected for the top 0.01% of us who own everything important. Literally, revolution becomes the only possible solution.

Adam Eran

Government does not have “debt,” in the sense the private sector does. See http://www.rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/federal-budget-not-household-budget-here-s-why and http://www.rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/deficit-nine-myths-we-can-t-afford

That “debt” is really the private sector’s net financial asset contribution from government. Read the links for more information about this throughout our history.

So there’s no “budget problem,” and there’s no money shortage, no end in sight to available dollars. All of that is baloney, and nothing else.

Nevertheless, the Republicans shout to the rooftops, and through both corporate and publicly owned media that there’s a “debt” problem because of spending. As a percentage of GDP, U.S. government spending ranks 25th out of the top 30 OECD economies in the world. U.S. government is very small, relative to the size of the nation it governs. And Republicans have been desperately trying to keep it that way, by hook, crook, hostage or sequester. The Republicans are entirely responsible. Democrats are complicit.

What remains unspoken is a disclosure that the current “debt” panic is an explicitly stated Republican strategy called “Two Santa Clauses,” authored by Supply Side “economist” (actually just a journalist) Jude Wanniski. The strategy advises Republicans to run up as big a federal “debt” as possible when they are in power, then complain bitterly about the deficit when they’re out of power. That’s exactly what is going on now.

Implementing this strategy began with what was at the time the biggest-ever budget deficit in the Reagan administration, and continues until the present day. More recently, the U.S. entered into $3 – $7 trillion of obligations for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new Medicare drug benefit, trillions in tax cuts for the rich, and an estimated $13 trillion in subsidies and bailouts for the financial sector to prop it up after its frauds crashed the economy. Where was the “debt panic” for all this stuff?

Meanwhile, Social Security has a problem two decades hence, and states need revenue sharing desperately, yet government continues to treat these as “problems,” even as something that needs to be prepaid in taxes or reduced benefits. Even the post office must pre-pay 75 years of retiree health benefits, and so is operating at a loss and must cut Saturday service!

Where is the request that the orders-of-magnitude larger subsidies for petroleum ($300 billion annually), the military or banksters be pre-paid? Where are their tax increases, or benefit cuts? And who is really the entitled party here, grandma and her social security, or the fat cats on Wall Street?

I call bullshit.

Bubba

As a citizen to the north of USA, it is amazing (?) that the USA is the most dysfunctional governance known to the world. As a previous commenter said only a revolution will make for better change. The plutocrats are driven by greed and need to hold the 99% hostage as an apartheid state within a state.

Annie:

Did someone say “revolution”? Here’s how the Plutocrats handled it and intend to handle it:

http://rt.com/usa/nypd-occupy-michael-premo-703/

I think the Third Amendment can be used as yet another tool in the cases against fraudclosure since there is a clear connection between TBTF bankster excel sheets and how “private” mercenaries got their “spoils” of war this past decade.

Heck, it would be no less crazy than the it’s my PRIVATE living room owners of websites like Huff and Post running themselves solely based on censorship of “comments” claiming that their First Amendment Rights are being trampled when anyone remotely related to We the People gubmint calls bullpuckies on their “news” – news which, lo and behold, did not peep about the NYPD court case when that IS news that a final judgement by the jury was issued. Instead they promote the “idea” NEWS that drones can be used against USA citizens IN USA without due process – basically because a Plutocrat orders the assassination – Holder said so…

Hard to pretend that there isn’t already more than one “revolution” in progress…TBTF, TBTProsecute, TBT be stopped because if you are rich enough – a 1% – the defense “because I can afford to do that” is good enough as “law” – or soon will be “law”…

Which brings us to ANOTHER Amendment for the people who can count beyond the #2 – the Sixth Amendment – a “speedy and public trial”. Drag it out now and laws are changed faster than a jury gets picked

“because I can afford to do that”….

[Mar 05, 2013] The Achievements of Hugo Chavez

Mar 05, 2013 | Counterpunch

One of the main factors for the popularity of the Chávez Government and its landslide victory in this re-election results of October 2012, is the reduction of poverty, made possible because the government took back control of the national petroleum company PDVSA, and has used the abundant oil revenues, not for benefit of a small class of renters as previous governments had done, but to build needed infrastructure and invest in the social services that Venezuelans so sorely needed. During the last ten years, the government has increased social spending by 60.6%, a total of $772 billion [i].

Poverty is not defined solely by lack of income nor is health defined as the lack of illness. Both are correlated and both are multi-factorial, that is, determined by a series of social processes. To make a more objective assessment of the real progress achieved by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela during the last 13 years it is essential to review some of the key available data on the social determinants of health and poverty: education, inequality, jobs and income, health care, food security and social support and services.

With regard to these social determinants of health indicators, Venezuela is now the country in the region with the lowest inequality level (measured by the Gini Coefficient) having reduced inequality by 54%, poverty by 44%. Poverty has been reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010). And extreme poverty reduced from 40% (1996) to a very low level of 7.3% (2010).

About 20 million people have benefited from anti-poverty programs, called “Misiones” (Up to now, 2.1 million elderly people have received old-age pensions – that is 66% of the population while only 387,000 received pensions before the current government.

February

[Feb 26, 2013] GOP Rep. Cheney probably will go to hell for Iraq war - CBS News

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., the congressman who went from coining the term "freedom fries" to becoming an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, said that there's probably a spot in hell for former Vice President Dick Cheney because of his responsibility for the conflict.

"Congress will not hold anyone to blame," Jones said Saturday at an event hosted by the libertarian group Young Americans for Liberty. "Lyndon Johnson's probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney."

Jones voted for the Iraq war and even pushed for the U.S. House cafeteria to serve "freedom fries" rather than french fries to protest France's opposition to war. At Saturday's event, however, Jones -- whose district is home to the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune and other military bases -- said he voted for the war because he "was more concerned about getting reelected, and I regret that, and I will to the day I die."

Jones also criticized President Obama for bypassing Congress in his decision to intervene in Libya and kill Muammar Qaddafi, calling it "a breach of the Constitution."

"Mr. Obama didn't even come to Congress -- Mr. Bush, I'll at least give him that," he said.

'Has the Mainstream Media Finally Had Enough?'

Kevin Drum has a question:

Has the Mainstream Media Finally Had Enough?, by Kevin Drum: I'm curious. It seems to me that something has happened over the past three months: the nonpartisan media has finally started to internalize the idea that the modern Republican Party has gone off the rails. Their leaders can't control their backbenchers. They throw pointless temper tantrums about everything President Obama proposes. They have no serious ideas of their own aside from wanting to keep taxes low on the rich. They're serially obsessed with a few hobby horses — Fast & Furious! Obamacare! Benghazi! — that no one else cares about. Their fundraising is controlled by scam artists. They're rudderless and consumed with infighting. They're demographically doomed. ...

The framing of even straight new reports feels just a little bit jaded, as if veteran reporters just can't bring themselves to pretend one more time that climate change is a hoax, Benghazi is a scandal, and federal spending is spiraling out of control. It's getting harder and harder to pretend that the same old shrieking over the same old issues is really newsworthy.

Question: Am I just imagining this? Or has there really been a small but noticeable shift in the tone of recent reporting?

Paul Krugman:

On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerians seem to be freaking out. And that has to be good news, an indication that they realize, at some level, that they’re losing the debate. ... Unfortunately, these people have already done immense damage, and still retain the power to do a lot more.

The last sentence is my answer to Kevin Drum's question. Even if there is a lull, I expect it to be temporary and I wonder if they've learned anything along the way.

[Feb 12, 2013] Why Are American Voters So Uninformed? by Tyler Durden

01/29/2013

The sad fact is that it appears completely rational to be ignorant about politics. The cost of being an 'informed' voter - as opposed to a bigotted closed-minded ignoramus - is high, from the time spent following (and interpreting) the news in the paper, online, and on the television. As the following clip notes, "becoming an informed voter is competing with a lot of other needs in your life," from American Idol watching to eating Cheetos in the bath. Of course, the sad truth is that it has never been more important to be 'informed' and so the 'bread-and-circuses' will continue lest we stumble upon the truth - but perhaps this brief clip will sway a few more to the dark side of 'the informed' - though just because 'you' are better-informed does not mean politicians will do a better job - as the probability of your vote changing the outcome of an election is for all practical purposes, zero!

The "Majority Opinion" Is An Illusion by Tyler Durden

01/24/2013

If there is one concept on Earth that has been the absolute bane of human existence (besides global elitism), it would have to be the concept of the “majority opinion”. The moment men began refusing to develop their own world views without first asking “What does everyone else think?”, they set themselves up for an endless future of failures. Human beings desperately want to belong, but, they also desperately want to understand the environment around them. Often, the desire to belong and the desire to know the truth conflict. In some societies, in order to be accepted, one must give up on his search for truth and avoid eliciting the anger of others. The idea of the majority view or the “mainstream”, gives people the sense that they are a part of a group, and at the same time, gives them the illusion of being informed.

[Feb 12, 2013] The Vulnerability Of The Elites by Tyler Durden

01/31/2013

In a post-financial crisis world, the lack of viable international leadership is potentially troubling. In 2013, the WEF believes, this breakdown of international coordination will go increasingly local: in such a world, governments will focus more on their domestic agendas, which will create new risks in and of itself. Most importantly, the growing vulnerability of elites makes effective public and private leadership that much more difficult to sustain. Leaders of all kinds are becoming more vulnerable to their constituents, generating more reactive and short-term governance. Whether one looks at the dismal approval ratings of the U.S. Congress or the impact that more open flows of information is having on the Chinese ruling elite, it is clear that people are becoming more and more uninspired by their governments. When it comes to unemployment, the widening disparity of wealth, or environmental degradation, highly complex or even intractable issues set politicians up for failure in the eyes of their constituents. Underperformance erodes elites’ legitimacy, making it that much harder for them to lead effectively. Against this backdrop, a host of key 2013 risks and opportunities takes shape.

[Feb 08, 2013] On Judging American Foreign Policy Human Rights, Political Realism, and the Arrogance of Power by Stephen Eric Bronner

Logos
Human rights and political realism offer two very different ways of approaching international affairs.[1] Here is not the place for an extended philosophical disquisition on the relationship between them, let alone their connection with the history of American foreign policy. Human rights and political realism have their unique traditions that are usually seen as starkly opposed to one another. But the interplay between them has become ever more apparent in an increasingly global society. This new blending of human rights with political realism penetrates the basic questions that citizens should be asking in judging American foreign policy in a meaningful way — now and in the future.

Human rights gripped the popular imagination in the aftermath of World War II. It seemed to offer a response to the cynical political realism of totalitarian leaders as well as the barbarism associated with what Daniel Rousset termed “the concentration camp universe” exemplified by Auschwitz and the Gulag.

With the liberation of the formerly colonized world, and the passing of socialism as a mobilizing ideology, the idea of human rights provides new hope for a more civilized world. Human rights have their roots in the Bible, natural law, and classical humanist notions concerning the “dignity of man.” But the modern idea of humanity derives from the Enlightenment and the republican revolutions that extended roughly from 1688-1789. This was the era of the rising bourgeoisie whose vision of national self-determination was tied to the liberal republic and a universal understanding of rights.

Each nation, in principle, was seen as having the right to determine its own destiny and the exercise of that right was seen as requiring a liberal state in which individuals enjoyed the benefit of civil liberties.[2] As for political realism, its beginnings can be found in the “Melian Dialogues” from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (410 BC) and, even further back, in The Art of War by Sun Tzu (610 BC). Works such as these anticipated Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532) – what might be termed the Bible of political realism — and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651).

Reflecting the rise of the modern absolutist state, these classics evince a fear of democracy, chaos, privilege, authority and stability. They introduce the ideas of raison d’etat and balance of power, sovereignty and leadership, national interest and geopolitical advantage, as well as a modern understanding of the claim that “might makes right.” The perspective now associated with human rights, by contrast, were always employed to mitigate the exercise of arbitrary power on the part of states guided by little more than political realism. Thus, human rights and political realism have traditionally been seen as political opposites.

Human rights are predicated on universal assumptions like the liberal rule of law and political realism on national interests. Ethical ends associated with law and liberty fuel human rights while the short-term means for securing power animates political realism. Human rights always privilege the freedom of the individual against the state while political realism champions the exigencies of raison d’etat. Leaving things at that, however, works to the detriment of both human rights and the prudent exercise of political power. If the pursuit of human rights is undertaken without reference to political interests then the policy will prove blind to existing realities. Political realists have noted how often the road to hell has been paved with good intentions. Leading representatives of the realist tradition like George Kennan and Hans Morgenthau always insisted that recognizing the crass reality of power is the necessary condition for both defending and furthering freedom. But it is not sufficient. Simply trumpeting interest and power is just as dangerous. It breeds distrust (especially for a superpower like the United States in a multi-polar world) as well as a moral climate in which all means are legitimate for all participants in the struggle for power. These implications are worth considering with regard to the use of terrorist tactics including those that brought about the tragedy of 9/11. Bluster about the dangers of “moral equivalency,” indeed, it is relevant only for those who have already been convinced. Using human rights cynically in order to further narrow forms of national interest is ultimately self-defeating. Noam Chomsky has been relentless in chastising those policymakers interested in nothing more than the short-term calculus. Any politics predicated purely on immediate and instrumental interest generates precisely the kind of instability – and potential for “blowback”[3] –that genuine realism should supposedly inhibit. Making judgments with regard to its effectiveness, however, involves asking certain basic questions – that are still too rarely asked.

What is the strategic goal? The United States has a defense budget of more than $700 billion, a military of 1 million members, and 750 bases throughout the world. It is already present everywhere and political realists seek to strengthen that presence especially in “hot spots.” What this means, however, is not self-evident. “Mission creep” is becoming a defining characteristic of American foreign policy in the Middle East. It can apply to both a supposedly unconscious expansion of practical aims by decision-makers in the pursuit of a policy but also to the shifting justifications required to garner support from the citizenry for that policy. American intervention in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 was initially predicated on capturing Osama bin Laden. But that undertaking soon turned into a bombing assault on the Taliban, regime change, and nation-building with the support of the corrupt Karzai government that lacked both competence and legitimacy. As for Iraq, though conservative policymakers had been planning to unseat Saddam Hussein since 1991, the regime change they planned was more difficult than they anticipated. There was the anger directed against American “liberators,” the subterranean ethnic and religious conflicts always ready to explode into outright civil war, and the new state without legitimacy or a monopoly over the means of coercion. Mission creep has permeated many contemporary conflicts. It has fostered an image of the United States as self-interested, imperialist, and completely arbitrary in its goals and tactics – and that impression is not always erroneous.

Is there an ethical purpose? Ethical confusion in terms of justifying American policy in the Middle East has mirrored the practical confusion in carrying it out. Human rights fell by the wayside as the Bush Administration began substituting and then mixing one faulty ideological justification for another in Iraq. Identified with the “axis of evil,” which called forth a “war on terror,” Iraq was then castigated as a threat to Israel and, with its control of oil, the American national interest. But this argument stood at odds with the weakness of the Iraq military and the fact that Iraq’s secular Baathist regime was never a major supporter of terrorism in general or Islamic fundamentalist movements like al Qaeda in particular. False accusations concerning the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” were then introduced along with wild claims that Saddam Hussein was intent upon launching them against Israel and the United States. Once it became apparent that this, too, was not the case, hyper-realists began talking about human rights and spreading democracy to the Middle East.[4] All of this was reinforced by the belief that the Iraqi citizenry enthusiastically supported American intervention and that there existed a groundswell of unified national support for a new democratic order. The same jumbled set off justifications became apparent in Afghanistan. American self-righteousness has only been exacerbated by such miscalculations and misperceptions. Plagued by a confused ethical purpose, compromised by suspect allies and without an exit strategy, the United States has consistently found itself entangled in a murderous – and, occasionally, even genocidal – set of foreign policy actions that serve neither human rights nor the American national interests.

Where is the support? Support for a policy (especially a dangerous policy) rests on a number of contingent factors. Yet, increasingly, basic conflicts of interest over foreign policy have appeared between the political establishment and the citizenry. Political realists have always considered foreign policy the prerogative of the sovereign – or, better, the state that incarnates sovereignty. It is the state (or better its officials and their advisors) that supposedly determines the national interest and, by extension, whether intervention in the name of human rights is warranted in any particular instance. Since the time of Machiavelli, political realists have justified the insular formation of foreign policy on a number of grounds: superior expertise (that apparently was lacking in Afghanistan and Iraq); the importance of decisive action (that has, too often, been indecisive and misguided) and the need to preserve national security (whose self-righteous invocation has produced the last refuge of the modern political scoundrel). Traditional political realists leave little room for democratic input in official decision-making. Demands for democratic input surfaced during the 1960s with the rise of “new social movements.” Calls for expanding democracy and social welfare at home generated demands for ethical accountability and transparency for policies undertaken abroad. Political realism thus encountered human rights. What is known as the “Vietnam syndrome,” indeed, involves less the loss of a war than the lingering distrust of interventionist undertakings by much of the citizenry. Such skepticism proved warranted given the fabrication of evidence, the collusion, the sloganeering and the outright lying to justify the invasion of Iraq by so many in the Bush administration. Memories of Vietnam, fear of dissent, and fear of full disclosure contributed to the rise of a national security state along with the constriction of civil liberties beginning with the “patriot act.” Attempts to artificially fabricate consent over the long haul for any policy – let alone one that justifies itself in terms of moral claims or human rights – can only prove self-defeating in the world of Wiki-leaks and an age of global media.

Who benefits? Calculating costs is a normal and necessary element in determining whether to engage in any particular foreign policy. Costs are an ineradicable element in determining what is possible in any given situation and their underestimation will surely erode whatever original consensus existed for the policy in question: the Iraq conflict at its height cost the United States over $380 million per day, the American policy in Afghanistan stands at $300 million per day, and that the costs for involvement in the Libyan conflict are $55 million per day and rising. But the issue is not merely the costs undertaken by the United States. Too often, political realists fail to take into account the costs paid by the nations supposedly reaping the benefit of American policy. Lenin liked to say that you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs: but sometimes breaking eggs results only in a mess. Costs always amount to more than dollars and cents. The United States has suffered a loss of moral capital through use of rendition, torture, and cynical talk about collateral damage. Its officials and its citizens, however, are amazed when the supposed beneficiaries of such policies appear ungrateful. They forget that others pay the often much steeper price for their decisions. Even should a democratic state emerge in Iraq, it will have come at virtually genocidal cost: A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University in 2006 estimated 600-800,000 dead in a country of 27 million; between five and ten times that number wounded; thousands in exile; ecological damage, and more –a cost paid by Iraqis not Americans. Calculating the gains and losses of a political policy is not merely a mathematical but a normative endeavor. Both at home and abroad there is a growing and quite legitimate belief that the justifications for American foreign policy in terms of human rights are merely a cover for “oil” and other powerful lobbies (Bechtel, Halliburton, XE) or various geo-political interests. Costs and benefits cannot simply be calculated from the perspective of the United States or in relation to its policy aims. Little wonder that American expressions of concern over human rights abuses are greeted with such skepticism especially by those who should benefit.

Is there a double standard? American foreign policy in the aftermath of 9/11 has increasingly been associated with the use of a double standard by much of the world. The United States employed the doctrine of the “pre-emptive strike,” which would allow an assault upon any nation deemed a threat to national security by the American government, to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It has also been bandied about in order to legitimate bombing Iran’s nuclear facility at Nantanz and elsewhere. But the right to engage in pre-emptive strikes and support violent regimes and movements is denied to others. American political realists consider self-evident that their country should sponsor authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, brand others like Iran as “rogue” states, and appear to the world as the unblemished beacon of democracy. Given this attitude, once again, their often exaggerated moral outrage to attacks and criticisms can only seem hypocritical and self-serving to disinterested or non-committed parties. Finally, in a particularly perverse example of the double standard, the United States – the only nation ever to employ the atomic bomb (not just once, but twice) – finds it can provide nuclear arms for India and other countries of its liking and simultaneously threaten Iran with military action for building a nuclear facility that might produce a nuclear device in about ten years. There are policymakers who never encountered a crisis for which American intervention wasn’t a remedy: Richard Barnett called them “white collar militarists.” But, then, hundreds of wars, thousands of human rights abuses are taking place as these words are being read. It is always legitimate to ask how egregious is this particular breach of human rights? Why is this particular nation the target? How does this crisis affect the national interest and the world community? One size does not fit all when it comes to foreign policy and the pursuit of human rights. This only makes the justification for any particular action in any particular instance more important. Indeed, what matters is less the inability to intervene everywhere than the ability to fashion a particular foreign policy intervention that is prudent and works to the benefit of the peoples involved.

The Arrogance of Power: Arguments that the end justifies the means have always been tautological — since it is only the means that produce the end. It always remains to be asked: what justifies the end other than the means used to bring it about. Liberal hawks like the journalist Paul Berman or the scholar and policy analyst,[5] Samantha Power,[6] or Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice have consistently endorsed interventionist policies on moral grounds. Emphasizing universal standards of behavior, (though not quite so vociferously when it the culprit is the United States), they stand for human rights wherever they are abused: and, usually, they come up with the same list of proscriptions on a sliding scale whether for Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia – or Iran. Sensationalist publicity campaigns begin the process that usually leads to demands for sanctions, “strategic” bombings and — ultimately — regime change brought about my military intervention. These idealists simply assume that because the end is pure, even if the policy itself is somewhat vague, support can be mobilized. The costs are secondary because “the people” – the beneficiaries of their largesse – are always awaiting American intervention with baited breath. A dose of political realism wouldn’t hurt these idealists seeking to carry the banner of democracy on their bayonets. Effective foreign policy today rests on recognizing the interplay between human rights and political realism. Principles are not neatly divorced from interests[7] — and advocates of political realism should take heed. The United States has paid dearly for its contraventions of human rights its support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and (without even mentioning Israel) other questionable allies in the region like Saudi Arabia. Traditional cynicism about human rights and long-standing support dictatorial regimes clearly created blindness in anticipating and hesitancy in embracing the new movements associated with the Arab Spring.[8] There is an old saying that bears repeating: “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” It doesn’t help for political realists to insist (with frustration) that the world is a “dangerous place:” not only the victims, but the more disinterested parties, will challenge what the late Senator J.W. Fulbright termed “the arrogance of power.”

Credibility is, today, a fundamental tenet of any successful foreign policy endeavor – and this presupposes recognition of the need for transparency and respect for the basic traditions of a democratic polity. Corrupt tactics and the cynical choice of allies have undermined the credibility of America’s ethical commitments, the legitimacy of its national interests, and the ability to garner genuine support for American policy in the Middle East. Any intelligent person could see that the successful destruction of the Iraqi state would leave two other powers in the region, Syria and Iran, and that logic dictated a future assault on them in the name of spreading democracy. Circumstances intervened, however, and this kind of policy has (both pragmatically and ideologically) become a bit more difficult to pursue. Rousseau was surely correct in The Social Contract (1762) when he noted that “the strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty.” Perhaps the connection between human rights and political realism (or between ends and means) can never prove absolute: such a demand is probably utopian. But it is legitimate to ask of policymakers that they offer a plausible – if not absolute—connection between principles and interests in the policies they propose. That requires vigorous debate and questioning of the usually phony insistence upon national security in the deliberation process. When it comes to human rights and American foreign policy, indeed, there is no finessing the implications of political realism: democracy is what democracy does.

Notes

[1] This text is based on a speech originally given at a conference, “The Changing Middle East: Implications for US-Iran Relations,” that was sponsored by the American-Iranian Council and Georgetown University on June 7, 2011.

[2]Note the extended discussion in Stephen Eric Bronner, Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politics of Radical Engagement (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

[3] Note the extended discussion of the unintended future consequences of short term instrumental decisions – a simple example is the support originally extended by the United States to the Muhjadeen in Afghanistan against the Russians — in Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Holt, 2004).

[4] Note the chronology in The Iraq Papers edited by John Ehrenberg, Patrice McSherry, Jose R. Sanchez, and Caroleen Sayej (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

[5] See the essay on liberal supporters of the Iraqi war that I co-authored with John Kurt Jacobsen, “Dubya’s Fellow Travellers: Left Intellectuals and Mr. Bush’s War” in Stephen Eric Bronner, Blood in the Sand: Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2005), pgs. 102ff.

[6] Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Harper, 2007).

[8]Note the hapless discussions over “What Just Happened?” and “Why No One Saw It Coming?” with respect to “The New Arab Revolt” in Foreign Affairs (May/June 2011) and F. Gregory Gause III, “Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring” in Foreign Affairs (July/August 2011). For an alternative approach, see Stephen Eric Bronner, “Rosa in Cairo” in Reader Supported New (February 8, 2011); www.rsnorg.org

Stephen Eric Bronner is Distinguished Professor (PII) of Political Science and Director of Civic Diplomacy and Human Rights at the Institute for World Challenges: Rutgers University. Author of more than a dozen books, he is the Senior Editor of Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture.

[Feb 07, 2013] Ron Paul End the War in Afghanistan

November 18, 2009

Steve Kagen: I believe there is a better way of doing things in America, and I am convinced that by working together, we’re going to be able to find it and to do that in very bipartisan way and I yield to my friend, my colleague, a physician and congressman, Ron Paul.

Ron Paul: I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to express my appreciation for you getting this special order on this very important subject. Of course, a lot of people in this country are asking, “What should we do about Afghanistan?” It is a pretty important question. It might one of the most important questions that we’re asking right now, and yet nobody seems to have an answer.

But, you know, I think the difficulty in finding an answer comes sometimes from not having fully understood why we got there. I just can’t imagine this debate that’s going on within our government today, executive branch and the legislative branch and with the people. Can you imagine this going on during the World War II. You know, how many troops should we have? What is our exit strategy? Who is our enemy? How are we going to impose democracy?

It is far removed from what a traditional responsibility is of our government to provide national security. Now, they’ve practically ran out of excuses for why we’re over in Afghanistan. The only one that is left that they seem to cling to, “Oh, we’re there for national security. We want to fight the bad guys over there because we don’t want to fight them over here.” I’ll talk a little bit about that later, but quite frankly, I think that’s a fallacious argument and it actually makes things a lot worse.

But you know, it just bewilders me about how we get trapped into this situation, and I believe that it is because we got ourselves involved too carelessly, too easily, and we don’t follow the Constitution because under the Constitution, you’re supposed to declare the war and know who your enemy is and know when you can declare victory and bring the troops home, and we did that up until through World War II. Since then, that hasn’t been the case.

But I recall a book I read in the 1980s written by Barbara Tuchman, and she wrote a book called “The March of Folly“, and she went back as far as Troy, all the way up through Vietnam and took very special incidents of countries where they were almost obsessed or possessed with the policy even though it was not in their interest and the foolishness and the inability to change course. She died in 1989, but I keep thinking that if she had lived, she would probably write a history of our recent years, “Another March of Folly”.

Just think of what has happened since the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet system collapsed. I mean, it didn’t take us long. Did we have any peace dividends? No. There were arguments for more military spending. We had more responsibilities. We had to go and police the world. So it wasn’t long after that, what we were doing? We’re involved in the Persian Gulf War and then following that, we have decades of bombing in Iraq, which didn’t please the Arabs and the Muslims of the world and certainly the Iraqis, but it had nothing to do with national security. And then, of course, we continued and accelerated our support of the puppet governments in the Middle East, the various governments. In doing so, we actually went to the part of knowing and supporting the governments that we started putting troops on their land and when we had an air base in Saudi Arabia, that was rather offensive.

The people, if you understand the people over there, this is a violation of deeply held religious view. It’s considered their holy land and foreigners, especially military foreigners are seen as infidels. So if you’re looking for a fight or a problem, just put troops on their land. But also, the policy that we’ve had in the Middle East, we have been perceived as being anti-Palestinian. This does not sit well, either.

And since that time, of course, we haven’t backed off one bit. We had the Persian Gulf War and then we had 9/11 and we know that “9/11 changed everything”. We had fifteen individuals from Saudi Arabia, a few from Yemen, and a few from Egypt, but aha, this is excuse that we have to go and get the bad guys. So where are the bad guys? Well, Iraq, of course. First, they figured, “Well, we can’t quite do that. Let’s go into Afghanistan.” Of course, not one single Afghani did anything to it. They said, “Oh, no. Well, the al-Qaeda visited there.

But you know, I just can’t quite accept the fact that the individuals that were flying those airplanes got their training by going to these training camps in Afghanistan doing pushups and being tough and strong. What do they do? Where is planning? The planning was done in Spain and they were accepted there in legal basis. They were done in Germany. They were accepted as… as a matter of fact, they even came into this country with legal visas and I mean, they were accepted by the countries and no, no, we said it’s the Taliban. It’s the people of Afghanistan, never questioning the fact that a few years back, back in 1989, when the Soviets were wrecking the place, we were allied with the people who were friends of Osama bin Laden and we were over there trying to support him, so he then was a freedom fighter. And the hypocrisy of all these and the schizophrenia of it all, they were on again and off again. No wonder we get ourselves into these difficulties and it doesn’t seem to ever leave up.

But you know, the one assessment that was made after Vietnam and I think can apply here is how do we get in and why did we get bog down? And two individuals that were talking about this East and West, Vietnam and United States, they sort of came to the conclusion that we, the Americans, overestimated the ominous power of our military. We could conquer anybody and everybody and we underestimated the tenacity of people who are defending their homeland. It’s sort of like we were defending our homeland in the Revolutionary War and the invaders and the occupiers were the Red Coats. There is a big difference and you can overcome all kinds of obstacles, but we have never learned that and unless we do, I don’t think we can solve our problems.

But indeed, we have to realize that we are not the policeman of the world. We cannot nation build, and presidential candidates on both sides generally tell the people that is what they want and the people say, “Keep the fingers crossed. Hope it’s true.” But then once again, our policies continue down the road and we never seem to have the energy to back off of this, and I emphasize once again that I think we could keep our eye on the target, emphasize what we should be doing if we went to war a lot more cautiously, that if we have an enemy that we have to fight in our national defense, then there is a declaration of war.

Steve Kagen: Will the gentleman yield for a moment?

Ron Paul: I will yield.

Representative Steven Kagen: You know, at the beginning, in the formation of the United States, we had an outside observer come over here, Alexis de Tocqueville, and de Tocqueville observed that with our republic, it would be very difficult to get this country, this nation, to go to war. But once involved in a war, very difficult to stop it, and I think that MO, that picture, that frame is in part what’s happening here. Now, that we are involved in a ground game in other areas of the world, it’s very difficult for our republic to pull back.

Date: 11/18/2009
Event: House Floor Special Order: A True Bipartisan Effort

Chairman: Mr. Paul.

Ron Paul: I thank you for yielding. I wanted to just make a couple of points in closing. The statement at the beginning of this war was made that it’s different this time. Even though the history is well known about Afghanistan, it’s ancient history, but it’s different this time because we’re different and it’s not going to have the same result. But so far, you know, they haven’t caught Osama bin Laden and we don’t have a national government really. We don’t have really honest elections. We haven’t won the hearts and minds of the people. There is a lot of dissension and it’s a miserable place, so it’s really a total failure. We really learn the costs, the cost of life and limb and money. I mean, it is just a total failure. The thought that we would pursue this and expand it and send more troops just blows my mind and I want to just mention a couple of things I think are bad arguments. One is that we’re involved there. We’ve invested too much and therefore we have to save face because it would look terrible if we had to leave.

But you know, it’s like in medicine. What if we in medicine, we’re doing the wrong things and make the wrong diagnosis. But we keep doing it to prove that we’re right? Or are we going to listen to the patient and to the results.

Steve Kagen: You’d lose your license.

Ron Paul: Yeah, that’s right. But it seems like politicians don’t lose their license and maybe they should and maybe there will be more this year or something. But the other argument they make is if you take a less militant viewpoint, as we all do, that we’re not supportive of the troops. The troops don’t believe that. The troops I talked to, the one Walter talks to, I mean, they know we care about them and they shouldn’t be put in harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary. This other argument is, but we got to go over there to kill them because they want to kill us.

Well, like I mentioned before, it wasn’t the Afghans that came over here. By going into their country and killing them, we’re going to create more terrorists and the more people we send, the more terrorists and the more we have to kill. And now, it’s spreading. This is the one I’m worried about in this war. You know, there was one individual, I don’t know his name, but they believed he was in Pakistan. So he was part of the terrorist group, the people who were opposing the occupation. So they sent fifteen cruise missiles, drones, over, looking for him. It took the fifteenth when they killed him, but fourteen landed and there was an estimate made that about 1,000 civilians was killed in this manner. How many more terrorists have we developed under those circumstances?

I do want to have one minute here to read a quote and I’ll yield back. But this quote comes from a Russian general talking to Gorbachev, and Gorbachev went into office in 1985 and this was a year later, and the general was talking to Gorbachev and he says… and this is after…. just think, Gorbachev was in office one year. He had a problem. He was trying to get out. He didn’t get until 1989. But the general says, “Military actions in Afghanistan will soon be seven years old and so Mr. Gorbachev, at a November 1986 Politburo session, “There is no single piece of land in this country which has not been occupied by a Soviet soldier. Nonetheless, the majority of the territory remains in the hands of the rebels.” It reminds of the conversation between Colonel Tou and some nurses after Vietnam and some of our colonels says, “You know, we defeated you in every battle in Vietnam,” and Tou looked at me and says, “Yes, I agree, but it was also irrelevant.” I yield back.

Chairman: Thank you very much and…

(A little time later)

Steve Kagen: Mr. Paul.

Ron Paul: Yes, I would like to just make one more comment as we close this special order. You know, I opened my remarks about talking about Barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly” and we are on the same course and I would say it’s time to march home. I’m not for sending any more troops. It’s very clear in my mind. If the job isn’t getting done and we don’t know what we are there for, I would say, it’s time to come home because I fear and it’s been brought up. Congressman McGovern has brought it up and everybody has talked about the finances of this because it is known that all great nations, when they spread themselves to thinly around the world, they go bankrupt and that’s essentially what happened to the Soviet system and they fell apart for economic reasons. So there are trillions of dollars spent in this operation and we’re flat out broke. Two trillion dollar increase in the national debt last year and it just won’t continue. So we may not get our debate on the floor. We may not be persuasive enough, you know, to change this course, but I tell you what, the course will be changed. But let’s hope they accept some of our suggestion because when a nation crumbles for financial reasons, that’s much more dangerous than us taking the tough stand and saying, “It’s time to come home.”

Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Paul.

January

[Jan 30, 2013 ]The Rise Of America's Lunatic Fringe

Jan 30, 2013 | zerohedge.com

Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet has seen them. They are the moonbats, the wingnuts, the whackjobs, the Conspiratorialists. They are America’s new Lunatic Fringe, and their numbers are growing. To the uninitiated this all seems rather humorous, albeit slightly unsettling. It would be both wrong and unwise just to slough it off as the ramblings of the insane. The reason such beliefs are gaining favor is because many Americans have lost faith and lost trust in the government and in America’s elected leadership. Given what has happened over the last decade, this is not only understandable, it is even, in an odd way, reasonable. A continual drift to the fringe can be expected because of the many very real things that make the foolish things suddenly more believable. The American people are well aware they have been lied to by the leadership. They know that a lobbyist has an infinitely greater chance of getting his way than an entire nation of voters. When trust is gone, everything becomes an affront, a conspiracy, a power grab by the elite.

[Jan 09, 2013 ] President Obama - Why Is The US Supporting Al Qaeda In Syria

See also

[Jan 05, 2013 ] Ian Bremmer, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian media looking glass by Joshua Keating

January 4, 2013 | Foreign Policy Magazine

ForeignPolicy.com is getting a little more .ru traffic today, since the Russian media seems to have picked up on Ian Bremmer's list of the world's most powerful people. The Eurasia Group president's tongue-in-cheek post on the organization's FP blog, The Call, lists "nobody" as the world's most powerful person -- no surprise to regular Bremmer readers -- and Russian President Vladimir Putin at No. 2. But Bremmer's write-up isn't exactly complimentary:

In Russia's personalized system, this is still the person who counts. He isn't as popular as he used to be, and his country has no Soviet-scale clout or influence, but no one on the planet has consolidated more domestic and regional power than Putin.

But in Russia's state-controlled media, an FP blogger noting that Russia's political system has no checks or balances became Foreign Policy magazine bestowing an honor on Putin. Here's the wire service ITAR-TASS:

Foreign Policy magazine names Putin as most influential politician

LONDON, January 4 (Itar-Tass) — President Vladimir Putin of Russia has been named by the Foreign Policy magazine as the world's most influential political, business, and public figure.

A regular issue of the magazine, which carries a list of ratings of persons who determine ways for the development of the present-day world, appeared on sale on Friday.

Of course, there are a few things that aren't right about this. It wasn't "Foreign Policy," but one FP blogger, it's not an annual feature, and the item did not appear in the print magazine. Plus, the writer conveniently leaves out Bremmer's not-so-flattering reason for putting Putin on the list.

Voice of Russia expands on the story, bringing in some expert opinions:

In a prompt commentary, Director of the Moscow-based Socioeconomic and Political Research Institute Professor Dmitry Badovsky has said he believes Russia’s presidency of the G20 in 2013 should help the Russian President retain this enviable position.

Russian analysts believe the American foreign policy now has to take what they call ‘the long-term Putin factor’ into account.

Head of the Politology Department of Moscow’s High Economic School Professor Leonid Polyakov spoke about this in Moscow Friday after the Foreign Policy magazine ranked Russian President Vladimir Putin the most influential world leader of 2012.

Interestingly, Putin occupies Spot Two in the magazine’s table, while Spot One is empty. Professor Polyakov believes this betrays American reluctance to recognize a non-American as the world’s top kick.

Right, we'd never put a non-American at the top of any list.

To their credit, Russian state-sponsored broadcaster RT got the story right, specifying that it was Eurasia Group, not FP, that came up with the list.

Some backlash to the initial coverage has already started. Leonid Storch, blogger from the independent and often critical Echo Moskvy radio station, actually looked at the website, saw the original context of the ranking, and pronounced all the hype around the list "overcooked" and the result of the media's "inability to verify information and overconfidence in the printed word."

Perhaps, though it's hardly a problem unique to Russia.

[Jan 04, 2013] A veteran hostage negotiator’s advice on handling the GOP by Greg Sargent

Unfortunately, GOP has military-industrial complex behind them...
January 4, 2013 | Washington Post

The use of hostage-taking imagery to describe the coming debt ceiling crisis is now so ubiquitous that I thought I’d ask a veteran police hostage negotiator what he thinks of the looming standoff.

His advice: Obama must have a trump card in his back pocket that will resolve the situation without the GOP’s help, if necessary. One of the most important goals is getting the hostage taker to realize that ultimately, he’s not in control of the situation.

There are two possible trump cards for Obama. One is the “platinum coin” option, in which the government mints a trillion-dollar coin and uses it to pay its debts, which is currently getting a lot of blogospheric love. (Josh Barro explains how this might work; Kevin Drum dissents.) There’s also the 14th Amendment option, which some legal observers believe empowers the President to ignore the debt ceiling.

Obama appears cool to both ideas. But Scott Wagner, a former NYPD homicide detective with extensive experience negotiating hostage crises, says the President needs to at least hint at a willingness to pursue an alternative endgame. A hostage negotiator needs to persuade a hostage taker that he is totally isolated and that the negotiator is the only one who holds the key to his way out — that “deep down, he is not in control of the situation.”

“Sometimes the hostage taker has leverage,” Wagner tells me. “But often the negotiator can obtain the leverage back.” Wagner, a Democrat, adds that the hostage taker must come to feel that “he is all alone in the world, and he needs the negotiator to help him get out of his problem.”

From the point of view of a hostage negotiator, Obama’s basic problems are time, and the possibility of mass casualties. This is not a situation where the negotiator can drag the negotiations on forever and wear down the hostage taker. There’s a deadline. And casualties could be extensive — default could crater the economy — which increases the pressure for a backup plan that would resolve the situation with minimal collateral damage.

“He has to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done with the least amount of casualties,’” says Wagner, who’s now an investigator for Management Resources of New York. “He has to let them know he’s in control of the situation, but it has to be very delicately played. The hostage taker has to feel that he’s an active participant in determining his own fate.”

In the end, perhaps the most important message that needs to be conveyed is that the hostage taker won’t be the one who dictates the outcome on his own terms. In the case of the debt ceiling, some voices — such as Newt Gingrich, Judd Gregg, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page — are warning GOP leaders that they risk taking the blame for pushing the economy to the brink and that they’ll have to cave in the end.

Says Wagner: “No one ever gets away with it.”



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