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Who Rules America ?

A slightly skeptical view on the US political establishment and foreign policy

If Ronald Reagan was America's neo-Julius Caesar, his adopted son was the first George Bush (just as J.C. adopted Augustus). And look what THAT progeny wrought. I fully expect that over the next century, no fewer than seven Bushes will have run or become president (mimicking the Roman Caesarian line). Goodbye, American Republic.

From review of Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia by Gore Vidal

Skepticism -> Political Skeptic

News Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Libertarian Philosophy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism
National Security State Key Myths of Neoliberalism Big Uncle is Watching You The Iron Law of Oligarchy Color revolutions Cold War II Two Party System as Polyarchy
Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization Predator state Corporatism Elite Theory Neo-conservatism Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers
Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak Demonization of Putin Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Pathological Russophobia of the US elite Compradors vs. national bourgeoisie
Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss Civil war in Ukraine Fuck the EU Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014 Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars Neoliberalism and Christianity
Anti Trump Hysteria Anti-globalization movement Neoliberal corruption DNC emails leak Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization Disaster capitalism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Media-Military-Industrial Complex New American Militarism Ethno-lingustic Nationalism American Exceptionalism The Deep State Obama: a yet another Neocon
Neoliberal war on reality In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Corruption of Regulators Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult  Neo-Theocracy as a drive to simpler society American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Groupthink Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Deception as an art form Mayberry Machiavellians Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers War and Peace Quotes
Famous quotes of John Kenneth Galbraith Talleyrand quotes Otto Von Bismarck Quotes Kurt Vonnegut Quotes Somerset Maugham Quotes George Carlin Propaganda Quotes
Overcomplexity of society Paleoconservatism Non-Interventionism   Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

FDR. speech after the election (1936)

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later. So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15

Neoliberalism -- the current social system in the USA and most European countries, Japan, Russia and China (with some minor variations) -- is a very interesting ideology, one that does not dare to speak its mane ;-). After triumphal march of neoliberalism in late 80th and early 90th (with the collapse of the USSR as the high point), neoliberalism entered a crisis in 2008.

This site is slightly skeptical as for long term viability of Neoliberalism as a social system. After the "triumphal march" over the globe in  late seventies and 80th with the collapse of the USSR (which elite simply changed sides) as the final crescendo of this march neoliberalism might already entered the phase of decline after the crisis of 2008.  It's ideology (market fundamentalism) is now discredited. While neoliberal think tanks try to contain damage, the fatal flaws after 2008 are now apparent and can't be  hidden. The key neoliberal country and the key enforcer of neoliberalism over the globe -- the USA -- entered "secular stagnation" in economics and now is trying to fend of the challenge that China economic growth presents to its world dominance. Election of Trump means that the protest against neoliberal globalization entered  mainstream in the USA in 2016:  Hillary Clinton as defeated as a proponent of status quo, the proponent  of neoliberal globalization and the wars for expansion of neoliberal empire, the candidate who promised to kick the neoliberal can down the road. 

In this sense Trump should probably be viewed as a new stage of this decline, the phase in which financial oligarchy not only failed to put the desired puppet into White House and was farced to unleash a with hunt to put Trump into the line  (During elections Trump used to have anti-globalization inclinations -- anathema for neoliberals -- and that's why he was so viciously attacked after he have won).

As currently I see no viable new alternative to neoliberalism, our analysis of neoliberalism has distinct New Deal capitalism bias, although the restoration of New Deal capitalism looks impossible because the social base of it -- the alliance of corporate management  and trade union leaders, was destroyed due to defection of corporate managers to the side of capital owners.

And yes, my friends, like Moliθre's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme character, who was surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it., you are living under neoliberal regime at least since 1980, most probably without knowing it.  Current events are much easier to analyze if you use the framework proposed in those pages. On interesting nuance is that being some kind of "Trotskyism for rich" this regime is almost as far from real democracy as the USSR one party system. It is something Sheldon Volin called "inverted totalitarism". In certain aspects it is even more anti-democratic than the capitalism of the Gilded Age with which it  has some uncanny similarities.  

Another interesting aspect of neoliberalism is the existence of so called "neoliberal rationality" (compare with the "proletarian mindset" of Bolshevism ). As well as the extent of brainwashing into this rationality, especially at the university level. As well as  the level and the sophistication of the use of propaganda -- especially for propagating a set of neoliberal myths very similar that were created by Bolshevism. For example, "Free trade", "free market" (why not fair in both cases?) , "labor market", "human capital", etc.  In reality the key idea behind this Potemkin Village style elaborate false ideological facade  is the redistribution of wealth up toward top 1%  (or even more to the top 0.01%).  Exactly like was the case with Bolshevism, which while proclaiming the false facade of "dictatorship of proletariat" mercilessly suppressed unions and kept 90% of population at the standard of living much lower than in Western and even Eastern Europe, although not close to starvation which is the neoliberal ideal of "plantation economy" (implemented, for example, by Wal-Mart, with its below subsistence wages), with atomized and isolated form each other debt slaves.  In other words, there are some striking similarities between Soviet nomenklatura and neoliberal oligarchy, similarities that no objective scholar  studying neoliberalism  can ignore. See also Two Party System as Polyarchy -- "the first after the post system" proved to be ideal for neoliberal regime as it allows financial oligarchy preselect  candidates from both Parties,  turning the election into expensive staged event -- a grandiose political spectacle, if you wish. but with predicted outcome as stage directors who perform casting are members of a close circle of neoliberal elite -- mostly financial oligarchy.  It could be adopted by Soviet nomenklatura as well as it very effectively prevents  any real challenges to the  existing political regime by pre-selection of two candidates running to the given position and two parties, which are essentially a "soft" and "hard" factions of a single party of financial oligarchy.

The level of "synchronicity" in coverage of foreign events by neoliberal MSS also remind me the level typical for Soviet Union. With all MSM repeating the State Department talking points and in general going out their skin be politically correct stooges of the neoliberal regime.

Yet another very interesting aspect of neoliberal regime is the level of public apathy, limited  public discourse and even vocabulary (try to find the word "neoliberal" in WaPo ;-)  as well as epidemic of narco-addition (especially in Rust Belt, which is more severely hit by neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing). Which is not that dissimilar to the epidemic of alcoholism under Bolshevism. When common people see no future for themselves and their children they tend to engage in self-destructing behaviour.

What is really interesting is that the term "neoliberalism"  has the status of a semi-taboo in the USA, and seldom can be found in articles published by the USA MSM, due to some kind of "silence" pact ;-). This set of pages intent is to fight this trend. 

It is also important to understand that the level of hostility to Trump by the "deep state" is directly connected with three main (and very quickly betrayed) promises that Trump made during elections:

  1. No more neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing of jobs and industries;
  2. No more wars for expansion of neoliberal empire;
  3. Jobs for all Americans

All three were a direct revision of neoliberal ideology, as well as "neoliberal rationality".  That's why the counter-attack of both the "Deep State" and neoliberal MSM on Trump was so vicious, with well coordinated set of leaks, appointment of Special Prosecutor (on fake pretext), re-launch of McCarthyism, and campaign of demonization of Trump and his administration in media.  That so vividly resembles the attacks on "revisionists" in the USSR during Stalinism, that you may wish to revisit books devoted to those trials  ;-).

What is new is that elements of color revolutions technology  are used against Trump and his administration by neoliberal nomenklatura to preserve power. The gal is to remove Trump from power. This technology was used probably for second time in the USA history. Nixon's case is somewhat similar and also involves decisive intelligence agencies role (the core of the Deep State) in removal the President, JFK is an earlier case but without any color revolution elements.  Those technologies were designed  to topple "unfriendly" to neoliberalism regimes in xUSSR space and "resource nationalists" in the Middle East (as well as against China in Hong Cong). That suggests that neoliberals felt a real threat from Trump "revisionism". 

Deployment of those technologies does not spell well with the social stability because delegitimization of elected government has lasting effects. Just look at Ukraine which was the victim of the most recent "color revolution" experiment. They have now two breakaway regions.  In other words when the gin of color revolution is out of the bottle it is not that easy to put it back and the events can turn in the direction not anticipated by the originators of such a color revolution.

Due to the size an introduction was converted to a separate page Who Rules America


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It's easy to pretend to be a great strategist,
while sitting on the top of the hill,
at the safe distance from the battle in the valley

Shota Rustavelli(1172–1216)

[Sep 24, 2017] The New Monopolists While innovations in information technology have transformed how people live, work, and connect, the IT industry's growth pattern has contributed to a widening gap between rich and poor.

Notable quotes:
"... But, by enabling the rise of monopoly power, and by facilitating barriers to entry, the growth of IT has also had major negative economic, social, and political side effects, including the proliferation of "fake news." ..."
"... For starters, the very structure of the IT sector allows for the formation of monopoly power. IT has improved the processing, storage, and transmission of data, and IT innovators are the sole owners of major information channels that they actively work to prevent competitors from using. ..."
"... consolidate a dominant market position by issuing ongoing software updates that, by default, serve as barriers that are difficult for competitors to breach. When potential new technologies emerge, bigger firms often acquire their challengers, either to develop the competing technologies on their own, or to suppress them. ..."
"... Once an innovative firm establishes platform dominance, size becomes an advantage. Because the cost of processing and storing information has declined in recent years, a firm with a size advantage has smaller operating costs, and profits rise rapidly as the number of users multiplies (Google and Facebook are good examples). These cost and economies-of-scale advantages are almost impossible for competitors to overcome. ..."
"... In addition, because these firms derive their power from information, their positions are enhanced by their ability to use their customers' private information as a strategic asset. Indeed, many IT platforms are not producers in the traditional sense; they are public utilities that enable coordination and information-sharing among users in diverse fields. In short, IT enables the creation of barriers to market entry, and then encourages leading firms to become further entrenched. With the pace of IT innovation increasing, monopoly power is also rising. ..."
Sep 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> pgl... , September 23, 2017 at 02:49 PM

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/monopoly-power-wealth-income-inequality-by-mordecai-kurz-1-2017-09

September 22, 2017

The New Monopolists
While innovations in information technology have transformed how people live, work, and connect, the IT industry's growth pattern has contributed to a widening gap between rich and poor. Addressing it will require new taxation schemes and modernization of antitrust legislation.
By MORDECAI KURZ

STANFORD – For more than 30 years in advanced economies, particularly the United States, wealth and income inequality have increased, real (inflation-adjusted) wages have risen slowly, and retirees have faced declining interest rates on savings. This has occurred while corporate profits and stock prices have risen sharply. Now, research I have conducted shows that these changes were primarily caused by the rise in modern information technology (IT).

IT has impacted the economy in myriad ways; the computer, the Internet, and mobile technology have transformed media, online retailing, the pharmaceutical industry, and countless other consumer-related services. IT has improved life enormously.

But, by enabling the rise of monopoly power, and by facilitating barriers to entry, the growth of IT has also had major negative economic, social, and political side effects, including the proliferation of "fake news."

For starters, the very structure of the IT sector allows for the formation of monopoly power. IT has improved the processing, storage, and transmission of data, and IT innovators are the sole owners of major information channels that they actively work to prevent competitors from using.

IT firms could defend their monopoly power through patents or by copyrighting intellectual property. But these routes require making trade secrets public. So, for strategic reasons, many firms forego legal protections, and consolidate a dominant market position by issuing ongoing software updates that, by default, serve as barriers that are difficult for competitors to breach. When potential new technologies emerge, bigger firms often acquire their challengers, either to develop the competing technologies on their own, or to suppress them.

Once an innovative firm establishes platform dominance, size becomes an advantage. Because the cost of processing and storing information has declined in recent years, a firm with a size advantage has smaller operating costs, and profits rise rapidly as the number of users multiplies (Google and Facebook are good examples). These cost and economies-of-scale advantages are almost impossible for competitors to overcome.

In addition, because these firms derive their power from information, their positions are enhanced by their ability to use their customers' private information as a strategic asset. Indeed, many IT platforms are not producers in the traditional sense; they are public utilities that enable coordination and information-sharing among users in diverse fields. In short, IT enables the creation of barriers to market entry, and then encourages leading firms to become further entrenched. With the pace of IT innovation increasing, monopoly power is also rising.

In a recent paper * measuring the economic effects of monopoly power, I approximated normal levels above which profits or stock values are not purely chance events, but rather reflective of monopoly power. With these levels, I measured the monopoly component of total stock values – what I call "monopoly wealth" – and of monopoly profits or rent. I then sought to determine how monopoly wealth and rent have evolved....

* http://web.stanford.edu/~mordecai/OnLinePdf/Formation%20of%20Capital%20and%20Wealth%20Draft%205%20%2007%202017.pdf

[Sep 24, 2017] Kabuki Politics by Israel Shamir

Sep 24, 2017 | www.unz.com

- The Unz Review

However, for an American President in the United Nations his speech was unbecoming and shockingly brutal. The people of the world listened to his United Nations General Assembly speech, and experienced a touch of nostalgia for the late Mr Adolf Hitler, a kind and mild man of subtle messages in comparison to the fiery US President.

The German Chancellor allegedly killed six million civilians, and this sublime sacrifice (do not ask me to what deity, this is just a translation of the Greek 'holocaust') is considered the worst crime in the bloody history of mankind. Mr Trump publicly and loudly promised to incinerate five or six times that amount. While the German never boasted of that crime, the American already boasts of his still undone crime. His desire to "totally destroy North Korea", to wipe out an entire nation of 25 million, and in addition to cause the death of millions of Koreans in the South of the peninsula as well, secures him a unique place among the villains.

Kim, the brazen King of the North, dismissed Trump as a 'barking dog' who, people say, never bites, and this is surely a comforting thought, but not as comforting as a muzzle for the beast. This barking dog is obviously dangerous and should be restrained, or put out of its misery. The hound has been hounded by his domestic enemies, and thus he became possessed by a demon, for just a few months ago Trump was a peace-loving creature who wanted to attend to the US infrastructure, who refused to bow to AIPAC and was friendly to Putin. It's Mrs Clinton who was the warmonger. But invocation magic worked on him.

... ... ...

Every statesman on the planet knows you can't cross the US. America is powerful, vindictive and vicious, and you must obey or else. They will destroy you and/or your country sooner or later for your disobedience. If they can't invade, they will bomb, if they can't bomb, they will starve first – and then bomb, and only afterwards, invade. One should be crazy to resist. But the little Korean resisted. He is definitely crazy. But we humans adore such crazy rebels against supreme authority, be it Che Guevara or Luke Skywalker. Or McMurphy.

Yes, by his suicidal courage, Kim reminds me of 'Mac', Randle McMurphy, the protagonist of Ken Kesey's novel and Milos Forman's movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Probably you remember his hopeless stand and a futile, doomed fight against the almighty Nurse Ratched. She rules supreme over the inmates. Against her will, there is no appeal. The inmates tremble before her. But she can't break Mac. She is forced to burn his brain, to kill him by other means, and this evil deed releases the inmates. Until then, they supported and obeyed the Nurse like the nations of the world obeyed the Judeo-American power. Incineration of Mac's brain puts paid to her dominion. In revulsion, the placid inmates leave the ward, chose freedom and leave her behind, broken. This is human nature. There is no way for the US to prevail in its fight against Kim the Bold. They can kill him and thirty million of other Koreans, but they can't prevail.

... ... ...

The Russians were dismayed with Trump's plans to reform the UN and eliminate or undermine their right of veto. They noticed an uncanny similarity of Trump's call for the UN reform 2017 with Adolf Hitler's call to reform the League of the Nations in 1937. They aren't likely to agree to any attempt to cancel their veto. They will not leave the UN, either. They tried to walk out once, and it did not work out well.

In January 1950, the Russians were dismayed by America's steadfast refusal to transfer the seat in the UN Security Council to the new Chinese Government of Chairman Mao. They insisted the seat should be occupied by Kuomintang-ruled Taiwan. The Russians boycotted the Security Council to their peril: the Security Council (sine Russians) voted to invoke military action by the United Nations for the first time in the organization's history. The Russians could have blocked the action in the Security Council, since they had absolute veto power, but no Russian delegate was present.

In just a short time, a multinational U.N. force under American leadership arrived in South Korea and the grueling three-year Korean War was underway. The Russians immediately returned to the Security Council but they never could reverse the decision, and until today the US troops in Korea use the UN banner.

The Russians remember that, and they will never repeat the mistake. Even if Trump takes his allies out, the Russians and the Chinese will remain and they will keep the Security Council running, if necessary, without the Americans.

The Americans want to have the UN without the Russians. Trump-proposed declaration of intent to revamp the UN has been endorsed by many small states, but the great ones declined to join. In a brazen act, countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the declaration – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch. An organization without them, will not be the United Nations, perhaps NATO 2.0.

The Russian feelings towards the US hardened a lot in the aftermath of the General Assembly. The Russians helped the Syrian government army cross Euphrates and seize the east bank, despite American demands to stay away on the other side of the great river. For the first time ever, they threatened the Americans present in Syria with using their supreme fire power if their troops will be jeopardized like they were a few days ago, when the Islamists led by American instructors made an attempt to snatch a group of Russian policemen.

Mike Johnson > , September 23, 2017 at 6:28 am GMT

Excellent article! One thing I remember about a few months ago was Trump showing up at the AIPAC conference kissing some serious ass, so you must be referring to before that when he threw little hints at being an independent player but even back then didn't he have Sheldon in his corner??

animalogic > , September 23, 2017 at 9:41 am GMT

" The people of the world listened to his United Nations General Assembly speech, and experienced a touch of nostalgia for the late Mr Adolf Hitler, a kind and mild man of subtle messages in comparison to the fiery US President".
The above gave me a genuine LOL moment though nothing else did.
It's no wonder Paul Craig Roberts is now referring to the US as the "fourth Reich". Makes one almost nostalgic for the days of GWB: he was merely stomping on weaker nations – not directly poking a sharp stick at a bear AND a dragon at the same time
The US gave birth to itself from revolution: nothing less will likely save it save all of us .

Parbes > , September 23, 2017 at 9:56 am GMT

The U.S. government and ruling elites are nothing but a collection of evil criminals that constitute the greatest threat to the planet. They should be punished accordingly, preferably by their own people – but that would require today's American population to be something other than a mixture of braindead ignorant sheeple, chauvinist jingoist patriotards, and narcissistic degenerate hedonists.

In other words – the vast majority of Americans deserve whatever happens and will happen to them.

[Sep 24, 2017] How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogen and the CIA Secretly Planned to Force Regime Change in North Korea by Tim Shorrock

Notable quotes:
"... September 5, 2017 ..."
Sep 24, 2017 | www.alternet.org

September 5, 2017

Grayzone Project 294 COMMENTS

Over the past month, President Trump's incendiary threats to rain " fire and fury " on North Korea in response to its ballistic missile program set off a chain of military escalations that climaxed this week with Pyongyang's sixth test of a nuclear device , a hydrogen bomb three to five times more powerful than the American bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As the crisis unfolded, the Rand Corporation, a military-intelligence think tank founded during the Cold War, relentlessly promoted the views of Bruce W. Bennett, a defense researcher it calls "one of the leading experts on the world's most reclusive country." Two or three times a day, Rand's media shop tweets out links to Bennett's writings on Kim Jong-un, the 33-year-old who rules the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK), its formal and preferred name.

While Trump has vowed to use sanctions, war threats and diplomacy to stop Kim from developing a ballistic missile that could fire nuclear weapons at the United States!exactly what Kim claimed to do on Sunday!Bennett believes that the only target worth considering is North Korea's " Supreme Leader " himself.

Bennett's basic theme is that North Korea is teetering on collapse and internal unrest because the military and technocratic elite who run the country have given up on Kim and his dynastic family. It's a theory that's been around for decades , but has picked up steam in reaction to Kim's recent purges, including possibly his own brother and a string of high-level defections that includes Thae Yong-ho , the erudite former North Korea ambassador to London.

In glossy books and pamphlets ("Preparing North Korean Elites for Unification") and in appearances from CNN to Fox to Teen Vogue , Bennett lays out his plan for overthrowing the North Korean government by saturating the country with leaflets and propaganda and providing assurances to potential plotters in the North that they would have a place within a new, unified Korea!but only under South Korean and U.S. control.

The U.S., he warned in a recent speech on Capitol Hill that I attended, must deliver Kim a simple message: "We know the only thing you care about is your regime's survival. Either denuclearize or we will take actions politically to destabilize your regime." His talk was a basic primer for this "uprising" from within, which is exactly what the Bush administration sought in Iraq when it invaded in 2003.

The plan, Bennett said, might begin with the U.S. Air Force dropping leaflets on North Korean missile bases that invite North Korean soldiers to defect. "If there were one or two, that would be a political loss of face." K-Pop, the South Korean musical genre that's popular around the world, could be another weapon: "It's acidic as far the regime is concerned." And commercials about South Korean life planted in DVDs smuggled into the North "would be terrible for Kim Jong-un."

The purpose of the operation, he said, is to convince the people of the DPRK that their "paranoid" leader is not a "god," and to plant the idea that his country is unstable: "If that's in his mind, it will affect his behavior." In short, a psy-op.

As I listened to his spiel, I was reminded of Bennett's advisory role in the 2014 Seth Rogen comedy The Interview , about two Hollywood stoners hired by the CIA to kill Kim. It depicted, in graphic detail, Kim's head being blown apart by a guided missile fired by fed-up North Korean "elites" who had come over to the U.S. side after their conversations with the fake American journalists, played by Rogen and his sidekick James Franco.

The film was produced by Japan's Sony Pictures, but finalized only after receiving critical advice and assistance from the Obama State Department, the Rand Corporation, and according to a 2014 interview Rogen gave to the New York Times, the CIA. ("We made relationships with certain people who work in the government as consultants, who I'm convinced are in the CIA.") But it was all under the tutelage of Bruce Bennett, who was brought into the project by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, a prominent member of Rand's board of directors and a close confidante of President Obama.

Why Bennett? His official biography states that he has worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Forces in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command as well as the South Korean and Japanese militaries. According an email he wrote to Sony's Lynton in 2014, he got his start in Asia as a Mormon missionary to Japan and began working on Korea in 1989 "at the request of the Pentagon." By 2014, he said, he had made over 100 trips to South Korea to advise the U.S. Army and senior South Korean military personnel "on how to deter North Korea." Even though he has never been to the DPRK, he bases his knowledge of the country on his "extensive interviews with senior North Korean defectors."

The movie's plot closely follows Bennett's vision for regime change from within, and is illustrated in two key scenes.

"We're aware of a small faction in the existing leadership that already wants him gone," the CIA agent overseeing the assassination plot tells her American recruits early on. "They want change and they're too scared to act alone. And they need you two to go in there and remove Kim and embolden them to revolt." Later, "Sook," the sexy assistant to Kim who joins the regime change plot, pleads with Rogen: "How do you prove to the 24 million people of North Korea that their god is a murderer and a liar? The people need to be shown that he's not a god."

The film allegedly sparked North Korea to hack Sony and leak thousands of internal Sony emails. North Korea also warned the Obama administration not to allow the film to be released, branding it "an act of terrorism." So, when Bennett invited questions at his congressional briefing, I asked him: what was his involvement in The Interview , and did he think it was effective?

At first, Bennett was elusive, saying, "I did not work on the movie." When I reminded him that he had been listed as an adviser, he changed course. "I heard about it for the first time when I was sent a copy of the DVD by the president of Sony Pictures, who was asking, do we need to be worried about this?" he explained, inspiring a ripple of laughter throughout the room. Bennett continued: "So I had a tail-end role in trying to help them appreciate what they might be worried about."

But there's a lot more to the story. Now that Kim is dominating the news once again, it's time to revisit this film and how it became a weapon in the long-running American war against North Korea.

Obama's hard line on DPRK

As Americans come to grips with Trump's confrontational policies with North Korea, it's easy to forget that U.S. relations with North Korea reached a nadir under Barack Obama. Here's why: Bennett's regime change proposals were, and are, the culmination of policies hatched by Obama's left-liberal administration to weaken Kim's hold on power and hasten what they considered North Korea's inevitable collapse. Obviously they failed, yet elements of the plan still abound.

Let's start with some basic background. The hostile U.S. relationship with the DPRK dates back to the Korean War, when U.S. bombers turned the country into cinders in a destructive campaign of carpet-bombing that killed millions of people. In 1953, an armistice ended the fighting, leaving the country divided and in a perpetual state of war. A peace treaty was never signed. Sometime in the late 1980s, with the border still tense and the U.S. showing no signs of withdrawing its military forces from the South, the DPRK decided to embark on a nuclear program to defend itself from wars of regime change and guarantee its sovereignty.

To head off that development, in 1994 President Bill Clinton negotiated an agreement with North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, that sought to allay his government's fears by ending America's hostile policies. Under the "Agreed Framework," the DPRK shut down its one test reactor!its only source for plutonium!in return for U.S. shipments of oil for its power grid and two new light-water reactors to be built by an international consortium. Most importantly, both sides agreed to end mutual hostility by fully normalizing their economic and political relations.

The agreement, which froze North Korea's nuclear program for 12 years, held for several years. But in 2002, the Bush administration accused the DPRK!falsely it turned out!of building a secret uranium program as a second route to a bomb and tore up the framework. In response, North Korea, which was by now led by Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, restarted its nuclear program, and by 2006 had exploded its first nuclear device.

Surprisingly, Bush reopened negotiations only three weeks later, and by 2007, under the rubric of the Six Party Talks, the DPRK agreed again to freeze its program. That accord was still pending when Obama was elected in 2009. He had run for president pledging to talk to Iran and North Korea, but quickly changed course on Korea.

According to Leon Sigal, a former State Department official who has met with North Korea many times in unofficial talks, Obama and his top adviser on Asia, Jeff Bader, decided in 2009 to side with the new, conservative president of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who had campaigned against engagement and demanded stronger pressure tactics against the DPRK. Soon, the idea of direct talks and regular was abandoned. Officially, the doctrine for replacing direct engagement with pressure tactics was known as "strategic patience." Behind it was a mistaken assumption!the same one made by Bennett today!that North Korea was headed for collapse, making even the chance of an agreement a futile exercise.

It's difficult to overstate how reactionary Obama's policies became. In contrast to Bush, and even Trump, Obama flatly rejected the idea of negotiating with the North without a prior commitment to denuclearization. He also expressed no interest in the DPRK's offer to sign a peace agreement. More disturbingly, he was the first president in history to refer to the Korean War, which has been universally recognized as a bloody stalemate, as a "victory." In doing so, Obama revived a right-wing trope that was first used in the 1950s and resurrected during the Bush years by David Frum and other neocons. So from the onset, Obama caused America's policy toward Korea to take a sharp right turn.

The tensions were exacerbated by the covert cyber war Obama launched against North Korea to damage and slow its missile program. During the Obama years, North Korea tested three more nuclear bombs, and despite the cyber war, rapidly expanded its missile abilities. As the situation deteriorated, Obama embarked on a series of military exercises with South Korea that increased in size and tempo over the course of his administration. They included unprecedented overflights by B-52 and stealth B1-B bombers as well as training in " decapitation strikes " designed to take out Kim and his leadership. All of this led straight to the crisis Trump inherited and has only made worse.

But while Trump critics rightly chafe over his reckless allusions to a nuclear attack on Korea, it's often forgotten that Obama himself made similar statements, couched in his trademark cool. "We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals," Obama told CBS News in April 2016. A few months later, Daniel Russel, the president's senior diplomat on Asia who had earlier viewed The Interview at Sony's request, actually threatened North Korea's destruction. If Kim gets "an enhanced capacity to conduct a nuclear attack," Russel told defense reporters, he would "immediately die."

At the time, these threats hardly caused a ripple in the media, and sparked few complaints from the liberals who now criticize Trump for pushing the U.S. to war or the progressive reporters who criticized Bush for his invasion of Iraq.

Seth Rogen 'melted head' assassination scene

Although the idea for The Interview had been around for a while, the real inspiration, director Seth Rogen told the Los Angeles Times, was some "idle kidding around" he did with his friends after the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011. He and Sony were also encouraged by the wild success of the 2004 hit movie Team America , which ridiculed Kim Jong-il's big glasses and bouffant hair-do. But what sparked Sony's decision to go ahead with its $35 million investment was the crisis that shook the Korean Peninsula when the DPRK tested its third nuclear device in February 2013.

The nuclear test vaulted Kim Jong-un into the headlines for the first time, giving Sony the moment it had been seeking. In a "strategic marketing and research" paper later leaked by hackers, the studio told promoters to push the theme of "the dictator's bizarre behavior!he's a young, inexperienced guy with self-esteem and 'daddy' issues." The film used every racist image and trope that Rogen could dream up, from the sing-songy caricatures of Asian speech that were a film staple in the 1940s and '50s, to the concept that Koreans are either robotic slaves (like Kim's security guards) or sex-starved submissives who crave American men (like Sook, the "elite" aide to Kim who falls for the Rogen character).

In the end of the film, the Hollywood rebels triumph after badgering Kim with tough questions about his ability to feed his own people, an allusion to the terrible famine that occurred in the late-1990s. Kim goes crazy, forcing "a man once revered among mortals to cry and shit in his pants," the Rogen character explains. After the stoner character screams, "he's no god, he's a butthole," Kim is struck on his helicopter by the fatal missile shot by Sook's rebels, and his head explodes in a fireball. The rebels' job now "is to make sure power is transferred to the right hands," the Americans explain.

It was that ending that caused most of the controversy, both at the studio and when the film was later pre-screened to select officials of the Obama administration. When the first takes were shown in June 2014, some of Sony's Japanese executives were disturbed by both the violence and the racism. By this time, North Korea (which relentlessly monitors U.S. media) had got wind of the film and its theme of assassinating its head of state. So the studio asked Rogen to tone it down by removing one scene in which moviegoers watched Kim's face slowly melt and slide off his head. This sent Rogen on a tirade.

"We feel the story of censorship and trying to appease North Korea WILL in fact hurt the film critically, and thus financially," he wrote to Amy Pascal , Sony Pictures' top executive at the time. "The head melting shot described vividly in all these articles is universally received as awesome by the articles writing about them, and when these critics see a shot that is decidedly LESS awesome, regardless of what story we put out there, the truth will be apparent: it's a compromised product." (The head-melting scene was removed, but Rogen's Hollywood version of selective morality was revealing nonetheless).

By this point, North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was denouncing the film as tantamount to "an act of war," and threatening "a decisive and merciless countermeasure" if the Obama administration allowed it to be shown. That was apparently the result Rogen was looking for.

"There was a lot of high-fiving," he told the Los Angeles Times. Even if it caused a war?

"Hopefully," Rogen said, "people will say, 'You know what? It was worth it. It was a good movie!'"

It was then that Sony turned to the government for help, through Rand and its Korea expert, Bruce Bennett.

With top Obama contacts, Sony and Rand collaborate on coup narrative

The Rand Corporation first became famous in 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg, a Rand analyst, leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the secret history of the Vietnam War. The incredible tale of official lies that unfolded in pages of the New York Times and other papers helped end the war four years later and triggered the beginning of the end of Richard Nixon. After shaking off that incident, Rand emerged as one of the premiere research centers for the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence.

As a result of 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Rand returned full force to refining the practice of counterinsurgency , or COIN, the "soft power" side of empire-building that got its start in Vietnam and aims at winning "hearts and minds" of countries that the United States invades or subverts. Bennett's policy proposals to divide members of the North Korean "elite" from their government with offers of political support and financial assistance come right out of the COIN playbook .

The link between Rand and Sony was made shortly after the first public viewing of the film by Rand CEO Michael Rich, a lifelong employee of the think tank. Under his leadership, Rand developed close ties with U.S. intelligence. In November 2014, for example, Rich presided over a "rare dialogue" with the National Security Agency that took place at Sony's headquarters in Century City and included then NSA director Michael Rogers as well as Michael Leiter, the former director of the CIA's National Counterterrorism Center.

In June 2014, after the first clips of the movie where shown, Rich emailed Bennett, informing him he had recommended that Rand "trustee Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, get in touch with you for some quick assistance." Lynton, too, had high-level connections. As the hacked Sony emails collected by Wikileaks would later reveal , he had attended dinners at Martha's Vineyard with President Obama, and as a Rand board member, had contacts throughout government. From June on, Bennett, through Lynton, became a critical adviser to the film and acted as a liaison between the studio and the Obama administration.

The makers of The Interview were especially interested in advice on crafting the ending of the film. The scene of Kim's head exploding pleased Bennett, as he wrote in one of his emails. "I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government," he wrote .

Bennett continued: 'Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone."

Bennett firmly believed the film could spark the U.S.-led coup he had dreamed about for so long. "There are many ways that United States and even Sony Pictures could affect North Korean internal politics," he wrote on the Rand website. "Slipping DVDs of at least parts of The Interview into the North, including a narration describing what their 'god' Kim is really like is one way." (In fact, a version of this stunt was attempted right after the film came out by two of the more fanatical regime-changers in Washington, the neocon writer Jamie Kirchik and right-wing human rights hustler Thor Halvorssen .)

To make sure the film was on the right track, Sony arranged to show the ending to officials at the State Department. Lynton emailed Daniel Russel, who was the assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, that the studio was "concerned for the safety of Americans and American and North Korean relations." He and other U.S. officials gave their blessing to the film's violent ending. After word of Russel's involvement leaked out, the State Department denied any role, only to be contradicted by Russel himself. In a 2016 speech in Los Angeles, he said , "I'm the U.S. government official who told Sony there was no problem 'greenlighting' the movie The Interview ."

Despite the official go-ahead, Sony agreed at first to only release The Interview on DVD. Then, when Sony temporarily pulled the film in December 2014, Obama became its champion, declaring that "we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States." That led to the remarkable sight of Hollywood actors and directors from the liberal left, led by the likes of George Clooney and Michael Moore, defending the film as an act of free speech and urging Americans to defy Kim's "censorship" and go see it in a theater.

By this time, Sony had been hacked by a group that called itself the " Guardians of Peace ." The FBI later claimed this group was secretly working for North Korea. The Obama administration agreed, and said its top intelligence officials had concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved." This finding was questioned by many cyber-security experts (especially Gregory Elich's critique in Counterpunch and Kim Zetter's analysis in Wired). They concluded that the FBI's "evidence" found in servers in Thailand, Singapore and elsewhere was thin and speculative, and found signs that the real hackers (who had an uncanny insider knowledge of Hollywood) could still be at large and might have been former Sony employees.

But the U.S. government had no doubts at all. In January 2015, Obama called the DPRK's alleged hack an "act of war" and used it as an excuse to launch one of the most aggressive American actions on behalf of a private corporation in U.S. history. His executive order imposed sanctions against three North Korean agencies and nearly a dozen "critical North Korean operatives" in retaliation for the hack. The Treasury Department said the sanctions were in direct response to North Korea's "numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment." The action marked a major escalation, returning "the U.S. to a posture of open hostility with its oldest remaining Cold War adversary," the Wall Street Journal noted .

Shortly after these actions were taken, the New York Times published a revelation that raised serious questions about the hack, reporting that the NSA had broken into the DPRK's computer systems as early as 2010 and "penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies." If that was true, the NSA might have watched the alleged hackers and allowed them to do their work. Here's what the Times concluded:

"The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie would be 'an act of war.'"

By this time, however, the film had done its damage by convincing Kim's government that the Obama administration did indeed want its destruction. More missile and nuclear tests followed, and by the end of the Obama administration relations were far worse than they were when Bush left office in 2009. In other words, the film had the opposite of its intended effect, prompting a clampdown by Kim and suppressing whatever internal dissent existed.

Today, Kim Jong-un remains firmly in control of North Korea, and the Trump administration!despite Trump's tweets on Sunday equating engagement with "appeasement "!appears to be slowly moving toward negotiations of some kind with his government. Bruce Bennett continues to fantasize about bringing the leader down. Kim, he argued in a recent post , craves his weapons not for self-defense but because "nukes are one way to show his subjects he's a god." Kim is "a weak leader consumed by paranoia," he wrote in a separate piece.

At the same time, there is abundant evidence that the combination regime-change/cyber war project adopted by the Obama administration is still in force. A few weeks ago, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a crowd at the Aspen Forum that he's been ordered to find ways to "separate" Kim from his "missiles and nuclear weapons"!a "strong hint," the New York Times reported , "that the United States was considering seeking a regime change in North Korea." And on August 29, in a departing interview with Fox News, ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka let it slip that the cyber attacks on North Korea probably continue. "On the more covert side of things, you have seen a lot of missile tests fail," he said . "Most tests actually fail. Sometimes there may be reasons beyond just incompetence by North Korea."

The Democrats haven't let up, either. Last month, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal told NBC News that the Obama administration should have responded more aggressively to North Korea's alleged hack of Sony in 2014. And there was an intriguing exchange recently between one of Obama's top national security officials and South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in . On August 4, Moon spoke out against Korean right-wingers who send anti-DPRK propaganda over the border in large balloons!one of the tactics frequently suggested by Bennett and carried out by neocons Kirchick and Halvorssen. These actions, he warned , unnecessarily aggravate the North, and particularly during times of severe tension, "could prompt accidental clashes."

That sparked an angry tweet from Samantha Power, the Obama administration's former U.N. ambassador and perhaps the most famous proponent of "humanitarian intervention" against enemy states like North Korea. "So mistaken," Power tweeted in response to Moon. "Information is what Kim Jong-un fears most."

[Sep 24, 2017] The Killing of History

Sep 24, 2017 | www.unz.com

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its "exceptionalism", Burns' "entirely new" Vietnam war is presented as "epic, historic work". Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to "the entire Bank of America family" which "has long supported our country's veterans". Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war "was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings".

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of "false flags" that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers , which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans ! it is difficult to watch the film's jumble of "red peril" maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

... ... ...

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as "nuclear targeting planning is increased". The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against "repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this."

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders' "revolution" in last year's presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America's violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama's overthrow of Ukraine's elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia's western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

[Sep 24, 2017] They only picked Manafort's lock as a professional courtesy; thousands of average Americans have been awakened to their doors being smashed in, a couple flash-bangs tossed in, dogs being shot, etc. As Trump might have tweeted before the Deep State gained control of him, "Sad!"

Sep 24, 2017 | www.unz.com

The Alarmist > ,

September 23, 2017 at 8:27 am GMT

" pick their locks and force entry to their bedrooms in predawn mist as they did to Paul Manafort. This Gestapo-style terror knocked the wind out of Trump's sails."

Wasn't the Gestapo known for at least knocking on the door in the middle of the night before dragging their quarry to the building that no-one stops to watch? NKVD too, now that I think about it. They only picked Manafort's lock as a professional courtesy; thousands of average Americans have been awakened to their doors being smashed in, a couple flash-bangs tossed in, dogs being shot, etc. As Trump might have tweeted before the Deep State gained control of him, "Sad!"

Bannon was right to some extent that there is no military solution to this the piece he was missing was the qualifier, " for sane people who have a conscience." The fact that we repeatedly use the starvation of millions of innocent civilians in undeclared wars on their leaders shows the lack of conscience on the part of ours, because that route is more disingenuous to our values than making outright war against their nations, albeit not by much. I'm not qualified to render a diagnosis of insanity, but I think I have enough information to inform my opinion.

[Sep 24, 2017] Obama CIA Director Calls for Coup

Sep 24, 2017 | www.rushlimbaugh.com

Which takes us to John Brennan, John Brennan, the former CIA director for Obama. There's this thing in Aspen, they do it now and then called the Aspen Ideas conference. This is the outfit run by Walter Isaacson, who used to run TIME Magazine, used to run CNN. He wrote the big biography of Steve Jobs. Runs the Aspen Institute where they do the Aspen Ideas summit or seminar or what have you.

They get anchors from the various cable news networks to come out there and moderate these discussions. It was Wolf Blitzer nominating a discussion that included Brennan, the former CIA director for Obama. And he practically called for a coup if Trump decides to fire Mueller. And I guess Brennan means a second coup because there's already a coup underway. There is already a silent coup, and it's been underway for quite a while to get rid of Donald Trump. And it features a lot of buddies of Brennan, Obama administration holdovers and embeds in the deep state at the Pentagon, State Department, various intelligence agencies. There is this silent coup that's been going on for a while.

So I guess Brennan is actually calling for a second one here. The first one with Clapper, Brennan, Comey decided to use this phony Russian dossier to try to take down Trump or blackmail him, whatever they were trying to do with it, this totally phony golden showers dossier. That's when the original coup, the silent coup, began. Now, when you have a CIA director for Obama praising a special counsel, then you know that this idea that Mueller is this straight arrow down the middle moderate, goes both way, is not specifically partisan. You know that's bunk. I mean, if these people are gonna be praising the guy. Brennan also said that if Mueller is fired, I hope our elected reps will stand up and say enough is enough.

This burning hatred for Trump ! and, by the way, he's feeding it. There's no desire, he's feeding it with all of the tweets and all of the things he's saying, going to the Boy Scouts. He is just in their face on this stuff every day. A lot of people are scratching their heads over what it all means and what's going on. And none of it, none of the reaction, no polling data, none of it seems to deter Trump from what he is attempting to do here. But I mean this is pretty serious stuff when the former CIA director calls for a coup while there already is one underway, basically asking people to refuse to execute the order.

I mean, how would this silent coup ? Well, no. This wouldn't be silent. How would this requested coup manifest itself? I mean, a coup is a takeover. It's not just obstruction. It's not just stopping somebody. I mean, Brennan said here, "I hope that if that order is given that whoever gets it refuses to do it." Well, that's not a coup, refusing to do it. A coup is moving in there and ridding the government of the guy. A coup is moving in there and taking the guy out. That's why many coups actually occur with the military.

You need a show of force behind it ! and I'll tell you, I wouldn't doubt I've seen enough James Bond movies, and I've seen enough stuff to know that there are people attempting to convince military people. I think the level of panic about Trump inside the Beltway is beyond what we even think. I think the panic, the outrage, the frustration, the inability to cope I think it is way, way, way beyond what even we think based on what we see. I think they are bordering on panic, absent any kind of rationality, because this is driven by pure, unadulterated hatred.

The opposition to Trump is fueled by this hatred ! and it's causing them, I believe, to lose elements of their sanity. I think it's causing them to certainly lose elements of their rationality. So I wouldn't doubt I have no evidence, by the way. I will openly state I'm just speculating using intelligence guided by experience that these people are so far gone over what's happened to their precious town ! to their precious power base, to their precious control of things. That I wouldn't doubt if a couple of them are making phone calls retired generals (who still get up and put the uniform on every day even though they're retired) and soliciting their assistance ! should it ever become necessary, of course ! to lead a rebellion.

I don't have any evidence of it. None whatsoever. As I say, intelligence guided by experience. But clearly there's an uncontrolled rage and an irrationality in the anti-Trump forces ! on the left primarily. The Never Trumpers are not as far gone as the leftist groups that hate Trump. So I'm not including the I don't think, for example, anybody at one of your favorite conservative blog sites is colluding with retired generals and colluding with Brennan and former Obama intelligence types. But I think that these people are so, so unhinged now that, in their minds, "Whatever it takes! Whatever it takes, Mabel!"

So we'll just have to wait and see. And the more Trump tweets and the more he behaves in ways they just don't understand ! such as allowing Sessions to twist in the wind and be openly criticized the way Trump is doing ! they're going crazy. They started out crazy, you know, the night of the election, and it has only amplified since then. But the take-away here is that a former CIA director is essentially asking for a coup against the sitting president if the sitting president fires the special counsel ! which he is entirely constitutionally entitled to do. If Trump were to fire Mueller, legally, constitutionally, he can do it. The ramifications will be political, not legal.

[Sep 24, 2017] John Brennan, Obama loyalist and CIA director, drove FBI to investigate Trump associates by Rowan Scarborough

May 29, 2017 | www.washingtontimes.com
What caused the Barack Obama administration to begin investigating the Donald Trump campaign last summer has come into clearer focus following a string of congressional hearings on Russian interference in the presidential election.

It was then-CIA Director John O. Brennan , a close confidant of Mr. Obama's, who provided the information ! what he termed the "basis" ! for the FBI to start the counterintelligence investigation last summer. Mr. Brennan served on the former president's 2008 presidential campaign and in his White House . Mr. Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on May 23 that the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians. Mr. Brennan did not name either the Russians or the Trump people. He indicated he did not know what was said.

But he said he believed the contacts were numerous enough to alert the FBI , which began its probe into Trump associates that same July, according to previous congressional testimony from then- FBI director James B. Comey.

[Sep 24, 2017] Mark Ames When Mother Jones Was Investigated for Spreading Kremlin Disinformation by Mark Ames

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Adam Hochschild, the founding editor of Mother Jones (and author of some great books including King Leopold's Ghost), responded publicly to the threats coming out of the Senate in the early Reagan years. In a New York Times op-ed published in late 1981, "Dis-(Mis-?)Information", Hochschild wrote about a Republican Senate mailer sent out to 290 radio stations that accused Mother Jones of being Kremlin disinformation dupes. ..."
"... "In it, the writer Arnaud de Borchgrave accuses Mother Jones, the Village Voice, the Soho News, the Progressive magazine of serving as disseminators of K.G.B. 'disinformation' – the planting of false or misleading items in news media. "Mr. de Borchgrave provided no specific examples of facts or articles. But, then, the trouble with the K.G.B. is that you don't know what disinformation it is feeding you because you don't know who its myriad agents are. So the only safe thing is to distrust any author or magazine too critical of the United States. Because anyone who is against, say, the MX or the B-1 bomber could be working for the Russians." ..."
"... The communist/leftist imagery is there for a reason. In case you haven't noticed, Clinton supporters have waged a crude PR campaign to blame their candidate's loss on leftists, whom they equate with neo-Nazis and Trump. I've been smeared as "alt-left" by a Vanity Fair columnist, who equated me with Breitbart and other far-right journalists, for the crime of not sufficiently supporting Hillary Clinton. The larger goal of this crude PR effort is to equate opposition to Hillary Clinton with treason and Nazism. Which was exactly the goal of Reagan's "Kremlin disinformation" hysteria - the whole point was to smear critics of Reagan and his right-wing politics as pro-Kremlin traitors, whether they knew it or not. ..."
"... Even the words and the terminology are plagiarized from the Reagan Right witch-hunting campaign - "Kremlin active measures"; "Kremlin disinformation"; "Kremlin dupes" - terms introduced by right-wing novelists and intelligence hucksters, and repeated ad nauseam until they transformed into something plausible, giving quasi-academic cover to some very old-fashioned state repression, harassment, surveillance . . . and a lot of ruined lives. That's what happened last time, and if history is any guide, it's how this one will end up too. ..."
"... The Reagan Era kicked off with a lot of dark fear-mongering about the Kremlin using disinformation and active measures to destroy our way of life. Everything that the conservative Establishment loathed about 1970s - defeat in Vietnam, Church Committee hearings gutting the CIA and FBI, the cult of Woodward & Bernstein & Hersh, peace marchers, minority rights radicals - was an "active measures" treason conspiracy. ..."
"... The image at the top of this article comes from a lead article in Columbia University's student newspaper, the Spectator, published a few weeks after Reagan took office, on SST committee's assault on Mother Jones. The headline read: The New McCarthyism / Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been and the the full-page article begins, If you subscribe to Mother Jones, give money to the American Civil Liberties Union, or support the Institute for Policy Studies, Senator Jeremiah Denton's new Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism may be interested in you. ..."
"... It describes how in the 1970s Americans finally got rid of HUAC and the Senate Internal Security Committee, the Red Scare witch-hunting Congressional committees - only to have them revived one election cycle later in the Reagan Revolution. ..."
"... Sexual immorality -- it's a common theme in all the Russia panics of the past 100 years-whether the sexually liberated Emma Goldmans of the Red Scare, the homosexual-panic of the McCarthy witch-hunts, the hippie orgies of Denton's nightmares, or Trump's supposed golden shower fetish with immoral Russian prostitutes in our current panic. . . . ..."
"... To fight the Kremlin disinformation demons, Denton set up the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism (SST), with two other young Republican senators-Orrin Hatch, who's still haunting Capitol Hill today; and John East of North Carolina, a Jesse Helms protege who later did his country a great service by committing suicide in his North Carolina garage, before the end of his first term in office in 1986. ..."
"... Sen. East's staffers leaned Nazi-ward, like their boss. One Sen. East staffer was Samuel Francis - now famous as the godfather of the alt-Right, but who in 1981 was known as the guru behind the Senate's "Russia disinformation" witch hunt. Funny how that works - today's #Resistance takes its core idea, that America is under the control of hostile Kremlin disinformation sorcerers - is culturally appropriated from the alt-Right's guru. ..."
"... Another staffer for Sen. East was John Rees, one of the most loathsome professional snitches of the post-McCarthy era, who collected files on suspected leftists, labor activists and liberal donors. I'll have to save John Rees for another post - he really belongs in a category by himself, proof of Schopenhauer's maxim that this world is run by demons. ..."
"... These were the people who first cooked up the "disinformation" panic. You can't separate the Sam Francises, Orrin Hatches, John Easts et al from today's panic-mongering over disinformation - you can only try to make sense of why, what is it about our culture's ruling factions that brings them together on this sort of xenophobic witch-hunt, even when they see themselves as so diametrically opposed on so many other issues. ..."
"... The subversion scare and moral panic were crucial in resetting the culture for the Reagan counter-revolution. Those who opposed Reagan's plans, domestically and overseas, would be labeled "dupes" of Kremlin "active measures" and "disinformation" conspiracies, acting on behalf of Moscow whether they knew it or not. The panic incubated in Denton's subcommittee investigations provided political cover for vast new powers given to the CIA, FBI, NSA and other spy and police agencies to spy on Americans. Fighting Russian "active measures" grew over the years into a massive surveillance program against Americans, particularly anyone involved in opposing Reagan's dirty wars in Central America, anyone opposing nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, and anyone involved in providing sanctuary to refugees from south of the border. The "active measures" panic even led to FBI secret investigations into liberal members of Congress, some of whom wound up in a secret "FBI terrorist photo album". ..."
"... 'Russia is a bigger threat to America than Islamic State.' is almost certainly true. If one insists, as the US has done, on standing at the border of the bears lair and poking it with a very short stick, then there may well be consequences. On the other hand, Islamic State is no threat to the US in any way, shape or form. ..."
"... The Cold War is over, so now the US can reveal its truly feral nature. ..."
"... American slogan Violence R Us. Not judging, just being honest. We were no more interested in the common good of the Vietnamese back then, any more than we are interested in the common good of the Syrians today. ..."
"... It's always 'Russia this, Russia that', how we're going to bring democracy to some other part of the world, how some country's leader is a dictator. These are excuses we can do reverse Robin Hood wherever we can and enrich the 1%. ..."
"... It's my duty to point out that the glaring similarities in this brand of cold war Russophobia with that of pre-WW2 anti-Comintern material coming out of Nazi Germany (or even the anti-Semitic material from the early 1900s) are no coincidence. ..."
"... Among the Nazi intelligence officers and scientists we spirited away before the Russians could get their hands on them [ Operation Paperclip ] were a few sly operators who immediately started filling our elected leaders' ears with stories of Reds under the bed. One of these reps was Senator Joe McCarthy and the rest, as they say ..."
"... American-produced historical documentaries tell it like we were united as a country in support of Stalin against Hitler. This reluctance is usually credited to not wanting to get into another bloodbath like WW1 but let's be straight- about half the country (proto-deplorables?) wanted nothing to do with helping the commies beat the Nazis and actually thought the Germans weren't the bad guys. Anti-communism, big brother to anti-unionism and first cousin to anti-Semitism, was all the rage before we helped Uncle Joe beat Hitler, making it all the easier to revive after the war was over and it looked like the only threat to US world domination was a war-weakened Soviet Union. ..."
"... A few years ago, with the advent of internet freeness, I'd added MJ ..."
"... It is sensible but really too polite to say that NATO expanded because "that is what bureaucracies do and it became a way for U.S. presidents to show their 'toughness.'" To expand a bureaucracy by subversion of Ukraine and false reports of Russian aggression, to show toughness by aggression rather than defense, requires the mad power grasping of tyrants in the military, the intel agencies, the NSC, the administration, Congress. and the mass media. ..."
"... They are joined in a tyranny of inventing foreign monsters, to pose falsely as protectors, and to accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty, as Aristotle warned. This is the domestic political power grab of tyrants, a far greater danger. ..."
"... Apart from NATO and a few other treaties, the US would have no constitutional power to wage foreign wars, just to repel invasions and suppress insurrections, and that is the way it should be. Any treaty becomes part of the Supreme Law of the land, and must be rigorously restricted to defense, with provisions for international resolution of conflicts. NATO has been nothing but an excuse for warmongering since 1989. ..."
"... I think this is much closer to the mark than the association of the anti-russia fearmongering with sincere xenophobia. Russia is the go-to foreign enemy because there is such a huge and convenient stockpile of propaganda material lying around in stockpiles, but left unused because of the tragic and abrupt end of Cold War 1.0. And Russia is a great target because it is distant, and has a weird alphabet. Anyone who knows enough about Russia to contradict the disinformation (like by mentioning that they are not commies, but US-style authoritarian oligarchs) is suspicious ipso facto ..."
"... Both parties being pro wall street deficit and war hawks differing in perhaps degree .with the Demos supporting a more generous portion of calf's foot jelly being distributed to peasants of more varied hue as they also support privatization, more subtle tax cuts and deregulation for the rich, R2P wars, and globalization's race to the bottom. People seem to inhabit their own Plato's Cave each opposing their own particular artfully projected phantom menace. ..."
"... Brilliant, as Ames usually is. Especially the point that this is a manifestation of consistent anti-left sentiment within the establishment whether R or D. The confounding of Putin's Russia with some imagined communist threat always amazes me. D's got to keep up the hippie-punching at all times though! ..."
"... The Russophobia is stuck on an endless loop. I wish they'd at least come up with new lies or some fresh enemy for us all to fear. ..."
"... Without defending Trump, it is wrong of the Dems to push this stuff when Ukrainians helped Clinton's campaign and Clinton approved Uranium One getting 20% of US uranium when they gave $100 million to the Foundation. ..."
Jun 03, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here. Originally published at The eXiled

Mother Jones recently announced it's "redoubling our Russia reporting"-in the words of editor Clara Jeffery. Ain't that rich. What passes for "Russia reporting" at Mother Jones is mostly just glorified InfoWars paranoia for progressive marks - a cataract of xenophobic conspiracy theories about inscrutable Russian barbarians hellbent on subverting our way of life, spreading chaos, destroying freedom & democracy & tolerance wherever they once flourished. . . . because they hate us, because we're free.

Western reporting on Russia has always been garbage, But the so-called "Russia reporting" of the last year has taken the usual malpractice to unimagined depths - whether it's from Mother Jones or MSNBC, or the Washington Post or Resistance hero Louise Mensch.

But of all the liberal media, Mother Jones should be most ashamed for fueling the moral panic about Russian "disinformation". It wasn't too long ago that the Reagan Right attacked Mother Jones for spreading "Kremlin disinformation" and subverting America. There were threats and leaks to the media about a possible Senate investigation into Mother Jones serving as a Kremlin disinformation dupe, a threat that hung over the magazine throughout the early Reagan years. A new Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism (SST for short) was set up in 1981 to investigate Kremlin "disinformation" and "active measures" in America, and the American "dupes" who helped Moscow subvert our way of life. That subcommittee was created to harass and repress leftist anti-imperial dissent in America, using "terrorism" as the main threat, and "disinformation" as terrorism's fellow traveller. The way the the SST committee put it, "terrorism" and "Kremlin disinformation" were one and the same, a meta-conspiracy run out of Moscow to weaken America.

And Mother Jones was one of the first American media outlets in the SST committee's sites.

Adam Hochschild, the founding editor of Mother Jones (and author of some great books including King Leopold's Ghost), responded publicly to the threats coming out of the Senate in the early Reagan years. In a New York Times op-ed published in late 1981, "Dis-(Mis-?)Information", Hochschild wrote about a Republican Senate mailer sent out to 290 radio stations that accused Mother Jones of being Kremlin disinformation dupes. The mailer, on Senate letterhead, featured a tape recording of an interview between the chairman of the SST subcommittee, Sen. Jeremiah Denton of Alabama, and a committee witness- a "disinformation expert" named Arnaud de Borchgrave, author of a bestselling spy novel called "The Spike" - about a fictional Kremlin plot to subvert the West with disinformation, and thereby rule the world.

Here's how Hochschild described the Republican Senate mailer in his NYTimes piece:

"In it, the writer Arnaud de Borchgrave accuses Mother Jones, the Village Voice, the Soho News, the Progressive magazine of serving as disseminators of K.G.B. 'disinformation' – the planting of false or misleading items in news media. "Mr. de Borchgrave provided no specific examples of facts or articles. But, then, the trouble with the K.G.B. is that you don't know what disinformation it is feeding you because you don't know who its myriad agents are. So the only safe thing is to distrust any author or magazine too critical of the United States. Because anyone who is against, say, the MX or the B-1 bomber could be working for the Russians."

Here, the Mother Jones founder describes the menacing logic of pursuing the "Kremlin disinformation" conspiracy: any American critical of US military power, police power, corporate power, overseas power . . . anyone critical of anything that powerful Americans do, is a Kremlin disinformation dupe whether they know it or not. That leaves only the appointed accusers to decide who is and who isn't a Kremlin agent.

Hochschild called this panic over Kremlin disinformation another "Red Scare", warning,

"[T]o accuse critical American journalists of serving as its unwitting dupes makes as little sense as Russians accusing rebellious Poles of being unwitting agents of American imperialism. When Mr. de Borchgrave accuses skeptical journalists of being unwitting purveyors of disinformation, the accusation is more slippery, less easy to definitively disprove, and less subject to libel law than if he were to accuse them of being conscious Communist agents.

" Although if you believe the K.G.B. is successfully infiltrating America's news media, then anything must seem possible."

It's a damn shame today's editorial staff at Mother Jones aren't aware of their own magazine's history.

Then again, who am I fooling? Mother Jones wouldn't care if you shoved their faces in their own recent history - they're way too donor-deep invested in pushing this "active measures" conspiracy. Trump has been a goldmine of donor cash for anyone willing to carry the #Resistance water.

PutinTrump was a project set up last fall by tech plutocrat Rob Glaser, CEO and founder of RealNetworks, to scare voters into believing that voting for Trump is treason. God knows I can't stand Trump or his politics, but of all the inane campaign ideas to run on - this?

One would've thought that the smart people would learn their lesson from the election, that running against a Kremlin conspiracy theory is a loser. But instead, they seem to think the problem is they didn't fear-monger enough, so they're "redoubling" on the Russophobia. Donor money is driving this - donor cash is quite literally driving Mother Jones' editorial focus. And it really is this crude.

Take for example a PutinTrump section titled "Russian Expansion" - the scary Red imagery and language are lifted straight out of the Reagan Cold War playbook from the early-mid 80s, when, it so happens, Mother Jones was targeted as a Kremlin dupe. Featuring a lot of shadowy red-colored alien soldiers over an outline of Crimea, Mother Jones' donor-partner promotes a classic Cold War propaganda line about Russian/Soviet expansionism-a lie that has been the basis for so many wars launched to "stop" this alleged "expansionism" in the past, wars that Mother Jones is supposed to oppose. Here's what MJ's partner writes now:

RUSSIAN EXPANSION

Through unknowing manipulation, or by direct support, Trump will become an accessory to the continual expansionism committed by Putin. Might does not equal right-and it never has for Americans-but Putin's Russia plays by different rules. Or maybe no rules at all.

The communist/leftist imagery is there for a reason. In case you haven't noticed, Clinton supporters have waged a crude PR campaign to blame their candidate's loss on leftists, whom they equate with neo-Nazis and Trump. I've been smeared as "alt-left" by a Vanity Fair columnist, who equated me with Breitbart and other far-right journalists, for the crime of not sufficiently supporting Hillary Clinton. The larger goal of this crude PR effort is to equate opposition to Hillary Clinton with treason and Nazism. Which was exactly the goal of Reagan's "Kremlin disinformation" hysteria - the whole point was to smear critics of Reagan and his right-wing politics as pro-Kremlin traitors, whether they knew it or not.

* * *

What's kind of shocking to me as someone who was alive in the Reagan scare is how unoriginal this current one is. Even the words and the terminology are plagiarized from the Reagan Right witch-hunting campaign - "Kremlin active measures"; "Kremlin disinformation"; "Kremlin dupes" - terms introduced by right-wing novelists and intelligence hucksters, and repeated ad nauseam until they transformed into something plausible, giving quasi-academic cover to some very old-fashioned state repression, harassment, surveillance . . . and a lot of ruined lives. That's what happened last time, and if history is any guide, it's how this one will end up too.

Today we're supposed to remember how cheerful and optimistic the Reagan Era was. But that's now how I remember it, it's not how it looked to Mother Jones at the time - and it's not how it looks when you go back through the original source material again and relive it. The Reagan Era kicked off with a lot of dark fear-mongering about the Kremlin using disinformation and active measures to destroy our way of life. Everything that the conservative Establishment loathed about 1970s - defeat in Vietnam, Church Committee hearings gutting the CIA and FBI, the cult of Woodward & Bernstein & Hersh, peace marchers, minority rights radicals - was an "active measures" treason conspiracy.

As soon as the new Republican majority in the Senate took power in 1981, they set up a new subcommittee to investigate Kremlin disinformation dupes, called the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism. Staffers leaked to the media they intended to investigate Mother Jones. Panic spread across the progressive media world, and suddenly all those cool Ivy League kids who invested everything in becoming the next Woodward-Bernsteins - the cultural heroes at the time - got scared. The image at the top of this article comes from a lead article in Columbia University's student newspaper, the Spectator, published a few weeks after Reagan took office, on SST committee's assault on Mother Jones. The headline read: The New McCarthyism / Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been and the the full-page article begins, If you subscribe to Mother Jones, give money to the American Civil Liberties Union, or support the Institute for Policy Studies, Senator Jeremiah Denton's new Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism may be interested in you.

It describes how in the 1970s Americans finally got rid of HUAC and the Senate Internal Security Committee, the Red Scare witch-hunting Congressional committees - only to have them revived one election cycle later in the Reagan Revolution.

By the end of Reagan's first year in office, there was still no formal investigation into Mother Jones, but the harassment was there and it wasn't subtle at all - such as the Republican Senate mailer accusing the magazine of being KGB disinformation dupes. At the end of 1981, MJ editor/founder Adam Hochschild announced he was stepping aside, and in his final note to readers and the public, he wrote:

To Senator Jeremiah Denton, chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism: If your committee investigates Mother Jones, a plan hinted at some months ago, I demand to be subpoenaed. I would not want to miss telling off today's new McCarthyites.

So here we are a few decades later, and Mother Jones' editor Clara Jeffery is denouncing WikiLeaks - yesterday's journalism stars, today's traitors - as "Russia['s] willing dupes and propagandists" while Mother Jones magazine turned itself into a mouthpiece for America's spies peddling the same warmed-over conspiracy theories that once targeted Mother Jones.

* * *

Jeremiah Denton - the New Right senator from Alabama who led the SST committee investigation into Kremlin "disinformation" and its dupes like Mother Jones - believed that America was being weakened from within and had only a few years left at most to turn it around. As Denton saw it, the two most dangerous threats to America's survival were a) hippie sex, and b) Kremlin disinformation. The two were inseparable in his mind, linked to the larger "global terrorism" plot masterminded by Moscow.

To fight hippie sex and teen promiscuity, the freshman senator introduced a "Chastity Bill" funding federal programs that promoted the joys of chastity to Americans armies of bored, teen suburban long-hairs. A lot of clever people laughed at that, because at the time the belief in linear historical progress was strong, and this represented something so atavistic that it was like a curiosity more than anything - Pauly Shore's "Alabama Man" unfrozen after 10,000 years and unleashed on the halls of Congress.

Less funny were Denton's calls for death penalty for adulterers, and laws he pushed restricting women's right to abortion.

Jeremiah Denton was once a big name in this country. Americans have since forgotten Denton, because John McCain pretty much stole his act. But back in the 70s and early 80s, Denton was America's most famous Vietnam War hero/POW. Like McCain, Denton was a Navy pilot shot down over Vietnam and taken prisoner. Denton spent 1965-1973 in North Vietnamese POW camps-two years longer than McCain-and he was America's most famous POW. His most famous moment was when his North Vietnamese captors hauled him before the cameras to acknowledge his crimes, and instead Denton famously blinked out a Morse code message: "T-O-R-T-U-R-E".

In the 1973 POW exchange deal between Hanoi and Nixon, "Operation Homecoming," it was Denton who was the first American POW to come off the plane and speak to the American tv crews (McCain was on the same flight, but not nearly as prominent as Denton). I keep referring back to McCain here because not only were they both famous Navy pilot POWs, but they both wind up becoming the most pathologically obsessive Russophobes in the Senate. Just a few days ago, McCain said that Russia is a bigger threat to America than Islamic State. Something real bad must've happened in those Hanoi Hiltons, worse than anything they told us about, because those guys really, really hate Russians - and they reallywant the rest of us to hate Russians too.

Everything they loathed about America, everything that was wrong with America, had to be the fault of a hostile alien culture. There was no other explanation for what happened in the 1970s. The America that Denton came home to in 1973 was under some kind of hostile power, an alien-controlled replica of the America he last saw in 1965. Popular morality had been turned on its head: Hollywood blockbusters with bare naked bodies and gutter language! Children against their parents! Homosexuals on waterskis! Sex and treason! Patriots were the enemy, while America-haters were heroes! Denton re-appeared like some reactionary Rip Van Winkle who went to sleep in the safe feather-bed world of J Edgar Hoover's America - only to wake up eight years later on Bernadine Dohrn's futon, soaked in Bill Ayers' bodily fluids. For Denton, the post-60s cultural shock came on all at once - as sudden and as jarring as, well, the shock so many Blue State Americans experienced when Donald Trump won the election last November.

Sex, immorality & military defeat-these were inseparable in Denton's mind, and in a lot of reactionaries' minds. Attributing all of America's social convulsions of the previous 15 years to immorality and a Kremlin disinformation plot was a neat way of avoiding the complex and painful realities - then, as now.

"No nation can survive long unless it can encourage its young to withhold indulgence in their sexual appetites until marriage." - Jeremiah Denton

What hit Denton hardest was all the hippie sex and the pop culture glorification of hippie sex. It's hard to convey just how deeply all that smug hippie sex wounded tens of millions of Americans. It's a hate wound that's still raw, still burns to the touch. A wound that fueled so much reactionary political fire over the past 50 years, and it doesn't look like it'll burn out any time soon.

Back in 1980, Denton blamed all that pop culture sex on Russian active measures, and he did his best to not just outlaw it, but to demonize sex as something along the lines of treason.

Just as so many people today cannot accept the idea that Trumpism is Made In America-so Denton and his Reagan Right constituents believed there had to be some alien force to explain why Americans had changed so drastically, seeming to adopt values that were the antithesis of Middle America's values in 1965. It had to be the fault of an alien voodoo beam! It had to be a Russian plot!

And so, therefore, it was a Russian plot.

A 1981 Time magazine profile of the freshman Senator begins, Denton believes that America is being destroyed by sexual immorality and Soviet-sponsored political 'disinformation'-and that both are being promoted by dupes, or worse, in the media. By the mid-1980s, he warns, "we will have less national security than we had proportionately when George Washington's troops were walking around barefoot at Valley Forge."

Sexual immorality -- it's a common theme in all the Russia panics of the past 100 years-whether the sexually liberated Emma Goldmans of the Red Scare, the homosexual-panic of the McCarthy witch-hunts, the hippie orgies of Denton's nightmares, or Trump's supposed golden shower fetish with immoral Russian prostitutes in our current panic. . . .

To fight the Kremlin disinformation demons, Denton set up the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism (SST), with two other young Republican senators-Orrin Hatch, who's still haunting Capitol Hill today; and John East of North Carolina, a Jesse Helms protege who later did his country a great service by committing suicide in his North Carolina garage, before the end of his first term in office in 1986.

Sen. East's staffers leaned Nazi-ward, like their boss. One Sen. East staffer was Samuel Francis - now famous as the godfather of the alt-Right, but who in 1981 was known as the guru behind the Senate's "Russia disinformation" witch hunt. Funny how that works - today's #Resistance takes its core idea, that America is under the control of hostile Kremlin disinformation sorcerers - is culturally appropriated from the alt-Right's guru.

Another staffer for Sen. East was John Rees, one of the most loathsome professional snitches of the post-McCarthy era, who collected files on suspected leftists, labor activists and liberal donors. I'll have to save John Rees for another post - he really belongs in a category by himself, proof of Schopenhauer's maxim that this world is run by demons.

These were the people who first cooked up the "disinformation" panic. You can't separate the Sam Francises, Orrin Hatches, John Easts et al from today's panic-mongering over disinformation - you can only try to make sense of why, what is it about our culture's ruling factions that brings them together on this sort of xenophobic witch-hunt, even when they see themselves as so diametrically opposed on so many other issues. I don't think this is something as simple as hypocrisy - it's actually quite consistent: Establishment faction wakes up to a world it doesn't recognize and loathes and feels threatened by, and blames it not on themselves or anything domestic, but rather on the most plausible alien conspiracy they can reach for: Russian barbarians. Anti-Russian xenophobia is burned into the Establishment culture's DNA; it's a xenophobia that both dominant factions, liberal or conservative, view as an acceptable xenophobia. When poorer "white working class" Americans feel threatened and panic, their xenophobia tends to be aimed at other ethnics - Latinos and Muslims these days - a xenophobia that the Establishment views as completely immoral and unacceptable, completely beyond the pale. The thought never occurs to them that perhaps all forms of xenophobia are bad, all bring with them a lot of violence and danger, it just depends on who's threatened and who's doing the threatening

The subversion scare and moral panic were crucial in resetting the culture for the Reagan counter-revolution. Those who opposed Reagan's plans, domestically and overseas, would be labeled "dupes" of Kremlin "active measures" and "disinformation" conspiracies, acting on behalf of Moscow whether they knew it or not. The panic incubated in Denton's subcommittee investigations provided political cover for vast new powers given to the CIA, FBI, NSA and other spy and police agencies to spy on Americans. Fighting Russian "active measures" grew over the years into a massive surveillance program against Americans, particularly anyone involved in opposing Reagan's dirty wars in Central America, anyone opposing nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, and anyone involved in providing sanctuary to refugees from south of the border. The "active measures" panic even led to FBI secret investigations into liberal members of Congress, some of whom wound up in a secret "FBI terrorist photo album".

I'll get to that "FBI Terrorist Photo Album" story later. There's a lot of recent "Kremlin disinformation" history to recover, since it seems every last memory cell has been zapped out of existence.

After Reagan's inauguration (the most expensive, lavish inauguration ball in White House history), Senator Denton sent a chill through the liberal and independent media world with all the talk coming out of his committee about targeting activists, civil rights lawyers and journalists. Denton tried to come off as reasonable some of the times; other times, he came right out and said it: "disinformation" is terrorism: When I speak of a threat, I do not just mean that an organization is, or is about to be, engaged in violent criminal activity. I believe many share the view that support groups that produce propaganda, disinformation or legal assistance may be even more dangerous than those who actually throw the bombs.

Congratulations Mother Jones, you've come a long way, baby! Next post, I'll recover some of the early committee hearings, and the rightwing hucksters, creeps and spooks who fed Denton's committee.

glmmph , June 3, 2017 at 7:00 am

I think that John McCain may well be correct, if for the wrong reasons. 'Russia is a bigger threat to America than Islamic State.' is almost certainly true. If one insists, as the US has done, on standing at the border of the bears lair and poking it with a very short stick, then there may well be consequences. On the other hand, Islamic State is no threat to the US in any way, shape or form.

Disturbed Voter , June 3, 2017 at 7:23 am

This is now, that was then. There is no comparison. The Cold War is over, so now the US can reveal its truly feral nature. It seems both parties are struggling to bring back the 1960s with Cold War 2.0. We need to pull out of the Middle East, and invade Vietnam, again ;-( And yes, probably even back then, Mother Jones was controlled opposition. They just don't bother hiding it anymore.

John Zelnicker , June 3, 2017 at 3:18 pm

@Disturbed Voter – Dontcha know. We just signed deals with Viet Nam that will bring "billions of dollars" to the U.S. Trump said so last week after meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister, so it must be true. They're safe for now. :-)

witters , June 3, 2017 at 7:29 am

"Might does not equal right-and it never has for Americans-" Is there a Darwin Award for this?

Disturbed Voter , June 3, 2017 at 9:30 am

American slogan Violence R Us. Not judging, just being honest. We were no more interested in the common good of the Vietnamese back then, any more than we are interested in the common good of the Syrians today.

oh , June 3, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Our nation worries about other countries' problems but we never care about ours! It's always 'Russia this, Russia that', how we're going to bring democracy to some other part of the world, how some country's leader is a dictator. These are excuses we can do reverse Robin Hood wherever we can and enrich the 1%.

Magazines (tabloids) and (fake)news organization are cheer leaders to this effort because they cash in on the chant du jour.

Baby Gerald , June 3, 2017 at 8:16 am

Thank you so much for exposing in such great detail the hypocrisy regarding MJ s recent neo-Red Scare leanings. If only the editorial staff at dear MJ would educate themselves not only about their own organization's history, but history in general, they might avoid looking like complete fools and enemies to their own institution's founding principles when we collectively reminisce on this bizarre era at some point in the future.

It's my duty to point out that the glaring similarities in this brand of cold war Russophobia with that of pre-WW2 anti-Comintern material coming out of Nazi Germany (or even the anti-Semitic material from the early 1900s) are no coincidence.

Among the Nazi intelligence officers and scientists we spirited away before the Russians could get their hands on them [ Operation Paperclip ] were a few sly operators who immediately started filling our elected leaders' ears with stories of Reds under the bed. One of these reps was Senator Joe McCarthy and the rest, as they say

American-produced historical documentaries tell it like we were united as a country in support of Stalin against Hitler. This reluctance is usually credited to not wanting to get into another bloodbath like WW1 but let's be straight- about half the country (proto-deplorables?) wanted nothing to do with helping the commies beat the Nazis and actually thought the Germans weren't the bad guys. Anti-communism, big brother to anti-unionism and first cousin to anti-Semitism, was all the rage before we helped Uncle Joe beat Hitler, making it all the easier to revive after the war was over and it looked like the only threat to US world domination was a war-weakened Soviet Union.

As a kid in the 80s I remember MJ being singled out as a leftist commie rag by Reaganites of the day. Through college this was about all I knew about the magazine– as an epithet for what hippie commie liberals read before trying to ruin our country. Despite it leaning to my political inclinations, I never paid it any attention.

A few years ago, with the advent of internet freeness, I'd added MJ to my news stream. Once Sanders- then later Trump- started looking like an actual threat to the Clinton campaign, their headlines started turning snippy and trite toward her opposition. I turned them off my feed last year, so the only exposure to their drivel is thanks to the links here at NC . Now with the advent of twitter, their staff have taken the extra step of proving how twisted their personal Russophobian views really are. Between just Corn and Jeffery, there's enough material to make any McCarthyite proud.*

[* – I was going to close with ' and make Adam Hochschild roll in his grave' but then I googled him and discovered that he's still alive. Wonder what he thinks about this current turn at the magazine he co-founded?]

Damson , June 3, 2017 at 8:40 am

Reposting a comment that IMV, snapshots the reality of Russophobia far better than Ames (it was in response to a Ray McGovern article on Trump's visit to NATO HQ) :

"Ray has written well to the general audience, bridging the information gap for those heavily propagandized. He has properly shown the expansion of NATO as an act of calculated betrayal, a policy of aggression in the face of zero threat.

It is sensible but really too polite to say that NATO expanded because "that is what bureaucracies do and it became a way for U.S. presidents to show their 'toughness.'" To expand a bureaucracy by subversion of Ukraine and false reports of Russian aggression, to show toughness by aggression rather than defense, requires the mad power grasping of tyrants in the military, the intel agencies, the NSC, the administration, Congress. and the mass media.

They are joined in a tyranny of inventing foreign monsters, to pose falsely as protectors, and to accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty, as Aristotle warned. This is the domestic political power grab of tyrants, a far greater danger.

Tyranny is a subculture, a groupthink of bullies who tyrannize each other and compete for the most radical propositions of nonexistent foreign threats. They fully well know that they are lying to the people of the United States to serve a personal and factional agenda that involves the murder of millions of innocents, the diversion of a very large fraction of their own and other nations' budgets from essential needs, and they have not an ounce of humanity or moral restraint among them. Those who waver are cast aside, and the worst of the bullies rise to the top. This is why the nation's founders opposed a standing military, and they were right.

Apart from NATO and a few other treaties, the US would have no constitutional power to wage foreign wars, just to repel invasions and suppress insurrections, and that is the way it should be. Any treaty becomes part of the Supreme Law of the land, and must be rigorously restricted to defense, with provisions for international resolution of conflicts. NATO has been nothing but an excuse for warmongering since 1989.

Let us hope that Trump pulls the plug on NATO interventionism, accidentally or otherwise. The Dem leaders have now joined the Reps in their love of bribes for genocide, but at the least the Reps still don't like paying for it. Perhaps the last duopoly imitation of civilization."

nowhere , June 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

Hmm "but at the least the Reps still don't like paying for it." I strongly disagree. War is the only thing Rs don't mind openly supporting.

Ptolemy Philopater , June 3, 2017 at 3:15 pm

One can not repeat often enough: War Crimes Tribunals! How to disincentivize the madness.

Skip Intro , June 4, 2017 at 2:14 am

I think this is much closer to the mark than the association of the anti-russia fearmongering with sincere xenophobia. Russia is the go-to foreign enemy because there is such a huge and convenient stockpile of propaganda material lying around in stockpiles, but left unused because of the tragic and abrupt end of Cold War 1.0. And Russia is a great target because it is distant, and has a weird alphabet. Anyone who knows enough about Russia to contradict the disinformation (like by mentioning that they are not commies, but US-style authoritarian oligarchs) is suspicious ipso facto .

Mary Wehrhein , June 3, 2017 at 9:40 am

Having lived in Kansas for 60 some years which is the poster-child for trickle-down necromancy and a land heavily infused with rural, German-Catholic sensibilities, I can vouch for the deeply felt attitudes towards sex as a primary issue. "Family Values" being the code word for the whole sex and reproductive moral prism.

Like Cuba with its 50s autos, the conservatives have never given up their 60s conception of the Democrats as the party of free love, peace-nicks (soft on commies hard on guns) and tax and spend bleeding hearts coddling dependent malingerers.

The GOP here campaigns against a democrat party that no longer exists (if it ever did). They seem oblivious to the fact that the democrats have become the moderate republicans of yore. Both parties being pro wall street deficit and war hawks differing in perhaps degree .with the Demos supporting a more generous portion of calf's foot jelly being distributed to peasants of more varied hue as they also support privatization, more subtle tax cuts and deregulation for the rich, R2P wars, and globalization's race to the bottom. People seem to inhabit their own Plato's Cave each opposing their own particular artfully projected phantom menace.

GERMO , June 3, 2017 at 9:42 am

Brilliant, as Ames usually is. Especially the point that this is a manifestation of consistent anti-left sentiment within the establishment whether R or D. The confounding of Putin's Russia with some imagined communist threat always amazes me. D's got to keep up the hippie-punching at all times though!

Pespi , June 3, 2017 at 10:33 am

This is a great piece. The Russophobia is stuck on an endless loop. I wish they'd at least come up with new lies or some fresh enemy for us all to fear. Tell me about why South African dupes are causing all the problems in society, tell me that the people of the Maldives each own a nuclear capable artillery piece and are burning American flags.

Susan the other , June 3, 2017 at 11:25 am

Thanks for this post down memory lane. I assumed MJ was liberal. And Jane Fonda was a conservative. And by 1981 I was completely confused about where the media stood on any given issue. And now finally the mask is coming off and we can see (Phillip K. Dick style) that left is right and right is left. And we are all fascists. Will the real Atilla please stand up? #Resistance is a little over the top and so is putintrump. But what looks like actual progress is the fact that Bernie was not completely destroyed by the state paranoia. There has to be a certain bed-rock decency that can rise above this eternal crap. Just a note of interest on the young Orrin Hatch being on the SST as a freshman senator. Orrin was the subject of local rumors that claimed he had been put in the senate by the mafia (some mormon-mafia connection in las vegas) and the fact that they did use entrapment with a hooker to disgrace his opponent was mafia-enough to make the story convincing. The story died out fast. But we should all remember that the mafia was involved in its own anti-commie terrorist tactics for decades.

Susan the other , June 3, 2017 at 2:28 pm

file under Too Weird: 15 minutes after I posted the above I got a call from Orrin Hatch's robo-computer inviting me to a local discussion call me paranoid.

John Zelnicker , June 3, 2017 at 2:45 pm

@Susan the other – It's not paranoia if someone really is out to get you. Or, to get all of us. Or, demonstrates that they have the ability to do so at will.

REDPILLED , June 3, 2017 at 11:39 am

Only 16% of people surveyed are very worried about climate change.

Corporate news is consumed with covering the Trump/Russia affair, but whatever the truth of all this turns out to be, it pales in significance to the real existential threat that is upon us. Largely due to a lack of coverage by corporate television news, there is a dangerous lack of public awareness of it.

Susan the other , June 3, 2017 at 11:42 am

land of the free and home of the brave you have to be brave to live in this free-for-all. Just want to pass on this killer quote from Discover Magazine: "It is sometimes argued that the illusion of free will arises from the fact that we can't adequately judge all possible moves with the result that our choices are based on imperfect or impoverished information." what a nightmare world.

mpalomar , June 3, 2017 at 9:43 pm

"It is sometimes argued that the illusion of free will arises from the fact that we can't adequately judge all possible moves with the result that our choices are based on imperfect or impoverished information."

Accepting that premise does not rule out the possibility of free will, it only suggests that our free will is likely mired in a blind stumbling, darkness of unknowing.
Hallelujah.

sunny129 , June 3, 2017 at 1:57 pm

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. George Orwell. Every one has that 'right', right or wrong! But it is your right & duty to develop 'critical' thinking to DISCERN the difference

Darn , June 4, 2017 at 4:48 am

Without defending Trump, it is wrong of the Dems to push this stuff when Ukrainians helped Clinton's campaign and Clinton approved Uranium One getting 20% of US uranium when they gave $100 million to the Foundation. The book "Shattered" says her campaign did internal polling which found Uranium One was the most damaging line to use against Clinton so she decided to get her retaliation in first and use the Russia charge at every opportunity. And on election night when they realised they had been defeated they decided to blame Russia again. What has Trump done for Russia so far? He's kept up sanctions and bombed their client state Syria. Whereas Clinton had a pattern of arms sales to Foundation donors. Prefer Clinton? Fine, but not over this.

[Sep 24, 2017] MoA - NATO's Fakenews Russia Scare Increases Defense Waste

Sep 24, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

NATO's Fakenews Russia Scare Increases Defense Waste

The military of the Russian Federation is organized in four districts - west, central, east and south. Each year one of the districts will stage a division size maneuver. 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers leave their quarters to move against imaginary adversaries. Their training is complemented by various military and civilian staffs exercises. The active part of the medium-size maneuver takes about a week and includes some live firing.

This year, like in 2009 and 2013 , the turn was on the western military district to run its quadrennial exercise. It included, as is usual in the western district, units from and within Russia's ally Belarus. The name of this regular training event is simply "West", Zapad in Russian. Zapad-2017 was publicly announced and foreign military observers were invited to watch it.

NATO and its associated media used the occasion to launch a gigantic fear- and warmongering campaign against the Russian Federation. Over months hundreds of news pieces were weaved around dark murmurs from various NATO officials and "experts". Examples:

The Zapad 2017 maneuvers ended yesterday. They were exactly what Russia and Belarus had announced - a regular, medium-size training event with no special intent or effect.

NATO and its various spokesperson had done what they like to accuse Russia of. They created fakenews about the maneuver based on nothing but hot air:

Zapad-2017 concluded earlier this week, by which time it had seriously fizzled out, in Western media terms at least.
...
And the Russians are enjoying a rare last laugh. They point out, with some justification, that their numbers were accurate, there was no dissembling, international borders were respected. All the Russian troops introduced into neighbouring Belarus for the exercise are going home, too. After all the Western accusations that Russia has been waging an information war with the help of "fake news", who is disseminating "fake news" now, they ask. Is this not further evidence that Western opinion formers are stuck in the rut of Cold War stereotypes? They have a point.

The Western "opinion formers" have, of course, reason to hype everything their selected boogeyman does. That reason is greed. This year nearly all NATO countries increased their military budgets. The U.S. Senate passed a record $700 billion trough for the Pentagon with 89 to 8 votes. The more than 10% budget increase was even higher that what President Trump had requested. It broke all earlier commitments:

The $700 billion is $91 billion beyond the spending caps outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act, which demanded a "sequestration" of military spending in order to rein in federal costs.

There was no public outrage over this increase. Meanwhile Russia cut its 2018 defense budget by 25.5% down to a total of some $48 billion.

There is obviously little fear in Russia that the U.S. budget increase will effect U.S. military capabilities. The Russians are right. Most of the Pentagon budget goes to waste. The military as well as the politicians know this well. From a recent NYT piece about options against North Korean missiles:

Cont. reading: NATO's Fakenews Russia Scare Increases Defense Waste

PavewayIV | Sep 23, 2017 1:31:45 PM | 4

Russia is clearly undermining the security of the United States, and by extension Israel, by intentionally not wasting as much money on their defense as we do. This is outrageous! The UN should demand that Russia - at the very least - buy our F-35 to stabilize the balance of terror... er, power.

'Efficient defense spending' by Russia is tantamount to a declaration of war on the US. We know what you're up to Putin, and you're NOT going to get away with it!

Don Bacon | Sep 23, 2017 2:57:08 PM | 15
NATO isn't too idle when it comes to exercises. From the SHAPE [Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe] website here what follows is a list of exercises held in September and October this year. There are many more in Nov/Dec on the list.
DYNAMIC GUARD II
STEADFAST INTEREST 17 (NATO)
DYNAMIC MONARCH - L 17 (NATO)
STEADFAST PYRAMID 17 (NATO)
TRIDENT JOUST 17 (NATO)Exercise TRIDENT JOUST 2017 (TRJT17)
RAMSTEIN DUST II 17 (NATO
BRILLIANT ARROW - L 17 (NATO)
STEADFAST PINNACLE 17 (NATO)
RAMSTEIN GUARD 11 17 (NATO)
BRILLIANT LEDGER - L 17 (NATO)
LIVEX (or CPX)
BRLR17 Part 1 LIVEX
BRLR17 Part 2 CAX/CPX
VITAL SWORD I 17 (NFS Exercise)
STEADFAST FLOW 17 (NATO)
BRILLIANT SWORD 17 (NATO)
CMX 17 (NATO)
BRILLIANT MARINER - L 17 (NATO)
DYNAMIC BONUS 17-2 (NATO)
RS TE 4 (Resolute Support Training Event 4) 17 (NATO)
RAMSTEIN GUARD 12 17 (NATO)
ARRCADE FUSION 17 (NFS Exercise)
CYBER COALITION 17 (NATO)
TRIDENT JAVELIN 17 (NATO)
WG | Sep 23, 2017 4:16:58 PM | 17
@Harry

I'm glad to see they're essentially holding it steady. It's interesting looking at the article b posted a link to, it quotes a 3 year defence spending plan released October 2016 when it states the proposed large reduction. I think that might have been Russia trying to give the candidates the opportunity to suggest US defence budget cuts.
Fast forward 11 months and you have the US raising defence spending and now Russia is reverting to essentially holding spending steady (when you quote the newer article you link to).

Grieved | Sep 23, 2017 4:28:00 PM | 18
@ b

If the NYT could only hear its own logic, in your quoted article - "If the American antimissile systems missed...it would undercut confidence in an infrastructure the United States has spent $300 billion..."

In other words, We don't dare test it because it may not work. And it's a system intended exactly for the purpose of working, and for no other purpose.

The smart engineering managers push aggressively for a new design to fail as early in its development as possible. As Google (yes, I know, but their IT has always been groundbreaking) always said, better to spend $20 million and scrap an idea entirely than to invest a billion in something that's going to give problems.

I have a suspicion the Russians operate the same way - although their particular thing seems to be to build well to begin with, and constantly add improvements over time. They seem to love to tinker. And the Saker said once that the Russians love their weapons. They love to build as many different types of weapon as they can think of.

~~

I read somewhere an analysis of the Russian budget cut that explained how this was not going to result in lowered performance anywhere in the RF military. It may have been Mercouris at the Duran, who is good with this kind of demystifying.

The difference lay, as I recall, in the fact that the military budget had already been under a bit of supercharging for the last few years, and was now easing back to normal. In other words, a budget reduction speaks of past success rather than future failure.

I think we're accustomed to thinking that a budget cut is punishment or will reduce services. In RF it's just an annual allocation of money according to plan. And the MIC is run by soldiers - all materiel and weaponry is designed to meet the specifications of soldiers. In the US the designers lead the process and the soldiers have to take what results.

Anyone who wonders can rest assured that Russia is not going to let its military capabilities plummet.

Piotr Berman | Sep 23, 2017 4:29:22 PM | 19
"The only possible but not guaranteed way to shoot down ICBM is to be located very near the launch site, but even that approach fails for nuke subs."

Another problem is that the Eurasia is big. From Wiki: the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility (or "EPIA") 46°17′N 86°40′E, in China's Xinjiang region near the Kazakhstan border. Calculations have commonly suggested that this point, located in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert, is 2,645 km (1,644 miles) from the nearest coastline. Russia had a lot of places that are more than 2000 km from the sea, and the nearby sea is the Arctic Ocean, so the interceptors would need to be stationed under ice and close to Russian observators. So it is like intercepting Atlantic submarine launched missiles from Wyoming.

Jackrabbit | Sep 23, 2017 4:54:54 PM | 23
MSM pushes paranoia and lust.

The resulting mindset is ridiculously easy for sociopaths to manipulate.

[Sep 24, 2017] Trump allies see vindication in reports on Manafort wiretapping

Obama did spied on his political opponents... He really was a well connected to intelligence agencies wolf in sheep's clothing.
Sep 24, 2017 | www.msn.com

For some of President Trump's staunchest allies, reports that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was under U.S. surveillance are nothing short of vindication of the president's widely-dismissed claims that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

... ... ...

Longtime advisor Roger Stone has gleefully circulated a segment from Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News in which the host says "all those patronizing assurances that nobody is spying on political campaigns were false" and "it looks like Trump's tweet may have been right."

... ... ...

A spokesperson for Manafort, Jason Maloni, has characterized the court orders as an abuse of power by the Obama administration, which he says wanted to spy on a political opponent.

"It's unclear if Paul Manafort was the objective," Maloni told The Journal. "Perhaps the real objective was Donald Trump."

Surveillance experts are skeptical of that suggestion. For one thing, it is illegal for investigators to "reverse target" a U.S. person by spying on a person with whom they know their true target to be in communication.

If the president were in fact the oblique target of government surveillance - either as a candidate or as the president-elect - both Eddington and Shedd say, it would have been so explosive that it would have almost certainly been leaked to the press.

... ... ...

The disclosure of the warrants targeting Manafort have drawn legitimate scrutiny as a violation of Manafort's civil liberties and a possible criminal leak - the mere existence of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, warrant is classified.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who first raised alarm about the practice of "unmasking" the names of Americans caught up in government surveillance, is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly exposing classified information when he disclosed his findings to reporters.

[Sep 23, 2017] North Korea: The poorest advanced economy in the World.

Sep 23, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Amanita Amanita | Sep 23, 2017 7:49:12 PM | 36

North Korea: The poorest advanced economy in the World.

http://www.38north.org/2017/09/jbaron090717/

nonsense factory | Sep 23, 2017 8:12:14 PM | 37
@Kalen 12,
I think b is correct when he says: The U.S. military is too afraid to use its $300 billion missile defense boondoggle because that would prove that it is one gigantic scam.

It's not just that advanced countermeasures can defeat the system, it's that even a single ballistic missile without any tricks would be hard to shoot down at best. See this for example, from a writer who generally promotes U.S. military technology, noting there's a very high probability they'd have missed if they tried to shoot down a North Korean test. . .
https://arstechnica.com. . . -us-have-shot-it-down/

Missing a shot at a missile just passing over Japan could have far-reaching political implications, as it would suggest that anti-ballistic missile systems are incapable of protecting people in South Korea, Japan, or Guam.

For more evidence that the system is completely over-hyped, see this:

The US has tested the interceptor system 19 times since 1999, succeeding about half the time. The most recent test, three years ago, marked another success, but three prior attempts fizzled. That kind of success rate is troubling, given the meticulously managed conditions. "These tests are scripted for success," says Philip Coyle, senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and former head of the Pentagon's test and evaluation office. "What's been surprising to me as that they have failed as often as they have in spite of that."
Those failures are all with single standard ballistic missiles, without any add-ons, lined up under optimal conditions and optimal trajectories, with advance warning - and they still fail a lot of the time. That sure looks like a massive scam/cash cow.
Kalen | Sep 23, 2017 8:33:00 PM | 38
@37
NK also would use decoys if they decide to retaliate, low efficiency of interception you pointed out will be even worse than half hits in controlled tests, may be one in ten or less in operational circumstances.

In other words Anti Missile Systems are useless against ICBMs except for narrow circumstances of none nuke ICBMs.

Grieved | Sep 23, 2017 8:54:04 PM | 39
@36 Amanita Amanita

Thanks for that link. Do you read that website? It was new to me: "38 North...a program of the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC." Seems at first glance like a useful clearinghouse for policy discussion, with views from all sides.

Very interesting view into North Korea, a developing country by all definitions, and yet an advanced one in terms of ability to produce capital goods, and all from sheer self-grown application. Interesting information on its agriculture and socialist system. The information seems credible.

The view points to the conclusion that extreme sanctions on NK - similar to the oil embargo on Japan that pushed it to attack the US first at Pearl Harbor - could push NK to attack the US, knowing that it couldn't "win", but doing so preemptively before it ran out of fuel to resist attack from the US.

I've seen other analysis that shows NK would have sufficient fuel regardless. And we have to factor China and Russia into this equation too. But the speaker was an economist not a geo-political analyst. It seemed like an even-handed discussion.

Perimetr | Sep 23, 2017 9:27:21 PM | 40
In other words, Finland and Sweden have both become de facto members of NATO, creating a new 833 mile long "northern front" for NATO on the Russian border.
Perimetr | Sep 23, 2017 9:30:48 PM | 41
Apparently my links to the Swedish and Finish MOUs signed with NATO were deleted. WTF? These links to the text of the agreements are hard to find. I would think that some of the readers might wish to read them?

These MOUs state:

· The HN [Host Nation, Sweden and Finland] will provide support within its fullest capacity, subject to availability and within the practical limitations of the circumstances that then exist, to the forces deployed on NATO-led military activities.
· NATO Military Activities: Military actions including exercises, training, operational experimentation and similar activities, or the carrying out of a strategic, tactical, service, training, or administrative military mission performed by forces; the process of carrying on combat, including attack, movement, supply and manoeuvres needed to gain the objectives of any battle or campaign.
· The provisions of this MOU apply in peace, emergencies, crisis and conflict or periods of international tension as may be jointly determined by the appropriate HN [Host Nation, Sweden and Finland] and NATO authorities.
· Host Nation Support (HNS). The civil and military assistance rendered in peace, emergencies, crisis and conflict by a Host Nation to allied forces and organisations, which are located on, operating in or transiting through the Host Nation's territory, territorial waters or airspace.
· NATO military activities supported by this MOU may require multinational support air operations by fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and in the case of ports, by merchant and military support vessels. The HN [Sweden and Finland] acknowledges that movement of such aircraft, helicopters, ships and their crews in and through HN [Swedish and Finnish] territorial areas, will take place under a general clearance for the duration of the NATO military activity.

It is discouraging to spend time putting together a detailed post with links and then have it immediately vanish. Would you prefer unsubstantiated opinions?

RC | Sep 23, 2017 9:34:18 PM | 42
Ironic that Reagan's "star wars" missile defense scam, successful maybe in scaring the Soviet's into bankruptcy in the 80's, is now accepted as military fact by the monkeys on Capital Hill.
daffyDuct | Sep 23, 2017 9:41:28 PM | 43
Amanita #34 and #36

Stunning articles.

The reference to 1941 I believe is in another article

# Getting Tough on North Korea: Iran and Other Mirages

http://www.38north.org/2017/09/jdethomas090117

"In July 1941, in response to the Japanese invasion of Indochina, President Roosevelt took a series of steps that look very much like the sanctions advocated by those who want to get tough on the DPRK. He froze Japanese assets and required that Japan obtain specific export licenses to obtain any US goods!including oil upon which the Japanese economy and military was dependent. Subsequently, the US government denied Japan the right to use the US dollar to purchase goods, thus making it impossible to obtain oil even if licenses were granted. Those who made the decision to take this step were confident Japan would not go to war over the sanctions, since both US and Japanese leaders knew it would be a suicidal act for Japan to do so. The Japanese military chose to gamble on an attack on the US fleet and a simultaneous invasion of South East Asian oil fields. Four years of total war in the Pacific ensued. The Japanese decision was indeed suicidal, but it cost a great deal in American blood and treasure to confirm it."

[Sep 23, 2017] The Dangerous Decline of U.S. Hegemony by Daniel Lazare

Notable quotes:
"... By Daniel Lazare September 9, 2017 ..."
"... But this is one of the good things about having a Deep State, the existence of which has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt since the intelligence community declared war on Trump last November. While it prevents Trump from reaching a reasonable modus vivendi ..."
"... If the U.S. says that Moscow's activities in the eastern Ukraine are illegitimate, then, as the world's sole remaining "hyperpower," it will see to it that Russia suffers accordingly. If China demands more of a say in Central Asia or the western Pacific, then right-thinking folks the world over will shake their heads sadly and accuse it of undermining international democracy, which is always synonymous with U.S. foreign policy. ..."
"... There is no one – no institution – that Russia or China can appeal to in such circumstances because the U.S. is also in charge of the appellate division. It is the "indispensable nation" in the immortal words of Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, because "we stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future." Given such amazing brilliance, how can any other country possibly object? ..."
"... Next to go was Mullah Omar of Afghanistan, sent packing in October 2001, followed by Slobodan Milosevic, hauled before an international tribunal in 2002; Saddam Hussein, executed in 2006, and Muammar Gaddafi, killed by a mob in 2011. For a while, the world really did seem like " Gunsmoke ," and the U.S. really did seem like Sheriff Matt Dillon. ..."
"... Although The New York Times wrote that U.S. pressure to cut off North Korean oil supplies has put China "in a tight spot," this was nothing more than whistling past the graveyard. There is no reason to think that Xi is the least bit uncomfortable. To the contrary, he is no doubt enjoying himself immensely as he watches America paint itself into yet another corner. ..."
"... Unipolarity will slink off to the sidelines while multilateralism takes center stage. Given that U.S. share of global GDP has fallen by better than 20 percent since 1989, a retreat is inevitable. America has tried to compensate by making maximum use of its military and political advantages. That would be a losing proposition even if it had the most brilliant leadership in the world. Yet it doesn't. Instead, it has a President who is an international laughingstock, a dysfunctional Congress, and a foreign-policy establishment lost in a neocon dream world. As a consequence, retreat is turning into a disorderly rout. ..."
"... The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The bigger picture behind Official Washington's hysteria over Russia, Syria and North Korea is the image of a decaying but dangerous American hegemon resisting the start of a new multipolar order, explains Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare
September 9, 2017

The showdown with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a seminal event that can only end in one of two ways: a nuclear exchange or a reconfiguration of the international order.

While complacency is always unwarranted, the first seems increasingly unlikely. As no less a global strategist than Steven Bannon observed about the possibility of a pre-emptive U.S. strike: "There's no military solution. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about. There's no military solution here. They got us."

This doesn't mean that Donald Trump, Bannon's ex-boss, couldn't still do something rash. After all, this is a man who prides himself on being unpredictable in business negotiations, as historian William R. Polk, who worked for the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis, points out . So maybe Trump thinks it would be a swell idea to go a bit nuts on the DPRK.

But this is one of the good things about having a Deep State, the existence of which has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt since the intelligence community declared war on Trump last November. While it prevents Trump from reaching a reasonable modus vivendi with Russia, it also means that the President is continually surrounded by generals, spooks, and other professionals who know the difference between real estate and nuclear war.

As ideologically fogbound as they may be, they can presumably be counted on to make sure that Trump does not plunge the world into Armageddon (named, by the way, for a Bronze Age city about 20 miles southeast of Haifa, Israel).

That leaves option number two: reconfiguration. The two people who know best about the subject are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both have been chafing for years under a new world order in which one nation gets to serve as judge, jury, and high executioner. This, of course, is the United States.

If the U.S. says that Moscow's activities in the eastern Ukraine are illegitimate, then, as the world's sole remaining "hyperpower," it will see to it that Russia suffers accordingly. If China demands more of a say in Central Asia or the western Pacific, then right-thinking folks the world over will shake their heads sadly and accuse it of undermining international democracy, which is always synonymous with U.S. foreign policy.

There is no one – no institution – that Russia or China can appeal to in such circumstances because the U.S. is also in charge of the appellate division. It is the "indispensable nation" in the immortal words of Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, because "we stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future." Given such amazing brilliance, how can any other country possibly object?

Challenging the Rule-Maker

But now that a small and beleaguered state on the Korean peninsula is outmaneuvering the United States and forcing it to back off, the U.S. no longer seems so far-sighted. If North Korea really has checkmated the U.S., as Bannon says, then other states will want to do the same. The American hegemon will be revealed as an overweight 71-year-old man naked except for his bouffant hairdo.

Not that the U.S. hasn't suffered setbacks before. To the contrary, it was forced to accept the Castro regime following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and it suffered a massive defeat in Vietnam in 1975. But this time is different. Where both East and West were expected to parry and thrust during the Cold War, giving as good as they got, the U.S., as the global hegemon, must now do everything in its power to preserve its aura of invincibility.

Since 1989, this has meant knocking over a string of "bad guys" who had the bad luck to get in its way. First to go was Manuel Noriega, toppled six weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall in an invasion that cost the lives of as many as 500 Panamanian soldiers and possibly thousands of civilians as well.

Next to go was Mullah Omar of Afghanistan, sent packing in October 2001, followed by Slobodan Milosevic, hauled before an international tribunal in 2002; Saddam Hussein, executed in 2006, and Muammar Gaddafi, killed by a mob in 2011. For a while, the world really did seem like " Gunsmoke ," and the U.S. really did seem like Sheriff Matt Dillon.

But then came a few bumps in the road. The Obama administration cheered on a Nazi-spearheaded coup d'état in Kiev in early 2014 only to watch helplessly as Putin, under intense popular pressure, responded by detaching Crimea, which historically had been part of Russia and was home to the strategic Russian naval base at Sevastopol, and bringing it back into Russia.

The U.S. had done something similar six years earlier when it encouraged Kosovo to break away from Serbia . But, in regards to Ukraine, neocons invoked the 1938 Munich betrayal and compared the Crimea case to Hitler's seizure of the Sudetenland .

Backed by Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dealt Washington another blow by driving U.S.-backed, pro-Al Qaeda forces out of East Aleppo in December 2016. Predictably, the Huffington Post compared the Syrian offensive to the fascist bombing of Guernica .

Fire and Fury

Finally, beginning in March, North Korea's Kim Jong Un entered into a game of one-upmanship with Trump, firing ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, test-firing an ICBM that might be capable of hitting California , and then exploding a hydrogen warhead roughly eight times as powerful as the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945. When Trump vowed to respond "with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before," Kim upped the ante by firing a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

As bizarre as Kim's behavior can be at times, there is method to his madness. As Putin explained during the BRICS summit with Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, the DPRK's "supreme leader" has seen how America destroyed Libya and Iraq and has therefore concluded that a nuclear delivery system is the only surefire guarantee against U.S. invasion.

"We all remember what happened with Iraq and Saddam Hussein," he said . "His children were killed, I think his grandson was shot, the whole country was destroyed and Saddam Hussein was hanged . We all know how this happened and people in North Korea remember well what happened in Iraq . They will eat grass but will not stop their nuclear program as long as they do not feel safe."

Since Kim's actions are ultimately defensive in nature, the logical solution would be for the U.S. to pull back and enter into negotiations. But Trump, desperate to save face, quickly ruled it out. "Talking is not the answer!" he tweeted . Yet the result of such bluster is only to make America seem more helpless than ever.

Although The New York Times wrote that U.S. pressure to cut off North Korean oil supplies has put China "in a tight spot," this was nothing more than whistling past the graveyard. There is no reason to think that Xi is the least bit uncomfortable. To the contrary, he is no doubt enjoying himself immensely as he watches America paint itself into yet another corner.

The U.S. Corner

If Trump backs down at this point, the U.S. standing in the region will suffer while China's will be correspondingly enhanced. On the other hand, if Trump does something rash, it will be a golden opportunity for Beijing, Moscow, or both to step in as peacemakers. Japan and South Korea will have no choice but to recognize that there are now three arbiters in the region instead of just one while other countries – the Philippines, Indonesia, and maybe even Australia and New Zealand – will have to follow suit.

Unipolarity will slink off to the sidelines while multilateralism takes center stage. Given that U.S. share of global GDP has fallen by better than 20 percent since 1989, a retreat is inevitable. America has tried to compensate by making maximum use of its military and political advantages. That would be a losing proposition even if it had the most brilliant leadership in the world. Yet it doesn't. Instead, it has a President who is an international laughingstock, a dysfunctional Congress, and a foreign-policy establishment lost in a neocon dream world. As a consequence, retreat is turning into a disorderly rout.

Assuming a mushroom cloud doesn't go up over Los Angeles, the world is going to be a very different place coming out of the Korean crisis than when it went in. Of course, if a mushroom cloud does go up, it will be even more so.

* Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

Read also: The Brazilian Coup and Washington's "Rollback" in Latin America

[Sep 23, 2017] The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate by Robert Parry

Notable quotes:
"... In response to this political pressure – at a time when Facebook is fending off possible anti-trust legislation – its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg added that he is expanding the investigation to include "additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states." ..."
"... But why stop there? If the concern is that American political campaigns are being influenced by foreign governments whose interests may diverge from what's best for America, why not look at countries that have caused the United States far more harm recently than Russia? ..."
"... After all, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Wahabbi leaders have been pulling the U.S. government into their sectarian wars with the Shiites, including conflicts in Yemen and Syria that have contributed to anti-Americanism in the region, to the growth of Al Qaeda, and to a disruptive flow of refugees into Europe. ..."
"... Although the military disaster in Iraq threw a wrench into those plans, the Israeli/neocon agenda never changed. Along with Israel's new regional ally, Saudi Arabia , a proxy war was fashioned to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ..."
"... Israel's influence over U.S. politicians is so blatant that presidential contenders queue up every year to grovel before the Israel Lobby's conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2016, Donald Trump showed up and announced that he was not there to "pander" and then pandered his pants off. ..."
"... And, if you want a historical review, throw in the British and German propaganda around the two world wars; include how the South Vietnamese government collaborated with Richard Nixon in 1968 to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson's Paris peace talks; take a serious look at the collusion between Ronald Reagan's campaign and Iran thwarting President Jimmy Carter's efforts to free 52 American hostages in Tehran in 1980; open the books on Turkey's covert investments in U.S. politicians and policymakers; and examine how authoritarian regimes of all stripes have funded important Washington think tanks and law firms. ..."
"... But the Russia-gate investigation is not about fairness and balance; it's a reckless scapegoating of a nuclear-armed country to explain away – and possibly do away with – Donald Trump's presidency. Rather than putting everything in context and applying a sense of proportion, Russia-gate is relying on wild exaggerations of factually dubious or relatively isolated incidents as an opportunistic means to a political end. ..."
"... As reckless as President Trump has been, the supposedly wise men and wise women of Washington are at least his match. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

The core absurdity of the Russia-gate frenzy is its complete lack of proportionality. Indeed, the hysteria is reminiscent of Sen. Joe McCarthy warning that "one communist in the faculty of one university is one communist too many" or Donald Trump's highlighting a few "bad hombres" raping white American women.

It's not that there were no Americans who espoused communist views at universities and elsewhere or that there are no "bad hombre" rapists; it's that these rare exceptions were used to generate a dangerous overreaction in service of a propagandistic agenda. Historically, we have seen this technique used often when demagogues seize on an isolated event and exploit it emotionally to mislead populations to war.

Today, we have The New York Times and The Washington Post repeatedly publishing front-page articles about allegations that some Russians with "links" to the Kremlin bought $100,000 in Facebook ads to promote some issues deemed hurtful to Hillary Clinton's campaign although some of the ads ran after the election.

Initially, Facebook could find no evidence of even that small effort but was pressured in May by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia. The Washington Post reported that Warner, who is spearheading the Russia-gate investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee, flew to Silicon Valley and urged Facebook executives to take another look at possible ad buys.

Facebook responded to this congressional pressure by scouring its billions of monthly users and announced that it had located 470 suspect accounts associated with ads totaling $100,000 – out of Facebook's $27 billion in annual revenue.

Here is how the Times described those findings: "Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign." (It sometimes appears that every Russian -- all 144 million of them -- is somehow "linked" to the Kremlin.)

Last week, congressional investigators urged Facebook to expand its review into "troll farms" supposedly based in Belarus, Macedonia and Estonia – although Estonia is by no means a Russian ally; it joined NATO in 2004.

"Warner and his Democratic counterpart on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, have been increasingly vocal in recent days about their frustrations with Facebook," the Post reported

Facebook Complies

So, on Thursday, Facebook succumbed to demands that it turn over to Congress copies of the ads, a move that has only justified more alarmist front-page stories about Russia! Russia! Russia!

In response to this political pressure – at a time when Facebook is fending off possible anti-trust legislation – its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg added that he is expanding the investigation to include "additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states."

So, it appears that not only are all Russians "linked" to the Kremlin, but all former Soviet states as well.

But why stop there? If the concern is that American political campaigns are being influenced by foreign governments whose interests may diverge from what's best for America, why not look at countries that have caused the United States far more harm recently than Russia?

After all, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Wahabbi leaders have been pulling the U.S. government into their sectarian wars with the Shiites, including conflicts in Yemen and Syria that have contributed to anti-Americanism in the region, to the growth of Al Qaeda, and to a disruptive flow of refugees into Europe.

And, let's not forget the 8,000-pound gorilla in the room: Israel. Does anyone think that whatever Russia may or may not have done in trying to influence U.S. politics compares even in the slightest to what Israel does all the time?

Which government used its pressure and that of its American agents (i.e., the neocons) to push the United States into the disastrous war in Iraq? It wasn't Russia, which was among the countries urging the U.S. not to invade; it was Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Indeed, the plans for "regime change" in Iraq and Syria can be traced back to the work of key American neoconservatives employed by Netanyahu's political campaign in 1996. At that time, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and other leading neocons unveiled a seminal document entitled " A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm ," which proposed casting aside negotiations with Arabs in favor of simply replacing the region's anti-Israeli governments.

However, to make that happen required drawing in the powerful U.S. military, so after the 9/11 attacks, the neocons inside President George W. Bush's administration set in motion a deception campaign to justify invading Iraq, a war which was to be followed by more "regime changes" in Syria and Iran.

A Wrench in the Plans

Although the military disaster in Iraq threw a wrench into those plans, the Israeli/neocon agenda never changed. Along with Israel's new regional ally, Saudi Arabia , a proxy war was fashioned to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren explained , the goal was to shatter the Shiite "strategic arc" running from Iran through Syria to Lebanon and Israel's Hezbollah enemies.

How smashing this Shiite "arc" was in the interests of the American people – or even within their consciousness – is never explained. But it was what Israel wanted and thus it was what the U.S. government enlisted to do, even to the point of letting sophisticated U.S. weaponry fall into the hands of Syria's Al Qaeda affiliate.

Israel's influence over U.S. politicians is so blatant that presidential contenders queue up every year to grovel before the Israel Lobby's conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2016, Donald Trump showed up and announced that he was not there to "pander" and then pandered his pants off.

And, whenever Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to show off his power, he is invited to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress at which Republicans and Democrats compete to see how many times and how quickly they can leap to their feet in standing ovations. (Netanyahu holds the record for the number of times a foreign leader has addressed joint sessions with three such appearances, tied with Winston Churchill.)

Yet, Israeli influence is so engrained in the U.S. political process that even the mention of the existence of an "Israel Lobby" brings accusations of anti-Semitism. "Israel Lobby" is a forbidden phrase in Washington.

However, pretty much whenever Israel targets a U.S. politician for defeat, that politician goes down, a muscle that Israel flexed in the early 1980s in taking out Rep. Paul Findley and Sen. Charles Percy , two moderate Republicans whose crime was to suggest talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

So, if the concern is the purity of the American democratic process and the need to protect it from outside manipulation, let's have at it. Why not a full-scale review of who is doing what and how? Does anyone think that Israel's influence over U.S. politics is limited to a few hundred Facebook accounts and $100,000 in ads?

A Historical Perspective

And, if you want a historical review, throw in the British and German propaganda around the two world wars; include how the South Vietnamese government collaborated with Richard Nixon in 1968 to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson's Paris peace talks; take a serious look at the collusion between Ronald Reagan's campaign and Iran thwarting President Jimmy Carter's efforts to free 52 American hostages in Tehran in 1980; open the books on Turkey's covert investments in U.S. politicians and policymakers; and examine how authoritarian regimes of all stripes have funded important Washington think tanks and law firms.

If such an effort were ever proposed, you would get a sense of how sensitive this topic is in Official Washington, where foreign money and its influence are rampant. There would be accusations of anti-Semitism in connection with Israel and charges of conspiracy theory even in well-documented cases of collaboration between U.S. politicians and foreign interests.

So, instead of a balanced and comprehensive assessment of this problem, the powers-that-be concentrate on the infinitesimal case of Russian "meddling" as the excuse for Hillary Clinton's shocking defeat. But the key reasons for Clinton's dismal campaign had virtually nothing to do with Russia, even if you believe all the evidence-lite accusations about Russian "meddling."

The Russians did not tell Clinton to vote for the disastrous Iraq War and play endless footsy with the neocons ; the Russians didn't advise her to set up a private server to handle her State Department emails and potentially expose classified information; the Russians didn't lure Clinton and the U.S. into the Libyan fiasco nor suggest her ghastly joke in response to Muammar Gaddafi's lynching ("We came, we saw, he died"); the Russians had nothing to do with her greedy decision to accept millions of dollars in Wall Street speaking fees and then try to keep the speech contents secret from the voters; the Russians didn't encourage her husband to become a serial philanderer and make a mockery of their marriage; nor did the Russians suggest to Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, that he send lewd photos to a teen-ager on a laptop also used by his wife, a development that led FBI Director James Comey to reopen the Clinton-email investigation just 11 days before the election; the Russians weren't responsible for Clinton's decision not to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan; the Russians didn't stop her from offering a coherent message about how she would help the struggling white working class; and on and on.

But the Russia-gate investigation is not about fairness and balance; it's a reckless scapegoating of a nuclear-armed country to explain away – and possibly do away with – Donald Trump's presidency. Rather than putting everything in context and applying a sense of proportion, Russia-gate is relying on wild exaggerations of factually dubious or relatively isolated incidents as an opportunistic means to a political end.

As reckless as President Trump has been, the supposedly wise men and wise women of Washington are at least his match.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

This article was first published by Consortium News -

[Sep 23, 2017] Welcome to 1984 Big Brother Google Now Watching Your Every Political Move

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Our willingness to place eternal faith in an earth-straddling company that oversees the largest collection of information ever assembled was doomed to end in a bitter divorce from the start. After all, each corporation, just like humans, has their own political proclivities, and Google is certainly no exception. But we aren't talking about your average car company here. ..."
"... Schmidt's grandiose vision, where there is just "one answer to every question," sounds like a chapter borrowed from Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, where omnipresent Big Brother had an ironclad grip on history, news, information, everything. In such a intensely controlled, nightmarish world, individuals - as well as entire historical events - can be 'disappeared' down the memory hole without a trace. Though we've not quite reached that bad land yet, we're plodding along in that direction. ..."
"... Just before Americans headed to the polls in last year's presidential election, WikiLeaks delivered a well-timed steaming dump, revealing that Eric Schmidt had been working with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as early as April 2014. ..."
"... The implications of the CEO of the world's most powerful company playing favorites in a presidential race are obvious, and make the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s resemble a rigged game of bingo at the local senior citizens center by comparison. Yet the dumbed-down world of American politics, which only seems to get excited when Republicans goof up, continued to turn on its wobbly axis as if nothing untold had occurred. ..."
"... Back to the 2016 campaign. Even CNN at the time was admitting that Google was Donald Trump's "biggest enemy." Indeed, not only was Schmidt apparently moonlighting for the DNC, his leftist company was actively shutting down information on the Republican front runner. At one point when Google users typed in a query for 'presidential candidates,' they got thousands of results for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Missing in action from the search results, however, was, yes, Donald Trump. ..."
"... When NBC4 reached out to Google about the issue, a spokesperson said a "technical bug" was what caused Trump to disappear into the internet ether. Now, where have we heard the word "bug" before? It is worth wondering if this is what Eric Schmidt had in mind when he expressed his vision of a "one answer" Google search future? ..."
"... The fact that Trump - in direct contradiction to what the polls had been long predicting - ended up winning by such a huge margin, there is a temptation to say the polls themselves were 'fake news,' designed to convince the US voter that a Clinton landslide victory was forthcoming. This could have been a ploy by the pollsters, many of whom are affiliated with left-leaning news corporations, by the way, for keeping opposition voters at home in the belief their vote wouldn't matter. In fact, statisticians were warning of a "systemic mainstream misinformation" in poll data favoring Clinton in the days and weeks before Election day. Yet the Leftist brigade, in cahoots with the Googlers, were busy nurturing their own fervent conspiracy theory that 'fake news' - with some help from the Russians, of course - was the reason for Hillary Clinton's devastating defeat. ..."
"... Just one month after Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, purportedly on the back of "fake news," Google quietly launched Project Owl, the goal of which was to devise a method to "demote misleading, false and offensive articles online," according to a Bloomberg report . The majority of the crackdown will be carried out by machines. Now here is where we enter the rat's nest. After all, what one news organization, or alternative news site, might consider legitimate news and information, another news group, possibly from the mainstream media, would dismiss as a conspiracy theory. And vice versa. ..."
"... With this masterly sleight of hand, did you notice what happened? We are no longer talking about the whereabouts of Clinton's estimated 33,000 deleted emails , nor are we discussing how the DNC worked behind the scenes to derail Bernie Sanders' chances at being a presidential candidate. Far worse, we are not considering the tragic fate of a young man named Seth Rich, the now-deceased DNC staffer who was gunned down in Washington, DC on July 10, 2016. Some news sites say Rich was preparing to testify against the DNC for "voter fraud," while others say that was contrived nonsense. ..."
"... "In the months since his murder, Rich has become an obsession of the far right, an unwilling martyr to a discredited cause," Newsweek commented . "On social media sites like Reddit and news outlets like World Net Daily, it is all but an article of faith that Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee, was the source who gave DNC emails to WikiLeaks, for which he was slain, presumably, by Clinton operatives. If that were to be true!and it very clearly isn't!the faithful believe it would invalidate any accusations that Donald J. Trump's campaign colluded with Russia in tilting the election toward him." ..."
"... Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? ..."
"... Unsurprisingly, Mr. Pichai and his increasingly Orwellian company already stand accused of censorship, following the outrageous decision to bar former Congressman Ron Paul and his online news program, Liberty Report, from receiving advertising revenue for a number of videos which Paul recently posted. ..."
"... Dr. Ron Paul would never be confused as a dangerous, far-right loony. Paul is a 12-term ex-congressman and three-time presidential candidate. However, he is popular among his supporters for views that often contradict those of Washington's political establishment, especially on issues of war and peace. Now if squeaky clean Ron Paul can't get a fair hearing before the Google/YouTube tribunal, what are chances for average commentators? "We have no violence, no foul language, no political extremism, no hate or intolerance," Daniel McAdams, co-producer of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, told RT America. "Our program is simply a news analysis discussion from a libertarian and antiwar perspective." ..."
"... In light of this inquisition against free speech and free thought, it is no surprise that more voices are calling for Google, and other massive online media, like Facebook and Amazon, to become nationalized for the public good. ..."
"... "If we don't take over today's platform monopolies, we risk letting them own and control the basic infrastructure of 21st-century society," wrote Nick Srnicek, a lecturer in the digital economy at King's College London. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Google has taken the unprecedented step of burying material, mostly from websites on the political right, that it has deemed to be inappropriate. The problem, however, is that the world's largest search engine is a left-leaning company with an ax to grind.

Let's face it, deep down in our heart of hearts we knew the honeymoon wouldn't last forever. Our willingness to place eternal faith in an earth-straddling company that oversees the largest collection of information ever assembled was doomed to end in a bitter divorce from the start. After all, each corporation, just like humans, has their own political proclivities, and Google is certainly no exception. But we aren't talking about your average car company here.

The first sign Google would eventually become more of a political liability than a public utility was revealed in 2005 when CEO Eric Schmidt (who is now executive chairman of Alphabet, Inc , Google's parent company) sat down with interviewer Charlie Rose, who asked Schmidt to explain "where the future of search is going."

Schmidt's response should have triggered alarm bells across the free world. "Well, when you use Google, do you get more than one answer," Schmidt asked rhetorically, before answering deceptively: "Of course you do. Well, that's a bug. We have more bugs per second in the world. We should be able to give you the right answer just once... and we should never be wrong."

Really?

Think about that for a moment. Schmidt believes, counter-intuitively, that getting multiple possible choices for any one Google query is not the desirable prospect it should be (aren't consumers always in search of more variety?), but rather a "bug" that should be duly squashed underfoot. Silly mortal, you should not expect more than one answer for every question because the almighty Google, our modern-day Oz, "should never be wrong!" This is the epitome of corporate hubris. And it doesn't require much imagination to see that such a master plan will only lead to a colossal whitewashing of the historic record.

For example, if a Google user performs a search request for - oh, I don't know - "what caused the Iraq War 2003," he or she would be given, according to Schmidt's algorithmic wet dream, exactly one canned answer. Any guesses on what that answer would be? I think it's safe to say the only acceptable answer would be the state-sanctioned conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction, an oft-repeated claim we now know to be patently false . The list of other such complicated events that also demand more than one answer - from the Kennedy assassination to the Gulf of Tonkin incident - could be continued for many pages.

Schmidt's grandiose vision, where there is just "one answer to every question," sounds like a chapter borrowed from Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, where omnipresent Big Brother had an ironclad grip on history, news, information, everything. In such a intensely controlled, nightmarish world, individuals - as well as entire historical events - can be 'disappeared' down the memory hole without a trace. Though we've not quite reached that bad land yet, we're plodding along in that direction.

That much became disturbingly clear ever since Donald Trump routed Hillary Clinton for the presidency. This surprise event became the bugle call for Google to wage war on 'fake news' outlets, predominantly on the political right.

'Like being gay in the 1950s'

Just before Americans headed to the polls in last year's presidential election, WikiLeaks delivered a well-timed steaming dump, revealing that Eric Schmidt had been working with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as early as April 2014. This news came courtesy of a leaked email from John Podesta, former chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, who wrote:

I met with Eric Schmidt tonight. As David reported, he's ready to fund, advise recruit talent, etc. He was more deferential on structure than I expected. Wasn't pushing to run through one of his existing firms. Clearly wants to be head outside advisor, but didn't seem like he wanted to push others out. Clearly wants to get going...
The implications of the CEO of the world's most powerful company playing favorites in a presidential race are obvious, and make the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s resemble a rigged game of bingo at the local senior citizens center by comparison. Yet the dumbed-down world of American politics, which only seems to get excited when Republicans goof up, continued to turn on its wobbly axis as if nothing untold had occurred.

Before continuing our trip down memory lane, let's fast forward a moment for a reality check. Google's romance with the US political left is not a matter of conjecture. In fact, it has just become the subject of a released internal memo penned by one James Damore, a former Google engineer. In the 10-point memo, Damore discussed at length the extreme liberal atmosphere that pervades Google, saying that being a conservative in the Silicon Valley sweat shop was like "being gay in the 1950s."

"We have... this monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can't even express themselves. Really, it's like being gay in the 1950s. These conservatives have to stay in the closet and have to mask who they really are. And that's a huge problem because there's open discrimination against anyone who comes out of the closet as a conservative."

Beyond the quirky, laid back image of a Google campus, where "Googlers" enjoy free food and foot massages, lies a "monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can't even express themselves," says Damore, who was very cynically fired from Google for daring to express a personal opinion. That is strange.

Although Google loudly trumpets its multicultural diversity in terms of its hiring policy, it clearly has a problem dealing with a diversity of opinion. That attitude does not seem to bode well for a search engine company that must remain impartial on all matters - political or otherwise.

Back to the 2016 campaign. Even CNN at the time was admitting that Google was Donald Trump's "biggest enemy." Indeed, not only was Schmidt apparently moonlighting for the DNC, his leftist company was actively shutting down information on the Republican front runner. At one point when Google users typed in a query for 'presidential candidates,' they got thousands of results for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Missing in action from the search results, however, was, yes, Donald Trump.

When NBC4 reached out to Google about the issue, a spokesperson said a "technical bug" was what caused Trump to disappear into the internet ether. Now, where have we heard the word "bug" before? It is worth wondering if this is what Eric Schmidt had in mind when he expressed his vision of a "one answer" Google search future?

In any case, this brings to the surface another disturbing question that is directly linked to the 'fake news' accusations, which in turn is fueling Google's crackdown on the free flow of news from the political right today.

In the run up to the 2016 presidential election, poll after poll predicted a Clinton landslide victory. Of course, nothing of the sort materialized, as even traditional Democratic strongholds , like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan pulled the lever for Trump. As the Economist reported :

On the eve of America's presidential election, national surveys gave Hillary Clinton a lead of around four percentage points, which betting markets and statistical models translated into a probability of victory ranging from 70 percent to 99 percent.
The fact that Trump - in direct contradiction to what the polls had been long predicting - ended up winning by such a huge margin, there is a temptation to say the polls themselves were 'fake news,' designed to convince the US voter that a Clinton landslide victory was forthcoming. This could have been a ploy by the pollsters, many of whom are affiliated with left-leaning news corporations, by the way, for keeping opposition voters at home in the belief their vote wouldn't matter. In fact, statisticians were warning of a "systemic mainstream misinformation" in poll data favoring Clinton in the days and weeks before Election day. Yet the Leftist brigade, in cahoots with the Googlers, were busy nurturing their own fervent conspiracy theory that 'fake news' - with some help from the Russians, of course - was the reason for Hillary Clinton's devastating defeat.

Who will guard us against the Google guardians?

Just one month after Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, purportedly on the back of "fake news," Google quietly launched Project Owl, the goal of which was to devise a method to "demote misleading, false and offensive articles online," according to a Bloomberg report . The majority of the crackdown will be carried out by machines. Now here is where we enter the rat's nest. After all, what one news organization, or alternative news site, might consider legitimate news and information, another news group, possibly from the mainstream media, would dismiss as a conspiracy theory. And vice versa.

In other words, what we have here is a battle for the misty mountain top of information, and Google appears to be paving the way for its preferred candidate, which is naturally the mainstream media. In other words, Google has a dog in this fight, but it shouldn't. Here is how they have succeeded in pushing for their crackdown on news and information.

The mainstream media almost immediately began peddling the fake news story as to why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. In fact, it even started before Clinton lost the election after Trump jokingly told a rally: "I will tell you this, Russia: If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing... I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." The Democrats, of course, found no humor in the remark. Indeed, they began pushing the fake news story, with help from the likes of Amazon-owned Washington Post, that it was Russians who hacked the DNC email system and passed along the information to WikiLeaks, who then dumped it at the most inopportune time for the Democrats.

With this masterly sleight of hand, did you notice what happened? We are no longer talking about the whereabouts of Clinton's estimated 33,000 deleted emails , nor are we discussing how the DNC worked behind the scenes to derail Bernie Sanders' chances at being a presidential candidate. Far worse, we are not considering the tragic fate of a young man named Seth Rich, the now-deceased DNC staffer who was gunned down in Washington, DC on July 10, 2016. Some news sites say Rich was preparing to testify against the DNC for "voter fraud," while others say that was contrived nonsense.

According to the mainstream media, in this case, Newsweek, only batshit crazy far-right conspiracy sites could ever believe Seth Rich leaked the Clinton emails.

"In the months since his murder, Rich has become an obsession of the far right, an unwilling martyr to a discredited cause," Newsweek commented . "On social media sites like Reddit and news outlets like World Net Daily, it is all but an article of faith that Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee, was the source who gave DNC emails to WikiLeaks, for which he was slain, presumably, by Clinton operatives. If that were to be true!and it very clearly isn't!the faithful believe it would invalidate any accusations that Donald J. Trump's campaign colluded with Russia in tilting the election toward him."

Blame Russia

The reality is, we'll probably never know what happened to Mr. Rich, but what we do know is that Russia has become the convenient fall guy for Clinton's emails getting hacked and dumped in the public arena. We also know Google is taking advantage of this conspiracy theory (to this day not a thread of proof has been offered to prove Russia had anything to do with the release of the emails) to severely hinder the work of news sites - most of which sit on the right of the political spectrum.

Last November, just two weeks after Trump's victory, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, addressed the question of 'fake news' in a BBC interview, and whether it could have swayed the vote in Trump's favor.

"You know, I think fake news as a whole could be an issue [in elections]. From our perspective, there should just be no situation where fake news gets distributed, so we are all for doing better here. So, I don't think we should debate it as much as work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources, have more fact checking and make our algorithms work better, absolutely," he said.

Did you catch that? Following the tiresome rigmarole, the Google CEO said he doesn't think "we should debate it as much as we work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources..."

That is a truly incredible comment, buried at the sea floor of the BBC article. How can the head of the largest search engine believe a democracy needn't debate how Google determines what information, and by whom, is allowed into the public realm, thus literally shaping our entire worldview? To ask the question is to answer it...

"Just in the last two days we announced we will remove advertising from anything we identify as fake news," Pichai said.

And how will Google decide who the Internet baddies are? It will rely on "more than 15 additional expert NGOs and institutions through our Trusted Flagger program, including the Anti-Defamation League, the No Hate Speech Movement, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue," to determine what should be flagged and what should not.

Feeling better yet? This brings to mind the quaint Latin phrase, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? -- Who will guard the guards themselves? -- especially since these groups also have their own heavy political axes to grind.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Pichai and his increasingly Orwellian company already stand accused of censorship, following the outrageous decision to bar former Congressman Ron Paul and his online news program, Liberty Report, from receiving advertising revenue for a number of videos which Paul recently posted.

Dr. Ron Paul would never be confused as a dangerous, far-right loony. Paul is a 12-term ex-congressman and three-time presidential candidate. However, he is popular among his supporters for views that often contradict those of Washington's political establishment, especially on issues of war and peace. Now if squeaky clean Ron Paul can't get a fair hearing before the Google/YouTube tribunal, what are chances for average commentators? "We have no violence, no foul language, no political extremism, no hate or intolerance," Daniel McAdams, co-producer of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, told RT America. "Our program is simply a news analysis discussion from a libertarian and antiwar perspective."

McAdams added that the YouTube demonetization "creates enormous financial burdens for the program." Many other commentators have also been affected by the advert ban, including left-wing online blogger Tim Black and right-wing commentator Paul Joseph Watson. Their videos have registered millions of views.

"Demonetization is a deliberate effort to stamp out independent political commentary – from the left or the right," Black told the Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray. "It's not about specific videos... It's about pushing out the diversity of thought and uplifting major news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC."

In light of this inquisition against free speech and free thought, it is no surprise that more voices are calling for Google, and other massive online media, like Facebook and Amazon, to become nationalized for the public good.

"If we don't take over today's platform monopolies, we risk letting them own and control the basic infrastructure of 21st-century society," wrote Nick Srnicek, a lecturer in the digital economy at King's College London.

It's time for Google to take a stroll beyond its isolated Silicon Valley campus and realize there is a whole world of varying political opinion out there that demands a voice. Otherwise, it may find itself on the wrong side of history and time, a notoriously uninviting place known as 1984.

Reprinted with permission from RT .

[Sep 23, 2017] Trumps UN Speech the Swamps Wine in an America First! Bottle

Notable quotes:
"... Listening to the president, one would almost think Trump was giving two different speeches, one rhetorical and one substantive. The rhetorical speech ( reportedly authored by Stephen Miller ) was the most stirring advocacy one could hope for of the rule of law and of the Westphalian principle of the sovereign state as the bedrock of the international order. The substantive speech, no doubt written by someone on the National Security Council staff, abrogates the very same Westphalian principle with the unlimited prerogatives of the planet's one government that reserves the right to violate or abolish the sovereignty of any other country – or to destroy that country altogether – for any reason political elites in Washington decide. ..."
"... With respect to North Korea, some people assume that because the consequences would be patently catastrophic the "military option" must be off the table and that all this war talk is just bluster. That assumption is dead wrong. The once unthinkable is not only thinkable, it is increasingly probable. As Trump said: "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." This is exactly backwards. Threatening North Korea with total destruction doesn't equate to the defense of the US (forget about our faux ..."
"... With respect to Iran, the relevant passages of Trump's speech could as well have been drafted in the Israeli and Saudi foreign ministries – and perhaps they were. Paradoxically, such favoritism toward some countries and hatred for others is the exact opposite of the America First! principle on which Trump won the presidency. ..."
"... Not to belabor the obvious, at least as far as foreign policy goes, the would-be Swamp-drainer has lost and the Swamp has won. ..."
"... We can speculate as to why. Some say Trump was always a liar and conman and had no intention of keeping his promises. ..."
"... To be fair, Trump's populism was never based on consistent non-interventionism. In 2016 he promised more money for the Pentagon and vowed to be the most " militaristic " president ever. Still, he seemed to understand that wars of choice unrelated to vital national interests, like Bush's in Iraq and Obama's in Libya, were a waste of untold billions of dollars and produced only disasters. ..."
"... His acceptance of the Swamp's continuation of the war in Afghanistan was his first major stumble towards the dismal path of his predecessors. War against North Korea or Iran, or God forbid both, would wreck his presidency and his pledge to "Make America Great Again!" even more surely than Iraq ruined Bush's. ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation . ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

In his maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly , President Donald Trump invoked the terms "sovereign" and "sovereignty" 21 times. In a manner unimaginable coming from any other recent occupant of the White House, the President committed the United States to the principle of national sovereignty and to the truth that "the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition." More, Trump rightly pointed out that these pertain not just to the US and the safeguarding of American sovereignty but to all countries:

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first."

Then he took it all back.

Listening to the president, one would almost think Trump was giving two different speeches, one rhetorical and one substantive. The rhetorical speech ( reportedly authored by Stephen Miller ) was the most stirring advocacy one could hope for of the rule of law and of the Westphalian principle of the sovereign state as the bedrock of the international order. The substantive speech, no doubt written by someone on the National Security Council staff, abrogates the very same Westphalian principle with the unlimited prerogatives of the planet's one government that reserves the right to violate or abolish the sovereignty of any other country – or to destroy that country altogether – for any reason political elites in Washington decide.

Numerous commentators immediately rushed to declare that Trump had dialed back to George W. Bush's 2002 " Axis of Evil " speech. (The phrase is attributed to then-speechwriter David Frum , now a moving figure behind the " Committee to Investigate Russia ," which in the sage opinion of Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman claims "we are at war" with Russia already.) Trump has now laid down what amounts to declarations of war against both North Korea and Iran. On both he has left himself very little room for maneuver, or for any compromise that would be regarded as weakness or Obama-style "leading from behind." While hostilities against both countries may not be imminent (though in the case of North Korea, they might be) we are, barring unforeseen circumstances, now approaching the point of no return.

With respect to North Korea, some people assume that because the consequences would be patently catastrophic the "military option" must be off the table and that all this war talk is just bluster. That assumption is dead wrong. The once unthinkable is not only thinkable, it is increasingly probable. As Trump said: "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." This is exactly backwards. Threatening North Korea with total destruction doesn't equate to the defense of the US (forget about our faux allies South Korea and Japan, which contribute nothing to our security), it positively increases the danger to our country and people.

The Deep State would rather risk the lives of almost 30,000 American military personnel in Korea, of hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of South Koreans, and of even more millions in North Korea – not to mention prodding Pyongyang to accelerate acquisition of a capability for a nuclear strike on the United States itself – than pry its grip off of a single square meter of our forward base against China on the northeast Asian mainland.

With respect to Iran, the relevant passages of Trump's speech could as well have been drafted in the Israeli and Saudi foreign ministries – and perhaps they were. Paradoxically, such favoritism toward some countries and hatred for others is the exact opposite of the America First! principle on which Trump won the presidency. As stated in his Farewell Address by our first and greatest president (wait – are we still allowed to say that? George Washington was a slave-owner!), a country that allows itself to be steered not by its own interests but the interests of others negates it own freedom and becomes a slave to its foreign affections and antipathies:

The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.
Not to belabor the obvious, at least as far as foreign policy goes, the would-be Swamp-drainer has lost and the Swamp has won.

We can speculate as to why. Some say Trump was always a liar and conman and had no intention of keeping his promises. (Let's see what he does on the "Dreamers" and throwing away his wall on the Mexican border. As Ann Coulter says , "If Trump doesn't get that wall built, and fast, his base will be done with him and feed him to Robert Mueller.") Others say Trump meant what he said during the campaign but now surrounded by generals and globalists that dominate his administration, and with populists in the White House now about as common as passenger pigeons , he's a virtual captive. If so, it's a captivity of his own making.

To be fair, Trump's populism was never based on consistent non-interventionism. In 2016 he promised more money for the Pentagon and vowed to be the most " militaristic " president ever. Still, he seemed to understand that wars of choice unrelated to vital national interests, like Bush's in Iraq and Obama's in Libya, were a waste of untold billions of dollars and produced only disasters.

His acceptance of the Swamp's continuation of the war in Afghanistan was his first major stumble towards the dismal path of his predecessors. War against North Korea or Iran, or God forbid both, would wreck his presidency and his pledge to "Make America Great Again!" even more surely than Iraq ruined Bush's.

Still unanswered: does Trump know that, does he care, and does he have the wherewithal to do anything about it? At the moment, it doesn't look good.

Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation .


Related

[Sep 23, 2017] Would Putin Make a Better President Than Obama by Mike Whitney

Notable quotes:
"... Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible. ..."
"... We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state's legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this? ..."
"... Can you see why Washington gave up on Putin? The speech identifies the United States reckless behavior as the single greatest threat to global security today. Putin says that the unipolar world-model which operates from "one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making" is unacceptable, has no "moral foundation", and "plunges the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts." The speech is a straightforward repudiation of Washington's lunatic ambition to rule the world, which is why Putin is presently on America's list of enemies. ..."
"... Putin's domestic vision also conflicts with US policy, which is dominated by neoliberal, trickle-down, austerity-crazed, deficit hawkery that transfers the nations wealth to the 1 percent plutocrats at the top of the economic foodchain. The Russian president has made great strides in reducing poverty, eliminating illiteracy, improving healthcare, and raising the standard of living for millions of working people. Here's an excerpt from a speech by Putin that outlines his domestic priorities: ..."
"... "Russia is a social welfare state .Social policy has many objectives and many dimensions. It entails providing support for the poor and those who are unable to earn a living for valid reasons. It means implementing social mobility and providing a level playing field for every person on the basis of his or her capabilities and talents. The effectiveness of social policy is measured by whether popular opinion believes the society we live in is a just one or not. ..."
"... The glaring income disparity is unacceptably high. Every eighth Russian citizen still lives below the official poverty line . ..."
"... People, primarily the "middle class," well-educated and well-paid individuals, are dissatisfied with the level of social services on the whole. The quality of education and healthcare is still quite low, despite higher budgetary allocations. Services that you have to pay for in these areas are still rife. The goal of creating a comfortable living environment is still a long way off ..."
"... The decline in the national workforce and an increasingly ageing population means the efficiency of social spending has to be increased. We simply have no choice, if we want to preserve and improve the situation . ..."
"... Every country looks upon its teachers, doctors, scientists and cultural workers as the backbone of the "creative class", as the people who contribute to the sustained development of society and serve as the pillar of public morality . ..."
"... I believe that healthcare and education reforms are only possible when they guarantee decent pay for public sector professionals. A doctor, teacher or professor should be able to earn enough on their basic jobs not to have to seek outside earnings. If we fail to fulfill this condition our efforts to change the organisation of the economic mechanisms and renew the material base of these sectors will come to nothing . ..."
"... Starting on September 1, we will raise the pay of lecturers in state educational establishments – up to the average salary for the region. In the course of 2013-2018, the average salary of professors and lecturers will be gradually increased twofold to double the average in the economy .In the case of doctors and researchers, the target for 2018 is the same as for higher school lecturers – 200% of the average pay across the region .. ..."
"... Together with the trade unions we have to consider legislation to broaden the participation of workers in the management of enterprises. This kind of participation is practiced, for example, in Germany in the form of what are known as works councils . ..."
"... In the next few years, we must create a system to help every disabled person who is able and willing to learn and work find their educational and professional niche in life: from specialised educational programmes to jobs adapted to an individual's specific requirements . ..."
"... While incomes are growing, the gap between the richest and the poorest population groups is decreasing too slowly. Income disparity in Russia is comparable to that in the Untied States but is considerably higher than in Western Europe. A certain degree of income differentiation is logical for a mature market economy, but too large a gap can be seen as inequality and can fuel social tensions. Hence our priority is to reduce material inequality by making social policy more targeted and effective, but above all by giving people an opportunity to earn enough to ensure a desirable level of income ..This will allow us to perceive Russia as a more equitable country where everyone earns his or her income with their own labour and talent . ..."
"... And the government will provide targeted assistance to those who cannot earn an income or are too young to work . ..."
"... The government is taking measures to support families' desire to have two or more children . ..."
"... It is absolutely unacceptable for the birth of a child to bring a family to the edge of poverty. A national goal for the next three or four years is to make this totally impossible. Today the regional governments approve the size of most child benefits, and it should be said that they are scandalously small in many regions .However, such assistance should not be provided to families with high incomes (Read the whole speech here: http://premier.gov.ru/eng/events/news/18071/ ..."
"... Sure, it's a political speech, but when was the last time you heard Obama talk about "social mobility" or "support for the poor" or "glaring income disparity" or "healthcare and education reforms" (that didn't involve privatization) or "decent pay for public sector professionals" or strengthening unions or doubling the "salary of professors and lecturers" or increasing "child benefits and education" or "creating a system to help every disabled person" or "providing targeted assistance to those who cannot earn an income or are too young to work" etc etc etc. On every issue, Putin's platform is more progressive than Obama's, and yet, idiot Americans still think President Hopium is working for them. Right. ..."
"... Putin's motto is: "Each rouble spent in the social sphere must 'produce justice.'" That alone proves that he'd make a better president than Obama. ..."
"... MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion . He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com ..."
Jul 20, 2012 | www.unz.com

"Every rouble spent in the social sphere should 'generate justice.' An equitable social and economic system is the main requirement for ensuring our sustained development during these years."

– Russian President Vladimir Putin

Is Vladimir Putin really the "KGB thug" the US media makes him out to be?

Take a look at this except from a book review in the New York Times and see what you think.

"A decade ago it was possible to imagine two inner Putins wrestling for his soul: the K.G.B. thug versus the modernizer. Sadly, events since then suggest that the inflexible misanthrope we see is the only Putin we get

Even the most casual Putin-watcher has marveled at his narcissism, manifested in his odd habit of inviting cameras to record him bare-chested on horseback, swimming the butterfly stroke in a Siberian river, scuba diving and collecting skin samples from whales, among other stunts. Gessen traces his self-absorption back to his youth.

Putin's childhood ambition was to be a spy in the K.G.B., but Gessen reveals that his actual experience was more Walter Mitty than James Bond. He was basically a paper-pusher, collecting press clippings in Dresden while the East German Stasi did the real dirty work of recruiting informers and policing dissent .Putin soon hitched himself to the first of a series of flawed, small-d democrats, who would propel him to power." ("Reclaiming the Kremlin", Bill Keller, New York Times)

Read enough?

Okay, so according to the Times, Putin is an ass-kissing, paper-pushing, self-adsorbed, autocratic thug who has dreams of greatness. Did we miss something? Oh yeah, he's also a misanthropic slacker who let's everyone else do the heavy lifting.

Is that what they call objective journalism at the NYT? Its worth noting that this laughable bit of propaganda was written by the Times editor himself, Bill Keller! Can you believe it? I mean, wouldn't you think that the editor of the nation's number 1 newspaper would make some effort to hide his bias?

But, no, when it comes to serving the folks in power, Keller is just as willing to run his credibility through the mud as the next guy. And, so he has, but what does that tell us about Putin?

It tells us that Putin is despised by powerful members of the US policy establishment. That's what it tells us. After all, it's their views that are reflected in the mainstream media via propagandists like Keller.

But, why? Putin is not a fiery leftist like Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro. He's a right-of-center nationalist who's not particularly ideological, confrontational, or unreasonable. so, what's the problem? Besides, Putin has bent over backwards to accommodate the US on everything from nuclear disarmament to the War on Terror. So why the hostility?

It's because Putin wants to be a partner on global issues, particularly security issues. But the US doesn't want partners; it wants lackeys and puppets who will follow orders. And that's why the NY Times and the others in the moron media are ganging up on him, because–in Washington's eyes–if your not a lackey, your the enemy. It's that simple.

If you want to know why Russian-US relations have steadily deteriorated, you might want to read this excerpt from an article by Pat Buchanan who asks "Doesn't Putin Have a Point?"

"Though the Red Army had picked up and gone home from Eastern Europe voluntarily, and Moscow felt it had an understanding we would not move NATO eastward, we exploited our moment. Not only did we bring Poland into NATO, we brought in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and virtually the whole Warsaw Pact, planting NATO right on Mother Russia's front porch. Now, there is a scheme afoot to bring in Ukraine and Georgia in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin.

Second, America backed a pipeline to deliver Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, to bypass Russia.

Third, though Putin gave us a green light to use bases in the old Soviet republics for the liberation of Afghanistan, we now seem hell-bent on making those bases in Central Asia permanent.

Fourth, though Bush sold missile defense as directed at rogue states like North Korea, we now learn we are going to put anti-missile systems into Eastern Europe. And against whom are they directed?

Fifth, through the National Endowment for Democracy, its GOP and Democratic auxiliaries, and tax-exempt think tanks, foundations, and "human rights" institutes such as Freedom House, headed by ex-CIA director James Woolsey, we have been fomenting regime change in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, and Russia herself.

U.S.-backed revolutions have succeeded in Serbia, Ukraine, and Georgia, but failed in Belarus. Moscow has now legislated restrictions on the foreign agencies that it sees, not without justification, as subversive of pro-Moscow regimes.

Sixth, America conducted 78 days of bombing of Serbia for the crime of fighting to hold on to her rebellious province, Kosovo, and for refusing to grant NATO marching rights through her territory to take over that province. Mother Russia has always had a maternal interest in the Orthodox states of the Balkans.

These are Putin's grievances. Does he not have a small point?"

There it is in a nutshell. The world's biggest troublemaker (guess who?) has broken its promises, surrounded Russia with military bases, put NGOs on the ground to incite revolution in all the former Soviet states (and Russia), and now wants to situate nuclear missile sites a few hundred miles from Moscow. This is how Washington strengthens ties with its former adversaries, by poking a thumb in their eye at every opportunity.

The Obama administration has assured Putin that its anti-ballistic missile defense system, which will be deployed in former Warsaw pact countries in E Europe, is strictly defensive and will only be aimed at Iran. But it isn't true. In fact, the system will be aimed at Russia and poses a direct threat to Russian national security. Everyone knows this, even though the media continues to soft-peddle the dangers of the proposed system. The Washington Post even characterized it as "a small missile defense system" which has set off "waves of paranoia about domestic and foreign opponents".

Sure, what's a few nuclear weapons among friends?

Naturally, Putin has seen through this ruse and protested. Here's what he at a press conference 6 years ago:

"Once the missile defense system is put in place it will work automatically with the entire nuclear capability of the United States. It will be an integral part of the US nuclear capability.

"For the first time in history there will be elements of the US nuclear capability on the European continent. It simply changes the whole configuration of international security ..Of course, we have to respond to that."

Putin is right. The "so-called" defense system is actually an expansion (and integration) of America's existing nuclear weapons system which will now function as one unit. The dangers of this are obvious.

The US (under Bush and Obama) wants to achieve what Nuclear weapons specialist, Francis A. Boyle, calls the "longstanding US policy of nuclear first-strike against Russia". That's what missile defense is all about.

In Boyle's article "US Missiles in Europe: Beyond Deterrence to First Strike Threat" he states:

"By means of a US first strike about 99%+ of Russian nuclear forces would be taken out. Namely, the United States Government believes that with the deployment of a facially successful first strike capability, they can move beyond deterrence and into "compellence."

By "compellence" Boyle means that first strike capability will allow the US to force Moscow to meet its demands or face certain annihilation.

So what should Putin do? Should he sit back on his haunches and wait for the US to come to its senses or threaten to remove the new installations by force? The issue remains unresolved.

As for the US NGOs, it's long been known that they're up to no good, and that they function as the civilian component of a larger military strategy to rule the world. There was an interesting piece by Paul Craig Roberts in CounterPunch on Thursday which fleshes out the activities of these groups and their real purpose. Here's an excerpt from the article:

"The Russian government has finally caught on that its political opposition is being financed by the US taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other CIA/State Department fronts in an attempt to subvert the Russian government and install an American puppet state in the geographically largest country on earth, the one country with a nuclear arsenal sufficient to deter Washington's aggression ..

Much of the Russian political opposition consists of foreign-paid agents .. The Itar-Tass News Agency reported on July 3 that there are about 1,000 organizations in Russia that are funded from abroad and engaged in political activity .

The Washington-funded Russian political opposition masquerades behind "human rights" and says it works to "open Russia." What the disloyal and treasonous Washington-funded Russian "political opposition" means by "open Russia" is to open Russia for brainwashing by Western propaganda, to open Russia to economic plunder by the West, and to open Russia to having its domestic and foreign policies determined by Washington."

That sums it up pretty well, doesn't it? Of course, any action taken by Putin to impede the the activities of foreign spies (and agents for global capital) is denounced in the media as an attack on civil liberties and democracy.

Talk about hypocrisy? Do we really need to hear the world's biggest civil rights abuser scold Russia for defending itself from foreign invasion? When was the last time Putin bombed a wedding party in Pakistan or blew up one of its own citizens in a drone attack or incarcerated and tortured mere "suspects" without charging them with a crime? Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?

Did you know that the Bush administration thought they could co-opt Putin and bring him into the imperial fold like America's other puppets around the world?

It's true. Bush actually liked Putin and tried to get him to fall in line. But then something happened at a Conference on Security Policy in Munich in February 2007, where all the top brass in the administration and the far-right think tanks realized that Putin couldn't be co-opted; that he was ferociously nationalistic and would not do their bidding. So the entire strategy was scrapped and the demonisation began. Here's a clip from the speech that Putin gave in Munich that turned things around. It's a rather long because I wanted you to get a sense of the man, his sincerity, his earnestness, and his genuine desire for fundamental change in US-Russian relations:

"Only two decades ago the world was ideologically and economically divided and it was the huge strategic potential of two superpowers that ensured global security.

This global stand-off pushed the sharpest economic and social problems to the margins of the international community's and the world's agenda. And, just like any war, the Cold War left us with live ammunition, figuratively speaking. I am referring to ideological stereotypes, double standards and other typical aspects of Cold War bloc thinking.

The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place.

The history of humanity certainly has gone through unipolar periods and seen aspirations to world supremacy. And what hasn't happened in world history?

However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

Incidentally, Russia – we – are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today's world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today's – and precisely in today's – world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation.

Along with this, what is happening in today's world – and we just started to discuss this – is a tentative to introduce precisely this concept into international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world.

And what have the results been?

Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished. And no less people perish in these conflicts – even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state's legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?

In international relations we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the current political climate.

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this ! no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force's dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats – though they were also well-known before – have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character.

I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security." (Russian President Vladimir Putin, Conference on Security Policy in Munich in February 2007)

Can you see why Washington gave up on Putin? The speech identifies the United States reckless behavior as the single greatest threat to global security today. Putin says that the unipolar world-model which operates from "one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making" is unacceptable, has no "moral foundation", and "plunges the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts." The speech is a straightforward repudiation of Washington's lunatic ambition to rule the world, which is why Putin is presently on America's list of enemies.

Putin's domestic vision also conflicts with US policy, which is dominated by neoliberal, trickle-down, austerity-crazed, deficit hawkery that transfers the nations wealth to the 1 percent plutocrats at the top of the economic foodchain. The Russian president has made great strides in reducing poverty, eliminating illiteracy, improving healthcare, and raising the standard of living for millions of working people. Here's an excerpt from a speech by Putin that outlines his domestic priorities:

"Russia is a social welfare state .Social policy has many objectives and many dimensions. It entails providing support for the poor and those who are unable to earn a living for valid reasons. It means implementing social mobility and providing a level playing field for every person on the basis of his or her capabilities and talents. The effectiveness of social policy is measured by whether popular opinion believes the society we live in is a just one or not.

The glaring income disparity is unacceptably high. Every eighth Russian citizen still lives below the official poverty line .

People, primarily the "middle class," well-educated and well-paid individuals, are dissatisfied with the level of social services on the whole. The quality of education and healthcare is still quite low, despite higher budgetary allocations. Services that you have to pay for in these areas are still rife. The goal of creating a comfortable living environment is still a long way off

The decline in the national workforce and an increasingly ageing population means the efficiency of social spending has to be increased. We simply have no choice, if we want to preserve and improve the situation .

Every country looks upon its teachers, doctors, scientists and cultural workers as the backbone of the "creative class", as the people who contribute to the sustained development of society and serve as the pillar of public morality .

I believe that healthcare and education reforms are only possible when they guarantee decent pay for public sector professionals. A doctor, teacher or professor should be able to earn enough on their basic jobs not to have to seek outside earnings. If we fail to fulfill this condition our efforts to change the organisation of the economic mechanisms and renew the material base of these sectors will come to nothing .

Starting on September 1, we will raise the pay of lecturers in state educational establishments – up to the average salary for the region. In the course of 2013-2018, the average salary of professors and lecturers will be gradually increased twofold to double the average in the economy .In the case of doctors and researchers, the target for 2018 is the same as for higher school lecturers – 200% of the average pay across the region ..

Together with the trade unions we have to consider legislation to broaden the participation of workers in the management of enterprises. This kind of participation is practiced, for example, in Germany in the form of what are known as works councils .

In the next few years, we must create a system to help every disabled person who is able and willing to learn and work find their educational and professional niche in life: from specialised educational programmes to jobs adapted to an individual's specific requirements .

While incomes are growing, the gap between the richest and the poorest population groups is decreasing too slowly. Income disparity in Russia is comparable to that in the Untied States but is considerably higher than in Western Europe. A certain degree of income differentiation is logical for a mature market economy, but too large a gap can be seen as inequality and can fuel social tensions. Hence our priority is to reduce material inequality by making social policy more targeted and effective, but above all by giving people an opportunity to earn enough to ensure a desirable level of income ..This will allow us to perceive Russia as a more equitable country where everyone earns his or her income with their own labour and talent .

And the government will provide targeted assistance to those who cannot earn an income or are too young to work .

The government is taking measures to support families' desire to have two or more children .

It is absolutely unacceptable for the birth of a child to bring a family to the edge of poverty. A national goal for the next three or four years is to make this totally impossible. Today the regional governments approve the size of most child benefits, and it should be said that they are scandalously small in many regions .However, such assistance should not be provided to families with high incomes (Read the whole speech here: http://premier.gov.ru/eng/events/news/18071/

Sure, it's a political speech, but when was the last time you heard Obama talk about "social mobility" or "support for the poor" or "glaring income disparity" or "healthcare and education reforms" (that didn't involve privatization) or "decent pay for public sector professionals" or strengthening unions or doubling the "salary of professors and lecturers" or increasing "child benefits and education" or "creating a system to help every disabled person" or "providing targeted assistance to those who cannot earn an income or are too young to work" etc etc etc. On every issue, Putin's platform is more progressive than Obama's, and yet, idiot Americans still think President Hopium is working for them. Right.

Putin's motto is: "Each rouble spent in the social sphere must 'produce justice.'" That alone proves that he'd make a better president than Obama.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion . He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

[Sep 23, 2017] Russia's foreign minister said Friday the downturn in relations with the United States began with the Obama administration's "small-hearted" and "revengeful" actions and has plummeted further because of "Russo-phobic hysteria."

Notable quotes:
"... Russia's top diplomat said he can't believe this because "first and foremost the United States has all the information leaking all the time." And he said with so many people involved in hearings and investigations related to the alleged Russian meddling, "it cannot be that not a single fact has leaked. It would have leaked." ..."
"... But he said relations are suffering because former president Barack Obama's administration "put this time bomb in U.S.-Russian relations. "I did not expect that from a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but he did manifest himself and we can still see the ramifications," he said. ..."
"... Today, Lavrov said, "our relations are contracting due to Russo-phobic hysteria." As a result, "the immense potential of our bilateral relations" isn't being realized and international issues aren't being solved because the U.S. and Russia cannot coordinate, he said. ..."
"... He said a lot of U.S. politicians say "Russia has to do this and that on Syria," and Russia has to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, and other global crises. But the U.S. military has "a ban on cooperating with Russia," Lavrov said. "Why? Because legislators who find it important not to solve issues in different parts of the world, and not to develop beneficial relations with Russia. Such legislators need to have these political signals. They did it, and that's the reality we live in." ..."
"... "We have to calm down the hotheads," and this requires contacts between the Trump administration and Kim's government, he said. Lavrov said Russia would welcome any efforts at mediation, saying "the mediators could be one of the neutral European countries." He added that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has talked about mediation and said if he received such a request "he would try to fulfill that." ..."
"... If the Iran nuclear deal falls apart, he said, "then North Korea would say, 'why do I need to negotiate with you if you do not carry out your promises?'" ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.yahoo.com

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ! Russia's foreign minister said Friday the downturn in relations with the United States began with the Obama administration's "small-hearted" and "revengeful" actions and has plummeted further because of "Russo-phobic hysteria."

Sergey Lavrov told a news conference there has been a lengthy campaign claiming Russia interfered in the U.S. election to ensure victory for President Donald Trump ! "but we do not see any facts."

When he asked U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson how Russia could confirm his words that Moscow interfered in the American election process, Lavrov said Tillerson replied: "I cannot show you anything because this is confidential information.'"

Russia's top diplomat said he can't believe this because "first and foremost the United States has all the information leaking all the time." And he said with so many people involved in hearings and investigations related to the alleged Russian meddling, "it cannot be that not a single fact has leaked. It would have leaked."

Lavrov recalled World War II when the United States and Russia fought as allies against Nazi Germany.

But he said relations are suffering because former president Barack Obama's administration "put this time bomb in U.S.-Russian relations. "I did not expect that from a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but he did manifest himself and we can still see the ramifications," he said.

Today, Lavrov said, "our relations are contracting due to Russo-phobic hysteria." As a result, "the immense potential of our bilateral relations" isn't being realized and international issues aren't being solved because the U.S. and Russia cannot coordinate, he said. The U.S. and Russian militaries maintain contact to prevent accidents or confrontations between their forces fighting in Syria, but Lavrov said "in order to eliminate terrorists we need not only de-confliction, we need coordination."

He said a lot of U.S. politicians say "Russia has to do this and that on Syria," and Russia has to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, and other global crises. But the U.S. military has "a ban on cooperating with Russia," Lavrov said. "Why? Because legislators who find it important not to solve issues in different parts of the world, and not to develop beneficial relations with Russia. Such legislators need to have these political signals. They did it, and that's the reality we live in."

He was asked about Trump's combative speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday in which the American president threatened "to totally destroy North Korea" if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded calling Trump "deranged" and saying he will "pay dearly" for his threats.

Calling the exchange of threats "quite bad," Lavrov said "it is unacceptable to simply sit back and to look at the nuclear and military gambles of North Korea, but it is also unacceptable to start war on the peninsula."

"We have to calm down the hotheads," and this requires contacts between the Trump administration and Kim's government, he said. Lavrov said Russia would welcome any efforts at mediation, saying "the mediators could be one of the neutral European countries." He added that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has talked about mediation and said if he received such a request "he would try to fulfill that."

The Russian minister said he had no new initiatives to bring the two sides together, explaining that he believes "the potential" for the Russian-Chinese freeze-for-freeze proposal "is not yet exhausted." It would halt North Korean nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea stopping their joint military exercises, but the Trump administration has rejected it.

Lavrov was asked whether he saw a link between the crisis in North Korea and Trump's threat to pull out of the 2015 agreement to cap Iran's nuclear program. He stressed that all other parties to the deal, including Russia, support the agreement and don't want it reopened. "Right now, North Korea is being told, renounce nuclear weapons and we will lift the sanctions," Lavrov said.

If the Iran nuclear deal falls apart, he said, "then North Korea would say, 'why do I need to negotiate with you if you do not carry out your promises?'"

[Sep 23, 2017] The Exit Strategy of Empire by Wendy McElro

Highly recommended!
Garrett 's book The People's Pottage The Revolution Was-Ex America-Rise of Empire i ncludes a timeless quote on U.S. foreign policy. "You are imperialistic all the same, whether you realize it or not... You are trying to make the kind of world you want. You are trying to impose the American way of life on other people, whether they want it or not." The "Rise of Empire" opens with the sentence "We have crossed the boundary between Republic and Empire." It contains a critical view of President Truman's usurpation of Congress' power to declare war. Some of the "distinguishing marks" of an empire taken from history were "Domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy" and " A system of satellite nations". I think most of us are would be familiar with those two in modern context. His labeling of this policy as the "Empire of the Bottomless Purse" was historically accurate.
The book was printed in 1953. What's amazing is how little some political ideology has changed since then. Take this quote; "And the mere thought of 'America First', associated as that term is with 'isolationism', has become a liability so extreme that politicians feel obliged to deny ever having entertained it." Think back to Ron Paul's 2008 campaign and how he was labeled an "isolationist" for similar views of nationalism.
Notable quotes:
"... These are not sequential stages of Empire but occur in conjunction with one another and reinforce each other. That means that an attempt to reverse Empire in the direction of a Republic can begin with weakening any of the five characteristics in any order. ..."
"... Deconstructing these executive props, one by one, weakens the Empire. When all five components are deconstructing, the process presents a possible path to dissolving Empire itself. ..."
"... That was why Garrett does not deal with how to reverse the process of Empire. Once an empire is established, he argues, it becomes a "prisoner of history" in a trap of its own making. He writes, "A Republic may change its course, or reverse it, and that will be its own business. But the history of Empire is a world history and belongs to many people. A Republic is not obliged to act upon the world, either to change it or instruct it. Empire, on the other hand, must put forth its power." ..."
"... Collective security and fear are intimately connected concepts. It is no coincidence that the sixth component of Empire -- imprisonment -- comes directly after the two components of "a system of satellite nations" and, "a complex of vaunting and fear." ..."
"... An empire thinks that satellites are necessary for its collective security. Satellites think the empire is necessary for territorial and economic survival; but they are willing to defect if an empire with a better deal beckons. America knows this and scrambles to satisfy satellites that could become fickle. Garrett quotes Harry Truman, who created America's modern system of satellites. "We must make sure that our friends and allies overseas continue to get the help they need to make their full contribution to security and progress for the whole free world. This means not only military aid -- though that is vital -- it also means real programs of economic and technical assistance." ..."
"... Garrett also emphasizes how domestic pressure imprisons Empire. One of the most powerful domestic pressures is fear. An atmosphere of fear -- real or created -- drives public support of foreign policy and makes it more difficult for Empire to retreat from those policies. ..."
"... Empire has "'less control over its own fate than a republic,' he [Garrett] commented because it was a 'prisoner of history', ruled by fear. Fear of what? 'Fear of the barbarian.'" ..."
"... It does not matter whether the enemy is actually a barbarian. What matters is that citizens of Empire believe in the enemy's savagery and support a military posture toward him. Domestic fear drives the constant politics of satellite nations, protective treaties, police actions, and war. Foreign entanglements lead to increased global involvement and deeper commitments. The two reinforce each other. ..."
"... The fifth characteristic of Empire is not merely fear but also "vaunting." Vaunting means boasting about or praising something excessively -- for example, to laud and exaggerate America's role in the world. Fear provides the emotional impetus for conquest; vaunting provides the moral justification for acting upon the fear. The moral duty is variously phrased: leadership, a balance of power, peace, democracy, the preservation of civilization, humanitarianism. From this point, it is a small leap to conclude that the ends sanctify the means. Garrett observes that "there is soon a point from which there is no turning back .The argument for going on is well known. As Woodrow Wilson once asked, 'Shall we break the heart of the world?' So now many are saying, 'We cannot let the free world down'. Moral leadership of the world is not a role you step into and out of as you like." ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org
The Exit Strategy of Empire Written y Friday September 22, 2017
The Roman Empire never doubted that it was the defender of civilization. Its good intentions were peace, law and order. The Spanish Empire added salvation. The British Empire added the noble myth of the white man's burden. We have added freedom and democracy.

-- Garet Garrett, Rise of Empire

The first step in creating Empire is to morally justify the invasion and occupation of another nation even if it poses no credible or substantial threat. But if that's the entering strategy, what is the exit one?

One approach to answering is to explore how Empire has arisen through history and whether the process can be reversed. Another is to conclude that no exit is possible; an Empire inevitably self-destructs under the increasing weight of what it is -- a nation exercising ultimate authority over an array of satellite states. Empires are vulnerable to overreach, rebellion, war, domestic turmoil, financial exhaustion, and competition for dominance.

In his monograph Rise of Empire, the libertarian journalist Garet Garrett (1878–1954), lays out a blueprint for how Empire could possibly be reversed as well as the reason he believes reversal would not occur. Garrett was in a unique position to comment insightfully on the American empire because he'd had a front-row seat to events that cemented its status: World War II and the Cold War. World War II America already had a history of conquest and occupation, of course, but, during the mid to late 20th century, the nation became a self-consciously and unapologetic empire with a self-granted mandate to spread its ideology around the world.

A path to reversing Empire

Garrett identifies the first five components of Empire:

These are not sequential stages of Empire but occur in conjunction with one another and reinforce each other. That means that an attempt to reverse Empire in the direction of a Republic can begin with weakening any of the five characteristics in any order.

Garrett did not directly address the strategy of undoing Empire, but his description of its creation can be used to good advantage. The first step is to break down each component of Empire into more manageable chunks. For example, the executive branch accumulates power in various ways. They include:

Deconstructing these executive props, one by one, weakens the Empire. When all five components are deconstructing, the process presents a possible path to dissolving Empire itself.

A sixth component of Empire

But in Rise of Empire, Garet Garrett offers a chilling assessment based on his sixth component of Empire. There is no path out. A judgment that renders prevention all the more essential.

That was why Garrett does not deal with how to reverse the process of Empire. Once an empire is established, he argues, it becomes a "prisoner of history" in a trap of its own making. He writes, "A Republic may change its course, or reverse it, and that will be its own business. But the history of Empire is a world history and belongs to many people. A Republic is not obliged to act upon the world, either to change it or instruct it. Empire, on the other hand, must put forth its power."

In his book For A New Liberty, Murray Rothbard expands on Garrett's point: "[The] United States, like previous empires, feel[s] itself to be 'a prisoner of history.' For beyond fear lies 'collective security,' and the playing of the supposedly destined American role upon the world stage."

Collective security and fear are intimately connected concepts. It is no coincidence that the sixth component of Empire -- imprisonment -- comes directly after the two components of "a system of satellite nations" and, "a complex of vaunting and fear."

Satellite nations

"We speak of our own satellites as allies and friends or as freedom loving nations," Garrett wrote. "Nevertheless, satellite is the right word. The meaning of it is the hired guard." Why hired? Although men of Empire speak of losing China [or] Europe [how] could we lose China or Europe, since they never belonged to us? What they mean is that we may lose a following of dependent people who act as an outer guard."

An empire thinks that satellites are necessary for its collective security. Satellites think the empire is necessary for territorial and economic survival; but they are willing to defect if an empire with a better deal beckons. America knows this and scrambles to satisfy satellites that could become fickle. Garrett quotes Harry Truman, who created America's modern system of satellites. "We must make sure that our friends and allies overseas continue to get the help they need to make their full contribution to security and progress for the whole free world. This means not only military aid -- though that is vital -- it also means real programs of economic and technical assistance."

In contrast to a Republic, Empire is both a master and a servant because foreign pressure cements it into the military and economic support of satellite nations around the globe, all of which have their own agendas.

Garrett also emphasizes how domestic pressure imprisons Empire. One of the most powerful domestic pressures is fear. An atmosphere of fear -- real or created -- drives public support of foreign policy and makes it more difficult for Empire to retreat from those policies. In his introduction to Garrett's book Ex America, Bruce Ramsey addresses Garrett's point. Ramsey writes, Empire has "'less control over its own fate than a republic,' he [Garrett] commented because it was a 'prisoner of history', ruled by fear. Fear of what? 'Fear of the barbarian.'"

It does not matter whether the enemy is actually a barbarian. What matters is that citizens of Empire believe in the enemy's savagery and support a military posture toward him. Domestic fear drives the constant politics of satellite nations, protective treaties, police actions, and war. Foreign entanglements lead to increased global involvement and deeper commitments. The two reinforce each other.

The fifth characteristic of Empire is not merely fear but also "vaunting." Vaunting means boasting about or praising something excessively -- for example, to laud and exaggerate America's role in the world. Fear provides the emotional impetus for conquest; vaunting provides the moral justification for acting upon the fear. The moral duty is variously phrased: leadership, a balance of power, peace, democracy, the preservation of civilization, humanitarianism. From this point, it is a small leap to conclude that the ends sanctify the means. Garrett observes that "there is soon a point from which there is no turning back .The argument for going on is well known. As Woodrow Wilson once asked, 'Shall we break the heart of the world?' So now many are saying, 'We cannot let the free world down'. Moral leadership of the world is not a role you step into and out of as you like."

Conclusion

In this manner, Garrett believed, Empire imprisons itself in the trap of a perpetual war for peace and stability, which are always stated goals. Yet, as Garrett concluded, the reality is war and instability.

It is not clear whether he was correct that Empire could not be reversed. Whether or not he was, it is at its creation that Empire is best opposed.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation .


Related

[Sep 23, 2017] Spinning by NYT can and will form the base of a conspiracy. NYT is lying . But this lies can help build the necessary platform for future wars

Notable quotes:
"... Spinning by NYT can and will form the base of a conspiracy. ..."
"... NYT is lying . But this lies can help build the necessary platform for future wars . Another Sarin gas? Another Harriri death? Another picture of beheadings ? Another story of North Korean supplying nukes ? Wrongful consequences from falsehood will not cost NYT excepting a correction years later somehere in the 5 th page. A conspiracy to hatch is something that has no consequences for the plotters . ..."
"... NYT will be there claiming for the right to crow – how it has prepared the ground. All are done openly. When resistance is mounted, Bernie Sander supporters are sent home with flowers and a reminder to vote for Clinton because in this age all over the world America is the exception that has heard them. With that satisfaction they can go home and vote as expected. They are not allowed to know how the campaign marginalized Sander's chances from the get go. ..."
www.unz.com
KA , September 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm GMT

"HANGZHOU, China : The image of a 5-year-old Syrian boy, dazed and bloodied after being rescued from an airstrike on rebel-held Aleppo, reverberated around the world last month, a harrowing reminder that five years after civil war broke out there, Syria remains a charnel house.

But the reaction was more muted in Washington, where Syria has become a distant disaster rather than an urgent crisis. President Obama's policy toward Syria has barely budged in the last year and shows no sign of change for the remainder of his term. The White House has faced little pressure over the issue,

That frustrates many analysts because they believe that a shift in policy will come only when Mr. Obama has left office. "Given the tone of this campaign, I doubt the electorate will be presented with realistic and intelligible options, with respect to Syria," said Frederic C. Hof, a former adviser on Syria in the administration."

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/world/middleeast/obama-syria-foreign-policy.html

Spinning by NYT can and will form the base of a conspiracy.

The world we see are not festooned with the morbid pictures and the world has not one echo chamber among its 7 billions that are reverberating with his sad cry .
No American taxpayer is piling pressure on Obama.

Tone of the election doesn't and shouldn't provide option on Syria . Electorates are not asking to know what America should do.

Next president will introduce something that he wont share w and making them known before the voters will destroy his chances. Someone shared and was evisecrated by NYT and other as Putin's Trojan horse .

NYT is lying . But this lies can help build the necessary platform for future wars . Another Sarin gas? Another Harriri death? Another picture of beheadings ? Another story of North Korean supplying nukes ? Wrongful consequences from falsehood will not cost NYT excepting a correction years later somehere in the 5 th page. A conspiracy to hatch is something that has no consequences for the plotters .

If Dulles were hanged for role in all the illegal things he had done in Guatemala and Iran, may be Kennedy would have survived. But his earlier political escapades were also built on something that were way earlier . Conspiracy keeps on coming back begging for one more round ,for one more time .

NYT will be there claiming for the right to crow – how it has prepared the ground. All are done openly. When resistance is mounted, Bernie Sander supporters are sent home with flowers and a reminder to vote for Clinton because in this age all over the world America is the exception that has heard them. With that satisfaction they can go home and vote as expected. They are not allowed to know how the campaign marginalized Sander's chances from the get go.

Neither NYT explains how reckless Trump with nuclear code will start a nuclear war with Putin's Russia despite being his co conspirator .

Chalabi s daughter exclaimed in early part of 2004 – We are heroes in mistakes. She won't say it now . Conspirators would love to get the credit and be recognized . It all depends on the success . First Iraq war, if went bad from beginning, Lantos wouldn't have been reelected . But again who knows what media can deliver. They delivered Joe Liberman .

[Sep 23, 2017] The Iraqi regime was completely transparent to U.S. intelligence. They had an asset right at the top of the government, at the cabinet level, for example, somebody who would have known whether Iraq had WMD or not.

Notable quotes:
"... The Iraqi regime was completely transparent to U.S. intelligence. They had an asset right at the top of the government, at the cabinet level, for example, somebody who would have known whether Iraq had WMD or not. And they surely had informers throughout the Iraqi government, it was totally infiltrated. If U.S. Intelligence knew what was going on in Iraq, you can be pretty damned sure that Mossad knew whatever they did. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

Jonathan Revusky > , Website September 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm GMT

@Wizard of Oz Thanks for that link to the Telegraph story. It incidentally offers an explanation for Cheney's urging the CIA to come up with an Iraq connection as shown in the PBS doco "The Secret History of ISIS". After all if Mossad had been ahead of the CIA on the main plot they might well be right about Iraq. It will be a long time before we will know whether Mossad believed there was an Iraqi connection.

It will be a long time before we will know whether Mossad believed there was an Iraqi connection.

Oh, well, this is all just total bullshit. But hey, what can one expect from some pathetic old Aussie shit eater who thinks that the proof of the official story is that it's the official story?

The Iraqi regime was completely transparent to U.S. intelligence. They had an asset right at the top of the government, at the cabinet level, for example, somebody who would have known whether Iraq had WMD or not. And they surely had informers throughout the Iraqi government, it was totally infiltrated. If U.S. Intelligence knew what was going on in Iraq, you can be pretty damned sure that Mossad knew whatever they did.

The whole idea that Mossad or CIA sincerely believed that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, this is complete nonsense, of course. Everybody who knows anything knows that at this point. Of course, you don't know anything, which is why you don't know that.

This is another characteristic of a shit eater. They just manage, year after year, to remain ignorant of the most basic facts that are available.

[Sep 23, 2017] "The Telegraph has learnt that two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation.

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

KA > , September 13, 2016 at 12:28 am GMT

@Boris


Hundreds of people? Really? You mean, hundreds of people saw one or more planes fly into a building with their own two eyes, i.e. NOT on the TV like the rest of us?
Millions of people live in New York.

Look, you know what's easier than faking 40-odd videos with CGI and paying/planting lots of witnesses and praying that no one squeals and hoping no one finds your planes and hoping that no one videotaped the non-plane crash, and dropping a bunch of airplane debris from...somewhere? It's just crashing a plane into a building. That is so easy compared to your ludicrous scenario. The reason that you find whatever 9/11 CGI video you've seen convincing is because you just don't understand much about the evidence you're watching. And you show this behavior with the other evidence too, focusing in on car rentals. I don't know why that's in his Wiki page, but no one says it's important or vital.

I mean, I fully intended to just keep mocking you because your persona is so grating, but...I'm just out of juice here. I mean, honestly, you're probably a nice guy. I don't know. I think you're confused on some things, but we're all confused about some things, and I understand you don't trust the government. I don't either--it just seems like there's this disconnect, that you let your distrust carry you away. I don't know, it just feels sad piling onto you at this point. And not in a sense that you're pathetic, but just in the sense that there's no common language here at all. We see logic and evidence in very different ways, at least when it comes to these topics.

And you are not alone, lots of people believe these things. From my point of view, that's terrifying not because of 9/11 but because if people give in to their own biases when evaluating the world, then that has massive implications. That's one of the reasons I seek out places like Unz: to always challenge my own thinking. That's why I'm sitting here, slowing down and thinking about things you've written.

If you said Bush and Cheney knew exactly what the hijackers were going to do, I might, at times, share that suspicion. But that's an unproveable conjecture with only a bit of evidence hinting at the possibility. I'm okay with never knowing. It sucks, but here we are.

Anyway, I hereby retract all the nasty things I've said to you and wish you the best. Sure I could be lying, but I hope you'll consider that it's sincere. Unless you ARE an actual Nazi, in which case I meant every word. :) Israeli did warn about potential attack by terrorist on US soil. But Israel packaged the entire information mixing with Saddam Hussen and likely terrorism from Iraqi administration. against US .That made sure that the entire information would be treated as disinformation ,because no one in intelligence ever believed

that Saddam would attack US on its soil or anywhere .

"The Telegraph has learnt that two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation.

"ISRAELI intelligence officials say that they warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent.

""They had no specific information about what was being planned but linked the plot to Osama bin Laden and told the Americans that there were strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement," said a senior Israeli security official."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1340698/Israeli-security-issued-urgent-warning-to-CIA-of-large-scale-terror-attacks.html

Still it should not have been ignored . Why was it ignored?

[Sep 23, 2017] Possible entrapment of Trump with the help of FBI

Notable quotes:
"... Republican Senator Chuck Grassley's office said on Thursday he wrote to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray asking whether the agency provided "defensive briefings" to Trump's team given its ongoing investigation of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.yahoo.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the FBI whether it warned Donald Trump's presidential campaign about alleged attempts by Russia to infiltrate the campaign.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley's office said on Thursday he wrote to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray asking whether the agency provided "defensive briefings" to Trump's team given its ongoing investigation of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager.

Related Searches Trump Campaign Manager Trump Russia Investigation

"If the FBI did provide a defensive briefing or similar warning to the campaign, then that would raise important questions about how the Trump campaign responded," Grassley wrote in the letter dated Sept. 20.

If the FBI did not alert the campaign, Grassley said, that would raise "serious questions about what factors contributed to its decision and why it appears to have been handled differently in a very similar circumstance involving a previous campaign."

The senator said that according to press reports, U.S. intelligence had raised similar concerns with John McCain during the Republican senator's 2008 presidential campaign.

[Sep 23, 2017] Sensational Report Is Russiagate a Hoax Ordered by Vladimir Putin

Notable quotes:
"... One possible explanation would simply be that they have all gone nuts. But since this cannot possibly be the case, this leaves just one other explanation: Russiagate itself is a clever but sinister hoax intended to make it look like our political and media class have lost their marbles, therefore undermining our democracy, our values and our way of life ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | russia-insider.com

The Russians may have developed the capability to create elaborate hoaxes that turn the US into a laughing stock in the eyes of outsiders Russell O'Phobe 90

For almost a year, Russia's meddling in last year's election, along with collusion with the Trump campaign, have dominated the political and media landscape. But an explosive new classified report produced by US intelligence may be about to blow apart the narrative, and reveal an even bigger story that has been missed in all the commentary so far.

The report was set up to try to answer two questions: firstly, why is it that after nearly a year, there still hasn't been a single piece of hard evidence to prove either the hacking or the collusion? And secondly, given this lack of credible evidence, how is it that the US media and political classes have been talking about nothing else for months and months without any sign of letting it go, to the point of giving the impression of being obsessed with the issue?

The report, which was signed off by all 17 agencies ! that's the DIA, CIA, FBI and NSA ! reaches a conclusion which is nothing short of sensational:

"If there hasn't actually been any hard evidence presented of meddling or collusion, we must ask the question of how and why the entire political and media class have been talking about nothing else for months.

One possible explanation would simply be that they have all gone nuts. But since this cannot possibly be the case, this leaves just one other explanation: Russiagate itself is a clever but sinister hoax intended to make it look like our political and media class have lost their marbles, therefore undermining our democracy, our values and our way of life."

... ... ...

[Sep 23, 2017] In simple terms, MSM owners decide that a particular topic is a taboo subject and filter everything related to it out

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com
Miro23 > > , September 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm GMT

@Mr. Anon

"Only a child – or its intellectual equivalent, i.e., a low information infotainment consumer – could believe in the official version of 9/11."

That is clearly false, as plenty of people who are smart - smarter than you actually - do in fact believe just that.

Or maybe a lot of smart people pretend to believe the official 9/11 story because that's where their interest lies. MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line on 9/11 are career ending moves .

In simple terms, MSM owners have decided that 9/11 is a taboo subject (same as USS Liberty) and they decide what gets published.

[Sep 23, 2017] MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line are career ending moves .

Notable quotes:
"... In late July 2010, longtime Canadian journalist Eric Margolis was told his column would be dropped, and just a few weeks later he published a double-length piece expressing strong doubts about 9/11, the first time he'd articulated that position: ..."
"... In 2007, the parent company of The Chicago Tribune announced it had accepted a leveraged-buyout takeover bid by investor Sam Zell, who planned a massive wave cost-cutting layoffs, which eventually wrecked the company. In late 2007, the Chicago Tribune suddenly ran a very long piece regarding the Liberty Attack, about the only time I've ever seen it discussed in the MSM. ..."
www.unz.com

Ron Unz > , September 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm GMT

@Miro23

Or maybe a lot of smart people pretend to believe the official 9/11 story because that's where their interest lies. MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line on 9/11 are career ending moves .

In simple terms, MSM owners have decided that 9/11 is a taboo subject (same as USS Liberty) and they decide what gets published.

Well, I haven't read through all of this enormously long discussion-thread, but I happened to notice this particular comment. Not having been an MSM journalist myself, I can't say whether or not it's true, but a couple of interesting, possibly coincidental, examples come to mind

In late July 2010, longtime Canadian journalist Eric Margolis was told his column would be dropped, and just a few weeks later he published a double-length piece expressing strong doubts about 9/11, the first time he'd articulated that position:

http://www.unz.com/article/911-the-mother-of-all-coincidences/

In 2007, the parent company of The Chicago Tribune announced it had accepted a leveraged-buyout takeover bid by investor Sam Zell, who planned a massive wave cost-cutting layoffs, which eventually wrecked the company. In late 2007, the Chicago Tribune suddenly ran a very long piece regarding the Liberty Attack, about the only time I've ever seen it discussed in the MSM.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-liberty_tuesoct02-story.html

[Sep 23, 2017] Marginalization of other opionins is important, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it

Notable quotes:
"... The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is largely what it is because of political conspiracies, wherein the state does one thing or another using covert methods and then sells the opposite story to the gullible public. It is basically a form of military deception by other means. ..."
"... There is no doubt that the public (the real enemy of the state) sure are gullible. ..."
"... a conspiracy, as Mr Unz indicates, is just a perjorative term used by the state to divert attention from what are otherwise normal covert operations. The real issue is that these events have had massive, gigantic global consequences but operate completely below the radar of the intellectual classes. ..."
"... This is an old clip showing admittance of the CIA that they use the mainstream media to manipulate the thoughts and ideas of American citizens in the USA. This has not changed obviously and is good to know happened in the past due to our reality today. http://youtu.be/5ED63A_hcd0 ..."
"... 9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony in full: https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee ..."
"... Secrecy is important to the extent that people would be in a position to thwart the conspiracy should they come to know about it. To minimize the need for secrecy, the conspirators might try to foster a general, childlike ignorance about public affairs, so that the public would not recognize a conspiracy even if it were being discussed openly. ..."
"... In this regard, the capture of major media (pace Mr. Unz) would be key to achieving this aim. Marginalization is another strategy, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it. ..."
"... "The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys. ..."
"... following the collapse of Soviets, they have been looking for an enemy that they were finding raising its heads in Algeria, Iran, Sudan, and even in Malayasia back in 1992. ..."
"... Conspiracy theory -- is absolutely commonplace but rendered a bogus term . It is common and practiced by the government all the time. It is used by people who have agenda and find resistance to agenda . The moment they use false narrative, weird scenario, create unknown fear and offer solution abusing the authorities, abusing the institutional but previous records and inserting propaganda preaching journalist ( CIA had more than 400 in 1975 per Bernstein) , they are engaging in conspiracy. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 4:26 am GMT

Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy.

Langley > , September 23, 2017 at 2:16 am GMT

The phrase "conspiracy theory" seems to have existed before 1960.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=conspiracy+theories&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cconspiracy%20theories%3B%2Cc0

However, the CIA may have stumbled across it and used it to their advantage.

Anon > , Disclaimer September 22, 2017 at 4:33 pm GMT

The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is largely what it is because of political conspiracies, wherein the state does one thing or another using covert methods and then sells the opposite story to the gullible public. It is basically a form of military deception by other means.

There is no doubt that the public (the real enemy of the state) sure are gullible. I think Mr Unz is trying to work out in his own mind why it is that the sell job always works and is so successful.

Consider the following false flag events:

These events are all clearly 'conspiracies', but a conspiracy, as Mr Unz indicates, is just a perjorative term used by the state to divert attention from what are otherwise normal covert operations. The real issue is that these events have had massive, gigantic global consequences but operate completely below the radar of the intellectual classes.

Agent76 > , December 26, 2016 at 3:46 pm GMT

(1975) CIA Admits Using News To Manipulate the USA

This is an old clip showing admittance of the CIA that they use the mainstream media to manipulate the thoughts and ideas of American citizens in the USA. This has not changed obviously and is good to know happened in the past due to our reality today. http://youtu.be/5ED63A_hcd0

9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony in full: https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee

Greg > , December 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Kirt

... ... ...

Secrecy is important to the extent that people would be in a position to thwart the conspiracy should they come to know about it. To minimize the need for secrecy, the conspirators might try to foster a general, childlike ignorance about public affairs, so that the public would not recognize a conspiracy even if it were being discussed openly.

In this regard, the capture of major media (pace Mr. Unz) would be key to achieving this aim. Marginalization is another strategy, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it. Believing that a conspiracy needs secrecy is the perhaps optimistic belief that neither dumbing down the general public nor marginalizing the watchdogs is sufficient: there's still a significant chance that public exposure could derail the conspirators.

KA > , September 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm GMT

@Boris

after my asking you what the strongest evidence available for the official story
As I've already shown, you asked me "what records?" The ticket is among the records that support the official story. It is sad that you keep lying about this. We both agree--and have from the beginning--that the ticket is necessary, but not sufficient. You keep pretending otherwise for some reason. Your behavior is downright weird.

"The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys.

A series of leaks, signals, and trial balloons is already beginning to shape U.S. agenda and policy. Congress is about to conduct several hearings on the global threat of Islamic fundamentalism.(14)

The Bush administration has been trying to devise policies and establish new alliances to counter Iranian influence: building up Islamic but secular and pro-Western Turkey as a countervailing force in Central Asia, expanding U.S. commitments to Saudi Arabia, warning Sudan that it faces grave consequences as a result of its policies, and even shoring up a socialist military dictatorship in Algeria.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177

Printing a ticket and getting a Passport ,if all that you have, then you are in the right league . Join those in NYT, WaPo, Hoover Institue and speak to George Will, Jim Hoagland, because following the collapse of Soviets, they have been looking for an enemy that they were finding raising its heads in Algeria, Iran, Sudan, and even in Malayasia back in 1992.

Conspiracy theory -- is absolutely commonplace but rendered a bogus term . It is common and practiced by the government all the time. It is used by people who have agenda and find resistance to agenda . The moment they use false narrative, weird scenario, create unknown fear and offer solution abusing the authorities, abusing the institutional but previous records and inserting propaganda preaching journalist ( CIA had more than 400 in 1975 per Bernstein) , they are engaging in conspiracy. It follows a script. So it has a theory to follow . It is a conspiracy theory.

KA > , September 12, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

The biggest hoax ever perpetrated is the gradual evolution of the alleged threat from Islam . Its a multilayered multi focal interconnected open production of a vast conspiracy – achieved without any shred of evidence or even plausible reason for the existence of any such threat .

This is a quote from an article published in 1992 and quotes 90 sources .

" In addition, think tanks studies and op-ed pieces add momentum to the official spin. Their publication is followed by congressional hearings, policy conferences, and public press briefings. A governmental policy debate ensues, producing studies, working papers, and eventually doctrines and policies that become part of the media's spin. The new villain is now ready to be integrated into the popular culture to help to mobilize public support for a new crusade. In the case of the Green Peril, that process has been under way for several months.(13)

THE GREEN PERIL
Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat
Leon T Hadar ,a former bureau chief for Jerusalem Post.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177.html

"WaPo, NYT, WSJ, Washington Times, ABC news and Economist all gathered the Islamic experts out of the same offices that used to house the Soviet experts, painted them green removed the red markings and asked them to follow the direction . ( Well I made this up But that's exactly what happened .)

[Sep 23, 2017] A conspiracy theory is a theory based on facts but without MSM backing. Theres no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Notable quotes:
"... So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight. ..."
"... People need to remember than by definition, the ratio of what you don't know to what you do know is infinity to one. Be more open minded. "They shall find it difficult, they who have taken authority as truth rather than truth for authority". ..."
www.unz.com
LondonBob > , September 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm GMT

@Paul Jolliffe Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses - and confirms - your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php No coincidence that all the CIA agents involved in the JFK assassination are known to be experts in 'black ops' and news media specialists. Jim Angleton, Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips and E. Howard Hunt, who confessed his involvement, all made their names in black propaganda or news management.

Abraham > , September 6, 2016 at 6:28 pm GMT

@Lot Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control. For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra. Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

A statement that appears straight out of the CIA's playbook.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control.

Such control does not imply they have nothing to hide, particularly when exposure of the deed would have damaging repercussions for them.

For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

It didn't reflect that of Israel's elites. After JFK's assassination, American foreign policy vis a vis Israel was completely reversed under Johnson, who hung the crew of the USS Liberty out to dry.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra.

How is this a problem?

WorkingClass > , September 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm GMT

The CIA is the presidents private secret army. Nothing it does is legal.

Ron Unz > , September 6, 2016 at 9:53 pm GMT

For those without convenient access to a copy of the deHaven-Smith book, I've discovered there are some lengthy extracts available on the web:

https://off-guardian.org/2016/09/04/are-you-a-mind-controlled-cia-stooge/

Boris > , September 6, 2016 at 10:48 pm GMT

@biz

He is really very good.

He has a book https://www.amazon.com/Guilt-Association-Deception-Self-Deceit-America/product-reviews/098213150X/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent

anti_republocrat > , September 7, 2016 at 1:48 am GMT

@Chief Seattle So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats. Note also that the allegations immediately become "fact" because they were reported by someone else. As Business Insider reported, "Amid mounting evidence of Russia's involvement in the hack of the Democratic National Committee ," without any specificity whatsoever as to what that "mounting evidence" was (most likely multiple reports in other media) never mind that the article goes on to quote James Clapper, " we are not quite ready yet to make a call on attribution." WTF! Here, read it yourself: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-dnc-hack-black-propaganda-2016-7

Totally mindless. So not only is Russia hacking, but we know it's intention is to influence US elections!!! And now their hacking voter DBs and will likely hack our vote tabulating machines. You can't make this s ** t up.

Nathan Hale > , September 7, 2016 at 4:12 am GMT

@Jason Liu

...In the corporate world, it often seems that upper management spends a bulk of their time conspiring against one another or entering into secret talks to sell the company to a rival, unbeknownst to the employees or shareholders.

NoseytheDuke > , September 7, 2016 at 4:32 am GMT

@Alfred1860 I find it quite amusing how, in an article supporting of the existence of conspiracy theories, so many comments consist of hurling insults at people making skeptical comments about what are obviously very sacred cows.

People need to remember than by definition, the ratio of what you don't know to what you do know is infinity to one. Be more open minded. "They shall find it difficult, they who have taken authority as truth rather than truth for authority".

Gerald Massey

Ed Rankin > , Website September 7, 2016 at 8:42 pm GMT

In Dispatch 1035-960 mailed to station chiefs on April 1, 1967, the CIA laid out a series of "talking points" in its memo addressing the "conspiracy theorists" who were questioning the Warren Commission's findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. They include the following:

I have found numerous examples of these exact points being made in televised news segments, newspapers, magazines and even some academic articles and scholarly books.

Additionally, some of the most influential and frequently-cited authors who are the most critical of "conspiracy theorists", both academic and lay people, have very direct ties to government, foundations and other institutions of authority.

While we can't know if the CIA was primarily responsible for the creation of the pejorative, but what we do know from the Church Committee hearings, was that the Agency did have paid operatives working inside major media organizations as late as the 1970s. In fact, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has acknowledged ties to the CIA.

With recent lifting of restrictions on the government's use of domestic propaganda with the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, I think reasonable people would expect this type of pejorative construction to resume if in fact, it ever ceased.

Bill Jones > , September 7, 2016 at 9:47 pm GMT

A nice little piece on one of the players in the big conspiracy: https://www.corbettreport.com/911-suspects-philip-zelikow/

Marie > , September 8, 2016 at 4:01 am GMT

Literally every article I've ever read about conservatives and/or the conservative movement within the pages of the New Yorker – and I've read going back decades, unfortunately – has judiciously referenced 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics'.

I mean, EVERY SINGLE article regarding Republicans, conservatives and/or opposition to leftism has the Hofstadter quote somewhere – it must be a staple on the J-School syllabi.

It seems Prof. Hofstadter was something of an adherent to the Frankfurt School nonsense – Marxism-meets-dime-store-Freud being every New Yorker writer's stock in trade, of course

Hippopotamusdrome > , September 9, 2016 at 8:21 am GMT

@biz Actually, there is no symmetry in conspiracy theories as you imply.

The definition of a conspiracy theory is an explanation of events that traces them to a secret network, and when presented with contradictory evidence, simply enlarges the network of supposed conspirators rather than modifying the explanation.

... ... ...

[Sep 23, 2017] Although most Americans today reject the official (lone gunman) account of the Kennedy assassination, they also have doubts about conspiracy theories and those who believe them. This means the CIA program was successful, for its aim was not to sell the Warren Commission, but to sow uncertainty about the commission's critics. Today, people are not only uncertain, they have given up ever learning the truth

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

anon, Disclaimer September 6, 2016 at 2:10 am GMT

deHaven Smith is not that impressive on several counts.

one example: book opens:

"Although most Americans today reject the official (lone gunman) account of the Kennedy assassination, they also have doubts about conspiracy theories and those who believe them. This means the CIA program was successful, for its aim was not to sell the Warren Commission, but to sow uncertainty about the commission's critics. Today, people are not only uncertain, they have given up ever learning the truth. "

At least one high-profile person and an entire community that supports him does not have doubts, has not given up. Cyril Wecht blasted holes in Arlen Specter's "one bullet" theory in 1965. He's still at it. In 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of JFK's assassination,

"about 500 people gathered at Duquesne University for a JFK symposium sponsored by the university's Institute of Forensic Science and Law, which is named for Wecht. Appearances by Stone and a doctor who tended to Kennedy brought national attention.

People sneered when they mentioned Specter's name or the single-bullet theory.

Across the state, the Single Bullet exhibit opened on Oct. 21. It's the first exhibition in Philadelphia University's Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy. Willens, the former Kennedy aide, delivered a speech. The center's coordinator, Karen Albert, said he was looking forward to defending his conclusion on the 50th anniversary. " http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5017529-74/wecht-commission-specter

Smith did not even mention Wecht or Specter and the single-bullet theory in his book. The omission is important insofar as its inclusion would have demonstrated that for many years the populace has been aware of the dishonesty of the US government and some have been raising their voices against and continue to do so.

That knowledge should give encouragement to activists such as those who demand accountability for Israel's attack on the USS Liberty and the deliberate killing of 34 US sailors and other personnel.

(Specter has been useful to the deep state in other ways: he protected Zalman Shapiro, former head of NUMEC, from prosecution for his part in smuggling uranium to Israel. http://israellobby.org/numec/ 0

[Sep 23, 2017] American Pravda How the CIA Invented "Conspiracy Theories" by Ron Unz

Notable quotes:
"... Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss. ..."
"... The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther. ..."
"... It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of – the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground. ..."
"... Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in. ..."
Sep 05, 2016 | www.unz.com

A year or two ago, I saw the much-touted science fiction film Interstellar , and although the plot wasn't any good, one early scene was quite amusing. For various reasons, the American government of the future claimed that our Moon Landings of the late 1960s had been faked, a trick aimed at winning the Cold War by bankrupting Russia into fruitless space efforts of its own. This inversion of historical reality was accepted as true by nearly everyone, and those few people who claimed that Neil Armstrong had indeed set foot on the Moon were universally ridiculed as "crazy conspiracy theorists." This seems a realistic portrayal of human nature to me.

Obviously, a large fraction of everything described by our government leaders or presented in the pages of our most respectable newspapers!from the 9/11 attacks to the most insignificant local case of petty urban corruption!could objectively be categorized as a "conspiracy theory" but such words are never applied. Instead, use of that highly loaded phrase is reserved for those theories, whether plausible or fanciful, that do not possess the endorsement stamp of establishmentarian approval.

Put another way, there are good "conspiracy theories" and bad "conspiracy theories," with the former being the ones promoted by pundits on mainstream television shows and hence never described as such. I've sometimes joked with people that if ownership and control of our television stations and other major media outlets suddenly changed, the new information regime would require only a few weeks of concerted effort to totally invert all of our most famous "conspiracy theories" in the minds of the gullible American public. The notion that nineteen Arabs armed with box-cutters hijacked several jetliners, easily evaded our NORAD air defenses, and reduced several landmark buildings to rubble would soon be universally ridiculed as the most preposterous "conspiracy theory" ever to have gone straight from the comic books into the minds of the mentally ill, easily surpassing the absurd "lone gunman" theory of the JFK assassination.

Even without such changes in media control, huge shifts in American public beliefs have frequently occurred in the recent past, merely on the basis of implied association. In the initial weeks and months following the 2001 attacks, every American media organ was enlisted to denounce and vilify Osama Bin Laden, the purported Islamicist master-mind, as our greatest national enemy, with his bearded visage endlessly appearing on television and in print, soon becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the world. But as the Bush Administration and its key media allies prepared a war against Iraq, the images of the Burning Towers were instead regularly juxtaposed with mustachioed photos of dictator Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden's arch-enemy. As a consequence, by the time we attacked Iraq in 2003, polls revealed that some 70% of the American public believed that Saddam was personally involved in the destruction of our World Trade Center. By that date I don't doubt that many millions of patriotic but low-information Americans would have angrily denounced and vilified as a "crazy conspiracy theorist" anyone with the temerity to suggest that Saddam had not been behind 9/11, despite almost no one in authority having ever explicitly made such a fallacious claim.

one of our most prominent scholars and public intellectuals had been historian Charles Beard , whose influential writings had heavily focused on the harmful role of various elite conspiracies in shaping American policy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, with his examples ranging from the earliest history of the United States down to the nation's entry into WWI. Obviously, researchers never claimed that all major historical events had hidden causes, but it was widely accepted that some of them did, and attempting to investigate those possibilities was deemed a perfectly acceptable academic enterprise.

However, Beard was a strong opponent of American entry into the Second World War, and he was marginalized in the years that followed, even prior to his death in 1948. Many younger public intellectuals of a similar bent also suffered the same fate, or were even purged from respectability and denied any access to the mainstream media. At the same time, the totally contrary perspectives of two European political philosophers, Karl Popper and Leo Strauss , gradually gained ascendancy in American intellectual circles, and their ideas became dominant in public life.

Popper, the more widely influential, presented broad, largely theoretical objections to the very possibility of important conspiracies ever existing, suggesting that these would be implausibly difficult to implement given the fallibility of human agents; what might appear a conspiracy actually amounted to individual actors pursuing their narrow aims. Even more importantly, he regarded "conspiratorial beliefs" as an extremely dangerous social malady, a major contributing factor to the rise of Nazism and other deadly totalitarian ideologies. His own background as an individual of Jewish ancestry who had fled Austria in 1937 surely contributed to the depth of his feelings on these philosophical matters.

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss.

So, through a mixture of Popperian and Straussian thinking, the traditional American tendency to regard elite conspiracies as a real but harmful aspect of our society was gradually stigmatized as either paranoid or politically dangerous, laying the conditions for its exclusion from respectable discourse.

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 4:26 am GMT

Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 4:55 am GMT

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

–William Casey, CIA Director, from a first staff meeting in 1981

You can read the context of that quote according to the person who claims to be its original source here:

https://www.quora.com/Did-William-Casey-CIA-Director-really-say-Well-know-our-disinformation-program-is-complete-when-everything-the-American-public-believes-is-false

I think it's worth pointing out what I've never seen explained about that quote, a quote with as much currency in the conspiracy theory fever swamps as any single quote has ever had. The point of the disinformation campaign was not to manipulate the public but to manipulate the soviets. Because our CIA analysts spent so much time unriddling the soviet media, we figured their CIA analysts were doing the same thing with ours.

FKA Max > , September 5, 2016 at 4:56 am GMT

Mr. Unz,

this study/paper might by of interest to you: http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/CONSPIRE.doc

[MORE]

Note: This paper was published in Political Psychology 15: 733-744, 1994. This is the original typescript sent to the journal, it does not include any editorial changes that may have been made. The journal itself is not available online, to my knowledge.

Belief in Conspiracy Theories

Ted Goertzel1

Running Head: Belief in Conspiracy Theories.

KEY WORDS: conspiracy theories, anomia, trust

Table Three
Means Scores of Racial/Ethnic Groups on Attitude Scales
White[W] Hispanic[H] Black[B]
Scale
Belief in Conspiracies 2.5[W] 2.8[H] 3.3[B]
Anomia 3.4[W] 3.8[H] 4.1[B]
Trust 3.7[W] 3.3[H] 3.1[B]
Note: All scales varied from 1 to 5, with 3 as a neutral score.

One of the most interesting discussions of the paper:

It is puzzling that conspiratorial thinking has been overlooked in the extensive research on authoritarianism which has dominated quantitative work in political psychology since the 1950s. One possible explanation is that much of this work focuses on right-wing authoritarianism (Altmeyer, 1988), while conspiratorial thinking is characteristic of alienated thinkers on both the right and the left (Citrin, et al., 1975; Graumann, 1987; Berlet, 1992). Even more surprisingly, however, conspiratorial thinking has not been a focus of the efforts to measure "left-wing authoritarianism" (Stone, 1980; Eysenck, 1981; LeVasseur & Gold, 1993) or of research with the "dogmatism" concept (Rokeach, 1960) which was intended to overcome the ideological bias in authoritarianism measures.
On a more fundamental level, the difficulty with existing research traditions may be their focus on the content of beliefs rather than the res[p]ondent's cognitive processes or emotional makeup. As I have argued elsewhere (Goertzel, 1987), most studies of authoritarianism simply ask people what they believe and then assume that these beliefs must be based on underlying psychological processes which go unmeasured. Since these scales ask mostly about beliefs held by those on the right, it is not surprising that they find authoritarianism to be a right-wing phenomenon. Research with projective tests (Rothman and Lichter, 1982) and biographical materials (Goertzel, 1992), on the other hand, has confirmed that many aspects of authoritarian thinking can be found on both the left and the right.

Lot > , September 5, 2016 at 5:14 am GMT

Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control. For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra.

Chief Seattle > , September 5, 2016 at 5:17 am GMT

So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats.

Miro23 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:20 am GMT

The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops – or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory?

Emblematic > , September 5, 2016 at 7:17 am GMT

I get the sense Ron's building up to something. For those who haven't seen it, can I recommend Ryan Dawson's 'War by Deception':

polistra > , September 5, 2016 at 8:03 am GMT

Simplifying one "contradiction": Our elites have never been primarily anti-Russian or pro-Russian. Since 1946 our elites have been purely GLOBALIST, and their secondary feelings toward Russia strictly follow from this primary goal.

At first Russia was an obstacle to globalism, blocking much of the UN's efforts. Our elites were anti-Russian. After 1962 or so, Russia became the main driver of the UN, so our elites were pro-Russian. Since 1989, Russia has been the guiding star for ANTI-globalist forces, so our elites are FEROCIOUSLY anti-Russian.

smiddy > , September 5, 2016 at 8:13 am GMT

Mr. Unz's direct confrontation with this topic leads me to feel a sense of sentimentality or coming full circle as my "red-pilled" experience literally started with his The Myth of American Meritocracy a little over 2 years ago (I finally looked into the "white privilege" I was "highly exposed" to in college).

Long story short, I was a lazy liberal beforehand, now a highly motivated conservative; nothing helps one get their ish together better than understanding the trajectory at which our society is heading. The Myth of American Meritocracy singularly led me to have a more open mind in understanding how non-congruent the mainstream narrative can be with man's shared universal reality, and having spent way too much time in school learning research methodology, I finally applied it via whim thereafter to criminal statistics (but we know where this story ends), then WW2, the mainstream narrative of which I grew up worshiping

For someone who, when I was naive, hung on to every word one heard or read in the countless amount of hours I've spent in American history classes, for me to learn the hard way of Operation Keelhaul, the Haavara Agreement, the disease epidemic, the migrant crisis (before hand), the hand THE banksters probably played (in playing both sides), and so on, it becomes all too clear how amazingly systematically corrupt our academic system has become. Not once did I ever hear one smidgen about those extremely large plot points; they're so consistently implicitly left out of the script its terrifying.

Alternating to my freshman year of high school now, when I was still naive, I complained to our just hired 22 year old (conveniently) Jewish teacher (fresh out of the Ivy League but back to sacrifice where he had graduated high school, he had always reminded us) over having to read about the Little Rock 9 and Ann Frank for literally (in my case) the 4th time (each). Point is, even when I was entirely clueless, and had no defensive instinct at all, it still didn't feel healthy to read over and over again; I was emotionally exhausted already. I accepted their stories at face value, faced the guilt, and just wanted to move on, yet according to my teacher I "lacked empathy" (so if only we were taught about how the Irish were treated in the 17th we'd be fine). It really is this kind of dwelling on the past that has been institutionalized, and its borderline brain-washing, regardless of the said tragedy's validity.

There is one such particular event of WW2 that, once naive, I've personally cried over more than any other historical event easily (perhaps even more than anything subjectively experienced), much in thanks to programmed televising So what's so weird about all of this, is its like a meta-intellectual betrayal, but with all the emotional connotations of a woman who wronged you in all the worse ways (and she's inevitably waiting in seemingly every dark corner of history you delve into, thus the "endless rabbit hole" you fall through). And its this implicit brand of deceit that is patently feminine which can be inductively read from the MSM to "read the tea leaves"

I could go on and on but really I initially just wanted to thank you Mr. Unz, your publication, and your current and past writing staff. I don't even want to imagine a world where I had never stumbled upon your work!

JL > , September 5, 2016 at 10:40 am GMT

Perhaps the media tried too hard, were too eager to be complicit, and now they've completely lost the plot. The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking. Not knowing what to do, they double and triple down on the same fail that got them into this mess. Truly interesting times.

Thanks, Mr. Unz, for your "small webzine".

Gene Tuttle > , September 5, 2016 at 10:41 am GMT

I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."

The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" ! I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 5, 2016 at 12:24 pm GMT

One conspiracy theory is that some of the wilder, more incredible notions of what may have taken place are deliberately circulated so as to muddy the waters and discredit those who question the party line. For example, outlandish claims by some that no planes were crashed on 9-11 but were really just holograms are seized upon by supposed debunkers as being representative of all skeptics, overshadowing the more reasonable types who question the narrative. This seems to be quite deliberate.

The mainstream American press is the freest in the world, we've been told endlessly, and at some point I realized that I was reading these accolades to itself in the very same press. Not the most objective source one comes to realize. Now on the internet it seems there are those who appear to fan out everywhere to influence the discussion, spread their slogans and shout down opposing ideas. Paid trolls and others?

Conspiracies exist. Consider the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication which certainly involved many actors and yet the general public was kept in the dark about the real facts. The results need not be rehashed yet again. There's a streak of denial in most people. They don't want to contemplate the idea that FDR may have deliberately allowed American servicemen to die at Pearl Harbor in order to get the war he wanted. Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm GMT

@Emblematic I get the sense Ron's building up to something.

For those who haven't seen it, can I recommend Ryan Dawson's 'War by Deception':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK6VLFdWJ4I

I get the sense Ron's building up to something.

One can only hope. This time he mentioned 9/11! so that base is covered; no need to say more about that than that; besides I doubt even he could add to what has already been published and posted on this site re that Big Lie. I would like to see how he weighs all the evidence on RFK's assassination, what he would be willing to call what looks like nothing as much as what MK-Ultra was about.

Wizard of Oz > , September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? I accept that your explanation of the attack on USS Liberty is relatively plausible but another which runs it close is that Israel had to ensure that there was no proof left of the true order of events which were not in accordance with the Israeli official version. So I ask what are your sources?

Likewise, if you are saying that suicidal hijackers flew planes into buildings on 9/11 but that it was organised by Mossad or other Israelis your story needs a lot of filling out and evidence to be credible. Or are you merely saying the Israelis knew what was going to
happen and let it go ahead because it could be turned to their advantage?

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm GMT

@anonymous One conspiracy theory is that some of the wilder, more incredible notions of what may have taken place are deliberately circulated so as to muddy the waters and discredit those who question the party line. For example, outlandish claims by some that no planes were crashed on 9-11 but were really just holograms are seized upon by supposed debunkers as being representative of all skeptics, overshadowing the more reasonable types who question the narrative. This seems to be quite deliberate.
The mainstream American press is the freest in the world, we've been told endlessly, and at some point I realized that I was reading these accolades to itself in the very same press. Not the most objective source one comes to realize. Now on the internet it seems there are those who appear to fan out everywhere to influence the discussion, spread their slogans and shout down opposing ideas. Paid trolls and others?
Conspiracies exist. Consider the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication which certainly involved many actors and yet the general public was kept in the dark about the real facts. The results need not be rehashed yet again. There's a streak of denial in most people. They don't want to contemplate the idea that FDR may have deliberately allowed American servicemen to die at Pearl Harbor in order to get the war he wanted. Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or ! beyond the usual understandings about human nature ! is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning ! by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Wizard of Oz > , September 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus


Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption? It would be worth considering the different contributions to truth telling and also honest scepticism of the Puritan and other Protestant culture, and of the Enlightenment for a start. Some subjects were difficult – like whether there is a God for all Christians and of course the one that must have addled many brains: slavery.

godfree roberts > , September 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm GMT

Agreed. This is an exemplary piece of scholarship and also an enthralling re-telling of our recent past. Highly recommended.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm GMT

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?–is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings.

Connecticut Famer > , September 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm GMT

@Gene Tuttle I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time...of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."
The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" -- I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests. "But the author of the "Open Society" had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests."

Possibly as in the JFK case? I actually watched Lee Harvey Oswald get drilled by the man who was later identified as Jack Ruby (real surname "Rubenstein") live on television. The minute it happened and even at age 16 at the time I smelled a rat. Who was ultimately behind it all is something which I can't answer and care not to speculate upon, but to this day I remain suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Oswald's death and Ruby's subsequent dissembling.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm GMT

Superb article.

It's good to see that Mr. Beard is getting some well deserved good press. It's also good to have people put on alert about Leo Strauss; his name should be a household word, and that of derision. I first learned of the fool at LewRockwell.com, and I feel it's worth investigating him as a source of the goofy neocon outlook that the world's been suffering under for decades. "Strauss, who opposed the idea of individual rights, maintained that neither the ancient world nor the Christian envisioned strict, absolute limits on state power. Straussian neoconservatism is not conservatism as it has ever been understood in America or anywhere else "

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/09/thomas-woods/the-neocon-godfather/

Paul Jolliffe > , September 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm GMT

Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses – and confirms – your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Clearpoint > , September 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm GMT

Popper and Strauss. Neoliberal thought unites with neoconservative thought. Explicitly different rationales, but the same goals and the same method of achieving those goals. Sounds like target marketing of the two biggest target markets of American exceptionalism – dumb and dumber. Apparently critical thinkers are a minority that they believe can be easily marginalized.

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm GMT

@JL Perhaps the media tried too hard, were too eager to be complicit, and now they've completely lost the plot. The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking. Not knowing what to do, they double and triple down on the same fail that got them into this mess. Truly interesting times.

Thanks, Mr. Unz, for your "small webzine".

The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking.

Are they? Or, have they simply fired the first few rounds of easily-dispatched, easily-targeted artillery? I do note that this is the most massive full-court press in support of the oligarchy that I have ever seen. But, I sense that political wars have moved from the court of public opinion and perception, into the courtyards of the moneyed elite. Inasmuch as no rich person has ever believed that he or she has enough money and power, the national political conflict is now composed solely of issues that affect the wealth and power of the 0.1%, which is itself segmented into areas of economic focus and varying forms of wealth acquisition. For example, if air transport systems threaten the wealth and power of ocean-based shipping, that competition between oligarchs will morph into politically-expressed contexts.

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Of what is "redemption" constituted? Considering that fewer than 20% of American residents during the Revolution were actually involved in the revolt, with an estimated 40% preferring to retain the colony under monarchy, and considering that the ethical and political awareness of the Average American and the Average Illegal Resident Alien have gone downhill from there, can it honestly be said that there's enough true flavor of human rights and equal access/opportunity to redeem?

biz > , September 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm GMT

@John Jeremiah Smith

The definition of a conspiracy theory is an explanation of events that traces them to a secret network, and when presented with contradictory evidence, simply enlarges the network of supposed conspirators rather than modifying the explanation.
LOL x 2. I think you're saying that the above is YOUR definition of "conspiracy theory", not to be confused with any real and accurate definition of "conspiracy theory". No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book .
CanSpeccy > , Website September 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm GMT

Good epistemological analysis.

The great flaw in the Western system of "democratic" government is that hardly anyone knows the meaning of the word "epistemology", let alone have any grasp of the underlying challenge of knowing what they know, or rather knowing how little they know beyond what they know from direct personal experience. This is a challenge made vastly more difficult in the modern age when almost everything we know is derived not from personal experience, or from other people of whose character and intellectual competence we have some personal knowledge, but from the arrangement of ink on paper or of pixels on a video screen. To this problem, there is probably no solution, although either a sharp restriction of the franchise to those of some maturity and education, or a division of the franchise according to what each particular individual could be expected to know something about, would be a step in the right direction.

As it is, we will, inevitably, continue to be the target of high powered manipulation by corporate owned media and other powerful interests.

Professor Lance Haven de Smith, whose book you mention is an expert on SCADS, or state crimes against democracy. An article by him on this topic is available here . There is some interesting academic material about SCADs here .

nsa > , September 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm GMT

In spook circles, leaving [false] clues is referred to as inoculation. Refer to the work of Bill McGuire in the late 50s and early 60s. For example, we here in Langley and Ft. Meade have left intact on the internet the early picture of the 20′ entry hole left by the "757″ in the facade of the pentagon before the explosion and complete collapse of the exterior wall ..inviting the conspiratorial question " where are the wings, the mangled cadavers, the tail?". This is all just too easy

Alden > , September 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm GMT

Highly reccomend Chris Buckley's book. "Little Green Men" The plot is that the entire UFO thing was set up after WW3 by the DOJ to keep the money flowing. Like all Buckley's books, it's a great read. I stopped believing in anything written in newspapers around 1966 because they were so pro black criminal and anti police

Have fun on Labor Day

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm GMT

@biz No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book .

No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book.

Journalism? Sociological works? You choose to quote even bigger liars as defining "conspiracy theory"?

"A conspiracy theory is a belief that a secret conspiracy has actually been decisive in producing a political event or evil outcome which the theorists strongly disapprove of. The conspiracy theory typically identifies the conspirators, provides evidence that supposedly links them together with an evil plan to harm the body politic, and may also point to a supposed cover up by authorities or media who should have stopped the conspiracy. The duty of the theorist is to pick from a myriad of facts and assumptions and reassemble them to form a picture of the conspiracy, as in a jigsaw puzzle. A theorist may publicly identify specific conspirators, and if they deny the allegations that is evidence they have been sworn to secrecy and are probably guilty."

Similar, agreed, but with noteworthy differences.

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings. C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

Laurel > , September 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm GMT

The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther.

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oh6DmjQaho @ 12 min, Thompson asserts that "Leo Strauss was the most important influence on Irving Kristol's intellectual development. My book reveals for the first time the importance of Kristol's 1952 review of Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing . For me this is the Rosetta Stone . . .for understanding the deepest layer of neoconservative political philosophy."

It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of – the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oh6DmjQaho No. Strauss and Schmitt were friendly in the 1930s but Strauss was critical of Schmitt's work even then and said so. Schmitt himself said that Strauss had "seen right through" his arguments. Strauss was no acolyte of Schmitt's, he was a greater and deeper thinker and Schmitt -- something Schmitt himself acknowledged.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:42 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus @ 12 min, Thompson asserts that "Leo Strauss was the most important influence on Irving Kristol's intellectual development. My book reveals for the first time the importance of Kristol's 1952 review of Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing . For me this is the Rosetta Stone . . .for understanding the deepest layer of neoconservative political philosophy."

---

It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of - the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground. So what? That's one guy. How do we even know Kristol interpreted Strauss correctly? Kristol's concerns–data-driven social science–were not Strauss's. And so on and on.

But all that is a re-frame anyway. The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

5371 > , September 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm GMT

@Decius No. Strauss and Schmitt were friendly in the 1930s but Strauss was critical of Schmitt's work even then and said so. Schmitt himself said that Strauss had "seen right through" his arguments. Strauss was no acolyte of Schmitt's, he was a greater and deeper thinker and Schmitt--something Schmitt himself acknowledged. This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:54 pm GMT

@5371 This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics. Schmitt disagreed with you.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm GMT

@5371 This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics. At any rate it's sort of absurd to watch you people chase your tails. All that you "know" or think you know is that Strauss is bad. But Schmitt is good. But Strauss is derivative of Schmitt. Doesn't that make Strauss good, or Schmitt bad?

Schmitt is famous for arguing in favor of the essential particularity of politics -- i.e., against alleged neocon universalism. So if Strauss is derivative of Schmitt, how can he be a neocon universalist?

Strauss in fact agrees with Schmitt on the essential particularity of politics and says so, but finds a deeper source, with deeper arguments, in Plato. Schmitt admitted that his own attempt to fortify his particularism was build on the quick-sandy foundation of modern rationalism, which Strauss taught him to see through.

Hibernian > , September 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm GMT

@anonymous Pearl Harbor (covered in "Day of Deceit") is good starting point. I strongly encourage Mr. Unz to read Robert Stinnet's book next before moving on.

FDR never intended that 2,400 Americans would die there. He just thought that if Japan "struck first", he could justify our entry into WWII to the public. What's really fascinating (and almost wholly unknown) is the sequence of events and headlines from December 8 to December 11, 1941, the date Hitler declared war on the USA.

While Pearl Harbor meant war with Japan, it did not necessarily guarantee war with Nazi Germany. For 72 hours, no one could be sure that Germany would declare war on us. Did FDR manipulate events post-Pearl Harbor to ensure it did happen? "FDR never intended that 2,400 Americans would die there."

Did he think our forces at Pearl, lacking needed intelligence, would limit the losses to a lesser number?

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm GMT

@Decius So what? That's one guy. How do we even know Kristol interpreted Strauss correctly? Kristol's concerns -- data-driven social science -- were not Strauss's. And so on and on.

But all that is a re-frame anyway. The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

Can't back it up or has not done so, so far?

The day is young . . . the moon has not yet appeared in the eastern sky.

Carlton Meyer > , Website September 5, 2016 at 5:20 pm GMT

Some conspiracies are eventually acknowledged. For recent examples, our government finally admitted that our CIA overthrew the government of Iran in the 1950s. The sinking of the Lusitania because it carried tons of munitions and weapons during WW I has been mostly accepted since 1982, after the sunken ship was discovered and searched by divers. For example, Encyclopedia Britannica:

"The Lusitania was carrying a cargo of rifle ammunition and shells (together about 173 tons), and the Germans, who had circulated warnings that the ship would be sunk, felt themselves fully justified in attacking a vessel that was furthering the war aims of their enemy. The German government also felt that, in view of the vulnerability of U-boats while on the surface and the British announcement of intentions to arm merchant ships, prior warning of potential targets was impractical."

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lusitania-British-ship

One of the newest has got little attention, the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was a computer guy leaking info to Wikileaks.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/10/assange-implies-murdered-dnc-staffer-was-wikileaks-source.html

If we truly had aggressive news competition in the USA, this story would remain in the headlines, but of course its implications are not acceptable. However, stories about Russian hackers persist with no hard evidence.

JL > , September 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm GMT

@John Jeremiah Smith

The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking.
Are they? Or, have they simply fired the first few rounds of easily-dispatched, easily-targeted artillery? I do note that this is the most massive full-court press in support of the oligarchy that I have ever seen. But, I sense that political wars have moved from the court of public opinion and perception, into the courtyards of the moneyed elite. Inasmuch as no rich person has ever believed that he or she has enough money and power, the national political conflict is now composed solely of issues that affect the wealth and power of the 0.1%, which is itself segmented into areas of economic focus and varying forms of wealth acquisition. For example, if air transport systems threaten the wealth and power of ocean-based shipping, that competition between oligarchs will morph into politically-expressed contexts.

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo. I suppose my comment came off somewhat like unbridled, naive optimism. Your points are unquestionably valid, however, and I am disinclined to argue. Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Just like with Brexit, these events don't happen without powerful manipulation from somewhere within the 0.1%. Still, it's tough for me to imagine what a Trump presidency will even look like. Who will be in his cabinet, from what backgrounds will they come?

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.

Certainly not. What are fundamentally important questions for us are merely means to an end for them.

Jeffrey S. > , Website September 5, 2016 at 5:31 pm GMT

Beard was an interesting guy, but's let's not forget that his central thesis regarding the founding of this country doesn't hold up to historical scrutiny:

http://www.libertylawsite.org/2014/10/10/charles-beard-living-legend-or-archaic-icon/

Meanwhile, I think it helps to think about conspiracies philosophically ! rigorous thought can help clear up sloppy thinking (which is found in many such theories):

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/01/trouble-with-conspiracy-theories.html

Mulegino1 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm GMT

With respect to conspiracies, there are two equally absurd extreme views which distract from reality: one is the childish rejection of all conspiracy theories and the other the childish belief that every appreciable newsworthy event with a political, economic or social impact is the result of a nefarious conspiracy. The truth, of course, is to be found in the middle....

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.
Can't back it up or has not done so, so far? The day is young . . . the moon has not yet appeared in the eastern sky. I know Strauss's books. I am guessing that Unz does not because if he did, he would not attribute to Strauss what he did. At any rate, even if Unz does know the books, I fail to see what passages he could cite to support the paragraph that I highlighted. As noted, the claim sounds vaguely derivative of Drury, who hates Strauss (and gets everything wrong) but even she doesn't quite say what Unz says.
Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings.

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you? .The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.

I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me.

Mulegino1 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption? To my mind, the real point of deviation in the history of the United States is the Spanish American War, and the transformation of America from a tellurocratic to a thallasocratic power. America's traditional role had been that of a vast, continental, land based power, eschewing intervention in the affairs of Europe and the rest of the world outside the Western Hemisphere. (This is largely the reason that the Russian Czar allied with the Union in the American Civil War).

Unfortunately, America's traditional tellurocratic role was abandonded – thanks to the likes of Admiral ("Victory through Sea Power") Mahan, John Hay, and the loopy Teddy Roosevelt, inter alia – and the nation went on to embrace the role of international arbiter and busybody, and became insatiable in the pursuit of empire, with catastrophic results for the world.

Sam Shama > , September 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm GMT

@5371 This is a good piece which deserved an acceptable level of mental hygiene in the comment section. Unfortunately, two of the first nine comments are from morons spamming their "no lunar landing" drivel. In all probability the "no nuclear weapons" clowns will also be here imminently. Oh well, a delicious sweet dish will attract a fly as much as a gourmet. [Oh well, a delicious sweet dish will attract a fly as much as a gourmet.]

LOL. I'll compile a mental list of both. Aren't the comments missing someone btw?

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?....The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration...He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.
I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy...

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me. The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman. I don't think he even comes close to making his case.

The letter can more charitably and reasonably read as a frank acknowledgement of the failure of Weimar liberalism and of liberalism generally precisely to take into account nationalist sentiment but instead to "universalize" all particulars without due attention to differing conditions, circumstances, "matter," and so on. In other words, Strauss is defending the "concept of the political" both from liberal universalism and from the simple-minded identification of particularism (or nationalism) with fascism. Sound familiar? All nationalist sentiment is fascism, Trump is a Nazi, and so on. An "argument" as old as hills and which Strauss saw through immediately.

Once again, though, the tail is chased. How can Strauss be both a universalist neo-con and a particularist-nationalist-fascist at the same time? The only common thread is: Strauss is bad.

In my view, Strauss is good. More to the point, I find stronger intellectual support in Strauss for my own nationalist leanings and pro-Trumpism than I find in any other intellectual source of any depth. I am in the minority among Straussians in thinking so, but I am not alone. Morevoer, I think in open debate, I have a stronger case for Straussian particularism than others can make for Straussian universalism.

And, not incidentally, none of this points to any such views on conspiracy as you put into Strauss's mouth.

Robard > , September 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm GMT

If government doesn't believe in conspiracies, why have secret services in the first place? Either they want to thwart conspiracies or they are creating their own or both.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?....The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration...He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.
I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy...

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me. While I've read nothing by Prof. deHaven-Smith, from what you've written, he and DiLorenzo would probably agree.

Here's a short but readable eval of Strauss' ideas, and DiLorenzo is one academician whom I somewhat trust.:

Moronic Intellectuals
By Thomas DiLorenzo

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/09/thomas-woods/the-neocon-godfather/

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm GMT

@JL I suppose my comment came off somewhat like unbridled, naive optimism. Your points are unquestionably valid, however, and I am disinclined to argue. Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Just like with Brexit, these events don't happen without powerful manipulation from somewhere within the 0.1%. Still, it's tough for me to imagine what a Trump presidency will even look like. Who will be in his cabinet, from what backgrounds will they come?


There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.
Certainly not. What are fundamentally important questions for us are merely means to an end for them.

Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Yes, and how many players, each with what orientation and degree of focus? The 0.1% population contains 10,000 – 50,00o potential players, globally.

It is my opinion that the extremely-high degree of corruption, within the mighty engine of resource consumption and bribery that is the US government, contributes greatly to the "big picture" of ongoing conflict among the members of the oligarchy.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:


Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings. Actually I don't think Ron is so far off. And I think, at best, you must be overeducated. Strauss held that authentic philosophy is a conspiracy . From there, certain practical advice about how to carry out the philosophy of the true philosopher follows. Such advice would about seem to be how Ron said it was.

I have not read the essay by Atlas. But for the duration of the Bush Administration I did read the Weekly Standard. I recall in particular one time when the editors recommended what books to bring to the beach, and Bill Kristol said "anything by Leo Strauss." My impression is that the Weekly Standard's brazen propaganda back then was the way certain editors understood themselves to be acting like Strauss's true disciples.

And of course now Krystol is hocking a former spook to run against Trump in Utah.

Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Decius The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained--not to say serious--attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman. I don't think he even comes close to making his case.

The letter can more charitably and reasonably read as a frank acknowledgement of the failure of Weimar liberalism and of liberalism generally precisely to take into account nationalist sentiment but instead to "universalize" all particulars without due attention to differing conditions, circumstances, "matter," and so on. In other words, Strauss is defending the "concept of the political" both from liberal universalism and from the simple-minded identification of particularism (or nationalism) with fascism. Sound familiar? All nationalist sentiment is fascism, Trump is a Nazi, and so on. An "argument" as old as hills and which Strauss saw through immediately.

Once again, though, the tail is chased. How can Strauss be both a universalist neo-con and a particularist-nationalist-fascist at the same time? The only common thread is: Strauss is bad.

In my view, Strauss is good. More to the point, I find stronger intellectual support in Strauss for my own nationalist leanings and pro-Trumpism than I find in any other intellectual source of any depth. I am in the minority among Straussians in thinking so, but I am not alone. Morevoer, I think in open debate, I have a stronger case for Straussian particularism than others can make for Straussian universalism.

And, not incidentally, none of this points to any such views on conspiracy as you put into Strauss's mouth.

The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman.

Well, I decided I might as well google up the letter, and found this extended discussion in Harpers by someone who clearly dislikes Strauss and the Neocons, with a link to a full translation of Strauss's controversial missive.

http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/will-the-real-leo-strauss-please-stand-up/

Offhand, it does indeed seem like I misremembered some of the details. Strauss apparently didn't seem to like the Nazis very much, but it certainly sounds like he had positive feelings towards the Fascists. In any event, the following excerpt makes me wonder whether he was actually a "liberal," or merely pretended to be since his income probably depended upon liberal donors and institutions

And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought.

Buzz Mohawk > , September 5, 2016 at 6:48 pm GMT

By reading Ron's American Pravda series of columns, I am learning things that otherwise I would not have known. I am developing a clearer understanding of the real truth . This is an important contribution to my understanding of of reality! And I trust this because of the quality and earnestness of the source. This is all very much appreciated.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:50 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman.
Well, I decided I might as well google up the letter, and found this extended discussion in Harpers by someone who clearly dislikes Strauss and the Neocons, with a link to a full translation of Strauss's controversial missive.

http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/will-the-real-leo-strauss-please-stand-up/

Offhand, it does indeed seem like I misremembered some of the details. Strauss apparently didn't seem to like the Nazis very much, but it certainly sounds like he had positive feelings towards the Fascists. In any event, the following excerpt makes me wonder whether he was actually a "liberal," or merely pretended to be since his income probably depended upon liberal donors and institutions...

And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination...There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought.
What is a liberal? That's not a troll question. Strauss was above all a Socratic and Socratic philosophy begins with "what is" questions. One of Strauss's books is entitled Liberalism Ancient and Modern .

Strauss was apparently a liberal in the US context in that he mostly voted for Dems. He also wrote one acerbically critical letter to National Review.

However, a mid-20th-century American liberal may have been many things, but unpatriotic or nationalistic they were not. When liberalism turned with McGovern, Strauss looked elsewhere, and then died a year later, so we don't know how his political outlook would, or would not, have changed longer term. But at least in the 40s-60s, he was quite OK with Cold War American liberals. That's perfectly consistent with the nationalist sentiment expressed in the letter to Lowith. Also, Strauss was appalled by the dissoluteness of Weimar–and would become appalled by the dissoluteness of the late 1960s. But America prior was not yet dissolute. And he was appalled by Weimar's weakness. But America pre-Vietnam was not weak. Again, perfectly consistent with the letter.

Strauss supported the Cold War because he thought the USSR was a real threat in the near term and because he feared, on a higher plane, the imposition of "the universal and homogenous state." He was opposed to that, whereas those to his left were for it. So was he conservative?

Strauss transcends all these distinctions. That's not to say that they are meaningless. Indeed, he would be the first to say that they are meaningful. But, like Tocqueville, Strauss aimed to see not differently but further than the parties.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm GMT

@Pat Casey Actually I don't think Ron is so far off. And I think, at best, you must be overeducated. Strauss held that authentic philosophy is a conspiracy . From there, certain practical advice about how to carry out the philosophy of the true philosopher follows. Such advice would about seem to be how Ron said it was.

I have not read the essay by Atlas. But for the duration of the Bush Administration I did read the Weekly Standard. I recall in particular one time when the editors recommended what books to bring to the beach, and Bill Kristol said "anything by Leo Strauss." My impression is that the Weekly Standard's brazen propaganda back then was the way certain editors understood themselves to be acting like Strauss's true disciples.

And of course now Krystol is hocking a former spook to run against Trump in Utah. The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

Yngvar > , September 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm GMT

So as a means of damage control, the CIA distributed a secret memo to all its field offices requesting that they enlist their media assets in efforts to ridicule and attack such critics as irrational supporters of "conspiracy theories."

And what do you know, the term "conspiracy theories" was non-existent in books before JFK's assassination but took off right after, according to Google's Ngram Viewer: https://is.gd/GYioQZ

utu > , September 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm GMT

@Decius The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points). Unless you give some evidence that Strauss was a Reptilian or at least that he was a skeptic about the Moon landing there is no need for further discussion on Strauss here.

Erik Sieven > , September 5, 2016 at 7:40 pm GMT

@Kirt Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy. "Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan." but probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil

art guerrilla > , Website September 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm GMT

@Chief Seattle So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats. ahhh, but 'Russkie!/squirrel!' worked, didn't it ? ? ?
virtually NOTHING about the actual content of the emails
what was hysterical, was a followup not too long afterwards, where pelosi 'warned' that there might be a whole raft of other emails which said bad stuff and stuff, and, um, they were -like- probably, um, all, uh, fake and stuff
it really is a funny tragi-comedy, isn't it ? ? ?
then why am i crying inside

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm GMT

@Decius The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.

That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 9:43 pm GMT

@Pat Casey

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.
That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).
You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

Love it.

My theory is that they basically wrote anything that came to mind so long as no one could pin 'em down to specifics, allowed them to keep paying the bills , afforded them a chance to sound "profound," and to be somebody.

Pretty much all of the type are frauds and only fools (especially the pompous quasi-scientific, pseudo intellectual, ones) take 'em seriously. I agree that the ancients were much more honest but even they were recognized as BSers of high degree by the likes of Aristophanes and Lucian of Samosata to name only two. (I named them because they make particularly entertaining reading.)

I think the 20th century should be known as the Age of Pathetic Charlatans and I'm glad it's over. May it and the endless gaggle of cheap morons it spawned never return.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 10:12 pm GMT

@Pat Casey

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.
That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.


You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).
You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for. Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true.

Konga > , September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? So true!
But you forgot the two missiles shot from a NATO naval and HQ base in Spain towards Damascus, shot down by the Russians (two weeks before the "agreement" on chemical weapons, remember?) and then attributed to Israel's drills turned wrong

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm GMT

A good book, BTW, is Robert Howse's Leo Strauss: Man of Peace . Howse is liberal, FWIW.

ten miles > , September 5, 2016 at 10:20 pm GMT

One resents (first), and eventually hates whom they have to lie to. In what regard would our elites, in our electoral democracy, hold us voters in (by now)?
Kinda answers itself doesn't it?

map > , September 5, 2016 at 11:03 pm GMT

Popper's point about conspiracy theories really makes no sense. This is the assumption that a conspiracy is like a start-up, one that requires lots of transparency to work because of the need to recruit members for the conspiracy. As soon as one member disagrees, the conspiracy falls apart.

The problem is that a conspiracy is not like a start-up. The purpose of the start-up is the start-up itself. The purpose of the conspiracy is not the conspiracy itself. Conspiracies are simply vehicles by which like minded people actually find each other. The secrecy is built-in because they are like-minded.

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm GMT

@Erik Sieven "Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan." but probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil "probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil"

Yeah, that's true. I think that it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who said that evil is always done under an aspect of good. Hence no one will consider himself a conspirator other than perhaps in a legal sense if he is aware that what he is doing is illegal. Apart from that the charge of conspiracy will always come from opponents; e.g. Hilly's charge of "a vast right-wing conspiracy".

Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 11:27 pm GMT

@Paul Jolliffe Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses - and confirms - your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses – and confirms – your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades

Thanks so much for the excellent reference to the Bernstein article, of which I hadn't been aware. I found it fascinating, not least because of all the speculations floating around over the last decade or two that Bernstein's famed collaborator, Bob Woodward, had had an intelligence background, and perhaps Watergate represented a plot by elements of the CIA to remove Nixon from the White House. As for the 25,000 word article itself, I'd suggest that people read it. Since quite a lot of this comment-thread is already filled with debates about the supposed liberalism of Leo Strauss and an alleged Moon Landing Hoax, I might as well provide a few of the provocative extracts:

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

He was very eager, he loved to cooperate." On one occasion, according to several CIA officials, Sulzberger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran almost verbatim under the columnist's byline in the Times. "Cycame out and said, 'I'm thinking of doing a piece, can you give me some background?'" a CIA officer said. "We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy gave it to the printers and put his name on it." Sulzberger denies that any incident occurred. "A lot of baloney," he said.

[MORE]

Stewart Alsop's relationship with the Agency was much more extensive than Sulzberger's. One official who served at the highest levels in the CIA said flatly: "Stew Alsop was a CIA agent." An equally senior official refused to define Alsop's relationship with the Agency except to say it was a formal one. Other sources said that Alsop was particularly helpful to the Agency in discussions with, officials of foreign governments!asking questions to which the CIA was seeking answers, planting misinformation advantageous to American policy, assessing opportunities for CIA recruitment of well‑placed foreigners.

The New York Times. The Agency's relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper's late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy!set by Sulzberger!to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.

When Newsweek waspurchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. "It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from," said a former deputy director of the Agency. "Frank Wisner dealt with him." Wisner, deputy director of the CIA from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency's premier orchestrator of "black" operations, including many in which journalists were involved. Wisner liked to boast of his "mighty Wurlitzer," a wondrous propaganda instrument he built, and played, with help from the press.) Phil Graham was probably Wisner's closest friend. But Graharn, who committed suicide in 1963, apparently knew little of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek, CIA sources said.

The Agency played an intriguing numbers game with the committee. Those who prepared the material say it was physically impossible to produce all of the Agency's files on the use of journalists. "We gave them a broad, representative picture," said one agency official. "We never pretended it was a total description of the range of activities over 25 years, or of the number of journalists who have done things for us." A relatively small number of the summaries described the activities of foreign journalists!including those working as stringers for American publications. Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side of the actual number who maintained covert relationships and undertook clandestine tasks.

From the twenty‑five files he got back, according to Senate sources and CIA officials, an unavoidable conclusion emerged: that to a degree never widely suspected, the CIA in the 1950s, '60s and even early '70s had concentrated its relationships with journalists in the most prominent sectors of the American press corps, including four or five of the largest newspapers in the country, the broadcast networks and the two major newsweekly magazines. Despite the omission of names and affiliations from the twenty‑five detailed files each was between three and eleven inches thick), the information was usually sufficient to tentatively identify either the newsman, his affiliation or both!particularly because so many of them were prominent in the profession.

The Alarmist > , September 5, 2016 at 11:43 pm GMT

@Darin If moon landings were fake, why hadn't USSR or China revealed it? This would discredit USA before the whole world and won the Cold War in one stroke.

If USSR was also part of the plot, then whole Cold War was fake - and in this case there would be no need for the small Apollo fake.

Sometimes, stupid conspiracy theories are just stupid conspiracy theories - or smart fakes, designed to discredit conspirational thinking and distract them from the real conspiracies. Take your pick.

" then whole Cold War was fake."

Wow, now here's a conspiracy theory to sink one's teeth into. That would make a great Matrix/MI/Bourne sequel.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 11:48 pm GMT

@Decius Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true. Thanks for that response, gave me a better perspective of the man. I guess he did know who he was writing for. And I do think the way to write for history is to write history by disregarding topical preoccupations, except to damn them with faint praise. I have a master like that I always go back to on the topic I care about most.

And actually the one work of Strauss's I have picked up, years ago, is his Machiavelli; it's one of the thousands of books I've read! not though one of the few I finished. Brushing up just now by way of wikipedia, it doesn't look like Strauss staked his claim strong enough, if an original reading is what he was writing.

By the way, I know the Irishman John Toland was the first to publish on the esoteric-exoteric distinction, and coined the term pantheist on a related occasion when he named what new beast Spinoza had born. That was when an esoteric mode of writing was really needed, and you will hear The Ethics called esoteric or cryptic, but I know the work well, and it is no more esoteric than any work of genius that teaches you to read closely right at the start.

Is The Prince an esoteric work? Did it entertain a conspiracy with special readers? I suppose only if Machiavelli had individuals in mind who might wonder were they all the while in mind when he was writing about how to dispose of them. The point is, there's nothing profound about observing that, it's almost common sense if you take into account the first thing about Machiavelli's circumstance.

I won't be glib and write Strauss's method off as typically paranoid; it's creative, but bound to be too creative by half. I think it might lead readers to have more fun than's good for learning.

Wizard of Oz > , September 6, 2016 at 12:15 am GMT

@Decius Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true. Fascinating. A reminder that one should five lives lived to 120 so one can lots of stories right .

Bill Jones > , September 6, 2016 at 1:04 am GMT

@Gene Tuttle I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time...of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."
The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" -- I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests. Nice try.

The Manhattan Project was successfully kept secret despite its scope and the fact that it consumed 17% of the electricity production of the entire US.

exiled off mainstreet > , September 6, 2016 at 1:14 am GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? The Israelis learned their false flag lesson from the Nazis, who used concentration camp inmates dressed as Polish soldiers as part of a phony attack on the frontier radio station "Sender Gleiwitz" a day or so before they invaded Poland.

exiled off mainstreet > , September 6, 2016 at 1:44 am GMT

@Darin Yes, why?

If you want to start a war, would you want to start with great defeat and loss of your fleet?

In the thirties, there were three cases of false flag attacks created to justify a war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukden_Incident
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelling_of_Mainila

In none of these cases the attacker actually killed thousands of his own soldiers, what would be the point? I didn't notice Gleiwitz was mentioned in another posting before I mentioned it. I tend go along with you and suspect incompetence rather than purpose was the cause of the Pearl Harbor disaster, though the incompetence may have included failure to adequately warn those on the ground at Pearl Harbor. Personally, I don't back the "truther" version of the twin towers because that would have required a broader conspiracy than I think could have succeeded. My guess is that the neighboring building was destroyed as part of the cleanup effort. I do think, however, that the authorities knew something was up, didn't believe it could ever succeed and used it as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident to brush aside constitutional democracy in the US. I also suspect that the Mossad knew more than they let on. My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different. I suspect that the anthrax thing was more likely started by the yankee regime as a home-grown conspiracy.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 1:51 am GMT

@Pat Casey Thanks for that response, gave me a better perspective of the man. I guess he did know who he was writing for. And I do think the way to write for history is to write history by disregarding topical preoccupations, except to damn them with faint praise. I have a master like that I always go back to on the topic I care about most.

And actually the one work of Strauss's I have picked up, years ago, is his Machiavelli; it's one of the thousands of books I've read--- not though one of the few I finished. Brushing up just now by way of wikipedia, it doesn't look like Strauss staked his claim strong enough, if an original reading is what he was writing.

By the way, I know the Irishman John Toland was the first to publish on the esoteric-exoteric distinction, and coined the term pantheist on a related occasion when he named what new beast Spinoza had born. That was when an esoteric mode of writing was really needed, and you will hear The Ethics called esoteric or cryptic, but I know the work well, and it is no more esoteric than any work of genius that teaches you to read closely right at the start.

Is The Prince an esoteric work? Did it entertain a conspiracy with special readers? I suppose only if Machiavelli had individuals in mind who might wonder were they all the while in mind when he was writing about how to dispose of them. The point is, there's nothing profound about observing that, it's almost common sense if you take into account the first thing about Machiavelli's circumstance.

I won't be glib and write Strauss's method off as typically paranoid; it's creative, but bound to be too creative by half. I think it might lead readers to have more fun than's good for learning. First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 6, 2016 at 2:18 am GMT

@exiled off mainstreet I didn't notice Gleiwitz was mentioned in another posting before I mentioned it. I tend go along with you and suspect incompetence rather than purpose was the cause of the Pearl Harbor disaster, though the incompetence may have included failure to adequately warn those on the ground at Pearl Harbor. Personally, I don't back the "truther" version of the twin towers because that would have required a broader conspiracy than I think could have succeeded. My guess is that the neighboring building was destroyed as part of the cleanup effort. I do think, however, that the authorities knew something was up, didn't believe it could ever succeed and used it as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident to brush aside constitutional democracy in the US. I also suspect that the Mossad knew more than they let on. My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different. I suspect that the anthrax thing was more likely started by the yankee regime as a home-grown conspiracy.

My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different.

Joe Lieberman was Gore's running mate. Lieberman had the Patriot Act on a shelf waiting for an opportunity !

While holding the chair of the "Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs," Lieberman introduced on October 11, 2001, Senate Bill 1534, to establish the US Department of Homeland Security.

Anticipating the bill's certain passage, Lieberman gave himself automatic chairmanship after he changed the name of his committee to, "The Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Government Affairs."

Since then, Lieberman has been the main force behind legislation such as:
-1- The USA Patriot Act
-2- Protect America Act
-3- National Emergency Centers Establishment Act
-4- The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation Act
-5- The Terrorist Expatriation Act, and the proposed
-6- Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act.

Rurik > , September 6, 2016 at 2:40 am GMT

Thank you Mr. Unz, for this excellent- and circumspect and salient- article.

His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

I'll just add that from what I've glimmered, (I'm definitely no expert on Leo Strauss), Strauss' philosophy contained more than just a careful consideration of 'conspiracy theories' and how they should be handled, but that what he advocated was a small group of highly motivated elite zealots (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al) who would not just use power to control the narrative vis-a-vis conspiracy theories, but more to the point, would be the men who would conspire to alter the realities that required a mocking of "conspiracy theories" in the first place.

From what I understand, one of his motivating themes was that his acolytes would come to understand that they shouldn't be guided by trite, pedestrian notions of morality when being the agents of change in the world. And that rather, they should use his teachings as a way to see the world as exceptional men, who would boldly do things others might shrink from, out of hackneyed notions of probity.

Perhaps the best quote I know of to describe Straussianism (as I understand it) was made by a man who wasn't one of his actual students, but who certainly would have been well acquainted and worked closely with others who were; Karl Rove, when speaking to an aid:

"That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality!judiciously, as you will!we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

that quote for me, describes Straussianism to a T. And if so, certainty dovetails with what happened during the reign of Bush-the lesser. Especially with something as audacious as 911.

That at least, is how I've seen it

As for the control of the media, I think most of your readers are certainly aware of that particular conundrum and its consequences. It is literally impossible to be too cynical as regards our media and government and CIA and other shenanigans, IMHO.

Thanks again sir.

SolontoCroesus > , September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

@Decius First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

Nonsense.

Maurizio Viroli has dedicated his life to scholarship on Machiavelli. He reads and understands The Prince (and Machiavelli's other works and life) in the context in which they were written, taking account of the finest details of Machiavelli's human, psychological, and spiritual evolution in the course of career and writing. Viroli walks in Niccolo's footsteps; like Machiavelli, he "puts on the garments" of 15th century Florence, and Rome, and the French and Germanic cities where Machiavelli traveled to represent Florence.

Strauss may satisfy those inclined to engage in exercise in Talmudic argument, but Machiavelli was Italian, Florentine, and Roman; Dante was his constant companion; he was also conversant in Old and New Testament literature and, less extensively, with the relatively newly rediscovered Greek philosophers.

Strauss does not understand Machiavelli's thoughts on religion because he fails to separate Niccolo's Christian, Danteian spirituality from his disgust with the corruption of the Roman Catholic papacy and institutional church.

If you want intellectual showmanship and hair-splitting, Strauss on Machiavelli's your man. If you want to understand the soul of Niccolo Machiavelli and the complexities of political life in the Florence, Italy he lived in and loved, you can't do better than Maurizio Viroli.

Machiavelli and Republicanism

http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/history-ideas-and-intellectual-history/machiavelli-and-republicanism?format=PB

Redeeming the Prince

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/681223

For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/0198293585.001.0001/acprof-9780198293583

(Strauss twists Machiavelli's love of country into an evil act because it is not universal. Yet, as one reviewer noted of Strauss, "I would make the case that the best defense of Strauss lies in an understanding of Aristotle and Israel." https://www.amazon.com/German-Stranger-Strauss-National-Socialism/dp/0739147382 )

CanSpeccy > , Website September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

@biz


you are too quick to conflate 9/11 and the moon landings
Actually, it was Unz himself who stated a while back that if we admit that one of them is possible, then all are possible, or something more or less to that effect.

In an case, the 9/11 controlled demolition / missile / flight 93 is in a hangar in Cleveland stuff is just as implausible as faking the moon landings. Too many people and organizations and countries needing to be in on it, etc. biz, you obviously missed it. Bill Jones, above , debunked your argument even before you made it.

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 3:31 am GMT

@Rurik Thank you Mr. Unz, for this excellent- and circumspect and salient- article.


His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
I'll just add that from what I've glimmered, (I'm definitely no expert on Leo Strauss), Strauss' philosophy contained more than just a careful consideration of 'conspiracy theories' and how they should be handled, but that what he advocated was a small group of highly motivated elite zealots (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al) who would not just use power to control the narrative vis-a-vis conspiracy theories, but more to the point, would be the men who would conspire to alter the realities that required a mocking of "conspiracy theories" in the first place.

From what I understand, one of his motivating themes was that his acolytes would come to understand that they shouldn't be guided by trite, pedestrian notions of morality when being the agents of change in the world. And that rather, they should use his teachings as a way to see the world as exceptional men, who would boldly do things others might shrink from, out of hackneyed notions of probity.

Perhaps the best quote I know of to describe Straussianism (as I understand it) was made by a man who wasn't one of his actual students, but who certainly would have been well acquainted and worked closely with others who were; Karl Rove, when speaking to an aid:

"That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality!judiciously, as you will!we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

that quote for me, describes Straussianism to a T. And if so, certainty dovetails with what happened during the reign of Bush-the lesser. Especially with something as audacious as 911.

That at least, is how I've seen it...

As for the control of the media, I think most of your readers are certainly aware of that particular conundrum and its consequences. It is literally impossible to be too cynical as regards our media and government and CIA and other shenanigans, IMHO.

Thanks again sir. Nice job. You roped the quote that ran across my mind! I swear these things are in the air. How do you say, the ghost of Leo Strauss was moving men to do what you can't pin on his memory? Well you said it and that settles it. Thank goodness.

Astuteobservor II > , September 6, 2016 at 3:32 am GMT

after snowden, every conspiracy theory got a 99% boost in credibility. he confirmed the big bad boogeymen watching and spying on us all. nothing else is impossible, nothing. every theory is now possible, everything.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 3:55 am GMT

@Pat Casey Nice job. You roped the quote that ran across my mind--- I swear these things are in the air. How do you say, the ghost of Leo Strauss was moving men to do what you can't pin on his memory? Well you said it and that settles it. Thank goodness. Wait, a quote from Rove that doesn't even mention Strauss explains everything about Strauss? Are you serious?

I gather you just need a boogeyman and Strauss is the one you've selected. Or, more accurately, have allowed others to select for you.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 4:03 am GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.
Nonsense. Maurizio Viroli has dedicated his life to scholarship on Machiavelli. He reads and understands The Prince (and Machiavelli's other works and life) in the context in which they were written, taking account of the finest details of Machiavelli's human, psychological, and spiritual evolution in the course of career and writing. Viroli walks in Niccolo's footsteps; like Machiavelli, he "puts on the garments" of 15th century Florence, and Rome, and the French and Germanic cities where Machiavelli traveled to represent Florence.

Strauss may satisfy those inclined to engage in exercise in Talmudic argument, but Machiavelli was Italian, Florentine, and Roman; Dante was his constant companion; he was also conversant in Old and New Testament literature and, less extensively, with the relatively newly rediscovered Greek philosophers.

Strauss does not understand Machiavelli's thoughts on religion because he fails to separate Niccolo's Christian, Danteian spirituality from his disgust with the corruption of the Roman Catholic papacy and institutional church. If you want intellectual showmanship and hair-splitting, Strauss on Machiavelli's your man. If you want to understand the soul of Niccolo Machiavelli and the complexities of political life in the Florence, Italy he lived in and loved, you can't do better than Maurizio Viroli.

(Strauss twists Machiavelli's love of country into an evil act because it is not universal. Yet, as one reviewer noted of Strauss, "I would make the case that the best defense of Strauss lies in an understanding of Aristotle and Israel." https://www.amazon.com/German-Stranger-Strauss-National-Socialism/dp/0739147382 ) First, you are wrong that Strauss thinks Machiavelli's patriotism is in itself evil. Strauss says the exact opposite at several points. But he also says that recourse to patriotism does not in itself excuse Machiavelli's recommendations to do evil. Strauss himself comes up with the most persuasive justifications (which are higher than excuses) for Machiavelli's evil sayings. But to understand Strauss's arguments, you would have to read the book and spend a lot of time with it because it is hard.

Viroli is a scholar I respect for a lot of reasons, but not for philosophic depth. The argument about "context" diminishes Machiavelli (and all great thinkers) by presupposing that their thought is time-bound or that they could not think past the horizon of their time. The greatest minds transcend their times and even create new times. There aren't very many such, but Nick was one.

pyrrhus > , September 6, 2016 at 5:37 am GMT

The CIA's Project Mockingbird had all the network news anchors using the words "conspiracy theory" like the brainless parrots that they were. And Americans remain well brainwashed, although it's actually hard to get anything significant done without a "conspiracy."

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 5:37 am GMT

@Decius First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose. Steve weighed in on this a while back and made the point that what we have, what has been handed down to us, that probably is the esoteric stuff. I don't think he even mentioned in the piece how interesting it is that what we have of Aristotle seem to be lecture notes. I suspect that is just because: Aristotle taught Alexander!the teacher knew no felt need to live on as a writer like Plato did. One thing we can say about those lecture notes, we can pretty well imagine they were not written in his prime, hence we're still learning how much good stuff is there; if you know your stuff, you know as late as the late Richard Taylor that the philosopher was yet outdoing us moderns in a point he makes like an afterthought but could not matter more. But so anyways, what we have is the distilled Aristotle probably from his golden years; if we also had it in any other form, it might read comparatively mercilessly for being too esoteric. As we know him it is impossible to imagine Aristotle writing dialogues, debating other voices ; one need not name rivals when one has none and he was the King's philosopher. What you can't say is no he was being disorganized on purpose to be esoteric, right?

But take Plato. I assume if you could read ancient Greek as well as Plato could, you would find many a double meaning at crucial turns but I really have no idea save the gut instinct that the man was an inspired writer when he wrote which is to say a poet. And what a poet does is let the muse speak and summon such nice lines as "The Beauty is not the Madness/ Though my errors and wrecks lie about me/and I am not a demigod, I cannot make it cohere." The errors that lie about him strewn about him as it were, they lie about how good he was when he was at his best. A tongue like a double-bladed sword says the Bible. I imagine some of Ezra Pound's radio rants need a second listen with less tense nerves; they say the Italians suspected he was transmitting code. Anyways. Imagine how much can be said for the stories we tell ourselves .how many former selves does any one wind up with? you have to ask your self.

Scholasticism, well you could almost say that's all about no secret handshake shit. Make sure them key words get nailed down and no tricks or to the tower you got cause to go.

Spinoza, oh we know exactly where his mystery lies. Edwin Curley said:

"In responding to this objection, I think I had best begin by confessing candidly that in spite of many years of study, I still do not feel that I understand this part of the Ethics at all adequately. I feel the freedom to confess that, of course, because I also believe that no one else understands it adequately either"

What objection? The one that says, nothing of the mind should remain eternal after the body has been destroyed if there is only one substance! We could have gone to grad school on this paper is what the man said, but first pay respects to what that meant to him personally, cause he probably escaped with his life when he did, but he knew his disciples would keep his mind alive. But seriously I should touch this up and send it somewhere:

It must be said that the elegance of this deduction is striking. God's idea of the human body corresponds with the mind's idea of the human body. The crucial move that turns the correspondence into a startling claim is that God's idea expresses the essence of the body, while the mind's idea expresses the essence of the mind. Through the initial correspondence, God's eternal essence expressed as an idea of the body adopts the essence of the mind. Thus, when the body dies, something of the essence of the mind remains eternal. With that, Spinoza culminates his masterpiece.

" Since what is conceived, with a certain eternal necessity, through God's essence itself, is nevertheless something, this something that pertains to the essence of the mind will necessarily be eternal." Besides being an Eternalist, Spinoza is also an Idealist. It fits then that he should leave something of the mind remaining eternally, rather than what a strict Eternalist would leave, that is, something of the mind and body. But recall that Spinoza's something that pertains to the essence of the mind is the idea of the body . In the final analysis, his system coheres.

That's terribly poignant too, because it shows he went back to his roots in the end: "The soul will blame the body for its actions."

Anyways I've spent myself and who wants to talk about Nietzsche, really. That guy was an antenna for a frequency that was broadcasting Noh drama directly into his soul while he wrote his Zarathustra, and I don't believe he ever came back from that!he had all the inside jokes he could tell to himself in perpetuity. But I gotta say, one time I ran into this guys blog who had let Nietzsche drive him insane, and he had comprehensively worked out to an absolute end the thesis his whole philosophy was to understand that a formal Matriarchy was what's good and here's why that's the necessity. If that is true its too hysterical to ever argue with no hint of mania. So I felt bad for the guy.

But what the other guy said rings truest to me. And I'd just add that Paul Gottfried's observation that Strauss winds up treating a text a lot like the Deconstructions do does not entirely fail Strauss for me. The fundamental truth to them is something every one of us around can understand: these words we type, the ain't alive on quick lips, which is what gets some of us into more trouble than others.

I definitely check out the book, but one must be cautious when resurrecting phantoms.

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 6:18 am GMT

@Decius Wait, a quote from Rove that doesn't even mention Strauss explains everything about Strauss? Are you serious?

I gather you just need a boogeyman and Strauss is the one you've selected. Or, more accurately, have allowed others to select for you. Don't miss my longer reply, in the cue, plus this one, but put the boogeyman business to bed and put your defenses down . I can't say it any other way: I think the spirit of Leo Strauss may well have moved men to move mountains and mountains otherwise called federal bureaucracies and divisions of armies. It might explain not "everything" about Strauss but indeed whats essential about Strauss, which is that you are right, I suspect he was special. Step back for a second and forget that those Bush bastards were bastards and just estimate the nerve it takes to pull off 9/11 and then go into Afghanistan and Iraq. We can all at least agree, that's somthin.

5371 > , September 6, 2016 at 6:20 am GMT

@Decius At any rate it's sort of absurd to watch you people chase your tails. All that you "know" or think you know is that Strauss is bad. But Schmitt is good. But Strauss is derivative of Schmitt. Doesn't that make Strauss good, or Schmitt bad?

Schmitt is famous for arguing in favor of the essential particularity of politics--i.e., against alleged neocon universalism. So if Strauss is derivative of Schmitt, how can he be a neocon universalist?

Strauss in fact agrees with Schmitt on the essential particularity of politics and says so, but finds a deeper source, with deeper arguments, in Plato. Schmitt admitted that his own attempt to fortify his particularism was build on the quick-sandy foundation of modern rationalism, which Strauss taught him to see through. When you can pin Strauss down to a definite meaning, it is false, banal or both. He is usually too obfuscatory to be pinned down. Schmitt is easy to understand and shows you true things you had not thought of before.

dismasdolben > , September 6, 2016 at 6:23 am GMT

My favourite historical conspiracy is the so-called "Gunpowder Plot," which is still, despite all of the evidence that has been discovered in more modern times, represented in history books, as being exclusively the work of disgruntled Catholic noblemen and their Jesuit confessors. It was actually a government projection of the Cecil ministry, completely riddled with moles who nurtured it along, right up until the point when it could be revealed to the public for maximum political effect, and to the King, so that he would become more terrorified, and, thus, more dependent upon the Cecils and their "constitutionalist" Puritan proteges. The "evidence" has, indeed, always been in plain sight, and it has been dealt with in numerous books, such as The Gunpowder Plot, Faith and Treason , by Antonia Fraser, and another book, entitled "God's Secret Agents,' but, still, to this day, the myth of conspiring priests is still propagated in atavistic anti-Catholic British history.

Wizard of Oz > , September 6, 2016 at 7:42 am GMT

@Miro23 Being smart has nothing to do with it.

For example the government says that WTC7 completely collapsed in 7 seconds due to fire. You don't need to be smart to see something is wrong here (hint: most of the structural pillars were untouched by fire). I see the biggest problem about a conspiratorial explanation for the WTC 7 collapse is motive. How does it make sense for those who wanted the big splash that hitting buildings 1 and 2 would give? The other major difficulty is the video footage of fires burning all day which had to have heated the steel and therefore potentially weakened it to a critical point. Where's the mystery?

Old fogey > , September 6, 2016 at 8:28 am GMT

@Laurel The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther. Thank you for inserting the word "truther" into the conversation. It has always fascinated me that someone searching for the truth about a political issue is now automatically considered a conspiracy theorist.

Moi > , September 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm GMT

@Rehmat There are more so-called "conspiracy theories" claimed by the US government, CIA, and organized Jewry than the Jews may have been killed by the Nazis. The "conspiracy theorists" like the "terrorists" are chosen by the Zionist-controlled mainstream media.

Like the September 11, 2001 attacks, the lie that Iran's president Ahmadinejad called, WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP, is still kept alive by the Organized Jewry even though Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said Iran wanted to "wipe Israel off the face of the map" in an interview with Al Jazeera in April 2012.

American investigative writer and author, Robert Parry, claimed on September 19, 2009 that Ahmadinejad never denied Holocaust. He just challenged Israel and the western powers to allow an open debate to find the truth behind the Zionist Holy Cow, "Six Million Died".

In reality, the only country that has been 'wiped off the map' is the 5,000-year-old Palestine by Europe's unwanted Jews.

Iran's current president Dr. Hassan Rouhani like Dr. Ahmadinejad, is also blamed for denying the Zionist Holy Holocaust as parroted by Wiesel, which he never did, saying it's up to historians to decide who's lying.

https://rehmat1.com/2013/09/28/holocaust-the-word-rouhani-never-uttered/ If the Zionists can lie so much about Israeli history (e.g. The Arabs encouraged Palestinians to flee, that the Arabs were about to attack Israel in 1967, land without a people for a people without a land, etc.), one can only wonder about the official holocaust narrative of 6M dead, gas chambers, etc.).

I've not read Elie Weisel's book Night, but I understand that no where does he mention gas chambers in Auschwitz .

[Sep 22, 2017] Flags, Symbols, and Statues Resurgent As Globalism Declines

Sep 22, 2017 | www.strategic-culture.org

As the forces of globalism retreat after numerous defeats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and other nations, there is a resurgent popularity in national, historical, and cultural symbols. These include flags, statues of forbearers, place names, language, and, in fact, anything that distinguishes one national or sub-national group from others. The negative reactions to cultural and religious threats brought about by the manifestations of globalism – mass movement of refugees, dictates from supranational organizations like the European Union and the United Nations, and the loss of financial independence – should have been expected by the globalists. Caught up in their own self-importance and hubris, the globalists are now debasing the forces of national, religious, and cultural identity as threats to the "world order."

The most egregious examples of globalist pushback against aspirant nationhood and the symbols of national identity are Catalonia and Kurdistan. Two plebiscites on independence, a September 25, 2017 referendum on the Kurdistan Regional Government declaring independence from Iraq and an October 1 referendum on Catalonia beginning the process of breaking away from the Kingdom of Spain, are expected to achieve "yes" votes. Neither plebiscite in binding, a fact that will result in both votes being ignored by the mother countries.

Iraq, the United States, Turkey, and Iran have warned Kurdish Iraq against holding the independence referendum. The United States is prepared to double-cross its erstwhile Kurdish allies for a fourth time. President Woodrow Wilson, who has been cited as the "first neoconservative or neocon, reneged on Kurdish independence during the post-World War I Versailles peace conference. Henry Kissinger double-crossed Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani in 1975 with the Algiers Accord between Iraq and Iran, a perfidious act that forced 100,000 of Barzani's Kurdish forces into exile in Iran. George H. W. Bush promised the Kurds help after Operation Desert Storm in 1991 if they revolted against Saddam Hussein's government. US military aid was not forthcoming and the Kurds were forced into a small sliver of northern Iraq, over which a US "no-fly zone" was imposed. Now, Donald Trump's administration has warned the Kurds not to even think about independence, even though the Kurdish peshmerga forces helped the US and its allies to drive the Islamic State out of Kirkuk and the rest of northern Iraq.

In Spain, the conservative prime minister is trying to emulate the Spanish fascist dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco in making threats against Catalonia's independence wishes.

In response to the Catalan Parliament's vote to hold an October 1 referendum on Catalonia's independence from Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his People's Party government have promised to round up the pro-independence members of the Catalan government, as well as pro-independence legislators of the parliament and mayors, and criminally charge them with sedition.

Rajoy's stance should be no surprise since his party, the Popular Party, is the political heir of Franco's Falangist party. Franco's version of the Nazi Gestapo, the Guardia Civil, brutally suppressed Catalan and Basque identity. Particular targets for suppression, according to Falangist doctrine, were "anti-Spanish activists," "Reds," "separatists," "liberals," "Jews," "Freemasons," and "judeomarxistas."

The Falange was eventually replaced by the National Movement, which continued many of Franco's policies, including repression of the Catalan and Basque culture, autonomy, and language.

The Francoist People's Alliance, founded in 1989 by Franco's Interior Minister, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, eventually morphed into the People's Party of Rajoy. The People's Party considers itself "Christian Democratic," but it receives support from Franco's fascist Roman Catholic order, the Opus Dei.

Rajoy is using a decision by Spain's Constitutional Court, suspending the independence referendum in Catalonia, as justification for his threats against the region. Apparently, the neo-fascist government of Spain has been trawling Twitter to collect the names of Catalan mayors who have posted photographs of themselves and messages of support for the "Junts pel Si" (Together for Yes) pro-independence coalition. The mayors, along with members of parliament and the government in Barcelona, are being placed on a Guardia Civil list targeting them with arrest and incarceration if the referendum is carried out.

Rajoy has also warned officials of local municipal councils that their cooperation in holding a referendum vote will be considered an act of sedition and that they, too, face arrest and detention.

Rajoy's channeling of Franco will only solidify anti-Spanish feelings in Catalonia, even among those not keen on independence. The iron boot of Rajoy and the People's Party in Catalonia will only boost support for Catalan independence from those mildly opposed to it or neutral. If Catalonia's regional and local government leaders are paraded off to prisons, the peaceful independence movement in the region could easily turn violent. There is also widespread support for Catalan independence in the separatist Basque region, where parades have been held in support of the Catalan cause. In August, 3000 pro-Catalan independence Basques marched in the Basque city of San Sebastian. If Rajoy carries through with his threat against Catalonia, the Basque region will also see it as a threat to them and join in a renewed campaign of violence against the Madrid neo-fascists. The Basque secessionist terrorist group ETA agreed to disarm in 2011 but it has not turned in all its weapons.

The Basque party EH Bildu has already submitted a bill in the regional Basque parliament that is a copy of the Catalan independence referendum bill that passed the parliament in Barcelona.

People around the world are rejecting the notion that states, harboring more than one nation, ethnic group, or tribal entity, should be recognized by globalist institutions like the EU and UN as representing all the constituent parts. Currently, the Republic of Macedonia is negotiating with Greece, the EU, and NATO on membership under a nation-state name that suits Greece. Greece does not recognize Macedonia by that name because it believes Macedonia harbors irredentist designs on Greek Macedonia. Greece insists the country use the provisional name of FYROM, which stands for the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Macedonian nationalists scoff at such a name, likening it to being forced to use the fictional Klingon language of "Star Trek."

As a result of the United Kingdom's exit from the EU, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are demanding that London grant them the right to maintain their own economic and other links with the Eurocrats in Brussels. Scotland may hold a second independence referendum with or without the blessing of London. The Welsh Assembly in Cardiff is sounding more and more like the Scottish Parliament in demanding a separate deal with the EU for Wales. Even in the heart of the EU bureaucracy – Belgium – Flanders and Wallonia show no signs of abandoning their march toward independence, leaving Brussels as its own independent city-state hosting the headquarters of the EU, NATO, and Godiva Chocolatier. Rather than the Belgian flag, one is more likely to find Flemish flags flying from poles in Antwerp and Walloon flags adorning buildings in Liège.

Around the world, statues of historical figures are being defaced and removed by contrarian groups who bear ethnic or political grudges. They include Confederate General Robert E. Lee throughout the United States, Captain James Cook in Australia, Father Junipero Serra in California, Christopher Columbus in New York, King Kamehameha in Hawaii, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and Marthinus Pretorius and Paul Kruger in South Africa. This all represents the trend toward dissolution of the nation-state. Nation-state flags, monuments of past political and religious figures, and other nation-state symbols are not only being questioned but, in some cases, ignored or cast aside completely. The world is "going tribal" and there is little the governing globalists and elites can do about it. They brought this situation upon themselves with their aloofness and ignorance. The UN General Assembly will soon welcome 193-member state leaders to its plenary session in New York. The UN may do well to plan for future sessions at which 300 or more member-state leaders, from Åland to Zanzibar and Baltistan to Mthwakazi, converge on New York.

Tags: Neocons Catalonia Kurdistan Middle East UK New World Order

[Sep 22, 2017] Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say

Sep 20, 2017 | www.foxnews.com

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was 'unmasking' at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 - and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump's inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.

Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.

[Sep 22, 2017] The remarkable inactivity of the FBI: for example The FBI has never questioned Assange [he confirms that] or Murray and neither has it ever looked at the DNC servers.

Notable quotes:
"... Nonetheless, every time you think the hysteria has gone as far as it can, it goes a bit farther ..."

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All the reasons why the Russia-election-interference story is bunkum.

Not least of which is the remarkable inactivity of the FBI: for example "The FBI has never questioned Assange [he confirms that] or Murray" and neither has it ever looked at the DNC servers.

Nonetheless, every time you think the hysteria has gone as far as it can, it goes a bit farther: Morgan Freeland joins the circus.

Bershidsky trashes the latest nonsense. One can hope that it's finally jumped the shark.

[Sep 21, 2017] Emails Hillary Clinton Sought Russian Officials For Pay-To-Play Scheme

Sep 21, 2017 | www.mintpressnews.com

Although Hillary Clinton has blamed numerous factors and people for her loss to Donald Trump in last year's election, no one has received as much blame as the Russian government. In an effort to avoid blaming the candidate herself by turning the election results into a national scandal, accusations of Kremlin-directed meddling soon surfaced. While such accusations have largely been discredited by both computer analysts and award-winning journalists like Seymour Hersh, they continue to be repeated as the investigation into Donald Trump's alleged collusion with the Russian government picks up steam.

However, newly released Clinton emails suggest that that the former secretary of state's disdain for the Russian government is a relatively new development. The emails, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, show that the Russian government was included in invitations to exclusive Clinton Foundation galas that began less than two months after Clinton became the top official at the U.S. State Department.

In March of 2009, Amitabh Desai, then-Clinton Foundation director of foreign policy, sent invitations to numerous world leaders, which included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Desai's emails were cc'd to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro and later forwarded to top Clinton aide Jake Sullivan.

The Clinton Foundation's activities during Hillary's tenure as secretary of state have been central to the accusations that the Clinton family used their "charitable" foundation as a means of enriching themselves via a massive "Pay to Play" scheme. Emails leaked by Wikileaks, particularly the Podesta emails , offered ample evidence connecting foreign donations to the Clintons and their foundation with preferential treatment by the U.S. State Department.

[Sep 21, 2017] Susan Rice admits that she spied on Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... Until now, Susan Rice had always denied spying on Donald Trump and his team both in the transition period and also in the run up to the presidential elections. There have been several times when President Trump has denounced the illegal tappings that the Obama Administration had authorized against him, which the Press in the United States had qualified as completely fabricated. ..."
"... President Richard Nixon had been forced to resign for spying on the Democratic Party's electoral headquarters. However, in the case of Susan Rice, the Congressmen have not "acquired a conviction" that she had committed a federal crime and that she had tried to cover it up. ..."
"... In contrast, President Obama's team is presenting the tappings ordered by Susan Rice as wholly legitimate in the context of an investigation into possible Russian interferences. Furthermore, it is a fact that the United Arab Emirates has organized at the same time, a meeting in the Seychelles, between someone close to President Putin and Erik Prince (former director of Blackwater, military advisor to the Emirates and brother of the current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos). ..."
Sep 18, 2017 | www.voltairenet.org

Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor, has admitted before the House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee that during the transition period, she had spied on Donald Trump and his team when they were in Trump Tower, New York. She also admitted that she had had the names of Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon deleted from summaries of the tappings.

Mrs Rice has guaranteed that her intention was not to find out the secret plans of the Team Trump. She just was trying to figure out what the United Arab Emirates was up to, and was hoping to gather relevant information from the content of an interview that the President Elect was supposed to have given to the Prince and heir to the throne of Abu Dhabi.

Until now, Susan Rice had always denied spying on Donald Trump and his team both in the transition period and also in the run up to the presidential elections. There have been several times when President Trump has denounced the illegal tappings that the Obama Administration had authorized against him, which the Press in the United States had qualified as completely fabricated.

President Richard Nixon had been forced to resign for spying on the Democratic Party's electoral headquarters. However, in the case of Susan Rice, the Congressmen have not "acquired a conviction" that she had committed a federal crime and that she had tried to cover it up.

In contrast, President Obama's team is presenting the tappings ordered by Susan Rice as wholly legitimate in the context of an investigation into possible Russian interferences. Furthermore, it is a fact that the United Arab Emirates has organized at the same time, a meeting in the Seychelles, between someone close to President Putin and Erik Prince (former director of Blackwater, military advisor to the Emirates and brother of the current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/b6edWWMlbWQ

[Sep 21, 2017] Trump's UN Speech A Neocon Dream by Daniel McAdams

Please listen to the audio at the link...
Sep 21, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org
President Trump's speech yesterday at the United Nations got rave reviews from neocons like John Bolton and Elliot Abrams. The US president threatened North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. At the same time he claimed that the US is the one country to lead by example rather than by violating the sovereignty of others. Are the neocons on a roll as they push for more war? Have they "won" Trump?

[Sep 21, 2017] How the United Nations Supports the American Empire by JP Sottile

Notable quotes:
"... Consortium News ..."
"... By JP Sottile / Republished with permission / Consortium News ..."
theantimedia.org
September 21, 2017 at 8:19 am

Originally published by: Consortium News

For decades the American Right has decried the U.N. for encroaching on American sovereignty, but the truth is that the U.N. is a chief U.S. accomplice in violating the sovereignty of other nations, notes J.P. Sottile.

CN ) President Trump opened his big United Nations week and his famous mouth with a predictable plug for one of his properties and some playful glad-handing with French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump also scolded the U.N.'s unwieldy scrum for "not living up to its potential." He made a passing reference to the U.N.'s wasteful use of American money. And he called for "reform" of the much-maligned international forum.

We're revolutionizing the news industry, but we need your help! Click here to get started.

It was a stolid prelude to what will no doubt be "must-see" TV when he speaks to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday about North Korea and Iran. And it was a far cry from the way America's leading "America Firster" spent the campaign lamenting how unfair the U.N . is to the poor schlemiel we call Uncle Sam.

He is likely to use his speech to throw a little bit of that same red meat to his base, but his call for reform falls well short of what his supporters want which is an abrupt end of U.S. involvement in the international body. They are motivated by a grab-bag of reasons that point to the U.N. being a threat to their guns, their bank accounts and their God-given freedom.

Oddly enough, these conspiratorial narratives have been around for decades and they mostly center on a grand plan by U.N. elites to abscond American sovereignty and dissolve the U.S. into a U.N.-led world government. And the evidence of this is the way the U.N. harasses and restricts Uncle Sam while siphoning-off America's wealth. At least, that's what some think.

Most ominously, many object to the way U.N. funds are being used to quietly deploy gun-grabbing U.N. soldiers in advance of the big takeover . But like so much of Trump's intoxicating irredentism this is a grievance more likely rooted in a three-day meth bender in a Tallahassee trailer park than it is from shocking evidence gathered from well-traveled observation. It's paranoia. But really, it's worse than that.

Why? Because the U.N. has basically been the complete opposite of what its angriest critics claim. It is not out to get the U.S. Rather, it has largely been America's tool since its inception and, in particular, it has repeatedly covered Uncle Sam's overly-exposed butt as he (a.k.a. "the royal we") has gone around the world on a three decade-long military bender since the end of the Cold War.

Yes, the Gulf War was U.N. approved and the whole world got behind it because ( April Glaspie's backstory notwithstanding) the prima facie case was strong and it was a fairly clear-cut example of unwarranted aggression. That was an easy call.

Global Violence

But since then, the calls have been nothing short of murky as the U.S. has bombed and droned and deployed and invaded and covertly-acted and regime-changed all around the globe. And the unspoken truth is that the United Nations has been America's all-too silent partner as Uncle Sam traipsed around the planet with a loaded gun, remote control assassination machines and paper-thin rationales for intervention.

Although the U.N. occasionally puts a bug up Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's ass on the issue of the slow-motion ethnic cleansing in the West Bank what other issue is there where the U.N. has taken a real stand against the U.S. or U.S. policy objectives?

Where is the U.N.'s punishment for being lied to by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell? And where is the punishment for destroying a bystander nation under false pretenses? Where is the punishment for Abu Ghraib or Gitmo?

Where is the punishment for America's summary execution of "suspected militants" around the Muslim world simply because they are of "military age" and in the wrong place at the right time and for the CIA, it is always the right time to kill a suspect no matter how wrong the place many be. And where is the condemnation of America's destabilizing role as the world's leading supermarket of military hardware ?

How about mounting civilian causalities from an ever-widening widening bombing campaign? The U.N. can say the killings are " unacceptable ," but does it really matter if there is no sanction? There haven't been any sanctions after children were killed in a " U.S.-backed raid " in Somalia. Go figure, right?

Or what about America's complicity in the catastrophe of Yemen? Where are those sanctions? And what exactly has the U.N. done to punish any number of extra-legal maneuver by a succession of American presidents over the course of the "Global War on Terror"? The simple answer is nothing.

Instead, the Secretary General is largely beholden to the disproportionate influence of the United States. The Security Council's agenda is basically set by the United States and that's particularly true since the Soviet Union collapsed. At the same time, the U.N.'s occasionally contentious debates do little more than offer the imprimatur of international approbation or well-noted disdain despite the functionally inconsequential nature of those debates.

A Fig Leaf for Empire

Either way it is a win for Uncle Sam because the presence of a neutered United Nations provides the United States with a fig leaf just big enough to cover the dangly parts of America's otherwise naked empire.

The money that does go from the U.S. Treasury into the minutia around the margins like UNESCO programs and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and all the other little crumbs that get thrown around the world these are payoffs. This is what the world gets for mostly keeping its mouth shut in the face of America's globe-spanning empire. The tiny amount of aid that trickles down past the bureaucracy much like the bureaucracy itself is not an example of America "getting played" by wasteful foreigners with hidden agendas. This is America paying to play the world like organ grinder with a hurdy-gurdy monkey.

Frankly, the " 28.5% of the overall peacekeeping bill " that Trump calls "unfair" ( about $2.2 billion of the $3.3 billion the U.S. gives to the UN annually ) is a pittance particularly if you want the unchecked right to tell Persians what they can and cannot do in the Persian Gulf, to tell the Chinese what they can and cannot build in the South China Sea, and to tell every other power on the face of the earth why they cannot have the same nuclear capability America not only has but is currently "upgrading" to the tune of $1.5 trillion .

Even more amazingly, the U.S. wants to deny these nations the only real insurance policy against U.S.-led regime change. And why is that? Because there ain't a Curveball's chance in Hell that the U.N. will ever be able to stop Uncle Sam from marching where he wants, when he wants and for whatever reason he wants to cook-up. That's a historically provable fact .

The only real check on U.S. power is the ability of an asymmetrical power to go nuclear. And let's admit it, they are ALL asymmetrical powers when compared to America's gargantuan, trillion-dollar national security beast . And this is why the U.N.'s "partnership" with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the only U.N.-associated agency that really matters. They can't do much, but they can throw a wrench into another WMD snipe hunt like they are doing now with the Iran Nuclear Deal .

But like it was tested by Team Bush, the IAEA is going to be tested again as Trump and Netanyahu make their bogus case without a hint of irony that Iran is the world's greatest threat. But that's really just par for a course that's riddled with falsified flags haphazardly stuck into the shallow holes of a back nine that's actually been built by and for a club-wielding Uncle Sam.

A Cult of Grievance
Sep 21, 2017 | theantimedia.org

And therein lies the truly pernicious part of the Trumped-up case against the U.N. because, like so much of America's growing cult of grievance, it reflects an ever-widening gap between America's stated ideals and its self-serving behavior around the world.

As we are learning almost daily, Americans tried to square that circle by electing a profligate liar who fully embodies America's insatiable desire to take credit, particularly where none is due and to outsource the blame to scapegoats like the U.N., particularly when the only alternative is a long look into the mirror.

And in the case of the U.N., that projected guilt is in spite of the fact that it is often tasked with quietly cleaning up some of the collateral damage wrought by their main accuser. They just have to do so without any real power or the funds to do the job. That's the simple truth you won't hear in Trump's speech or any speech, for that matter.

It's the fact that the U.N.'s meager amount of "wasteful spending" doesn't even begin to cover the cost of doing business when your business depends of paying the world to look the other way while you get away with murder.

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. He blogs at Newsvandal.com or you can follow him on Twitter .

By JP Sottile / Republished with permission / Consortium News

[Sep 21, 2017] The Worst Mistake in US History by Jacob G. Hornberger

Notable quotes:
"... Bush and his people were simply lying. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a president had lied in order to garner support for a war. Lyndon Johnson's lies regarding a supposed North Vietnamese attack on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam come to mind. Two, Bush didn't secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, most likely because he knew that congressional hearings on the issue would expose his WMD scare for the lie it was. And three, only the UN, not the US government, was entitled to enforce its resolutions regarding Iraq's WMDs. ..."
"... Moreover, the circumstantial evidence establishes that Bush was lying and that the WMD scare was entirely bogus. Many people forget that throughout the 1990s the US government was hell-bent on regime change in Iraq. That's what the brutal sanctions were all about, which contributed to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. When US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked on Sixty Minutes whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions were "worth it," she responded that such deaths were "worth it." By "it," she was referring to regime change. ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation . ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

A good example of how the national-security state has adversely affected the thinking of US soldiers was reflected in an op-ed entitled "What We're Fighting For" that appeared in the February 10, 2017, issue of the New York Times. Authored by an Iraq War veteran named Phil Klay, the article demonstrates perfectly what the national-security state has done to soldiers and others and why it is so imperative for the American people to restore a constitutional republic to our land.

Klay begins his op-ed by extolling the exploits of another US Marine, First Lt. Brian Chontosh, who, displaying great bravery, succeeded in killing approximately two dozen Iraqis in a fierce firefight during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Klay writes:

When I was a new Marine, just entering the Corps, this story from the Iraq invasion defined heroism for me. It's a perfect image of war for inspiring new officer candidates, right in line with youthful notions of what war is and what kind of courage it takes ! physical courage, full stop.
Klay then proceeds to tell a story about an event he witnessed when he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. After doctors failed to save the life of a Marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper, those same doctors proceeded to treat and save the life of the sniper, who himself had been shot by US troops. Klay used the story to point out the virtuous manner in which US forces carried out their military mission in Iraq.

Well, except perhaps, Klay observes, for Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison in which Saddam Hussein's government had tortured and abused countless Iraqis and which the US military turned into its own torture and abuse center for Iraqis captured during the 2003 US invasion of the country. Klay tells the story of a defense contractor named Eric Fair, who tortured an Iraqi prisoner into divulging information about a car-bomb factory. Encouraged by that successful use of torture, Fair proceeded to employ it against many other Iraqis, none of whom had any incriminating evidence to provide.

Klay points out that both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were major turning points in the Iraq War because prisoner abuse at both camps became a driving force for Iraqis to join the insurgency in Iraq. Thus, while Fair may have saved lives through his successful use of torture, he and other US personnel who tortured and abused people at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay may well have cost the lives of many more US soldiers in the long term.

Klay, however, suggests that none of that was really Fair's fault. While he might have crossed some moral lines, everything he did, Klay suggests, was in accordance with legal rules and regulations. Klay writes:

And Eric did what our nation asked of him, used techniques that were vetted and approved and passed down to intelligence operatives and contractors like himself. Lawyers at the highest levels of government had been consulted, asked to bring us to the furthest edge of what the law might allow. To do what it takes, regardless of whether such actions will secure the "attachment of all good men," or live up to that oath we swear to support and defend the Constitution.
Klay refers to the oath that US soldiers take to support and defend the Constitution. Clearly patting himself and other members of the US military on the back, he says US soldiers fight with honor to defend a "set of principles" that are reflected in the Constitution and that define America.

It would be difficult to find a better example of a life of the lie than that of Phil Klay. He provides an absolutely perfect demonstration of what a national-security state does to soldiers' minds and why the Founding Fathers were so opposed to that type of governmental structure.

The rights of invaders

Notice one big omission from Klay's self-aggrandizing article: Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Instead, it was the U.S government, operating through its troops, that was the aggressor nation in the Iraq War. Wars of aggression ! i.e., attacking, invading, and occupying other countries ! were among the crimes of which the defendants at Nuremburg were convicted.

It is absolutely fascinating that that critically important point seems to escape Klay so completely. It's as if it just doesn't exist or just doesn't count. His mindset simply begins with the fact that US troops are engaged in war and then it proceeds from there to focus on the courage and humanity of the troops, how their bravery in battle inspired him, and how they treated the enemy humanely. It never occurs to him to ask the vital question: Did US troops have any legal or moral right to be in Iraq and to kill anyone there, including Iraqi soldiers, insurgents, civilians, and civil servants working for the Iraqi government?

Many years ago, I posed a question about the US invasion and occupation of Iraq to a libertarian friend of mine who was a Catholic priest. I asked him, If a US soldier is placed in Iraq in a kill-or-be-killed situation, does he have a right to fire back at an Iraqi who is shooting at him?

My friend's answer was unequivocal: Absolutely not, he responded. Since he has no legitimate right to be in Iraq, given that he is part of the aggressor force that initiated the war, under God's laws he cannot kill anyone, not even by convincing himself that he is only acting in "self-defense."

I responded, "Are you saying that his only choice is to run away or permit himself to be killed"? He responded, "That is precisely what I am saying. Under the laws of God, he cannot kill anyone in Iraq because he has no right to be there."

Suppose a burglar enters a person's home in the dead of night. The homeowner wakes up, discovers the intruder, and begins firing at him. The burglar fires back and kills the homeowner.

The burglar appears in court and explains that he never had any intention of killing the homeowner and that he was simply firing back in self-defense. He might even explain to the judge how bravely he reacted under fire and detail the clever manner in which he outmaneuvered and shot the homeowner.

The judge, however, would reject any claim of self-defense on the part of the burglar. Why? Because the burglar had no right to be in the homeowner's house. Like the US soldier in Iraq, when the homeowner began firing the burglar had only two legal and moral options: run away or be killed.

That's what my Catholic priest friend was pointing out about US soldiers in Iraq. They had no right to be there. They invaded a poor, Third World country whose government had never attacked the United States and they were killing, torturing, and abusing people whom they had no right to kill, torture, or abuse.

That's what Klay as well as most other members of the US military and, for that matter, many Americans still don't get: that the Iraqi people were the ones who wielded the right of self-defense against an illegal invasion by a foreign power and that US forces, as the aggressor power in the war, had no legal or moral right to kill any Iraqi, not even in "self-defense."

Klay waxes eloquent about the US Constitution and the oath that soldiers take to support and defend it, but it's really just another perfect demonstration of the life of the lie that he and so many other US soldiers live. The reality is that when US soldiers vow to support and defend the Constitution, as a practical matter they are vowing to loyally obey the orders and commands of the president, who is their military commander in chief.

There is no better example of this phenomenon than what happened in Iraq. The US. Constitution is clear: The president is prohibited from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. No declaration, no war. Every US soldier ordered to invade Iraq knew that or should have known that.

Everyone, including the troops, also knew that Congress had not declared war on Iraq. Yet, not a single soldier supported or defended the Constitution by refusing George Bush's order to attack and invade Iraq. Every one of them loyally obeyed his order to attack and invade, knowing full well that it would mean killing people in Iraq ! killing people who had never attacked the United States. And they all convinced themselves that by following the president's orders to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis, they were supporting and defending the Constitution.

How do US soldiers reconcile that? They convince themselves that they are supporting and defending the Constitution by obeying the orders of the president, who has been democratically elected by the citizenry. It's not their job, they tell themselves, to determine what is constitutional and what isn't. Their job, they believe, is simply to do what the president, operating through his subordinates, orders them to do. In their minds, they are supporting and defending the Constitution whenever they loyally and obediently carry out the orders of the president.

That means, then, that the standing army is nothing more than the president's private army. As a practical matter, soldiers are going to do whatever they are ordered to do. If they don't, they are quickly shot or simply replaced, which provides a good incentive for others to do as they are told. That's why soldiers invaded Iraq, which had never attacked the United States, and killed people who were defending their country against an unlawful invasion. That's also why soldiers and defense contractors tortured and abused people at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. They all believed they were carrying out the orders of their superiors, from the president on down, and that they were supporting and defending the Constitution in the process.

As people throughout history have learned, that is also why a standing army constitutes such a grave threat to the freedom and well-being of the citizenry. It is the means by which a tyrant imposes and enforces his will on the citizenry. Just ask the people of Chile, where the troops of a military regime installed into power by the US national-security establishment rounded up tens of thousands of innocent people and incarcerated, tortured, raped, abused, or executed them, all without due process of law and with the support of the US government.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I read that some Catholic soldiers were deeply troubled by the prospect of killing people in a war that the US government was initiating. I was stunned to read that a US military chaplain told them that they had the right under God's laws to obey the president's order to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis. God would not hold it against them, he said, if they killed people in the process of following orders.

Really? Are God's laws really nullified by the orders of a government's military commander? If that were the case, don't you think God's commandment would have read: "Thou shalt not kill, unless your ruler orders you to do so in a war of aggression against another nation"?

To this day, there are those who claim that George W. Bush simply made an honest mistake in claiming that Saddam Hussein, Iraq's dictator, was maintaining weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that US soldiers were justified in trusting him by loyally obeying his orders to invade and occupy Iraq to "disarm Saddam."

They ignore three important points: it was a distinct possibility that Bush and his people were simply lying. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a president had lied in order to garner support for a war. Lyndon Johnson's lies regarding a supposed North Vietnamese attack on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam come to mind. Two, Bush didn't secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, most likely because he knew that congressional hearings on the issue would expose his WMD scare for the lie it was. And three, only the UN, not the US government, was entitled to enforce its resolutions regarding Iraq's WMDs.

Moreover, the circumstantial evidence establishes that Bush was lying and that the WMD scare was entirely bogus. Many people forget that throughout the 1990s the US government was hell-bent on regime change in Iraq. That's what the brutal sanctions were all about, which contributed to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. When US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked on Sixty Minutes whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions were "worth it," she responded that such deaths were "worth it." By "it," she was referring to regime change.

That desire for regime change in Iraq grew with each passing year in the 1990s, both among liberals and conservatives. Demands were ever growing to get rid of Saddam. Therefore, when Bush started coming up with his WMD scare after the 9/11 attacks, everyone should have been wary because it had all the earmarks of an excuse to invade Iraq after more than 10 years of sanctions had failed to achieve the job.

The best circumstantial evidence that Bush lied about the WMD scare appeared after it was determined that there were no WMDs in Iraq. At that point, if Bush had been telling the truth, he could have said, "I'm very sorry. I have made a grave mistake and my army has killed multitudes of people as a consequence of my mistake. I am hereby ordering all US troops home and I hereby announce my resignation as president."

Bush didn't do that. In fact, he expressed not one iota of remorse or regret over the loss of life for what supposedly had been the result of a mistake. He knew that he had achieved what the US national-security state had been trying to achieve for more than a decade with its brutal sanctions ! regime change in Iraq ! and he had used the bogus WMD scare to garner support for his invasion. And significantly, the troops were kept occupying Iraq for several more years, during which they killed more tens of thousands of Iraqis.

One thing is for sure: By the time Phil Klay arrived in Iraq in 2007, he knew full well that there had been no WMDs in Iraq. He also knew that Iraq had never attacked the United States. By that time, he knew full well that the US government had invaded a country under false or, at the very least, mistaken pretenses. He knew there had been no congressional declaration of war. He knew that there was no legal or moral foundation for a military occupation that was continuing to kill people in an impoverished Third World country whose worst "crime" was simply trying to rid their country of an illegal occupier.

Yet, reinforced by people who were thanking them for "their service in Iraq," Klay, like other US troops, convinced himself that their "service" in Iraq was a grand and glorious sacrifice for his nation, that they were defending Americans' rights and freedoms, and that they were keeping us safe. It was a classic life of the lie because our nation, our rights and freedoms, and our safety were never threatened by anyone in Iraq, including the millions of Iraqis who were killed, maimed, injured, tortured, abused, or exiled, or whose homes, businesses, or infrastructure were destroyed by bombs, missiles, bullets, and tanks.

In fact, the entity that actually threatened the rights and freedoms of the American people was the US government, given the totalitarian-like powers that it assumed as part of its effort to keep us safe from the enemies its interventionist policies were producing. Coming to mind are the totalitarian-like power to assassinate Americans, secret mass surveillance, and the incarceration and torture of American citizens as suspected terrorists ! all without due process of law and without trial by jury.

This is what a national-security state does to people ! it warps, damages, or destroys their conscience, principles, and values; induces them to subscribe to false bromides; and nurtures all sorts of mental contortions to enable people to avoid confronting reality.

Many years after Brian Chontosh's exploits in Iraq, Phil Klay was surprised to learn that Chontosh was experiencing some ambivalence about what he had done. "It's ugly, it's violent, it's disgusting. I wish it wasn't part of what we had to do," Chontosh later wrote.

Perhaps that's because conscience was beginning to stir within him. That's a good sign. Maybe it will begin to stir in Phil Klay too. And other members of the military as well.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation .

[Sep 21, 2017] More Holes in Russia-gate Narrative

Sep 21, 2017 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

More Holes in Russia-gate

Narrative

Exclusive: New tests support the skepticism of U.S. intelligence veterans that Russia "hacked" the DNC's computers, pointing instead to a download of emails by an insider, write ex-NSA official William Binney and ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By William Binney and Ray McGovern

September 21, 2017 " Information Clearing House " - It is no secret that our July 24 VIPS Memorandum for the President, entitled " Was the 'Russian Hack' an Inside Job? ," gave rise to some questioning and controversy – nor was it a surprise that it was met with almost total silence in the mainstream media.

The ongoing U.S. media campaign against Russia has been so effective that otherwise intelligent people have been unable even to entertain the notion that they may have been totally misled by the intelligence community. The last time this happened in 2003, after a year of such propaganda, the U.S. attacked Iraq on fraudulent – not "mistaken" – intelligence.

Anticipating resistance from those allergic to rethinking "what everybody knows" about Russian "meddling," we based our VIPS analysis on forensic investigations that, oddly, the FBI had bent over backwards to avoid. In other words, we relied on the principles of physics and the known capability of the Internet in early July 2016.

We stand by our main conclusion that the data from the intrusion of July 5, 2016, into the Democratic National Committee's computers, an intrusion blamed on "Russian hacking," was not a hack but rather a download/copy onto an external storage device by someone with physical access to the DNC.

That principal finding relied heavily on the speed with which the copy took place – a speed much faster than a hack over the Internet could have achieved at the time – or, it seems clear, even now. Challenged on that conclusion – often by those conducting experiments within the confines of a laboratory – we have conducted and documented additional tests to determine the speeds that can be achieved now, more than a year later.

To remind: We noted in the VIPS memo that on July 5, 2016, a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 megabytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device. That yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.

Recent Tests

Over the last few weeks, we ran three tests to determine how quickly data could be exfiltrated from the U.S. across the Atlantic to Europe.

–First, we used a 100 megabits-per-second (mbps) line to pull data from a one-gigabyte file to Amsterdam. The peak transfer speed was .8 MBps.

–Second, we used a commercial DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) to send the same one-gigabyte file to a commercial DSL in Amsterdam. The peak transfer speed was 1.8 MBps.

–Third, we pushed the same one-gigabyte file from a data center in New Jersey to a data center in the UK. The peak transfer speed was 12 MBps.

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None of these attempts achieve anything close to the average rate of 22.7 megabytes per second evident in the July 5, 2016 download/copy associated with the DNC. In fact, this happens to be the speed typical of a transfer to a USB-2 external storage device. We do not think this pure coincidence; rather, it is additional evidence of a local download.

We are preparing further trans-Atlantic testing over the next few weeks.

Some researchers have noted that some partitioning of the data might have occurred in the U.S., allowing for a transfer to be made at the measured speed over the Internet, and that this could have made possible a hack from the other side of the Atlantic. One of our associate investigators has found a way to achieve this kind of data partitioning and later transfer.

In theory, this would be one possible way to achieve such a large-data transfer, but we have no evidence that anything like this actually occurred. More important, in such a scenario, the National Security Agency would have chapter and verse on it, because such a hack would have to include software to execute the partitioning and subsequent data transfer. NSA gives the highest priority to collection on "execution software."

Must Americans, apparently including President Donald Trump, remain in a Russia-did-it-or-could-have-maybe-might-have-done-it subjunctive mood on this important issue – one that has been used to inject Cold War ice into relations with Russia? The answer is absolutely not. Rather, definitive answers are at hand.

How can we be so confident? Because NSA alumni now active in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are intimately familiar with NSA's capabilities and practice with respect to bulk capture and storage of fiber-optic communications. Two of us actually devised the systems still in use, and Edward Snowden's revelations filled in remaining gaps. Today's NSA is in position to clear up any and all questions about intrusions into the DNC.

In sum, we are certain that the truth of what actually happened – or didn't happen – can be found in the databases of NSA. We tried to explain this to President Barack Obama in a VIPS Memorandum of Jan. 17, just three days before he left office, noting that NSA's known programs are fully capable of capturing – and together with liaison intelligence services do capture – all electronic transfers of data.

Our Jan. 17 Memorandum included this admonition: "We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks." "If NSA cannot give you that information – and quickly – this would probably mean it does not have any."

We also appealed to Obama in his final days in office to order the chiefs of the NSA, FBI and CIA to the White House and have them lay all their cards on the table about "Russian hacking," and show him what tangible evidence they might have – not simply their "assessments." We added, "We assume you would not wish to hobble your successor with charges that cannot withstand close scrutiny." Having said this, we already were reaching the assumption that there was no real evidence to back the "assessments" up.

FBI: Not Leaning Forward

The FBI could still redeem itself by doing what it should have done as soon as the DNC claimed to have been "hacked." For reasons best known to former FBI Director James Comey, the Bureau failed to get whatever warrant was needed to confiscate the DNC servers and computers to properly examine them.

In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee six months ago, Comey conceded "best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves." And yet he chose not to. And his decision came amid frenzied charges by senior U.S. officials that Russia had committed "an act of war."

But is it not already too late for such an investigation? We hope that, at this point, it is crystal clear that the answer is: No, it is not too late. All the data the FBI needs to do a proper job is in NSA databases – including data going across the Internet to the DNC server and then included in their network logs.

If President Trump wants to know the truth, he can order the FBI to do its job and NSA to cooperate. Whether the two and the CIA would obey such orders is an open question, given how heavily invested all three agencies are in their evidence-impoverished narrative about "Russian hacking."

Let us close with the obvious. All three agencies have been aware all along that NSA has the data. One wonders why it should require a Presidential order for them to delve into that data and come up with conclusions based on fact, as opposed to "assessing."

William Binney ( williambinney0802@comcast.net ) worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. Ray McGovern ( rrmcgovern@gmail.com ) was a CIA analyst for 27 years; from 1981 to 1985 he briefed the President's Daily Brief one-on-one to President Reagan's most senior national security officials.

This article was first published by Consortium News -

[Sep 21, 2017] Hysteria in America -- Congress Filled With Totalitarians Who Oppose

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse. ..."
"... "prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation" ..."
"... Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill? ..."
"... As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia? ..."
"... Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this? ..."
"... 'Investigate Russia' ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from RT . ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

'Free Market of Ideas' by RT

There are members of Congress who don't want anyone on TV saying America's foreign policy is a disaster and it costs a fortune, Daniel McAdams, executive director, Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2018, which passed the US Senate earlier this week, carries some added provisions that have little in common with the military.

Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse.

The plan is buried inside a tiny amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The part about Russia is summarized in just a few lines, between details on funding of the US military.

Amendment No 1096 , which aims to "prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation" .

RT: Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill?

Daniel McAdams: There is an obsession on Capitol Hill and within the mainstream media with RT because RT is effective and RT is watched. But also, and this is very important because RT carries perspectives that are not available in the mainstream media. Commentators on RT that I know would say the same thing that they say on RT if they were invited by any of the mainstream media, but they won't. The matter of fact is that John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the people who were behind this amendment, the Atlantic Council and the others are trying to silence RT. They are the totalitarians, they are the enemies of free speech; they're the enemies of the First Amendment; they don't want anyone coming on television saying that America's foreign policy is a disaster; it is broken; it is making us more vulnerable to attack, and it's costing a fortune. It cannot stand competition in the area of ideas.

RT: As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia?

DM: The attention should be on none of these stations. It should be viewer beware. If you're watching RT and you know that it is funded, or its funding comes from the Russian government, you take that into consideration just as any intelligent person would do. When I watch France 24, when I watch the BBC, I know that that takes the perspectives of the British government into consideration, because it is funded by that.

This is a free market of ideas; this is what this is all about. But the people on Capitol Hill are again totalitarians – they don't want a free market in ideas. They want to control the debate. They don't want Americans to wake up and see that the foreign policy that they are pushing is resulting in a charred Earth and a disaster that is coming home to roost.

RT: Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this?

DM: This is how it's done, absolutely. I have read a million defense spending bills in my 15 years on the Hill. This is called planting a seed – you plant this kernel, and it starts to grow. If someone objects, later on, you can say – this is already passed in the defense bill; you've already voted on this; this is already part of the law; this is just suggesting, clarifying, or going further. This is how they do things: you bury it in a huge bill like this; you plant a seed and you watch it grow.

I don't know the exact language in the bill; I am sure Russia is not only the flavor of the month, it is the flavor of the year. There is the 'Investigate Russia' committee , where a bunch of Hollywood liberals got together with a bunch of neocons and are finding reds under our beds. There is a hysteria going on in America. I still would like to believe that the average American thinks it's absolutely nuts; I hope it stays that way. Hopefully, this will blow over at some point, and not blow up .

Hollywood was once on the receiving end of McCarthyism in the 50s, and now it looks like they want to dish out McCarthyism on everyone else.

Reprinted with permission from RT .


Related

[Sep 21, 2017] Donald Trump yesterday spoke from the gut without thinking through the consequences

Notable quotes:
"... His threat to wipe out North Korea reminded me of Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the podium at the UN. Great theater but makes one thing that the shoe banger is crazy. There is no acceptable military option in North Korea. ..."
"... But Trump is not the only one spouting such madness. We've heard the same delusional threats from SecDef Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster. ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | turcopolier.typepad.com

That's essentially what Donald Trump did yesterday. He spoke from the gut without thinking through the consequences.

His threat to wipe out North Korea reminded me of Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the podium at the UN. Great theater but makes one thing that the shoe banger is crazy. There is no acceptable military option in North Korea.

But Trump is not the only one spouting such madness. We've heard the same delusional threats from SecDef Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster.

I learned a long time ago that you do not make threats you are not will to carry out. In fact, I'm a firm believer in the sucker punch. Why tell someone what you are going to do and how you are going to do it? That stuff only works in Hollywood.

Remember this clip from Billy Jack?

[Sep 21, 2017] Neoliberalism has had its day. So what happens next? by Martin Jacques

This article sounds pretty true almost a year after its initial publication with the exception of Trump, who easily betrayed his election platform.
The point of the article is that what you call the left ceased to be social democrats when they embraced neo-liberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... Subsequent economic policy, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, has relied overwhelmingly on monetary policy, especially quantitative easing. It has failed. The western economy has stagnated and is now approaching its lost decade, with no end in sight. ..."
"... But how did neoliberalism manage to survive virtually unscathed for so long? Although it failed the test of the real world, bequeathing the worst economic disaster for seven decades, politically and intellectually it remained the only show in town. Parties of the right, centre and left had all bought into its philosophy, New Labour a classic in point. They knew no other way of thinking or doing: it had become the common sense. It was, as Antonio Gramsci put it, hegemonic. But that hegemony cannot and will not survive the test of the real world. ..."
"... The effect of the financial crisis was to undermine faith and trust in the competence of the governing elites. It marked the beginnings of a wider political crisis. ..."
"... But by far the most disastrous feature of the neoliberal period has been the huge growth in inequality. ..."
"... As Thomas Piketty has shown, in the absence of countervailing pressures, capitalism naturally gravitates towards increasing inequality. In the period between 1945 and the late 70s, Cold War competition was arguably the biggest such constraint. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there have been none. As the popular backlash grows increasingly irresistible, however, such a winner-takes-all regime becomes politically unsustainable. ..."
"... Brexit, too, was primarily a working-class revolt. Hitherto, on both sides of the Atlantic, the agency of class has been in retreat in the face of the emergence of a new range of identities and issues from gender and race to sexual orientation and the environment. The return of class, because of its sheer reach, has the potential, like no other issue, to redefine the political landscape. ..."
"... The re-emergence of class should not be confused with the labour movement. They are not synonymous: this is obvious in the US and increasingly the case in the UK. Indeed, over the last half-century, there has been a growing separation between the two in Britain. The re-emergence of the working class as a political voice in Britain, most notably in the Brexit vote, can best be described as an inchoate expression of resentment and protest, with only a very weak sense of belonging to the labour movement. ..."
"... The neoliberal era is being undermined from two directions. First, if its record of economic growth has never been particularly strong, it is now dismal. Europe is barely larger than it was on the eve of the financial crisis in 2007; the United States has done better but even its growth has been anaemic. Economists such as Larry Summers believe that the prospect for the future is most likely one of secular stagnation ..."
"... A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers. But since the western financial crisis, the centre of gravity of the intellectual debate has shifted profoundly. This is most obvious in the United States, with economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Dani Rodrik and Jeffrey Sachs becoming increasingly influential. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
"... He proposes that US corporations should be required to invest their cash reserves in the US. He believes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) has had the effect of exporting American jobs to Mexico. On similar grounds, he is opposed to the TPP and the TTIP. And he also accuses China of stealing American jobs, threatening to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports. ..."
"... To globalisation Trump counterposes economic nationalism: "Put America first". His appeal, above all, is to the white working class who, until Trump's (and Bernie Sander's) arrival on the political scene, had been ignored and largely unrepresented since the 1980s. Given that their wages have been falling for most of the last 40 years, it is extraordinary how their interests have been neglected by the political class. Increasingly, they have voted Republican, but the Republicans have long been captured by the super-rich and Wall Street, whose interests, as hyper-globalisers, have run directly counter to those of the white working class. With the arrival of Trump they finally found a representative: they won Trump the Republican nomination. ..."
"... Another plank of Trump's nationalist appeal – "Make America great again" – is his position on foreign policy. He believes that America's pursuit of great power status has squandered the nation's resources. He argues that the country's alliance system is unfair, with America bearing most of the cost and its allies contributing far too little. He points to Japan and South Korea, and Nato's European members as prime examples. He seeks to rebalance these relationships and, failing that, to exit from them. ..."
Aug 21, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

he western financial crisis of 2007-8 was the worst since 1931, yet its immediate repercussions were surprisingly modest. The crisis challenged the foundation stones of the long-dominant neoliberal ideology but it seemed to emerge largely unscathed. The banks were bailed out; hardly any bankers on either side of the Atlantic were prosecuted for their crimes; and the price of their behaviour was duly paid by the taxpayer. Subsequent economic policy, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, has relied overwhelmingly on monetary policy, especially quantitative easing. It has failed. The western economy has stagnated and is now approaching its lost decade, with no end in sight.

After almost nine years, we are finally beginning to reap the political whirlwind of the financial crisis. But how did neoliberalism manage to survive virtually unscathed for so long? Although it failed the test of the real world, bequeathing the worst economic disaster for seven decades, politically and intellectually it remained the only show in town. Parties of the right, centre and left had all bought into its philosophy, New Labour a classic in point. They knew no other way of thinking or doing: it had become the common sense. It was, as Antonio Gramsci put it, hegemonic. But that hegemony cannot and will not survive the test of the real world.

The first inkling of the wider political consequences was evident in the turn in public opinion against the banks, bankers and business leaders. For decades, they could do no wrong: they were feted as the role models of our age, the default troubleshooters of choice in education, health and seemingly everything else. Now, though, their star was in steep descent, along with that of the political class. The effect of the financial crisis was to undermine faith and trust in the competence of the governing elites. It marked the beginnings of a wider political crisis.

But the causes of this political crisis, glaringly evident on both sides of the Atlantic, are much deeper than simply the financial crisis and the virtually stillborn recovery of the last decade. They go to the heart of the neoliberal project that dates from the late 70s and the political rise of Reagan and Thatcher, and embraced at its core the idea of a global free market in goods, services and capital. The depression-era system of bank regulation was dismantled, in the US in the 1990s and in Britain in 1986, thereby creating the conditions for the 2008 crisis. Equality was scorned, the idea of trickle-down economics lauded, government condemned as a fetter on the market and duly downsized, immigration encouraged, regulation cut to a minimum, taxes reduced and a blind eye turned to corporate evasion.

It should be noted that, by historical standards, the neoliberal era has not had a particularly good track record. The most dynamic period of postwar western growth was that between the end of the war and the early 70s, the era of welfare capitalism and Keynesianism, when the growth rate was double that of the neoliberal period from 1980 to the present.

But by far the most disastrous feature of the neoliberal period has been the huge growth in inequality. Until very recently, this had been virtually ignored. With extraordinary speed, however, it has emerged as one of, if not the most important political issue on both sides of the Atlantic, most dramatically in the US. It is, bar none, the issue that is driving the political discontent that is now engulfing the west. Given the statistical evidence, it is puzzling, shocking even, that it has been disregarded for so long; the explanation can only lie in the sheer extent of the hegemony of neoliberalism and its values.

But now reality has upset the doctrinal apple cart. In the period 1948-1972, every section of the American population experienced very similar and sizable increases in their standard of living; between 1972-2013, the bottom 10% experienced falling real income while the top 10% did far better than everyone else. In the US, the median real income for full-time male workers is now lower than it was four decades ago: the income of the bottom 90% of the population has stagnated for over 30 years .

A not so dissimilar picture is true of the UK. And the problem has grown more serious since the financial crisis. On average, between 65-70% of households in 25 high-income economies experienced stagnant or falling real incomes between 2005 and 2014.

Large sections of the population in both the US and the UK are now in revolt against their lot

The reasons are not difficult to explain. The hyper-globalisation era has been systematically stacked in favour of capital against labour: international trading agreements, drawn up in great secrecy, with business on the inside and the unions and citizens excluded, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being but the latest examples; the politico-legal attack on the unions; the encouragement of large-scale immigration in both the US and Europe that helped to undermine the bargaining power of the domestic workforce; and the failure to retrain displaced workers in any meaningful way.

As Thomas Piketty has shown, in the absence of countervailing pressures, capitalism naturally gravitates towards increasing inequality. In the period between 1945 and the late 70s, Cold War competition was arguably the biggest such constraint. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there have been none. As the popular backlash grows increasingly irresistible, however, such a winner-takes-all regime becomes politically unsustainable.

Large sections of the population in both the US and the UK are now in revolt against their lot, as graphically illustrated by the support for Trump and Sanders in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK. This popular revolt is often described, in a somewhat denigratory and dismissive fashion, as populism. Or, as Francis Fukuyama writes in a recent excellent essay in Foreign Affairs : "'Populism' is the label that political elites attach to policies supported by ordinary citizens that they don't like." Populism is a movement against the status quo. It represents the beginnings of something new, though it is generally much clearer about what it is against than what it is for. It can be progressive or reactionary, but more usually both.

Brexit is a classic example of such populism. It has overturned a fundamental cornerstone of UK policy since the early 1970s. Though ostensibly about Europe, it was in fact about much more: a cri de coeur from those who feel they have lost out and been left behind, whose living standards have stagnated or worse since the 1980s, who feel dislocated by large-scale immigration over which they have no control and who face an increasingly insecure and casualised labour market. Their revolt has paralysed the governing elite, already claimed one prime minister, and left the latest one fumbling around in the dark looking for divine inspiration.

The wave of populism marks the return of class as a central agency in politics, both in the UK and the US. This is particularly remarkable in the US. For many decades, the idea of the "working class" was marginal to American political discourse. Most Americans described themselves as middle class, a reflection of the aspirational pulse at the heart of American society. According to a Gallup poll, in 2000 only 33% of Americans called themselves working class; by 2015 the figure was 48%, almost half the population.

Brexit, too, was primarily a working-class revolt. Hitherto, on both sides of the Atlantic, the agency of class has been in retreat in the face of the emergence of a new range of identities and issues from gender and race to sexual orientation and the environment. The return of class, because of its sheer reach, has the potential, like no other issue, to redefine the political landscape.

The working class belongs to no one: its orientation, far from predetermined, is a function of politics

The re-emergence of class should not be confused with the labour movement. They are not synonymous: this is obvious in the US and increasingly the case in the UK. Indeed, over the last half-century, there has been a growing separation between the two in Britain. The re-emergence of the working class as a political voice in Britain, most notably in the Brexit vote, can best be described as an inchoate expression of resentment and protest, with only a very weak sense of belonging to the labour movement.

Indeed, Ukip has been as important – in the form of immigration and Europe – in shaping its current attitudes as the Labour party. In the United States, both Trump and Sanders have given expression to the working-class revolt, the latter almost as much as the former. The working class belongs to no one: its orientation, far from predetermined, as the left liked to think, is a function of politics.

The neoliberal era is being undermined from two directions. First, if its record of economic growth has never been particularly strong, it is now dismal. Europe is barely larger than it was on the eve of the financial crisis in 2007; the United States has done better but even its growth has been anaemic. Economists such as Larry Summers believe that the prospect for the future is most likely one of secular stagnation .

Worse, because the recovery has been so weak and fragile, there is a widespread belief that another financial crisis may well beckon. In other words, the neoliberal era has delivered the west back into the kind of crisis-ridden world that we last experienced in the 1930s. With this background, it is hardly surprising that a majority in the west now believe their children will be worse off than they were. Second, those who have lost out in the neoliberal era are no longer prepared to acquiesce in their fate – they are increasingly in open revolt. We are witnessing the end of the neoliberal era. It is not dead, but it is in its early death throes, just as the social-democratic era was during the 1970s.

A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers. But since the western financial crisis, the centre of gravity of the intellectual debate has shifted profoundly. This is most obvious in the United States, with economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Dani Rodrik and Jeffrey Sachs becoming increasingly influential. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been a massive seller. His work and that of Tony Atkinson and Angus Deaton have pushed the question of the inequality to the top of the political agenda. In the UK, Ha-Joon Chang , for long isolated within the economics profession, has gained a following far greater than those who think economics is a branch of mathematics.

Meanwhile, some of those who were previously strong advocates of a neoliberal approach, such as Larry Summers and the Financial Times 's Martin Wolf, have become extremely critical. The wind is in the sails of the critics of neoliberalism; the neoliberals and monetarists are in retreat. In the UK, the media and political worlds are well behind the curve. Few recognise that we are at the end of an era. Old attitudes and assumptions still predominate, whether on the BBC's Today programme, in the rightwing press or the parliamentary Labour party.

Following Ed Miliband's resignation as Labour leader, virtually no one foresaw the triumph of Jeremy Corbyn in the subsequent leadership election. The assumption had been more of the same, a Blairite or a halfway house like Miliband, certainly not anyone like Corbyn. But the zeitgeist had changed. The membership, especially the young who had joined the party on an unprecedented scale, wanted a complete break with New Labour. One of the reasons why the left has failed to emerge as the leader of the new mood of working-class disillusionment is that most social democratic parties became, in varying degrees, disciples of neoliberalism and uber-globalisation. The most extreme forms of this phenomenon were New Labour and the Democrats, who in the late 90s and 00s became its advance guard, personified by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, triangulation and the third way.

But as David Marquand observed in a review for the New Statesman , what is the point of a social democratic party if it doesn't represent the less fortunate, the underprivileged and the losers? New Labour deserted those who needed them, who historically they were supposed to represent. Is it surprising that large sections have now deserted the party who deserted them? Blair, in his reincarnation as a money-obsessed consultant to a shady bunch of presidents and dictators, is a fitting testament to the demise of New Labour.

The rival contenders – Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – represented continuity. They were swept away by Corbyn, who won nearly 60% of the votes. New Labour was over, as dead as Monty Python's parrot. Few grasped the meaning of what had happened. A Guardian leader welcomed the surge in membership and then, lo and behold, urged support for Yvette Cooper, the very antithesis of the reason for the enthusiasm. The PLP refused to accept the result and ever since has tried with might and main to remove Corbyn.

Just as the Labour party took far too long to come to terms with the rise of Thatcherism and the birth of a new era at the end of the 70s, now it could not grasp that the Thatcherite paradigm, which they eventually came to embrace in the form of New Labour, had finally run its course. Labour, like everyone else, is obliged to think anew. The membership in their antipathy to New Labour turned to someone who had never accepted the latter, who was the polar opposite in almost every respect of Blair, and embodying an authenticity and decency which Blair patently did not.

Labour may be in intensive care, but the condition of the Conservatives is not a great deal better

Corbyn is not a product of the new times, he is a throwback to the late 70s and early 80s. That is both his strength and also his weakness. He is uncontaminated by the New Labour legacy because he has never accepted it. But nor, it would seem, does he understand the nature of the new era. The danger is that he is possessed of feet of clay in what is a highly fluid and unpredictable political environment, devoid of any certainties of almost any kind, in which Labour finds itself dangerously divided and weakened.

Labour may be in intensive care, but the condition of the Conservatives is not a great deal better. David Cameron was guilty of a huge and irresponsible miscalculation over Brexit. He was forced to resign in the most ignominious of circumstances. The party is hopelessly divided. It has no idea in which direction to move after Brexit. The Brexiters painted an optimistic picture of turning away from the declining European market and embracing the expanding markets of the world, albeit barely mentioning by name which countries it had in mind. It looks as if the new prime minister may have an anachronistic hostility towards China and a willingness to undo the good work of George Osborne. If the government turns its back on China, by far the fastest growing market in the world, where are they going to turn?

Brexit has left the country fragmented and deeply divided, with the very real prospect that Scotland might choose independence. Meanwhile, the Conservatives seem to have little understanding that the neoliberal era is in its death throes.

Dramatic as events have been in the UK, they cannot compare with those in the United States. Almost from nowhere, -> Donald Trump rose to capture the Republican nomination and confound virtually all the pundits and not least his own party. His message was straightforwardly anti-globalisation. He believes that the interests of the working class have been sacrificed in favour of the big corporations that have been encouraged to invest around the world and thereby deprive American workers of their jobs. Further, he argues that large-scale immigration has weakened the bargaining power of American workers and served to lower their wages.

He proposes that US corporations should be required to invest their cash reserves in the US. He believes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) has had the effect of exporting American jobs to Mexico. On similar grounds, he is opposed to the TPP and the TTIP. And he also accuses China of stealing American jobs, threatening to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports.

To globalisation Trump counterposes economic nationalism: "Put America first". His appeal, above all, is to the white working class who, until Trump's (and Bernie Sander's) arrival on the political scene, had been ignored and largely unrepresented since the 1980s. Given that their wages have been falling for most of the last 40 years, it is extraordinary how their interests have been neglected by the political class. Increasingly, they have voted Republican, but the Republicans have long been captured by the super-rich and Wall Street, whose interests, as hyper-globalisers, have run directly counter to those of the white working class. With the arrival of Trump they finally found a representative: they won Trump the Republican nomination.

The economic nationalist argument has also been vigorously pursued by -> Bernie Sanders , who ran Hillary Clinton extremely close for the Democratic nomination and would probably have won but for more than 700 so-called super-delegates, who were effectively chosen by the Democratic machine and overwhelmingly supported Clinton. As in the case of the Republicans, the Democrats have long supported a neoliberal, pro-globalisation strategy, notwithstanding the concerns of its trade union base. Both the Republicans and the Democrats now find themselves deeply polarised between the pro- and anti-globalisers, an entirely new development not witnessed since the shift towards neoliberalism under Reagan almost 40 years ago.

Another plank of Trump's nationalist appeal – "Make America great again" – is his position on foreign policy. He believes that America's pursuit of great power status has squandered the nation's resources. He argues that the country's alliance system is unfair, with America bearing most of the cost and its allies contributing far too little. He points to Japan and South Korea, and Nato's European members as prime examples. He seeks to rebalance these relationships and, failing that, to exit from them.

As a country in decline, he argues that America can no longer afford to carry this kind of financial burden. Rather than putting the world to rights, he believes the money should be invested at home, pointing to the dilapidated state of America's infrastructure. Trump's position represents a major critique of America as the world's hegemon. His arguments mark a radical break with the neoliberal, hyper-globalisation ideology that has reigned since the early 1980s and with the foreign policy orthodoxy of most of the postwar period. These arguments must be taken seriously. They should not be lightly dismissed just because of their authorship. But Trump is no man of the left. He is a populist of the right. He has launched a racist and xenophobic attack on Muslims and on Mexicans. Trump's appeal is to a white working class that feels it has been cheated by the big corporations, undermined by Hispanic immigration, and often resentful towards African-Americans who for long too many have viewed as their inferior.

A Trump America would mark a descent into authoritarianism characterised by abuse, scapegoating, discrimination, racism, arbitrariness and violence; America would become a deeply polarised and divided society. His threat to impose 45% tariffs on China , if implemented, would certainly provoke retaliation by the Chinese and herald the beginnings of a new era of protectionism.

Trump may well lose the presidential election just as Sanders failed in his bid for the Democrat nomination. But this does not mean that the forces opposed to hyper-globalisation – unrestricted immigration, TPP and TTIP, the free movement of capital and much else – will have lost the argument and are set to decline. In little more than 12 months, Trump and Sanders have transformed the nature and terms of the argument. Far from being on the wane, the arguments of the critics of hyper-globalisation are steadily gaining ground. Roughly two-thirds of Americans agree that "we should not think so much in international terms but concentrate more on our own national problems". And, above all else, what will continue to drive opposition to the hyper-globalisers is inequality.

thetowncrier , 21 Aug 2016 00:51

In the 1970s attacks on social democracy, at least in the UK, were treated with the same disdain by the political and media establishments as attacks on monetarism are today. Thatcher, as it happens, was widely pilloried within her own party for articulating a departure from contemporary economic orthodoxy, and the Tory establishment used their lackeys in the press to continue their assault on her after she became Party Leader.

The lesson, dare I say it, is twofold. Firstly, whether they are wedded to one economic system or another, the ruling classes are inherently conservative, reluctant to sanction change and fearful of anything that chips away at their privilege. Secondly, the press, far from playing a watchdog role on the state and its corporate masters, actually helps to sustain them. This should be clear to anyone who has witnessed the Guardian's reporting of Jeremy Corbyn, but it goes far beyond this newspaper to every title in the country. The same process can be witnessed in the US, and throughout the Eurozone.

You might think this settles the matter, but there is a limit to media propaganda that journalists simply cannot see, which is why so many have scratched their heads at the ascendance of Sanders and Corbyn. I don't think either of these men will ever lead their respective countries, but as you say at the end of this piece the overridding reasons that put them there - an inefficient, corrupt and backwards economic system - are not going away any time soon. They are actually going to get worse, because the establishments in Europe, the UK and the US have cornered their respective electoral 'markets', sponsoring obedient politicians who will gladly do their bidding. These people have no courage and no foresight, and will drag the West further into decline precisely as they claim to advance it.

maxfisher -> thetowncrier , 21 Aug 2016 01:40

Precisely. Jonathan Cook's uses Kuhn's paradigm shift thesis to describe exactly that which you adumbrate:

Importantly, a shift, or revolution, was not related to the moment when the previous scientific theory was discredited by the mounting evidence against it. There was a lag, usually a long delay, between the evidence showing the new theory was a better "fit" and the old theory being discarded.
The reason, Kuhn concluded, was because of an emotional and intellectual inertia in the scientific community. Too many people – academics, research institutions, funding bodies, pundits – were invested in the established theory. As students, it was what they had grown up "knowing". Leading professors in the field had made their reputations advancing and "proving" the theory. Vast sums had been expended in trying to confirm the theory. University departments were set up on the basis that the theory was correct. Too many people had too much to lose to admit they were wrong.
A paradigm shift typically ocurred, Kuhn argued, when a new generation of scholars and researchers exposed to the rival theory felt sufficiently frustrated by this inertia and had reached sufficiently senior posts that they could launch an assault on the old theory. At that point, the proponents of the traditional theory faced a crisis. The scientific establishment would resist, often aggressively, but at some point the fortifications protecting the old theory would crumble and collapse. Then suddenly almost everyone would switch to the new theory, treating the old theory as if it were some relic of the dark ages.


http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2016-07-22/why-corbyn-so-terrifies-the-guardian /
janonifus -> thetowncrier , 21 Aug 2016 01:59

Brilliant. A comment which engaged with the article and says a lot which is sensible. But I disagree with your final conclusion.

I agree that neither Corbyn nor Sanders (nor Trump) will lead their countries but I don't believe their parties will remain stranded on electoral territory which is increasingly infertile. They will move and better, stronger candidates will emerge.

That's not optimism though, or at least not unbridled optimism. I'd welcome a better representation of the left wing's alternative to economic liberalism but a more determined, organised and coherent successor to Trump? That's obviously frightening.

bourdieu , 21 Aug 2016 01:03

I often like Jacques's writing but its Anglocentrism needs to be challenged. Neo-liberalism has earlier origins than Reagan and Thatcher - East Asia in the late 1950s and Latin America in the late-60s and 70s. This matters because it is in Asia especially that the new ideas for a post-neo-liberal era will be found.

And the Sanders-Trump-Brexit trinity of insurgency against neo-liberalism needs to had Xi Jinping added to it. For what it Xi other than China's Donald Trump? A different political persona - avuncular Xi Dada etc. - but his China Dream, making China great again, his Maoist revival, and more all speak of someone overturning China's own post-Mao translation of global neo-liberalism (Socialism with Chinese characteristics).


thetowncrier
, 21 Aug 2016 01:08

As for the economics, the problem with the current economic model is really very simple. Too much money is going to the top 10% in Western societies, and most of this money is not being invested back into the economies in which it is generated or redistributed to the populace through taxation. Great chunks, indeed, get siphoned out of the West and end up in tax havens, where its owners languish like the bloated feudal overlords they are.

This system cannot sustain itself, and is ripe for another global meltdown. Every major recession in capitalist history has come about in the wake of an accumulation of wealth at the top end of society and a corollary decline in earnings and disposable income at the bottom and middle rungs. If you give a minority of people too much money, or at least access to too much money (as was the case in the banks in 2007-8), expect to count the cost soon enough. The system of social democracy allows policymakers to mitigate this problem by redistributing wealth through taxation, and that is precisely what governments should be doing now. However, to expect them to do so when they are in hock to corporations is roughly equivalent to expecting the Pope to talk authoritatively on evolutionary biology. It won't happen, not with the cowards and shysters who dominate our political systems, and it will probably take another major world war to bring about the change we need.

Lancasterwitch , 21 Aug 2016 01:19

The problem is TPTB aka the 1% are in charge and they think that Reagan/Thatcher/Friedman economics has been a huge success. So it doesn't matter who or what the 99% vote for - they can even vote for no more austerity (as in Greece) or even no more EU - the 1% are not going to give up, because most of them don't appear on any ballot paper.
So, as Tony Benn famously asked, "How do we get rid of you?"


CitizenDrob
-> blimeyoreilley
, 21 Aug 2016 01:57

Nevertheless change is coming, not to debate it or plan for its arrival would be irresponsible and ultimately disastrous for us all. Inequality in any system cannot be sustained indefinitely and that rule will apply to the internal politics and economies of nations as well as between nation states.
One way or another there will be a rebalancing of economies, it's inevitable, we can either take advantage of the necessary changes or it will lead to anarchy.
Head in the sand is an option but not the clever one - history will judge us poorly if we do not at least attempt to take proper control of our resources now and at least try to correct the imbalances in our economies.

GutsandGlory , 21 Aug 2016 01:30

Brexit is a classic example of such populism. It has overturned a fundamental cornerstone of UK policy since the early 1970s. Though ostensibly about Europe, it was in fact about much more: a cri de coeur from those who feel they have lost out and been left behind

Quit with the patronising assumption that we voted Brexit because we felt 'left behind', and didn't have the brain power to understand what we were voting for. Everyone in my work, neighbourhood, flat share and extended family were discussing nothing but the EU, it's pros and cons, and arguing their positions right up until the referendum.

CheeseHeads -> GutsandGlory , 21 Aug 2016 02:17

Totally agree. Many on the left still think of Brexiters as knuckle dragging idiots who have destroyed a liberal utopia called the EU. They still think of the working class as something to be pitied that needs guidance because of their own ignorance.
Well BREXIT was a real boot up the arse for them.

abugaafar , 21 Aug 2016 01:33

I found this a very well written and interesting article, but curiously parochial given that it's about globalisation. If you just consider Europe and the United States it seems irrefutable that globalisation has grossly enriched a fortunate few and left many more to struggle with stagnating and insecure incomes. The problem, in that context, is clearly inequality. But was inequality, on a global scale, not the problem before globalisation was conceived, and has globalisation not done much to reduce global inequality? It is not surprising if the reduction has been at the expense of the world's relatively rich, the middle and working classes of the western world. But the winners are not just the rich western elite, but also the millions who have benefitted from free migration and the transfer of capital and jobs to what used to be the third world. If the remedy for western economic ills is, effectively, deglobalisation, there will be losers there too as well as, we hope, winners at home.

[Sep 21, 2017] Mueller investigation is patterned after the independent prosecutors investigation of Bill Clinton. If they pressure Trump long enough, then Trump may well make a mistake such as lying. or they can dig out something embarrassing

Notable quotes:
"... They're trying to manufacture an obstruction of justice charge. Without the independent prosecutor's investigation, there would be no opportunity for someone to lie, mislead, or inadvertently omit facts. ..."
"... The warrant's timing may also shed light on the FBI's relationship to the infamous " Steele dossier." That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele -- who relied on Russian sources. ..."
"... But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research. ..."
"... But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don't cooperate in contempt. ..."
"... No investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey's wiretaps. ..."
"... And beyond delving into Comey's machinations, I think it high time to get former AG, Loretta Lynch under oath in front of a Congressional Committee to inquire after the real substance of her supposedly impromptu meeting with Slick Willy on the airport tarmac. ..."
"... If she needs to be compelled to answer through an offer of immunity, this would be a very clarifying moment, indeed. And if she still refuses, preferring being cited for contempt of Congress, well, that might be pretty interesting in its own right. And if she left any trail of evidence behind her like, say for instance, relating this information to one of her staff, the staffer could be questioned under similar terms. ..."
"... Also a good time to have a little chat with the guy from Crowdstrike, too. And on a related note, maybe a wee bit of inquiry with Mr. Comey on the logic of the FBI in not demanding access to the server ? ..."
"... Working my way through Gibbons' Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. There are ominous parallels to be observed between some of the events he recounts, and events of the present day. The Praetorian Guards and the legions more generally actively manipulated events to attain self-serving outcomes. Elements of our intelligence community seem to be treading a similar path; harrassing, crippling, and if felt necessary working toward the eviction of a legitimately chosen President are rather obviously in play. Not, as in the case of the Roman military, killing him, but effectively overturning the government seems to be the tactic, and all to serve their own ends, and the Constitutional order be damned. History, as has been said, may not repeat, but it sure as hell rhymes. ..."
"... Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal. ..."
"... In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that. ..."
"... I have spent more than two years litigating against the Department of Justice for the computer intrusions. Forensics have revealed dates, times and methods of some of the illegal activities. The software used was proprietary to a federal intel agency. The intruders deployed a keystroke monitoring program, accessed the CBS News corporate computer system, listened in on my conversations by activating the computer's microphone and used Skype to exfiltrate files. ..."
"... I was also curious to see what kind of crime would be committed under US law since anything the Russians did was just normal state-to-state competition. ..."
"... Manafort should sue the Federal Gov for violation of his rights against unlawful search and seizure. FISA is unconstitutional and should challenge the entire case on the basis that anything obtained was based on a FISA warrant. Force the courts and above all else the Supreme Court to address the issue finally. Manafort is by no means an angel, but he has rights and deserves a fair shake instead of the train ride he's on. ..."
"... With the world's 7th largest economy, what sane businessman would NOT want to cultivate relationships and develop the Russian market, particularly since it is virtually untapped by Western companies? ..."
"... According to Martha Stewart, a false statement to a federal officer need not be sworn. ..."
"... on't understand any of this. Unless Mr Steele was entirely off the leash, which is difficult to believe, there's evidence of our complicity in covert interference with the US Presidential elections. Then there's evidence of Israeli interference, and that overt. Also, although it's not directly relevant here, there's sufficient evidence that the US itself pulls strings in other countries' elections. ..."
"... The criminal laws in this country are sufficiently broad and far-reaching that an aggressive prosecutor can find a reason to imprison almost anyone, especially if the target is engaged in political or business matters of any sophistication. ..."
"... This is intentional. The laws are designed such that the people that the establishment wants to imprison are imprisoned when they do the things the establishment doesn't want, and those people that the establishment does not want imprisoned are not. ..."
"... This is why HRC can blatantly violate the Espionage Act and then spoliate evidence with no fear of prosecution. In fact, law enforcement twist themselves into knots to avoid conducting a serious investigation, as that might force them to act. After that farce, Comey publicly justified conduct that (as he admitted) would send a normie on a one-way trip to a SuperMax. ..."
"... Mueller will get some scalps. Guaranteed. ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | turcopolier.typepad.com

It appears to me that the current dream/hope in the "resistance" is that Mueller will fish around enough to come up with "evidence" that DJT and some of the people in his campaign and administration have been witting or unwitting cultivated assets of the Russian state for some years. I do not really understand how that would be crime under US law unless espionage against US official secrets were involved but the political effect would be ruinous. pl

James , 20 September 2017 at 07:35 PM

Personally, I think this investigation is patterned after the independent prosecutor's investigation of Bill Clinton. Bill was brought down by a dalliance with an intern. If they pressure Trump long enough then Trump may well make a mistake such as lying. Or they can use their investigative powers to find something embarrassing (they get to question everyone they want under oath and those questioned have to answer the questions). Otherwise the investigation can just drag on forever.

I wish more people understood that this is not about Democats vs Republicans.

Les -> James ... , 21 September 2017 at 09:50 AM
They're trying to manufacture an obstruction of justice charge. Without the independent prosecutor's investigation, there would be no opportunity for someone to lie, mislead, or inadvertently omit facts.

I'm getting tired of seeing the same events trumpeted by the media and the independent prosecutor as if there was something new. How many times can you disclose you were wiretapping one of the persons of interest or that you raided their home for documents?

turcopolier , 20 September 2017 at 07:37 PM
All

I suppose that there could be a FARA violation if the person involved was involved in US foreign policy or if a false statement were made in something official and sworn. pl

Sam Peralta , 20 September 2017 at 07:37 PM
Col. Lang

In light of what you wrote about the FISA wiretaps, the WSJ has an editorial requesting Congress to investigate "Comey's wiretaps".

https://www.wsj.com/articles/all-mr-comeys-wiretaps-1505862793

The warrant's timing may also shed light on the FBI's relationship to the infamous " Steele dossier." That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele -- who relied on Russian sources.

But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey's FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the "integrity" of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don't cooperate in contempt.

Mr. Comey investigated both leading presidential campaigns in an election year, playing the role of supposedly impartial legal authority. But his maneuvering to get Mr. Mueller appointed, and his leaks to the press, have shown that Mr. Comey is as political and self-serving as anyone in Washington.

No investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey's wiretaps.

JerseyJeffersonian -> Sam Peralta... , 20 September 2017 at 10:30 PM
Sam Peralta,

Amen to that.

And beyond delving into Comey's machinations, I think it high time to get former AG, Loretta Lynch under oath in front of a Congressional Committee to inquire after the real substance of her supposedly impromptu meeting with Slick Willy on the airport tarmac.

If she needs to be compelled to answer through an offer of immunity, this would be a very clarifying moment, indeed. And if she still refuses, preferring being cited for contempt of Congress, well, that might be pretty interesting in its own right. And if she left any trail of evidence behind her like, say for instance, relating this information to one of her staff, the staffer could be questioned under similar terms.

I rather think no staffer would be operating under the delusion that they could survive thumbing their nose at Congress like their boss doubtless would. But then again, maybe Seth Rich's still unexplained death may serve as an incentive to them to clam up and weather whatever consequences might flow from that decision.

Also a good time to have a little chat with the guy from Crowdstrike, too. And on a related note, maybe a wee bit of inquiry with Mr. Comey on the logic of the FBI in not demanding access to the server ?

Probably none of this will happen however, this being arguably what we can expect from Imperial Politics; no longer are we to recognize this as the functioning of a Constitutional Republic, sad to say.

JerseyJeffersonian -> JerseyJeffersonian... , 21 September 2017 at 10:17 AM
Working my way through Gibbons' Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. There are ominous parallels to be observed between some of the events he recounts, and events of the present day. The Praetorian Guards and the legions more generally actively manipulated events to attain self-serving outcomes. Elements of our intelligence community seem to be treading a similar path; harrassing, crippling, and if felt necessary working toward the eviction of a legitimately chosen President are rather obviously in play. Not, as in the case of the Roman military, killing him, but effectively overturning the government seems to be the tactic, and all to serve their own ends, and the Constitutional order be damned. History, as has been said, may not repeat, but it sure as hell rhymes.

Oh, and in a not entirely dissimilar development, in Philadelphia, and in PA, it has emerged that legal immigrants, despite being ineligible, have registered and voted. The hend wavers at the Philadelphia Inquirer are trying to minimize this, of course. The thought arises, if it happened in PA, what about in CA? So maybe yet again, one of President Trump's charges is true? Cue our own crew of handwavers here at SST. Over to you, ladies and gentlemen...

Sam Peralta , 20 September 2017 at 08:05 PM
All

Have we crossed the rubicon to a totalitarian state?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-20/sharyl-attkisson-rages-looks-obama-spied-trump-just-he-did-me

Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.

You'll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans."

Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama.

The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

Journalists have been targeted, too. This internal email exposed by WikiLeaks should give everyone chills. It did me.

.....

I have spent more than two years litigating against the Department of Justice for the computer intrusions. Forensics have revealed dates, times and methods of some of the illegal activities. The software used was proprietary to a federal intel agency. The intruders deployed a keystroke monitoring program, accessed the CBS News corporate computer system, listened in on my conversations by activating the computer's microphone and used Skype to exfiltrate files.

We survived the government's latest attempt to dismiss my lawsuit. There's another hearing Friday. To date, the Trump Department of Justice -- like the Obama Department of Justice -- is fighting me in court and working to keep hidden the identities of those who accessed a government internet protocol address found in my computers.

Lars , 20 September 2017 at 08:19 PM
It is too early to say where this investigation is going, but there are indications that money laundering and shady real estate transactions are scrutinized. How far up that goes, nobody knows. If close associates of Donald Trump get indicted, he will have both legal and political problems.

Of course that is only one aspect. There may also be some serious conflict of interest problems. All of it is about to face a burst of sunshine and that will illuminate every thing, good or bad. It appears that Donald Trump is seriously bothered by all this activity and that in itself is interesting.

The Twisted Genius , 20 September 2017 at 09:01 PM
I was also curious to see what kind of crime would be committed under US law since anything the Russians did was just normal state-to-state competition.

That happens all the time and will continue to happen all the time. Seems that if anyone on the Trump team can be found soliciting help from a foreign source, it would be a violation of campaign finance laws. If anyone can be tied to the hacking and theft of data or the use of that hacked data (there was a lot of voter data taken in addition to the DNC and Podesta data), the crime would be engaging in a criminal conspiracy. Then, of course, there are the targets of opportunity associated with any cover up like witness intimidation, perjury, obstruction of justice, and the like.

Then there is the NYAG's investigation into Trump and his associates under NY RICO laws. That investigation is still very much alive.

All this makes me wonder who is concentrating on the Russian IO itself. There's no crime here, besides the hacks and theft of data, but that should be the crux of the investigation in my opinion. Perhaps Mueller is doing this. I would think he'd have to understand exactly what was done, how it was coordinated and how it was financed before he could look for any crimes related to this whole Russia thing.

LeaNder -> The Twisted Genius ... , 21 September 2017 at 05:31 AM
TTG, I am not following this closely enough but for whatever reason Manafort popped up on my mind. Maybe due to earlier curiosity concerning the Ukraine. Were would he fit in? And how?

Checking spelling of his name, I realized it made headlines again.

MGS , 20 September 2017 at 09:28 PM
Manafort should sue the Federal Gov for violation of his rights against unlawful search and seizure. FISA is unconstitutional and should challenge the entire case on the basis that anything obtained was based on a FISA warrant. Force the courts and above all else the Supreme Court to address the issue finally. Manafort is by no means an angel, but he has rights and deserves a fair shake instead of the train ride he's on.
JohnH , 20 September 2017 at 10:21 PM
With the world's 7th largest economy, what sane businessman would NOT want to cultivate relationships and develop the Russian market, particularly since it is virtually untapped by Western companies?

Exxon-Mobil certainly wanted to do that. And they don't strike me as unpatriotic dummies --

Will.2718 , 20 September 2017 at 10:21 PM
According to Martha Stewart, a false statement to a federal officer need not be sworn. The best response to an FBI agent or any federal officer is "Have a good day Sir/Maam -- " or Buenos Dias, I prefer to have counsel with me when answering questions.
English Outsider , 21 September 2017 at 05:29 AM
Don't understand any of this. Unless Mr Steele was entirely off the leash, which is difficult to believe, there's evidence of our complicity in covert interference with the US Presidential elections. Then there's evidence of Israeli interference, and that overt. Also, although it's not directly relevant here, there's sufficient evidence that the US itself pulls strings in other countries' elections.

So whatever the Russians did or didn't do messing around with another country's elections, they're pretty far back in the queue. I'm all for the greater readiness to investigate such matters that we see in the US; but why is the spotlight directed only into this little corner?

Sid Finster , 21 September 2017 at 11:14 AM
Google "three felonies a day" or contemplate the words attributed to Richelieu - "Give me but six words written by the most honorable of men, and I will find something therein to hang him with."

The criminal laws in this country are sufficiently broad and far-reaching that an aggressive prosecutor can find a reason to imprison almost anyone, especially if the target is engaged in political or business matters of any sophistication.

This is intentional. The laws are designed such that the people that the establishment wants to imprison are imprisoned when they do the things the establishment doesn't want, and those people that the establishment does not want imprisoned are not.

This is why HRC can blatantly violate the Espionage Act and then spoliate evidence with no fear of prosecution. In fact, law enforcement twist themselves into knots to avoid conducting a serious investigation, as that might force them to act. After that farce, Comey publicly justified conduct that (as he admitted) would send a normie on a one-way trip to a SuperMax.

Mueller will get some scalps. Guaranteed.

[Sep 20, 2017] The political history of the second half of the 20th century could be summarized as the conflict between its two ideologies -- Keynesian social democracy and neoliberalism, which managed to displace Keyneseanism as a dominant ideology in 70th and in turm entered the crisis in 2008

What Monbiot called 'stories" and "powerful political narratives" are actually ideologies. Neoliberal ideology won in 70th and managed to destroy the weakened and discredited social democratic/Keynesean model and Bolshevism on late 80th early 90th. After 2008 neoliberalism as ideology is as dead as Stalinism was after 1945. You can even view Trump as kind of farcical Nikita Khrushchev who while sticking to neoliberalism "in general" at the same time denounced some key postulates of neoliberalism such as neoliberal globalization with outsourcing and offshoring components and free movement of labor. For Khrushchev that ended badly -- he was deposed and replaced by Brezhnev in 1964. The same might happen to Trump.
You can get better idea about what Monbiot is talking about replacing the word "stories" with the word "ideologies." An ideology is a coherent set of interconnected ideas or beliefs shared by a large group of people (often political party or nation). It may be a connected to a particular philosophy (Marxism in case of Socialism and Communism, Randism and neo-classical economics in case of neoliberalism) . Communism, socialism, and neoliberalism are major political/economical ideologies. Ideology prescribes how a country political system should be organized and how country economics should be run.
Notable quotes:
"... The political history of the second half of the 20th century could be summarised as the conflict between its two great narratives: the stories told by Keynesian social democracy and by neoliberalism. ..."
"... When the social democracy story dominated, even the Conservatives and Republicans adopted key elements of the programme. When neoliberalism took its place, political parties everywhere, regardless of their colour, fell under its spell . ..."
Sep 20, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from: George Monbiot: how do we get out of this mess?

Is it reasonable to hope for a better world? Study the cruelty and indifference of governments, the disarray of opposition parties, the apparently inexorable slide towards limate breakdown, the renewed threat of nuclear war, and the answer appears to be no. Our problems look intractable, our leaders dangerous, while voters are cowed and baffled. Despair looks like the only rational response. But over the past two years, I have been struck by four observations. What they reveal is that political failure is, in essence, a failure of imagination. They suggest to me that it is despair, not hope, that is irrational. I believe they light a path towards a better world.

The first observation is the least original. It is the realization that it is not strong leaders or parties that dominate politics as much as powerful political narratives. The political history of the second half of the 20th century could be summarised as the conflict between its two great narratives: the stories told by Keynesian social democracy and by neoliberalism. First one and then the other captured the minds of people across the political spectrum. When the social democracy story dominated, even the Conservatives and Republicans adopted key elements of the programme. When neoliberalism took its place, political parties everywhere, regardless of their colour, fell under its spell . These stories overrode everything: personality, identity and party history.

This should not surprise us. Stories are the means by which we navigate the world. They allow us to interpret its complex and contradictory signals. We all possess a narrative instinct: an innate disposition to listen for an account of who we are and where we stand.

... ... ...

The social democratic story explains that the world fell into disorder – characterised by the Great Depression – because of the self-seeking behaviour of an unrestrained elite. The elite's capture of both the world's wealth and the political system resulted in the impoverishment and insecurity of working people. By uniting to defend their common interests, the world's people could throw down the power of this elite, strip it of its ill-gotten gains and pool the resulting wealth for the good of all. Order and security would be restored in the form of a protective, paternalistic state, investing in public projects for the public good, generating the wealth that would guarantee a prosperous future for everyone. The ordinary people of the land – the heroes of the story – would triumph over those who had oppressed them.

The neoliberal story explains that the world fell into disorder as a result of the collectivising tendencies of the overmighty state, exemplified by the monstrosities of Stalinism and nazism, but evident in all forms of state planning and all attempts to engineer social outcomes. Collectivism crushes freedom, individualism and opportunity. Heroic entrepreneurs, mobilising the redeeming power of the market, would fight this enforced conformity, freeing society from the enslavement of the state. Order would be restored in the form of free markets, delivering wealth and opportunity, guaranteeing a prosperous future for everyone. The ordinary people of the land, released by the heroes of the story (the freedom-seeking entrepreneurs) would triumph over those who had oppressed them.

... ... ...

But the best on offer from major political parties is a microwaved version of the remnants of Keynesian social democracy. There are several problems with this approach. The first is that this old story has lost most of its content and narrative force. What we now call Keynesianism has been reduced to two thin chapters: lowering interest rates when economies are sluggish and using countercyclical public spending (injecting public money into the economy when unemployment is high or recession threatens). Other measures, such as raising taxes when an economy grows quickly, to dampen the boom-bust cycle; the fixed exchange rate system; capital controls and a self-balancing global banking system (an international clearing union ) – all of which John Maynard Keynes saw as essential complements to these policies – have been discarded and forgotten.

This is partly because the troubles that beset the Keynesian model in the 1970s have not disappeared. While the oil embargo in 1973 was the immediate trigger for the lethal combination of high inflation and high unemployment (" stagflation ") that Keynesian policies were almost powerless to counteract, problems with the system had been mounting for years. Falling productivity and rising cost-push inflation (wages and prices pursuing each other upwards) were already beginning to erode support for Keynesian economics. Most importantly, perhaps, the programme had buckled in response to the political demands of capital.

Strong financial regulations and controls on the movement of money began to weaken in the 1950s, as governments started to liberalise financial markets . Richard Nixon 's decision in 1971 to suspend the convertibility of dollars into gold destroyed the system of fixed exchange rates on which much of the success of Keynes's policies depended. The capital controls used to prevent financiers and speculators from sucking money out of balanced Keynesian economies collapsed. We cannot hope that the strategies deployed by global finance in the 20th century will be unlearned.

But perhaps the biggest problem residual Keynesianism confronts is that, when it does work, it collides headfirst with the environmental crisis. A programme that seeks to sustain employment through constant economic growth, driven by consumer demand, seems destined to exacerbate our greatest predicament.

... ... ...

[Sep 20, 2017] Trumps Belligerent U.N. Speech by Daniel Larison

The message to the global community has been clear: it's Trump's way or the highway.
Notable quotes:
"... Paired with his confrontational rhetoric directed towards North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, Trump's choice to cast these states as the "wicked few" portends more aggressive and meddlesome policies and gives the leaders of all of these governments reason to assume the worst about our intentions. It was similar to Bush's foolish "axis of evil" remarks in 2002. ..."
"... All of this belligerent and confrontational rhetoric just raises tensions in several different parts of the world, and it appears to commit the U.S. to more meddling around the world and potentially risks getting the U.S. into more avoidable wars. ..."
"... None of that has anything to do with putting American interests first. Much of Trump's speech was an assertion of a desire to dictate terms to other states, and as such it is likely to be poorly received by most of the governments of the world. ..."
Sep 19, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Trump's speech at the U.N. General Assembly this morning contained a lot of ill-advised and dangerous remarks, but this one stood out:

If the righteous many don't confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.

U.S. foreign policy already suffers from far too much self-congratulation and excessive confidence in our own righteousness, so it was alarming to hear Trump speak in such stark, fanatical terms about international affairs. Paired with his confrontational rhetoric directed towards North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, Trump's choice to cast these states as the "wicked few" portends more aggressive and meddlesome policies and gives the leaders of all of these governments reason to assume the worst about our intentions. It was similar to Bush's foolish "axis of evil" remarks in 2002.

The statement itself is also rather odd in that it talks about the many being righteous, when religious texts normally present the righteous as being the relatively few and embattled against the wicked multitude.

If the "wicked" are so few, they must be badly outnumbered and don't pose as much of a threat as Trump claims elsewhere. It also strains credulity that Trump speaks on behalf of righteousness when he embraces so many abusive despots and enables Saudi-led coalition crimes in Yemen.

Trump declared the nuclear deal an "embarrassment," which strongly suggests that he won't agree to recertify the deal when the next deadline comes up in mid-October. He emphasized the importance of sovereignty for the U.S., but in everything else he had to say he showed that he was happy to trample on the sovereignty of other states when it suited him. While his threat to "destroy" North Korea was framed as a defense of the U.S. and allies, it will only make the North Korean government more determined than ever to develop its nuclear arsenal and missiles. He hinted that the U.S. would interfere more in Venezuela , which will almost certainly be used by Maduro and his allies to their advantage.

All of this belligerent and confrontational rhetoric just raises tensions in several different parts of the world, and it appears to commit the U.S. to more meddling around the world and potentially risks getting the U.S. into more avoidable wars.

None of that has anything to do with putting American interests first. Much of Trump's speech was an assertion of a desire to dictate terms to other states, and as such it is likely to be poorly received by most of the governments of the world.

[Sep 20, 2017] The Empire's Hustle Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn't Include Anti-War by Ajamu Baraka

Notable quotes:
"... Similarly on the war issue, the only let-up in the constant barrage of negative press that Trump experienced was when he launched an attack on Syria, demonstrating once again that a consensus exists among the oligarchy on what instrument will be used to ensure their continued global dominance. ..."
"... Therefore, anti-Trumpism does not include a position against war and U.S. imperialism. ..."
"... The Democrat's are playing games with the people by pretending they are going to block increases in military spending during the appropriation stage of the process. And their criticisms of Trump's bellicosity and claims that he is reckless also are disingenuous because if they thought he was militarily reckless, they wouldn't have joined Republicans in supporting increased military spending. ..."
"... Both parties support militarism because both parties support the interests of the oligarchy and the oligarchy is interested in one thing!maintaining the empire. ..."
"... And to maintain the empire, they are prepared to fight to the last drop of our blood. ..."
Sep 20, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

With these words, Paul became one of the few voices to oppose the obscenity that is known as U.S. war policy. But only two other senators joined him: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). But there is a wrinkle here: Paul is not concerned with the size of the military budget. He's pointing his finger at the continuation of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF) of 2001, which was the "legal" basis for the U.S. global "war on terror." He wants Congress to re-assess this legislation that has prompted endless wars abroad.

... ... ...

Nothing rehabilitates an unpopular president in capitalist "America" like war. In fact, the only sustained negative press that Barack Obama received was when he seemed reluctant to fully immerse the United States in direct efforts to cause regime change in Syria by attacking that nation and committing to significant "boots on the ground." For the Neo-cons and liberal interventionists driving U.S. policy, allowing U.S. vassal states to take the lead in waging war in that country was an unnecessary and inefficient burden on those states.

Similarly on the war issue, the only let-up in the constant barrage of negative press that Trump experienced was when he launched an attack on Syria, demonstrating once again that a consensus exists among the oligarchy on what instrument will be used to ensure their continued global dominance.

With the escalating decline in U.S. influence from the Bush administration through Obama and now to Trump, U.S. global dominance increasingly depends on its ability to project military power. Obama's "pivot to Asia," the veritable rampage by the United States through West Asia and North Africa since 2003, the expansion of AFRICOM to offset Chinese influence in Africa, the commitment to a permanent military occupation of Afghanistan to facilitate blocking China's New Silk Road and to exploit Afghan mineral wealth all attest to the importance of continued popular support for the permanent war agenda.

Therefore, the state is vulnerable because it has to generate public support for its war agenda and that provides the domestic anti-war and anti-imperialist opposition with a strategic opportunity.

The abysmal levels of popular support for Congress reflect a serious crisis of legitimacy. That erosion of confidence in Congress must be extended to a critical stance on congressional expenditures related to the Pentagon budget and the rationalization for military/security spending. An ideological opening exists for reframing military spending and the war agenda for what it is: An agenda for the protection of the interests of the 1 percent. And for disrupting the acceptance of patriotic pride in U.S. military adventures beyond the borders of the country.

The current work on the part of the United National Antiwar Coalition to encourage concentrated public educational work on Afghanistan in October, the new coalition to oppose U.S foreign military bases and CODEPINK's military divestment campaign being launched in October are just some of the efforts being organized to take advantage of the moment.

... ... ...

Opposition to Trump has been framed in ways that supports the agenda of the Democratic Party!but not the anti-war agenda. Therefore, anti-Trumpism does not include a position against war and U.S. imperialism.

When the Trump administration proposed what many saw as an obscene request for an additional $54 billion in military spending, we witnessed a momentary negative response from some liberal Democrats. The thinking was that this could be highlighted as yet another one of the supposedly demonic moves by the administration and it was added to the talking points for the Democrats. That was until 117 Democrats voted with Republicans in the House !including a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus!to not only accept the administration's proposal, but to exceed it by $18 billion. By that point, the Democrats went silent on the issue.

The progressive community and what passes for the Left was not that much better. When those forces were not allowing their attention to be diverted into re-defining opposition to White supremacy in the form of the easy opposition to the clownish, marginal neo-Nazi forces, they were debating the violence of Antifa. And since hypocrisy has been able to reconcile itself with liberalism, they didn't see that their concerns with the violence of Antifa was in conflict with their support for violent interventions by the U.S. state in places like Libya and Syria. So for that sector since war and violence had been normalized unless it is carried out by unauthorized forces like oppressed peoples,Antifa forces and nations in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism!it is opposed. Why bother with the issues of war and militarism. And so the anti-war and anti-imperialist position was not included as part of anti-Trumpism!

The Democrat's are playing games with the people by pretending they are going to block increases in military spending during the appropriation stage of the process. And their criticisms of Trump's bellicosity and claims that he is reckless also are disingenuous because if they thought he was militarily reckless, they wouldn't have joined Republicans in supporting increased military spending.

Both parties support militarism because both parties support the interests of the oligarchy and the oligarchy is interested in one thing!maintaining the empire.

And to maintain the empire, they are prepared to fight to the last drop of our blood. But we have a surprise for them.

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine.

[Sep 20, 2017] Where Are the Brave Military Voices Against Forever War by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Notable quotes:
"... Today, my peers are silent. ..."
"... For all the celebration (and mythologizing) over World War II, at least we had Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller to burst our comfortable, patriotic bubble. And, though it likely lost him the presidency, Senator John Kerry (and his Vietnam Vets against the War mates) showed the courage to testify to the truth in the Winter Soldier Hearings. ..."
"... In 2017, it's near impossible to remember that today's professional, volunteer army is less than half a century old, a product of epic failure in Vietnam. Most of America's Founding Fathers, after all, scorned standing armies and favored a body of august, able citizen-soldiers. Something more akin to our National Guard. Deploy these men to faraway lands, so the thinking went, and each town would lose its blacksmith, carpenter, and cobbler too. Only vital interests warranted such sacrifice. Alas, it is no longer so. ..."
"... So today, my peers are silent. Professional officers are volunteers; dissenters are seen as little more than petulant whiners, or oddball nuts. It is hard to know why, exactly, but the increasing cognitive and spatial distance of contemporary soldiers from society at large seems a likely culprit. Combine that with the Republican Party's veritable monopoly on the political loyalties of the officer corps and you have yourself a lethal combination. ..."
"... By now, the wars are lost, if ever they were winnable. Iraq will fracture, Syria collapse, and Afghanistan wallow in perpetual chaos. It will be so. The people will forget. Our professional, corporate regiments will, undoubtedly, add banners to their battle flags -- sober reminders of a job well done in yet another lost cause. Soldiers will toast to lost comrades, add verses to their ballads, and precious few will ask why. ..."
Sep 19, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Today, my peers are silent.

But they've been taught the way to do it

Like Christian soldiers; not with haste

And shuddering groans; but passing through it

With due regard for decent taste

-- Siegfried Sassoon , How to Die (1918)

It is my favorite moment. Of World War I, that is. The one that stays with me.

Christmas, 1914: Nearly a million men are already dead, and the war is barely four months old. Suddenly, and ultimately in unison, the opposing German and British troops begin singing Christmas carols. At first light, German troops emerge unarmed from their trenches, and walk out into "no-man's land." Despite fearing a ruse, the Brits eventually joined their sworn enemies in the churned earth between the trench lines. Carols were sung, gifts of cigarettes exchanged -- one man even brought out a decorative tree. It only happened once. Though the bloody, senseless war raged across three more Christmases, the officers on each side quashed future attempts at a holiday truce. And yet, for that brief moment, in the ugliest of circumstances, the common humanity of Brits and Germans triumphed. It must have been beautiful.

Ultimately, nearly ten million men would die in battle. For all that, little was settled. It rarely is. The ruling classes still ruled, the profiteers profited, and Europe went to war again not twenty years later. So it went, and so it goes.

Nonetheless, World War I boasted countless skeptics and anti-war activists both in and out of uniform. Their poetry and prose was dark, but oh was it ever powerful. Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen from the Brits; Erich Maria Remarque for the stoic Germans; and our own Ernest Hemingway. A lost generation, which sacrificed so much more than youth: their innocence. They call to us, these long dead dissenters, from the grave.

They might ask: Where are today's skeptical veterans? Tragically, silence is our only ready response.

It was not always so in America. During the brutal Seminole Indian Wars, 17 percent of army officers resigned in disgust rather than continue burning villages and hunting natives down like dogs in Florida's Everglades' swamps. Mark Twain's cheeky prose demolished the Philippine-American colonial war at the turn of the century (some 30 years after he briefly served in the Missouri state militia during the Civil War). Hemingway, laid the truth bare after being wounded in the First Great War while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver. And Major General Smedley Butler -- two-time Medal of Honor recipient though he was -- emerged from the Caribbean "Banana Wars" to admit he'd been naught but a "high class muscle man for Big Business," a "gangster for capitalism."

For all the celebration (and mythologizing) over World War II, at least we had Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller to burst our comfortable, patriotic bubble. And, though it likely lost him the presidency, Senator John Kerry (and his Vietnam Vets against the War mates) showed the courage to testify to the truth in the Winter Soldier Hearings.

Today, despite a few brave attempts, we are treated to nothing of the sort. Why, you ask?

To begin with, most of the above mentioned wars were fought by draftees, militiamen, and short-term volunteers: in other words, citizen-soldiers. Even now, the identity of "citizen-soldier" ought to emphasize the former term: citizen . It doesn't. Now, as we veterans are constantly reminded, we are warriors . Professionals. Hail Sparta!

In 2017, it's near impossible to remember that today's professional, volunteer army is less than half a century old, a product of epic failure in Vietnam. Most of America's Founding Fathers, after all, scorned standing armies and favored a body of august, able citizen-soldiers. Something more akin to our National Guard. Deploy these men to faraway lands, so the thinking went, and each town would lose its blacksmith, carpenter, and cobbler too. Only vital interests warranted such sacrifice. Alas, it is no longer so.

In truth, the "citizen-soldier" is dead, replaced -- to the sound of cheers -- by self-righteous subalterns hiding beneath the sly veil of that ubiquitous corporate idiom: professionalism. Discipline, motivation, teamwork -- these are all sleek, bureaucratic terms certain to mold terrific middle managers, but they remain morally bare. And, ultimately, futile.

So today, my peers are silent. Professional officers are volunteers; dissenters are seen as little more than petulant whiners, or oddball nuts. It is hard to know why, exactly, but the increasing cognitive and spatial distance of contemporary soldiers from society at large seems a likely culprit. Combine that with the Republican Party's veritable monopoly on the political loyalties of the officer corps and you have yourself a lethal combination.

Only don't rule out cowardice. Who isn't fearful for their career, income, and family stability? It is only natural. After all, this business -- despite protestations to the contrary -- does not tend to value intellectualism or creative thinking. Trust me. Besides, in this struggling transitory economy, the military "welfare state" is a tempting option for America's declining middle class. Ironic, isn't it, that the heavily conservative officer corps loves their socialized medicine and guaranteed pensions?

Under the circumstances, perhaps silence is understandable. But it is also complicity.

By now, the wars are lost, if ever they were winnable. Iraq will fracture, Syria collapse, and Afghanistan wallow in perpetual chaos. It will be so. The people will forget. Our professional, corporate regiments will, undoubtedly, add banners to their battle flags -- sober reminders of a job well done in yet another lost cause. Soldiers will toast to lost comrades, add verses to their ballads, and precious few will ask why.

Perhaps a good officer suppresses such doubt, maintains a stoic, if dour, dignity, and silently soldiers on. As for me, I am not made of such stuff, and more's the pity. I buried seven men in the fields of the Forever War, casualties of combat and the muted sufferings of suicide.

Their banal sacrifice demands explanation. They deserve as much. For those lonely few, we who publicly dissent, the audience is scant, interest meagre, and our existence: solitary.

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular , is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wrote a memoir, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet .

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.)

*** This article has been edited to reflect Mark Twain's brief stint in the Missouri state militia, not the regular Confederate army; and the fact that Ernest Hemingway served the Red Cross during World War I.