Tag Archives: russia

America plays the hegemon while ruled by fear and machismo. FAIL.

Summary:  Machismo in its many forms has played a big role into geopolitics, but often with poor results. Today America has the exotic combination of a global hegemon — ruling by the usual methods, albeit with unprecedented global reach and power — whose elites rule at home by appeals to the fear AND machismo of their people. It seems to be working, but probably not for long.

“Most mainstream US foreign policy “debate” is over tactics of imperial management: how WH should be better controlling other countries, etc.”
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald), 1 September 2014

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood, the epitome of US foreign policy

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Contents

  1. Machismo as a grand strategy
  2. Daily fear-mongering. Wet your pants on command!
  3. Warnings about our mad rush to war
  4. For More Information

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(1)  Machismo as a grand strategy

There are many forms of realistic grand strategies. In American today we have the belligerent strategies of the neocons (and their allies) in both parties (Obama made his allegiance clear in 2008; Hillary recently reaffirmed her membership). There are the sugar-coated belligerence of the humanitarian militarists (social work with guns). There are a few advocates of rational grand strategies, of the kind that have worked in the past.

We also have emotional “strategies”, suitable for manipulating the pawns of the inner party and the wider audience among the proles. It appeals to men watching gender roles change, and a middle class watching its economic foundations wash away. War, especially violence against weaker powers, restores our self-esteem. Jeremy Egerer plays us well in “What kind of men are we?“, American Thinker, 31 August 2014 — Excerpt:

If we share anything with the Romans, it is their delinquency, laziness, and effeminacy right before they remembered who they were. But if the Romans were overrun with pirates, we’re overrun far worse with illegal immigrants; the former required a war, and we require only a wall. If Rome was embarrassed by Jugurtha {King of Numida, now Algeria; executed by Rome 104 BC) , we’re embarrassed far worse by the Islamic State {whose} advancement could be stopped with a faceless but insistent bombing campaign.

If Rome was infested with layabouts, we’re infested far worse with race-rioters; Romans rioted partially because their citizens were unjustly overrun with usury – as ours are currently by national and private bankers – and Americans riot not when innocents, but when known robbers, thugs, and menaces are shot by the police.

The question, then, may not be a matter of what kind of men we are. For unless men take stands in the Senate and remind us who we are before we become Mexico; unless preachers go to their pulpits and spur us into battle against an inexplicable yet stoppable Islamic evil; unless our fathers teach their sons that trials for citizens and not ignorant marches for robbers are the closest we’ll ever come to justice – a justice admittedly flawed, but the best we can manage outside Eden – then we are asking the wrong question entirely.

A challenge to our manhood composed mostly of falsehoods and fear-mongering. It’s the Right-wing world view. Consider this this confident statement:

“Islamic State’s advancement could be stopped with a faceless but insistent bombing campaign.”

How often have massive American bombing campaigns failed since WW2? Almost always. Also hear the echoes to 1914, another war fought amidst cries that it was necessary to prove our manhood. Consider this paragraph:

Sometimes they ruin themselves because they become so proud that they pick fights they shouldn’t, but more often they become so secure in their happiness that they forget that happiness is the result of reason, justice, labor, and war.

He’s speaking of America. A nation whose military and intel spending are almost half of the world’s total, and with its allies are most of the world’s total. A nation with hundreds of bases around the world, who this decade invaded and occupied two nations — fought in a dozen more — expanding into Africa in order to increase that number. Where’s this effeminacy Regerer speaks of?

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AFP: Defense Budgets Around The World

Narrow use of “military”, not including all US spending on intel, nukes, military pensions & health care

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Look at past airliner shootings so we can learn about government lies

Summary:  Airliners are occasionally shot down (collateral damage) by modern air defense systems. Like children run over cross the street, it’s an ugly fact of modern life. These extreme (but fortunately rare) events reveal much about the behavior of governments — and about us. Governments lie; they do so because we believe them (no matter how much we pretend no to). We can learn from our past; we can do better.

“Never believe anything about the government until it has been officially denied.”
— Attributed to Bismarck.

“Since becoming a journalist I had often heard the advice to “believe nothing until it has been officially denied”.
— Claud Cockburn (Irish journalist), A Discord of Trumpets (1956)

Air Defense Artillary

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The young men running modern air defense systems can shoot down an airliner with the push of a button. No matter how well trained, and they’re often not, under pressure the complex (often confusing) flood of information on their screens lead to bad decisions.

(1)  Russia’s military shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 on 1 September 1983, followed by the usual false stories. Only in 1992 did they release vital information about the event. They never apologized.

(2)  Ukraine’s military shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 on 4 October 2001. For 9 days they denied responsibility.

The FM website is about America. We too have shot down a civilian airliner. The incident deserves attention because it can – and should — enlighten us about the nature of our government, and ourselves. It’s a standard drama of our time, repeated frequently, from which we seem unable to learn. But first let’s step back in history.

The Soviet Union shoots down a U-2

In 1960 the Soviet Union shot down Gary Powers’ U2 flight. The US denied that he was flying over their territory. They lied to fool us, since the Soviet Union’s officials knew the facts. The truth quickly emerged. US officials then made a discovery of the sort that changes the fate of nation: there were no consequences to lies, even when caught. No penalties. No laughter when they lie again; not even skepticism.

The shooting of Iran Air Flight 655

The USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988. The US initially denied it (see this AP story, and the transcript of the DoD Press Briefing. The next day we took responsibility, but made a wide range of claims in defense about the location of the ship and the behavior of the aircraft — all of which justified the shooting.

On 28 July DoD published its Formal Investigation, which won the Doublespeak award for 1988 for “omission, distortion, contradiction, and misdirection”, presented by the National Council of Teachers of English (“Doublespeak and Iran Air Flight 655″).

On 8 September 1988 DoD presented these lies to the House Armed Services Committee, as ritualistic a performance as Noh but without the art and music (see the transcript).

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We can learn much from the tragedy of Flight MH17 – about ourselves

Summary: Yesterday’s post showed how little we know about MH17. It provoked many emails of outrage. That shows its importance, and futility. The world has always been, and remains, a dangerous place. Yet the existence of dangers provides fuel for our elites to exaggerate dangers in order to manipulate us. Our gullibility and fearfulness has become our greatest weaknesses. It’s the ultimate “enemy within”.

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.”

— George Orwell, “Looking Back on the Spanish War“, New Road, 1943 (exact issue unknown)

“… every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defence against a homicidal maniac … The essential job is to get people to recognise war propaganda when they see it …”

— George Orwell, book review in New Statesman and Nation, 28 August 1937

Fear Wolf

After 3 days, even the British Leftist press was certain what happened. The evidence they cite was slight.

  1. MH17: the evidence against Russia“, The Guardian, 19 July 2014 — “In the hours after the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine, evidence assembled from various sources appeared to point the blame at militants armed with Russian missiles”
  2. MH17: missile launcher was in towns near crash site, videos suggest“, The Guardian, 20 July 2014 — “Videos and photographs appear to show a mobile anti-aircraft missile launcher in neighbouring towns of Torez and Snizhne”

They were understandably ready to convict Russia, since they knew this was coming: “United States Assessment of the Downing of Flight MH17 and its Aftermath“, 19 July 2014 — Opening line:

“We assess that Flight MH17 was likely downed by a SA-11 surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. We base this judgment on several factors.”

A powerful opening, followed by specific confident assertions. Accepted like gospel by most journalists, geopolitical experts, and Americans. Perhaps this case was correct. Or perhaps it contains lies like those the US government has given so often before, like those listed in yesterday’s post. Our own history should have taught us to beware of premature judgements; but as usual in our generation we don’t learn from our experiences.

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Let’s stop the 2-minute hate on Putin & think before we reignite the Cold War

Summary: Americans cheer as our leaders restart the cold war, for reasons known only to them (just like the Iraq War). They need a casus belli, and have the ability (abetted by our gullibility) to produce one. In our eagerness for conflict, a defining characteristic of us since 9-11), it’s easy to do. This post attempts to put the current crisis into a more useful context.

“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.”
— Ray Bradbury, “All flesh is one: what matter scores?” (1975)

Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
By having desire, you can only see what is visible.
Yet mystery and reality emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.

— Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching

Wreckage from MH17

MH17 wreckage (perhaps), proving something!

 

Contents

  1. Another perspective
  2. Who are the sinners?
  3. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
  4. What we know for certain
  5. For More Information
  6. Obama’s future entry in Guinness

(1) Another perspective

One cause of conflict, often leading to war, is people’s inability to see things from the other nation’s perspective — and so see things in terms of good guys and bad guys, with us of course as the angels.

Russia, during the last days of the USSR, left Eastern Europe with a tacit agreement that the West would not occupy it. Respecting Russia’s sphere of influence — its “near abroad“, their version of the Monroe Doctrine — might have led to a new era of global peace in the new millennium.

Instead we’ve aggressively moved into the geopolitical space left vacant by the collapse of the USSR. Russia let us run until we came up to their borders in Ukraine. Then came the 2014 Ukraine coup. We don’t know the degree of western involvement. We seldom do in such things, until years or decades later (only last year did the CIA admit its role in the 1953 Iran Coup). However, it fits the pattern of past coups run with assistance of the UK’s SIS and US CIA. Then the new friendly government is invited into NATO.

(2) Who are the sinners?

Who are the angels and devils in this? As usual in geopolitics, both sides are sinners (not every year is 1939).

The West’s leaders must have known that shifting the Ukraine into the West’s military and economic alliances would inevitably start a conflict with Russia. Perhaps like the US response to the USSR’s involvement in Cuba, which wrecked Cuba’s economy and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (See the terrifying transcripts of the White House Executive Committee described in The Virtual JFK).

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A warning from Germany about our new cold war: “The West on the wrong path”

Summary: The publisher of a major German newspaper wrote a bold, brave editorial about the emerging Cold War 2. He identifies the useful idiots in the media who help drive this conflict, and places this madness in a historical context. Can you imagine the publisher of a US newspaper writing something of this depth? Time will tell if this he writes as an individual, as spokesman for a fraction of Germany’s elites, or speaking for German’s leadership.

Relive the cold war

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The West on the wrong path

Gabor Steingart (publisher)

Editorial in Handelsblatt
(Germany’s leading financial newspaper)

8 August 2014

Summary: In view of the events in Ukraine, the government and many media have switched from level-headed to agitated. The spectrum of opinions has been narrowed to the width of a sniper scope. The politics of escalation does not have a realistic goal – and harms German interests.

Every war is accompanied by a kind of mental mobilization: war fever. Even smart people are not immune to controlled bouts of this fever. “This war in all its atrociousness is still a great and wonderful thing. It is an experience worth having“ rejoiced Max Weber in 1914 when the lights went out in Europe. Thomas Mann felt a “cleansing, liberation, and a tremendous amount of hope“.

… The US Congress is openly discussing arming Ukraine. The former security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski recommends arming the citizens there for house-to-house and street combat. The German Chancellor, as it is her habit, is much less clear but no less ominous: “We are ready to take severe measures.“

German journalism has switched from level-headed to agitated in a matter of weeks. The spectrum of opinions has been narrowed to the field of vision of a sniper scope. Newspapers we thought to be all about thoughts and ideas now march in lock-step with politicians in their calls for sanctions against Russia’s President Putin. Even the headlines betray an aggressive tension as is usually characteristic of hooligans when they ‘support’ their respective teams.

The Tagesspiegel: “Enough talk!“ The FAZ: “Show strength“. The Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Now or never.“ The Spiegel calls for an “End to cowardice“: “Putin’s web of lies, propaganda, and deception has been exposed. The wreckage of MH 17 is also the result of a crashed diplomacy.“ Western politics and German media agree.

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The Ukraine crisis gives us a peak behind the curtain into the workings of our government

Summary: Every geopolitical crisis provides us with information about our nation and our world. They provide peeks into the machinery hidden behind the government’s secrecy and journalists’ narratives. The Crimean crisis, a small area inside Russia’s sphere of influence, hyped by our hawks into a world-shaking incident, provides a rich lode for mining insights. Helping us, doing the heavy lifting, is one of our top defense analysts, Chuck Spinney. See the last section for links to other useful articles about this.

Military spending

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Ukraine: Manna From Heaven for the Green Line and Beyond Crowd

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney

From his website, The Blaster
26 March 214

Posted with his generous permission

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Most Americans know very little about the immediate origins of the crisis in the Ukraine and their government’s involvement in it. They know even less about its deeper roots, that reach back into Russian view of American duplicity in breaking its verbal promises not to expand NATO and the European Union eastward (useful summaries can be found here and here).

These promises were interpreted quite reasonably by the Russians as a quid pro quo for Mikhail Gorbachev’s agreement to

  1. the unification of Germany,
  2. the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and
  3. the withdrawal of Soviet forces from eastern Europe.

Gorbachev’s dream of a common European Home was always fanciful, but today, Ukraine proves it is in tatters.

If one is to believe the reportage in the mainstream media, the duly elected but decidedly corrupt government of the Ukraine was overthrown by a spontaneous revolt of the freedom-seeking Ukrainian people. But it is also clear from leaked recordings of phone conversations and the bloviations of U.S. “pro-defense” legislators that members of the U.S. government were at least tangentially involved, as were Ukrainian neo-fascists.

There is much more, however.

 

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America’s hawks sing a song of national decline

Summary: The calls for war ring again from American pundits and geopolitical experts. No cause is too small, hopeless, or irrelevant to us — threatening war is always the right response, says a loud and influential number of Americans, to maintain our credibility and reputation. They sign a siren song of national decline. No nation, however great, can so dissipate it resources (both physical and political). And eventually they will get the disastrous war they seek.

Nuclear Kraken

Release the Kraken!     (Art by lchappell)

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This is a follow-up to About the Ukraine-Russia conflict. First, know what we don’t know.

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A flood of books published this year help us commemorate the centennial of WWI and remember its lessons. A common theme is the stupidity of Europe’s peoples — and their leaders — in 1914, so carelessly sliding into a calamitous war for so little reason.

To see how this happens, read your newspaper. America’s papers overflow with cries for America to threaten (or use) economic and military force in response to Russia’s increasingly assertive actions in its “near abroad” (their version of the Monroe Doctrine zone) — their aggressive moves into other nations (like ours into Afghanistan and Iraq).

These people’s screeds seldom balance risk with the potential gains, or measure the danger of escalation. They seldom assert that US national interests are at stake (that’s seen in the frequency of their calls for belligerence : in Iran, in Yemen, in Sudan, in Libya, in Syria, in Ukraine).

Rather they would deploy US power in pursuit of chimeras like prestige and credibility. In fact no nation can gain such things by routinely threatening force over issues in which it has no substantial interest — except through Nixon’s “Madman Theory” (based on a sentence of advice by Machiavelli), which would bring its own shattering blowback if believed (e.g., forfeiting Western leadership).

These people are the unwitting agents of national decline for America, in two ways. Even when unable to influence policy, they push leaders to greater belligerence in order to avoid “looking weak” (a bad thing in the eyes of foolish people) and losing domestic political support. And occasionally they will get their way, leading America into a new cycle of pointless conflict — diverting our limited resources from pressing domestic needs.

If left unopposed — and they are largely unopposed on the public stage (another parallel with 1914) — they might eventually get the war they seek. I doubt that will turn our well for America (It didn’t work well for Athens).

A quick look at a few of the hawkish squawks

Formally recognize Ukraine, prepare NATO troops“, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Nathan Gardels, op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, 3 March 2014 — Brzezinski was Carter’s National Security Advisor. Money paragraph; very coy:

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