Jeff interviews Rob Hustle, creator of the hard hitting rap video "This is What Happens When You Call the Cops" topics include: his surprising audience for the video, systemic problems with the justice system, public vs private policing, Ferguson Missouri, using your talent to address issues, commercial interests filtering content...Click here or on thumbnail
For months Europe had thought that mere verbal (and hollow) threats, populist posturing and propaganda would be enough to force Russia's Putin to back off and withdraw from the endless Ukraine escalation, into a Kremlin cocoon with his tail between his legs. What they didn't anticipate was that Putin would in no way back down (as that would be seen as defeat and weakness by his numerous internal foes), nor would have have to: with Russia providing a third of European gas and with winter approaching, Russia had all the trumps cards from day one. Furthermore, as a result of escalating trade wars it is not Russia's economy that is hurting but Europe, which is on the verge of a historic triple-dip recession, only unlike 2010 and 2012, this time it is Europe's growth dynamo, Germany, itself which is leading the lemmings into the abyss.
Now, finally, Europe has realized that its "strategy" (if it ever had one, red: Obama's 'strategy' on dealing with ISIS) was flawed. It is with this mindset that European Union leaders met in Brussels earlier today and while, as usual, the the threat of new and improved sanctions to Russia was present, suddenly Europe's leaders seem far more "fearful of a new Cold War and self-inflicted harm to their own economies" and instead decided to give Moscow another chance to make peace according to Reuters.
Confirming Europe's realization just how serious events are, and how far down the rabbit hole Europe's bureaucrats have gone, French President Francois Hollande, while stressing that a failure by Russia to reverse a flow of weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine would force the bloc to impose new economic measures i.e., nothing new, it is what he said just after that indicated a dramatic change in rhetoric: "Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?" Hollande said at a news conference. "Because that's the risk today. There is no time to waste."
Because when Europe, the cradle of both World War I and II talks war, it is a good idea to listen.
Of course, the problem of hypocrisy promptly emerges, because it is France whose mistral amphibious assault ship is being delivered to Russia over the objections of both Germany (whose own military export complex has quite a few pending RFPs to the Kremlin) and of course Washington. That, and the fact that it is Europe's actions that have led the situation to the bring of another world war. Actions such as the expansion of NATO to Russia's borders which the Kremlin, justifiably, sees as yet another offensive intrusion by the west into purely regional matters, because last time anyone checked, Ukraine was neither a member of NATO nor the European Union.
The paradoxical hypocrisy continued when none other than British PM, who has been teasing with pulling the UK out of Europe for months over the election of Jean-Claude "You have to lie pretty much all the time in Europe" Juncker, also spoke on behalf of a united Europe. From Reuters:
British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "We have to address the completely unacceptable situation of having Russian troops on Ukrainian soil. Countries in Europe shouldn't need to think long before realising just how unacceptable that is. We know that from our history.
"So consequences must follow if that situation continues."
Consequences such as pushing Germany into outright depression, which in turn would lead to a global economic contraction? Sure, go ahead, but keep in mind that once again Putin has done his homework. Unless, of course, the entire premise is to launch another round of global coordinated QEasing, and this time have the Kremlin to blame as the "scapegoat" for thrusting the world into at least one more year of unprecedented Reverse Robin Hood wealth redistribution by way of central banks.
Meanwhile, Europe's hawkish warmongers had free reign today to tell the world how they really feel:
The president of formerly Soviet Lithuania, an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin and of EU hesitation to challenge him, called for urgent military supplies to Kiev and a tougher arms embargo on Russia. Dalia Grybauskaite said Moscow, by attacking Ukraine, was effectively "in a state of war against Europe".
But large Western countries are wary of damaging their own economies through sanctions. Those include Germany, Britain and France, as well as Italy, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas and expects to secure the post of EU foreign affairs chief. Poroshenko gave short shrift to Moscow's denials by denouncing the past week's incursion of thousands of troops with hundreds of armoured vehicles and said he expected the summit to order the European Commission to prepare a new set of sanctions.
But, like Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, he used their joint news conference to stress a will to find a political solution to a crisis that President Putin blames on Kiev's drive to turn the ex-Soviet state away from its former master Moscow and toward a Western alliance with the EU and NATO.
He said he was not looking for foreign military intervention and expected progress toward peace as early as Monday - because failure could push the conflict to a point of no return: "Let's not try to spark the new flame of war in Europe," he said.
Barroso also warned of the risk of a "point of no return" in stressing that EU leaders wanted to defuse the confrontation with their nuclear-armed neighbour.
"It makes no sense to have ... a new Cold War," Barroso said. Further conflict would hurt all of Europe, he said, adding that sanctions were meant to push Moscow to talk. His Commission already had prepared a number of options for further measures.
Europe may be shocked to learn that the Cold War never went away, but simply was on hiatus until the Russian bear and the Chinese dragon felt strong enough they can finally ascend to global superpower status, in the process sweeping away the insolvent west, and its reserve currency status.
All that said, no pun intended, there was nothing actually decided today in Brussels, nor was any action taken, as is generically the case in Europe. In fact, the only thing that did happen is that as was known in advance, moments ago Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk replaced Haiku-spewing, unelected Gollum lookalike Herman Van Rompuy, a well-known figurehead from the days when Europe was actively fighting for its survival.
— Herman Van Rompuy (@euHvR) August 30, 2014
With Tusk, a conservative easterner, replacing the Belgian Van Rompuy, Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini from the centre left would take over as the bloc's foreign policy chief, replacing Briton Catherine Ashton.
In overall charge of the executive Commission, in succession to Barroso, will be conservative former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker, appointed at a stormy summit two months ago.
Eastern leaders, alarmed by a resurgent Moscow, had resisted the appointment of Mogherini at that time. At 41 and in government only since February, they saw her as lacking the political experience and weight to stand up to the Kremlin and also handicapped by Italy's dependence on Russian energy.
In fact, while Europe's powerlessness to do anything to halt Putin's advance is well-known, the most interesting aspect of today's meeting that left Belgian caterers that much richer, was the horsetrading of hollow, bureaucratic figureheads at the top: something Europe also excels at.
Britain, France, Germany and other countries are competing to see their nominees secure important portfolios in Juncker's team, such as in economic affairs, trade and energy supply.
The horse-trading over jobs underlines the power of rival national governments over the supranational institutions of the EU. Proponents of a strong political leadership in Brussels that can inspire and rally an increasingly sceptical European public behind the common project may again be left disappointed.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Friday he would propose a meeting to discuss tackling the "really worrying" economic situation across Europe, with growth and jobs elusive and fears of a new crisis for the euro currency.
The leaders agreed to schedule that summit for Oct. 7, according to the draft statement.
And so on.
To summarize: more worthless power moves, more hollow rhetoric and threats, more verbal escalation and nothing else.
In fact, the most notable comment all day today came from Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban who said that EU sanctions on Russia haven’t worked and it’s "self-delusion" to think they’ll help resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
Well, if there is anything Europe, and its virtually unlimited, but certainly limited amount of political capital are spent to preserve an unsustainable, artificial union, excels at, it is "self-delusions"
Submitted by Matt McCaffrey via The Mises Economics Blog,
The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I seems like an ideal opportunity to spread a message of peace and economic cooperation; sadly, 2014 has so far been a year of new and renewed conflict far more than one of reconciliation.
By now, talk of the horrors of war is nothing new. Everyone knows about the total destruction war brings; in fact, we’ve known for millennia. As Lew Rockwell points out, “just about everyone makes the perfunctory nod to the tragedy of war, that war is a last resort only, and that everyone sincerely regrets having to go to war”—but war continues all the same. Even classical military strategists like Sun Tzu believed war should only be used only as a last resort, and argued that military campaigns could bankrupt states and ultimately, destroy them. Art of War actually states that “no country has ever profited from protracted warfare,” and cautions generals to “fight under Heaven with the paramount aim of ‘preservation.’” Yet as far back as we have historical records, these sorts of ideas have fallen on deaf ears among governments and military organizations alike.
Economics offers many insights into war making and why it persists, but the most fundamental explanation is an institutional one. It’s tragically simple: warnings about the horrors of war go unheeded because the power to make war—as well as “justify” it in the eyes of those forced to fight and finance it—lies in the hands of the state and its business and intellectual allies. States are monopolists of organized force, and as such decide when and how to use their power on a grand scale, especially when they wish to confront other monopolists.
In fact, economic reasoning tells us that conflict is an integral part of the logic of states, which are inherently prone to warfare and imperialism. That war is an essential and practically inevitable behavior of government has been known since ancient times: for instance, Art of War begins by stating that “War is the greatest affair of state, the basis of [its] life and death, the Tao to survival or extinction.”
The central problem is that government is based on the use of the “political means” rather than the “economic means” of social organization. States are not producers of goods and services in the market; rather, they operate by forcible redistribution. They are therefore founded on a conflict of interest between the rulers and the ruled, especially between the winners and losers of the redistribution process.
Furthermore, because state decisions are not guided by entrepreneurial calculation, they result in the waste and destruction of resources, resources that must be replenished if the ruling class hopes to continue to consume. States therefore search constantly for new sources of revenue to support themselves, and to that end they use traditional methods of public finance: taxation, borrowing, and inflation. But these policies ultimately compound their difficulties, generating poverty and inequality, and intensifying social conflict.
Every way they turn, states face recurring economic problems and the need to distract or suppress the victims of exploitation; war making serves the dual purpose of (a) disguising fundamental social conflicts by refocusing attention and/or blame, and (b) providing economic gains to the state and its allies. This then is one economic explanation of how organized violence on a small scale leads to organized violence on a massive scale.
If we want to understand why war persists, we have to take account of the economic foundation of the state. We can’t reason in an institutional vacuum, like the many people throughout history who believed it was enough to simply point out the obvious calamity of war, while leaving the power to make it in the hands of a ruling class.
Despite border closures, flight bans, cordoning off the sick (and healthy), and rubber (and live) bullets and tear gas on 'protesters'; the world's worst outbreak of Ebola just keeps spreading, now to a sixth African nation. Just day after Congo (5th nation) reported cases of Ebola, as The BBC reports, Senegal's health minister confirmed the first case of Ebola in his nation yesterday and Bloomberg confirms 20 more people are "under surveillance." Meanwhile, in Guinea a Red Cross official said riots had broken out in the nation's 2nd largest city over rumors that health workers had infected people with the virus; and Nigerians are protesting plans to build isolation units in some local clinics. "contained"
Senegal becomes the 6th African nation with Ebola after Congo, Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra-Leone, and Liberia
As The BBC reports, Senegal had tried to block this...
Senegal had previously closed its border with Guinea in an attempt to halt the spread of Ebola, but the frontier is porous.
It had also banned flights and ships from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the three worst-hit countries.
- *EBOLA-INFECTED MAN ENTERED SENEGAL BY CAR FROM GUINEA: MINISTER
Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters on Friday that a young man from Guinea had travelled to Senegal despite having been infected with the virus.
The man was immediately placed in quarantine, she added.
For now he is 'stable'...
- *EBOLA CASE IN SENEGAL IS STABLE, NO FEVER, MAY RECOVER
- *ABOUT 20 PEOPLE UNDER SURVEILLANCE FOR EBOLA: SENEGAL MINISTER
- *SENEGAL WILL REQUEST EBOLA DRUG VIA WORLD HEALTH ORG.: MINISTER
* * *
In Guinea, a 24-hour curfew has been imposed in the second city, Nzerekore, because of a riot after the main market was sprayed with disinfectant in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.
The exact cause of the riot is not clear - some people reportedly feared the spray would spread Ebola, while other chanted: "Ebola is a lie". Police responded by firing tear gas.
"A rumor, which was totally false, spread that we had sprayed the market in order to transmit the virus to locals," Traore said. "People revolted and resorted to violence, prompting soldiers to intervene."
The city is the capital of the Forest Region, where the Ebola epidemic has its epicentre - near the town of Gueckedou.
However the BBC's Alhassan Sillah in Guinea says the town has miraculously remained free of Ebola so far.
And Nigerians are not happy...
In Nigeria, meanwhile, some have pushed back against government plans to build isolation units in their neighborhoods, even saying they would sooner burn Ebola centers down than allow them to operate.
In the northern city of Kaduna, hundreds of people on Wednesday protested plans to convert sections of a local clinic into an Ebola treatment center. Many carried signs that said: "No Ebola in our hospital."
Driven by the real and anticipated divergence in economic performance and trajectory of monetary policy, the long anticipated US dollar recovery has begun. As is evident in the positioning of the futures market, and confirmed by anecdotal evidence, speculative participants have amassed a significant large US dollar position. Broader measures of portfolio flows are less timely, but those that track mutual fund and ETF flows also report foreign demand for US assets.
The two knocks against the currency market have been the lack of follow through and the low volatility. The former has been exaggerated, and the latter may be changing. Perhaps what many say was the lack of follow through was really about being on the wrong side of the trade. Rather than continue to rally, the dollar's advance against the yen stopped dead in its tracked at the start of the year. Sterling trended higher from around $1.65 in mid-March to $1.72 in mid-July and that back to $1.65 in late-August. Sterling's recent decline including a 7-week losing streak that ended last week (just barely). And with last week's losses, the euro itself has declined for seven consecutive weeks.
Volatility in the euro and yen have been moving higher. The three-month implied volatility of both the euro-dollar and dollar-yen spent last week above their 100-day moving averages after bottoming in mid-July. For the euro, it is the first time since the start of the year, and this is the longest the implied dollar-yen vol has stayed above its 100-day average since the middle of last year.
Sterling is an exception to the general pattern of a stronger dollar, higher volatility. Sterling peaking against the dollar in mid-July, but the implied volatility peaked a few weeks later in early August. Perhaps at when sterling fell through a technical retracement objective near $1.68, the option players only then recognized that a top of some import was in place and were no longer looking to buy upside protection. As the sterling has moved back into more familiar levels, volatility has continued to ease and is back to within striking distance of the multi-year low set in June near 5%. That said, we can see how an out-of-the-money options could offer attractive returned if the Scottish referendum in the middle of September surprises or, if once passed this key event, sterling rallies.
Technically, the dollar looks stretched, but there is no compelling evidence to think that it has reached an important top against the yen, or that the euro is near a bottom. Sterling has been nesting in the $1.6540-60 area and is fundamentally positioned to out-perform the continental currencies and yen. However, it might struggle to recoup much ground against the dollar until the Scottish referendum is held.
The ECB meeting is key, and ahead of it, the euro could lose a cent, but remain above $1.30. We see a better chance of a rate cut than the unveiling of an ABS purchase program, or some other variant of QE that many other observers have emphasized. Many observers do think Draghi pre-committed ECB action in his Jackson Hole speech, especially the improvised additions.
We are bemused by the fact that many who have argued that QE was ineffective in the US, UK, Japan, and Switzerland are among those who advocate it for the ECB. In any event, do see a heightened risk of either disappointment with the ECB's action or "sell the rumor buy the fact" type of activity that can potentially trigger a squeeze. Such a bounce can be anticipated by investors and used to help time the implementation of an allocation strategy.
It is interesting to consider who is selling the yen. We know speculators in the futures market has built a substantial short yen position. We know from the MOF weekly data that Japanese investors have stepped up their purchases of foreign assets. Japan's public pension fund appears to have stepped up the diversification out of JGBs, raising foreign bond allocations. Many suggest the carry-trade is back in vogue. While this is possible, we are skeptical. There are other reasons to sell the yen besides carry, like momentum and portfolio allocation optimization.
Moreover, Japan is no longer the low-interest rate country. Overnight money in the euro area briefly exchanged hands at less than zero. The German yield curve, out to three years, had a negative yield at the end of the week. None of the Japanese curve is negative. At the long-end consider that Switzerland's benchmark 10-year bond yield is a couple of basis points through Japan.
The point is not that it is not a carry trade because there is no yield pick-up, but rather because the yen is not the most attractive funding currency now. In addition, the fact of the matter is that the dollar-yen upside breakout was not a function of a wider US premium over Japan, which many, including ourselves had expected.
The dollar-bloc currencies do look to be better-positioned technically. Since the end of the Q1, the Canadian and Australian dollars have been the best performers, gaining 1.7% and 0.8% respectively against the dollar. We suspect the Canadian dollar can continue to outperform. Both central banks meet next week. Neither will change policy, but the RBA is more likely to complain about the currency's strength.
Currently, we would argue; Canada draws a bigger benefit of being integrated into the US economy that Australia does being tied to China. The recent data suggests that the Canadian economy has greater momentum than Australia. This is especially important for equity investors, where the Toronto Stock Index is up 14.5% compared with the ASX's 5.1% advance year-to-date. Australia does offer a higher yields than Canada. We are also more inclined to see the RBA cut than the BOC (though not until late this year, or more likely, next year).
The US dollar found support ahead of CAD1.08. This is an important area, and a break would allow the greenback to complete the double top pattern carved out near CAD1.10 and has a minimal objective of CAD1.0720. The 5-day moving average crossed below the 20-day at the end of last week This is the first such crossing since mid-July that signaled a near-3% move.
US S&P 500 made new record highs last week, though spent most of last week consolidating. August was its best month since February (up ~1.5%, NASDAQ up near 3%). Volume was especially light during the last week and a half. With interest rates low and still falling, what many see as the ultimate fuel for equities would appear to remain in place. The US 10-year yield made new lows for the move before the weekend, while the 2-year yield was pushed back below 50 bp. Lastly, we note that the price of oil (generic) rallied last week, snapping a six week declining streak. It is testing its 20-day moving average near $96. It has not traded above this average since July 22.
Observations from speculative positioning in the futures market:
1. There were two significant position adjustments in the CFTC reporting period ending August 26. The gross long yen position increased by 17.2k contracts to 122.4k. The gross long Mexican peso position grew 15.5k contracts to 71.7k.
2. Separately, we note that the gross short euro position rose by 9k contracts to 204.6. The record gross position was set in July 2012 near 244k contracts. Even though the risk of break-up of the euro area and the risk that a large country defaults have fallen sharply, sentiment is almost as extreme.
3. Many Treasury bears threw in the towel in the latest period. About 22% of the gross short position was covered. In numerical terms, this was 116.5k contracts. This brought the gross short position down to 410k contracts. The gross longs were pared by 65k contracts to 418k. This was enough to swing the net position to long for the first time in a year.
Podcast – Egon von Greyerz: “I’m looking at the deflationary pressures that we are seeing in many areas like Europe and Japan. Continued deflation will lead to an implosion of asset prices and bank debt. Under that scenario no debts will be repaid and the financial system will fail. With $280 trillion of world … Read the rest
Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform
If Consumers Are So F%#king Confident Why Aren't They Spending?
The sheep have been told their confidence is at a 7 year high by the propaganda peddlers working at the behest of the oligarchy. The sheep are also told that 10 million jobs have been added since the GOTUS played his first round back in 2009. The sheep have been told the record highs in the stock market prove that all is well. If the .1% are doing fantastic, some of the wealth must be trickling down. The sheep are told that QE and ZIRP were really to save Main Street and not the bonuses of Wall Street (at record highs by the way). The sheep are told to fear ISIS, Iran, Assad, Putin, and China. The sheep are told U.S. energy independence is just around the corner and to ignore the fact that gas prices have tripled since in the last ten years. The sheep are told drones will keep them safe and the DHS militarizing the police is just for their safety and security. The sheep are told guns are dangerous in their hands, but not in the hands of the government. The sheep passively eat their iGadgets and barely bleat while being led to the slaughter house.
The propaganda machine is working at hyper speed as the wheels fall off this out of control bus. But all the messaging, packaging, and lies can’t change the facts. Ignorance about the facts doesn’t change the facts. The oligarchs are getting pissed. You mindless consumers simply won’t consume as much as you used to, even with 7 year 0% interest subprime auto loans, $1 trillion of government loans to generate consumption disguised as student loans, and five credit card offers per week from the Too Big To Trust Wall Street cabal. WTF is wrong with you?
You’ve ruined the storyline used for months about horrific winter weather being the cause of non-spending in the 1st quarter. Once it stopped being cold you were supposed to spend like drunken sailors again. Just like the old days. How could you spend less in July than you did in June? You’ve only increased your spending by a mere 1.8% so far this year. With real inflation on stuff you need to live running above 5%, you’re actually spending far less than last year. No wonder confidence is skyrocketing.
A little examination into the facts behind the Commerce Department report might shed a little light on the truth about the good old American consumer:
- 25% of all personal income in the country is either a transfer from the government to someone or from a government job. That is $3.7 trillion taken from producers and given to takers. In 2000 this figure was 21%. The relentless increase in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Benefits and Other will drive this percentage to 30% by 2020.
- Real personal income (excluding government transfers) has gone up 2.6% over the last year and this is using the false CPI figure of 1.6% to reach that pitiful number. Using a true inflation figure of 5% yields lower real personal income than last year.
- These numbers also fail to recognize the 2.2 million increase in population. On a per capita basis, real personal income is up 1.9% in the last year.
- Senior citizens and conservative savers are earning $120 billion less today than they did seven years ago. All the grandmothers eating cat food thank you Ben and Janet. If interest rates were allowed to adjust to market levels consistent with inflation, savers would be generating $500 billion to $700 billion more interest income that could be used to propel economic growth. Per capita real disposable income was $37,582 in May of 2008. It is currently $37,553. Again, this is using the fake BLS inflation numbers, so it is even far worse.
Is it really a shocker that Americans are spending less? The MSM is so captured by the organizations providing their advertising revenue that their faux journalists don’t even attempt to examine the facts and reach logical conclusions. Their job is to cheer lead and make excuses for why their storyline of improvement never plays out. The snow storyline is history. The surge in consumer confidence storyline has been proven false by the actual spending data. Now we move onto the surge in jobs storyline that is proven false by the personal income data. I’m sure back to school season will be a resounding success. Just wait until the holidays. The consumer will surely be back this year. And the beat goes on.
The chart below tells you all you need to know about why this recovery is false. The people who are supposed to be in their peak earnings and spending years have seen their real household incomes decline dramatically since the END of the recession in June 2009. Think about that for a moment. The only people who’ve seen their real incomes rise are those who no longer spend. I wonder if it is a coincidence that government transfers since June 2009 are up 18% and the grey hairs have seen their incomes rise?
The consumer is not back. They are not coming back. The decades long debt fueled orgy of consumption has long since peaked and we are on the long road to perdition. Confidence can’t cure our disease. More debt to cure a disease caused by too much debt will not save the patient. Our disease is terminal.
Indeed, it seems to be the case every single year around this time: certain 9/11 “trigger” stories involving plane crashes and terror threats and Ground Zero and Homeland Security take place in late summer... and this year's terror hype over ISIS is no different.
In anticipation to the launch of the Shanghai Gold Exchange international board, that presumably will start shifting gold pricing power from West to East, in this post we’ll examine the historical trading volumes of the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) and the COMEX. By charting the weekly volumes we get a clear view of the size of these exchanges. (In the London Bullion Market most likely the largest volumes are traded, but because this is an OTC market that doesn’t disclose much data we can’t use it in our West – East comparison.)
Precious Metals Markets: China vs US">Continue Reading
Secret video from CDC bunker captures the moment propaganda ministers learned of MMR vaccine fraud confession
Political myths that are destroying freedom: The myth of a limited-government Republican Party (Part 1)
President Barack Obama is being lambasted by US Republicans for admitting that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the rise of the militant group, ISIS, or Islamic State, as it’s now known.
Given that the US had made an unbelievable mess of its Mideast policies, the president is right to pause and think, something his shoot –from- the- lip Republican critics rarely do. They are demanding the US attack both Iraq and Syria without asking “what then oh brave Washington warriors?” These are the Republicans who ardently supported George Bush’s catastrophic invasion and destruction of Iraq.
The problem is that too many cooks in Washington are spoiling its Mideast soup. In his magnificent new book, “The Sleepwalkers,” Prof. Christopher Clark of Cambridge describes how World War I was in part ignited by small numbers of anti-German officials in France, Russia, Serbia and Britain who often undermined their own government’s moderate policies.
The same process occurred under President George W. Bush when cabals of neocon officials in the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and media drove the US into a calamitous war whose negative effects are still being felt.
Today, other pro-war cliques in official Washington are at it again, each trying to dominate policy. Add a bunch of pro-Israel billionaires who have bought both the Republican and Democratic parties, apparently including Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president.
President Obama has always found it extremely difficult to impose his will on all these different factions, even more now that he’s a lame duck. He has repeatedly made clear that he wants to avoid any new wars, but while allowing drone attacks to increase.
Both party politics and the need to shore up America’s shaky Mideast imperium – which I call the American Raj – are pushing Obama towards military action.
So we see small numbers of US troops being sent back to Iraq – enough men to get the nation stuck in a new conflict but not enough to make a major difference. In short, the worst of both worlds.
Now, Obama is being pressed to attack Syria, an idea so crazy it takes the breath away. Obama is largely responsible for the current disaster in Syria – nearly 200,000 dead and three million refugees. Once thriving Syria, the real heart of the Arab world, has been devastated. President Vlad Putin may not save Obama this time.
The US sponsored and armed the uprising against the Assad regime, which had brutally ruled Syria for 43 years. France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations backed the campaign to overthrow Assad, as a way to damage Iran, Syria’s principal ally. The result: a bloody war of attrition that is slowly being won by Damascus.
Worse, the western intervention in Syria produced what is known in the intelligence business as “blowback”- in this case the Mother of all blowback.
The Syrian jihadist supported by the western powers and, for some baffling reason, Turkey, ran amok. A previously unknown band of gunmen known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were trained and armed in Jordan by CIA, then turned lose on Syria.
ISIL became ISIS, then the by now notorious Islamic State(IS) which has been rampaging across northern and central Iraq. What makes IS so effective is that the major portion of its leaders and soldiers are veterans of President Saddam Hussein’s army, notably the Republican Guard. With IS is the last surviving Saddam insider, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
When the US first invaded Iraq, Saddam predicted it would face the “Mother of all battles.” Westerners laughed. Eleven years later, the laughter has been silenced. Iraq continues to fight on and it is no longer safe for foreign oil companies. Saddam’s revenge.
The Islamic State is the perfect example of Nietzche’s over-used maxim, “what does not kill us makes us stronger.” It has risen from the ruins of Iraq and Syria to challenge the American Raj.
“Light” bombing by the US in Iraq won’t stop the IS. Pentagon chiefs now say US air power and special forces must go into Syria. This is standard Obama procedure: inching forward and launching trial balloons to test public opinion. But it’s clear the American public does not want new wars no matter what the pro-war media and bought Congress may say.