Did the US allow ISIS to escape to keep the fighting going?

By Phil Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer with the CIA. Originally published at the Unz Review. Republished with permission of the author.

Isis Convoy

Americans have been living in a country that has not known peace since 9/11, when President George W. Bush and his posse of neoconservatives delivered the message to the world that “you are either with us or against us.” The threat was coupled with flurry of hastily conceived legislation that opened the door to the unconstitutional “war on terror” carried out at the whim of the Chief Executive, a conflict which was from the start conceived of as a global military engagement without end.

Bush and his handlers might not have realized it at the time but they were initiating a completely new type of warfare. To be sure, there would be fighting on the ground worldwide against an ideologically driven enemy somewhat reminiscent of communism, but there would also be included “regime change” of governments in countries that were not completely on board with the direction coming out of Washington. Instead of invading and occupying a country in the old-fashioned way, so the thinking went, far better to just knock off the top levels and let the natives sort things out while acting under direction from the pros in Washington.

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Beware the Marginal Buyer, Borrower and Renter

When times are good, the impact of the marginal buyer, borrower and renter on the market is often overlooked. By “marginal” I mean buyers, borrowers and renters who have to stretch their finances to the maximum to afford the purchase, loan or rent.

In bubble manias, buyers of real estate reckon the potential appreciation gains are worth the risk of buying a house they really can’t afford with the intention of flipping the home for a profit.

Workers moving to high-rent cities reckon they’ll either make more money going forward or find a cheaper flat later, so they pony up the high rent.

When there’s steady overtime or generous tips adding to the household income, buying a new car or getting a new auto lease looks do-able.

It’s difficult to assess how many recent buyers, borrowers and renters are marginal, but given the stagnation in household incomes and rising debt loads, it seems reasonable to guess that a substantial number of recent buyers, borrowers and renters are one lay-off or one missed bonus or one unexpected expense away from being unable to pay their mortgage, loan payment or rent.

On the surface, home and auto sales and the rental market all look robust because there’s no differentiation in sales data between people paying cash, qualified buyers/renters and marginal buyers/renters for whom every month is a stretch.
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Our National Madness

The nation has lost its common sense, its soul and its sanity. Can we summarize the source of this remarkably pervasive madness?

Our efforts are now focused not on solving core problems but on covering up core problems, as if covering up problems is a substitute for solving them. Down this path lies madness, for this substitution of false narratives for reality erodes our ability to distinguish not just between reality and fantasy but our ability to distinguish between moral rights and wrongs.

The efforts of those in positions of power are now focused on obscuring the truth, marginalizing critics, blaming malevolent external forces, cloaking self-interest with virtue signaling and staking claims to victimhood. These are the five dynamics that are powering the nation’s descent into madness and dysfunction.

Consider Harvey Weinstein. Evidence is now emerging that Mr. Weinstein and his army of toadies, bullies, thugs, et al. put enormous effort and resources into obscuring the truth, marginalizing critics, and cloaking self-interest with virtue signaling. Next up for Mr. Weinstein’s team of apologists: blame the Russians (or an equivalently malevolent Other), and claim to be a victim of all those testifying against him.

This is the model for everyone in positions of power. The only variation is which of the five will be spewed as a first line of defense, and which will be held in reserve for the last-ditch defense against the truth becoming public.
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Highlights from No War 2017

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Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?

By Mike Whitney. Originally published at Smirking Chimp (republished with permission of the author).

On Sunday, Former CIA Director John Brennan and Former National Intelligence Director (NID) James Clapper appeared on CNN’s morning talk show, State of the Union, to discuss Donald Trump’s brief meeting with Vladimir Putin in Vietnam. The two ex-Intel chiefs were sharply critical of Trump and wondered why the president did not “not acknowledge and embrace” the idea that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections. According to Brennan, Russia not only “poses a national security problem” for the US, but also “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy, and our whole process.”

Naturally, CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, never challenged Brennan or Clapper on any of the many claims they made regarding Russia nor did he interrupt either man while they made, what appeared to be, carefully scripted remarks about Trump, Putin and the ongoing investigation.

There were no surprise announcements during the interview and neither Brennan or Clapper added anything new to the list of allegations that have been repeated ad nauseam in the media for the last year. The only time Tapper veered off course at all was when he asked Brennan whether he thought “any laws were broken by the Trump campaign? Here’s what Brennan said:
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How America’s Deep State Operates to Control the Message

By Phil Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer with the CIA. Originally published at the Stategic Culture. Republished with permission of the author.

It is not possible to overstate the power of certain constituencies and corporate lobbies in the United States. These pressure groups, joined by powerful government agencies, many of which have secret agendas that focus on national security, constitute what is increasingly being recognized as “Deep State America.” Deep State is the widespread belief that there exists in many countries an entrenched and largely hidden infrastructure that really controls the national narrative and runs things. It explains why, for example, a country like the United States is perpetually at war even though the wars have been disastrous failures ever since Korea and have not made the nation more secure.

To be sure, certain constituencies have benefitted from global instability and conflict, to include defense industries, big government in general, and the national security state. They all work together and hand-in-hand with the corporate media to sustain the narrative that the United States is perpetually under threat, even though it is not.

The recent exchanges over the Russia-US relationship exhibit perfectly how the Deep State operates to control the message. American President Donald Trump briefly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vietnam. Putin reportedly told Trump that Russia “absolutely had not meddled” in the 2016 US election and Trump then told reporters that he believed the Russian leader meant what he said, “which is good.” As détente with Russia is not considered desirable by the Deep State, there was an immediate explosion of a contrary narrative, namely that Trump believes a Russian “enemy” and does not trust what his own intelligence agencies have told him about 2016 because he is being “played” by Putin. This story was repeated both on television news and in all the mainstream newspapers without exception, eventually forcing Trump to recant and say that he does believe in US intelligence.
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Want Widespread Prosperity? Radically Lower Costs

It’s easy to go down the wormhole of complexity when it comes to figuring out why our economy is stagnating for the bottom 80% of households. But it’s actually not that complicated: the primary driver of stagnation, decline of small business start-ups, etc. is costs are skyrocketing to the point of unaffordability.

As I have pointed out many times, history is unambiguous regarding the economic foundations of widespread prosperity: the core ingredients are:

1. Low inflation, a.k.a. stable, sound money

2. Social mobility (a meritocracy that enables achievers and entrepreneurs to climb out of impoverished beginnings)

3. Relatively free trade in products, currencies, ideas and innovations

4. A state (government) that competently manages tax collection, maintains roadways and harbors, secures borders and trade routes, etc.

Simply put, When costs are cheap and trade is abundant, prosperity is widely distributed. Once costs rise, trade declines and living standards stagnate. Poverty and unrest rise.

These foundations characterize stable economies with widely distributed prosperity across time and geography, from China’s Tang Dynasty to the Roman Republic to the Byzantine Empire to 19th century Great Britain.

The “Secret Sauce” of the Byzantine Empire: Stable Currency, Social Mobility(September 1, 2016)

The Lesson of Empires: Once Privilege Limits Social Mobility, Collapse Is Inevitable(April 18, 2016)

I have estimated the realistic cost of a conventional middle class lifestyle, and found that only the top 20% can afford a middle class lifestyle. Needless to say, this destroys the notion of being “middle.”
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