Russian Moves in Syria Highlight General US Hypocrisy

One has to wonder whether Moscow planners intend, as one of the effects of their current anti-terrorist (using US parlance) operations in Syria, to highlight US hypocrisy.  Intentional or not, this aspect of the Russian campaign has been stunning.

As soon as Russia began doing in Syria the same thing the US claims to be doing, Syrian victims magically switched from “collateral damage” to “civilians”, and suddenly bombing, as long as it is Russia doing it, “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization”, according to the White House, which has increased terrorism in the Mid-East approximately “by a factor of seven”, according to experts, since illegally invading Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.  (Iraq, reeling from the US invasion, saw almost four thousand people killed in September.)

At the same time as the US accuses Russia of “attacks on Syrian…civilians”, US-backed death squads in Yemen (led by US-coordinated/supplied Saudi Arabia while the US also bombs directly) carried out a massacre at a wedding, executing over 130 people and making Kill Bill look like an episode of My Fair Wedding.   (The US itself also directly attacks weddings regularly.)

The US then blocked a UN bid for an independent investigation into the massacre, and said Saudi Arabia can investigate itself.

At the same time, the US, in classic racist/supremacist fashion, refuses to apologize to a Yemeni man whose entire family the US massacred, rejecting “Faisal bin Ali Jaber’s offer to drop his federal lawsuit in exchange for [the same] condolences Obama has given to western victims of [the same] 2012 strike”.  (Even this reporter has to say “wow…” to that one.)

Also simultaneously (or, to be precise, “one day after” pointing entrail-draped fingers as Russia), the US spent about an hour bombing the only hospital in North Eastern Afghanistan, which is well-known to all sides and for which the US/NATO had exact coordinates.

Greenwald mentions that the US has long been hostile towards the Doctors Without Borders staff at this hospital for treating both patients who collaborate with and resist the US empire, so, while DWB frantically called Washington and NATO, telling them to stop detonating bombs in the building, the US continued its detonations for about an hour, murdering 12 DWB staffers and 7 other people in the hospital.

Gallup’s finding last month that distrust in US corporate media has hit a new high of 60%, particularly among ages 18 to 45, might suggest that people are catching on to the ridiculousness of getting “news” exclusively from giant, shady organizations run by oligarchs with massive conflicts of interest related to international markets and private capital and with intimate connections and a revolving door to US government positions controlling an unprecedented global military empire.

However, Gallup found last year that almost half of respondents (47%) believe corporate media is too “liberal”, reminding us that much of the grievance with corporate “news” is motivated by a belief that it is not nationalistic/US-supremacist enough.

But for the 53% who did not say their issue with corporate “news” is that it is too “liberal”, it is hard to imagine that current US actions, as particularly exposed by Russia’s new moves in Syria and Washington’s reaction to them, are not creating a little cognitive dissonance – mental discomfort/inconsistency – in at least a couple more of these US-Americans.

And as Frederick Douglass put it, for an enslaved (or in this case, obedient) person to be fully subservient and “contented”, he or she must “be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery”, and must be convinced of “its absolute rightfulness”.  For even “one crevice through which a single drop can fall, …will certainly rust off the slave’s chain.”

While nationalism is, as Orwell would point out, certainly harder to crack than slavery, if Douglass’s statement is applicable in any way, and if more people, even a few at a time, are able to catch onto the US government/corporate ruse, the question then becomes, “When?”

But to end on a somber note, Andre Vltchek, on a recent trip to the US, found that the number of people wise to the game is “too tiny to stop the crimes that the Empire is committing”, a stark reminder for concerned parties to keep hammering away, trying new tactics, and forging new alliances.

Author focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry.  Contact on Twitter.

Also see the Doctors Without Borders statement on the hospital attack.  DWB president: “This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law. We demand total transparency from Coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage’.”

Posted in General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | 3 Comments

As .01% face extinction: Scrooge, Darth Vader, Professor Snape offer advice to their minions

4-minute video of Darth Vader’s choice to serve love, family, and community rather than vicious psychopathic hatred:

For those involved in support of US government-sponsored disinformation and massive crimes that annually kill millions, harm billions, and loot trillions of the 99%’s dollars, I invite you to consider the quality of human relationships you wish to work for in creating your/our future.

National security and a brighter future is not a function of fear, manipulation, and psychopathic control. Our best security follows cooperation, justice under the law, dignity, and freedom. Surely you recognize that all promised natural rights in America are now gone, and the 99.99% are herded by the .01% as their work animals. The slaughter to which we are herded:

Working for your best imagined self-expression of virtue may include a unique contribution from the inside of your agency. You, as Darth Vader and Professor Snape in fictions that are popular for strong resonance to a real story we all want told, can reclaim your hearts and honor to be our heroes.

Truly, aren’t you ready now to re-embrace love and honor as your path?

Please consider the wisdom of a “Scrooge conversion” to act for the benefit of all humanity rather than your self-proclaimed loveless “masters.” From Dickens’ 1843 text:

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”

Public attraction to the stories of Star Wars and the Harry Potter books/movies recognize that our society’s jump to civilized relations for all of us might require support from people within the “dark side” acting as covert agents for building a brighter future.

Both Darth Vader (see video) and Professor Snape realized they were only tools of powers above them, things to be manipulated rather than sentient beings of free will. The severest irony is they both recognized their service to the “dark side” included deaths of their loved-ones and even themselves whenever convenient to their “masters.” That was Snape’s ending, although his path was taken with honor to infiltrate the darkness (4-minute video):

But that should be an obvious conclusion to those working in the real-world version of these analogies. We see it in the macro picture of millions killed every year through war and poverty, and in micro with individuals who we know.

For years, I have recommended Truth and Reconciliation to exchange full truth and return of public assets for no prosecution and a guaranteed provided comfortable retirement. Indeed, I am prepared to speak on the .01%’s corporate media to present this option with full confidence it is the most efficient in ending the crimes and avoiding a violent end-game as the .01% are recognized for who they really are by the 99.99%.

“Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans to gain or maintain power…What is more, those who choose not to empathize may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy…If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”  – J. K. Rowling, Harvard Commencement, June 5, 2008.

Minions to the evil .01%: does this 1-minute video artistically represent your memories, too?


Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.


Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at

Note: has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

Posted in General | 7 Comments

Hitler Was a Meth Head and a Junkie

His Top Commander and Troops Were High On Meth As Well

Hitler was literally a meth head and a junkie, as proven by documentaries from the History Channel:

BBC’s Secret History:

And National Geographic.

His top commander – Herman Goering – was also a meth head.

And the Nazis gave meth to millions of Nazi troops. As Medium notes:

The Wehrmacht was high on drugs, being supplied with millions of tablets of Pervitin, a methamphetamine drug developed in 1938 by the Berlin-based Temmler pharmaceutical company. In the spring of 1940 alone, 35 million tablets of Pervitin were shipped to the German army and airforce. Pervitin also became a national best seller amongst the German civilian population.

And see this and this.

Posted in General | 9 Comments

The Western Alliance Is Crumbling

EU Is Abandoning U.S. on Overthrowing Assad

Obama Cannot Defeat Assad without EU’s Help

EU Also Rejects Obama’s TTIP & TISA Demands

Obama’s Presidential ‘Legacy’ Heads to Failure

Eric Zuesse

Europe is being overrun by refugees from American bombing campaigns in Libya and Syria, which created a failed state in Libya, and which threaten to do the same in Syria. Europe is thus being forced to separate itself from endorsing the U.S. bombing campaign that focuses against the Syrian government forces of the secular Shiite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, instead of against his fundamentalist Sunni Islamic opponents, the jihadist groups (all of which are Sunni), such as ISIS, and Al Qaeda in Syria (al-Nusra).

A member of the Iraqi parliament has said:

The pressure on the Syrian regime, which is fighting ISIS, must be lifted. They should not try to strengthen the feeble Free Syrian Army [FSA]. There is no FSA. There is ISIS in Syria and Iraq. You cannot fight ISIS in Iraq, yet support it in Syria. There is one war and one enemy. The U.S. should give up its hypocrisy. People are not brainless.

The European publics oppose America’s bombings, which have poured these refugees from American bombing, into Europe. European leaders are starting to separate from alliance with the United States.

U.S. Senator John McCain, who, as a fanatical Vietnam-war bomber-pilot, has always hated Russia even more than does U.S. President Barack Obama (who got his hatred from other sources), is egging Obama on to war against Russia in Syria; he says, “We need to have a no-fly zone,” where we prohibit Russia’s planes from bombing areas that are controlled by American-supported jihadists (which the U.S. government still euphemistically calls “the Free Syrian Army”). Actually, as Agence France Press had reported on 12 September 2014, “Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.” ISIS and FSA had already been close; but now they were and are essentially one-and-the-same; it’s just not been reported in the U.S. press. The U.S. Government’s distinctions are thus entirely specious; Obama’s top goal in Syria is clearly to replace Russia’s ally, Assad, not  to defeat the Islamic State (and the little that still remains of FSA). McCain just wants Obama to go all the way, to nuclear war against Russia, to overthrow Assad. (Perhaps he thinks Obama will ‘chicken out,’ and McCain will then criticize Obama for ‘abandoning the people of Syria,’ who have benefited so much from America’s bombing that they’ve been fleeing Syria by the millions. McCain and other Republicans are so  “pro-life” — for zygotes anyway. When the Iraqi parliamentarian said, “People aren’t brainless,” he wasn’t referring to people like that.)

On October 1st, NPR presented McCain saying, “I can absolutely confirm to you that they [Russian air strikes] were strikes against our Free Syrian Army or groups that have been armed and trained by the CIA because we have communications with people there.” (Oh, a few of them still exist, even after they’ve been absorbed into the Holy-War group? And the CIA is still funding them? Really? Wow!)

Russia announced on October 2nd that their bombing campaign against America’s allies in Syria — ISIS and Al Nusra (the latter being Al Qaeda in Syria) — will intensify and will last “three or four months.” U.S. President Barack Obama is insisting upon excluding Russia from any peace talks on Syria; the U.S. will not move forward with peace talks unless Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad first steps down. But Russia is the only serious military power against the jihadists who are trying to defeat Assad, and Russia is now committing itself also to providing Lebanon with weapons against the jihadists, who are America’s allies in Lebanon too.

U.S. pretends that overthrowing Assad would be for ‘democracy.’ But when the Qatari regime, which funds al-Nusra, hired a polling firm in 2012 to survey Syrians, the finding was that 55% of Syrians wanted him to remain as President. Then, as I reported on 18 September 2015, “Polls Show Syrians Overwhelmingly Blame U.S. for ISIS,” and those recent polls were from a British firm that has ties to Gallup. No question was asked then about whether Assad should stay; but, clearly, support for him had strengthened considerably between 2012 and 2015, as the Syrian people now see with greater clarity than they possibly could have before, that the U.S. regime is an enemy, not a friend, to them. Obama’s, and the Republicans’, pretenses to favor democracy are blatantly fraudulent.

That’s hardly the only ‘legacy’ issue for Obama — his war against Russia, via overthrowing Gaddafi, then Yanukovych, and his still trying to overthrow Assad — which is now forcing the break-up of the Western Alliance, over the resulting refugee-crisis. An even bigger such conflict within the Alliance concerns Obama’s proposed treaty with European states, the TTIP, which would give international corporations rights to sue national governments in non-appealable global private arbitration panels, the dictates from which will stand above any member-nation’s laws. Elected government officials will have no control over them. This supra-national mega-corporate effort by Obama is also part of his similar effort in his proposed TPP treaty with Asian nations, both of which are additionally aimed to isolate from international trade not just Russia, but China, so as to leave America’s large international corporations controlling virtually the entire world.

As things now stand regarding these ‘trade’ deals, Obama will either need to eliminate some of his demands, or else the European Commission won’t be able to muster enough of its members to support Obama’s proposed treaty with the EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Also, some key European nations might reject Obama’s proposed treaty on regulations regarding financial and other services: TISA (Trade In Services Agreement). All three of Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals, including the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) between the U.S. and Asian countries, are the actual culmination of Obama’s Presidency, and they’re all about far more than just trade and economics. The main proposed deal with Europe might now be dead.

On September 27th, France’s newspaper SouthWest  featured an exclusive interview with Matthias Fekl, France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, in which he said that “France is considering all options, including outright termination of negotiations” on the TTIP. He explained that, ever since the negotiations began in 2013, “These negotiations have been and are being conducted in a total lack of transparency,” and that France has, as of yet, received “no serious offer from the Americans.”

The reasons for this stunning public rejection  had probably already been accurately listed more than a year ago. After all, France has, throughout all of the negotiations, received “no serious offer from the Americans”; not now, and not back at the start of the negotiations in 2013. The U.S. has been steadfast. Jean Arthuis, a member of the European Parliament, and formerly France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, headlined in Le Figaro, on 10 April 2014, “7 good reasons to oppose the transatlantic treaty”. There is no indication that the situation has changed since then, as regards the basic demands that President Obama is making. Arthuis said at that time:

First, I am opposed to private arbitration of disputes between States and businesses. [It would place corporate arbitrators above any nation’s laws and enable them to make unappealable decisions whenever a corporation sues a nation for alleged damages for alleged violations of its rights by that nation of the trade-treaty.]  Such a procedure is strictly contrary to the idea that I have of the sovereignty of States. …

Secondly, I am opposed to any questioning of the European system of appellations of origin. Tomorrow, according to the US proposal, there would be a non-binding register, and only for wines and spirits. Such a reform would kill many European local products, whose value is based on their certified origin.

Thirdly, I am opposed to the signing of an agreement with a power that legalizes widespread and systematic spying on my fellow European citizens and European businesses. Edward Snowden’s revelations are instructive in this regard. As long as the agreement does not protect the personal data of European and US citizens, it cannot be signed.

Fourth, the United States proposes a transatlantic common financial space, but they adamantly refuse a common regulation of finance, and they refuse to abolish systematic discrimination by the US financial markets against European financial services. They want to have their cake and eat it too: I object to the idea of a common area without common rules, and I reject commercial discrimination.

Fifth, I object to the questioning of European health protections. Washington must understand once and for all that notwithstanding its insistence, we do not want our plates or animals treated with growth hormones nor products derived from GMOs, or chemical decontamination of meat, or of genetically modified seeds or non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal feed.

Sixth, I object to the signing of an agreement if it does not include the end of the US monetary dumping. Since the abolition of the gold convertibility of the dollar and the transition to the system of floating exchange rates, the dollar is both American national currency and the main unit for exchange reserves in the world. The Federal Reserve then continually practices monetary dumping, by influencing the amount of dollars available to facilitate exports from the United States. China proposes to eliminate this unfair advantage by making “special drawing rights” of the IMF the new global reference currency. But as things now stand, America’s monetary weapon has the same effect as customs duties against every other nation. [And he will not sign unless it’s removed.]

Seventh, beyond the audiovisual sector alone, which is the current standard of government that serves as a loincloth to its cowardice on all other European interests in these negotiations, I want all the cultural exceptions prohibited. In particular, it is unacceptable to allow the emerging digital services in Europe to be swept up by US giants such as Google, Amazon or Netflix. They’re giant absolute masters in tax optimization, which make Europe a “digital colony.”

President Obama’s negotiator is his close personal friend, Michael Froman, a man who is even trying to force Europe to reduce its fuel standards against global warming and whose back-room actions run exactly contrary to Obama’s public rhetoric. Froman and Obama have been buddies since they worked together as editors on Harvard Law Review. He knows what Obama’s real goals are. Also: “Froman introduced Mr. Obama to Robert E. Rubin, the former Treasury secretary,” who had brought into the Clinton Administration Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, and had championed (along with them) the ending of the regulations on banks that the previous Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had put into place. (President Bill Clinton signed that legislation just as he left office, and this enabled the long process to occur with MBS securities and with financial derivatives, which culminated with the 2008 crash, and this same legislation also enabled the mega-banks to get bailed out by U.S. taxpayers for their crash — on exactly the basis that FDR had outlawed.)

Froman has always been a pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-bank champion, who favors only regulations which benefit America’s super-rich, no regulations which benefit the public. Froman’s introducing the Wall Street king Robert Rubin to the then-Senator Obama was crucial to Obama’s becoming enabled to win the U.S. Presidency; Robert Rubin’s contacts among the super-rich were essential in order for that — Obama’s getting a real chance to win the Presidency — to happen. It enabled Obama to compete effectively against Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to do that. His winning Robert Rubin’s support was crucial to his becoming President.

The chances, that President Obama will now be able to get the support from any entity but the U.S. Congress for his proposed TTIP treaty with Europe, are reducing by the day. Europe seems to be less corrupt than is the United States, after all.

The only independent economic analysis that has been done of the proposed TTIP finds that the only beneficiaries from it will be large international corporations, especially ones that are based in the United States. Workers, consumers, and everybody else, will lose from it, if it passes into law. Apparently, enough European officials care about that, so as to be able to block the deal. Or else: Obama will cede on all seven of the grounds for Europe’s saying no. At this late date, that seems extremely unlikely.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda, Science / Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shell’s Loss Is Eni’s Gain

At the beginning of this week, oil major Shell announced that it will indefinitely postpone (read: completely abandon) its Arctic drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska. The company stated: “Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”

This retreat will result in Shell losing its $7 billion investment, a bitter pill to swallow for the oil major.

While Shell and many others have given up on their Arctic ambitions, for the time being at least, Italian oil major Eni is closer to producing Arctic oil and gas than ever before.

Meet the Goliat FPSO, a floating production storage and offloading unit developed by Sevan Marine, a Norwegian marine engineering company. The platform has a production capacity of around 100.000 boe per day.

Related: Alaska Facing Tough Choices Without Arctic Oil

Image source: FT

The FPSO has –after a long journey from South- Korea- finally arrived at the prolific Goliat field, which contains estimated recoverable reserves of around 178 MMboe; enough to guarantee around 15 years of production.

Related: Africa Banking On Nuclear Power

Eni and smaller partner Statoil are determined to start operations in the Barents Sea sooner rather than later. The oil companies acquired the license for the field back in 1997 and the first exploratory well was drilled in 2000. Ever since, the project has seen delay after delay and the total costs have surged from an expected $3.53 billion to nearly $5.5 billion.

However, it looks like Eni and Statoil are perhaps only weeks away from production, as the already drilled wells just need the final approval from the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority, which released a report in July on the safety situation of the FPSO and said on September 28 that “There is still some work left to do at Goliat.”

Related: Russian Crude Output Highest Since Fall Of Soviet Union

Nonetheless, ENI representative Andreas Wulff confirmed to Reuters that the field will still come on stream in 2015, without giving a specific date.

The start of production in the Arctic, together with the recent discovery of the ‘Zohr’ supergiant natural gas field off the Egyptian coast and the successful bids for Mexican offshore fields push the company further in the direction it so dearly wants to be: a major upstream player.

The Goliat field, when it comes on stream will become the world’s northernmost offshore field with an output expected to peak around 34 million boe per year.

By Tom Kool of

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Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, Politics / World News, Science / Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hillary Offers Syria a Libyan-Iraqi-Style Paradise

Americans may find Syria a bit confusing. David Petraeus, sainted hero, has proposed arming al Qaeda, organized devil. Vladimir Putin, reincarnated Hitler, is bombing either ISIS or al Qaeda or their friendly democratic allies, but he shouldn’t be because he’s against overthrowing the Syrian government, also run by Hitler living under the name Assad. Hillary Clinton, liberal socialist, wants to create a no-fly zone, but wouldn’t that make it hard to bomb all the scary Muslims? Wait, are we against Assad or the scary Muslims or both? Aaaaaarrrrgghh! How does this make any sense?

Let’s start over, shall we?

Some basic facts?

We’ll start with the most uncomfortable fact, but one that helps begin to make sense of everything, OK?

The United States military wants to dominate the earth, has “special” forces active in 135 countries, and has troops stationed in some 180 countries. On a map of the world showing nations with no U.S. troops in them, Syria and Iran stand out like sore thumbs, as once-upon-a-time did Iraq and Libya. Syria not only has no U.S. troops; it has Russian troops, and it’s friendly toward Iran, which has no U.S. troops. Overthrowing the Syrian government, like Iraq’s and Libya’s and Iran’s, has been on the Pentagon’s bucket list for the 21st century. As early as 2006, the U.S. government had people on the ground in Syria working to overthrow the government. With the 2011 Arab Spring, the U.S. thought it saw an opportunity, and helped turn the protests violent.

The Syrian government is awful and murderous. It used to torture people for the U.S. government. It, indeed, attacks “its own citizens” (which is always who governments attack that aren’t escapading around the globe attacking other people’s citizens, which in fact most governments never do). If every government that attacked its own citizens had to be overthrown, the list would be unending, and could begin with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and various other governments just in that region that the U.S. — far from overthrowing — props up, funds, and arms with the weaponry used to commit the attacks. Overthrowing foreign governments and launching wars are in fact illegal acts, and rightly so, regardless of the nature of the governments.

The criminal acts of overthrowing the horrible governments of Iraq and Libya resulted in millions of people being killed, injured, traumatized, and turned into refugees, and the creation of not only worse governments but deadly chaos in those nations and spilling out into the rest of the region. This cannot be a model for what to do to Syria.

Russia should not be arming Syria or bombing Syria. We’re so well trained to think in terms of war, that when we hear that one side of a war is in the wrong, we imagine that must be an argument for backing the other side. “You don’t want the United States bombing Syria? Then you must want Russia bombing Syria! You must want Assad using his deadly ‘barrel bombs’!” In fact, nobody should be arming or bombing anyone in Syria. The United States and numerous allies that have been bombing Syria need to stop. Russia, which has just started, needs to stop. The U.S. media says Russia is bombing where there’s no ISIS, although it said ISIS was there a week ago and seems to have forgotten. Russia shouldn’t stop bombing because it’s bombing the wrong people. There are no right people to bomb. The majority of people who die from bombs are civilians. The majority of people involved with any of the many opposition groups in Syria are opportunists and misguided desperate souls. Every single person in Syria is a person deserving better than a crude “barrel bomb” from a helicopter they hear coming or a far more deadly missile from a foreign jet or drone.

A no fly zone is not a zone in which nobody can fly. It’s a zone in which the United States claims the exclusive right to fly and to shoot out of the sky anyone else who tries it, and to bomb out of existence any weaponry that could threaten U.S. planes, along with any people who happen to be anywhere near any suspected weaponry or near any locations accidentally hit in the process. The history of human catastrophes facilitated by humanitarian “no fly” zones includes Iraq and Libya. Hillary Clinton, motivated by interest in Libya’s oil, wanted a no fly zone in Libya, urged that it be used to overthrow the government, laughed gleefully about killing Gadaffi, and would prefer that you now not look at Libya too closely. A no fly zone for Syria is a declaration of war on Syria.

Hillary Clinton, just to be clear, is not an office holder. She is a private citizen who ought to be shunned from all public discourse. As Secretary of State, she waived restrictions on shipping weapons to brutal governments if they made large “donations” to her foundation. For that, she should be in prison. Nothing worse will be found, no matter how many of her emails are read in a mad pursuit of more minor but colorful offenses.

In 2013, the Obama Administration demanded the right to send missiles into Syria. The plan, kept private, was a massive bombing campaign that would have leveled Syria and set it on a more rapid course toward utter chaos. Obama made claims about chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government that have never yet been documented, and alleged proof for which fell apart.

The U.S. public helped prevent that attack in 2013 and was, according to polls, even more strongly against arming and training Syrians. So, the CIA and the Pentagon went right ahead with arming and training Syrians. They have had a very hard time recruiting, and have seen their trained and armed troops desert and join other groups, including al Qaeda and ISIS. The U.S. dismissed out of hand a Russian proposal for peace, including Assad stepping down, in 2012, under the delusion that Assad would be quickly overthrown by violence in a manner less advantageous to Russia. That hasn’t happened. U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia keep funding and arming ISIS and allied groups. The U.S. keeps arming supposedly “moderate” murderers who supposedly oppose both ISIS and Assad. The various opposition groups keep fighting Assad and each other. And Assad gets support from Russia, and has begun working with Russia, Iran, and Iraq against its opposition / ISIS.

The United States still dreams of overthrowing Assad on the cheap without a massive U.S. occupation, and without bombing quite the whole country. The U.S. keeps fueling the fires that sooner or later could escalate into the kind of war that could overthrow Assad, generate lots more hatred of the United States, empower ISIS, and kill millions.

Russia hopes to keep Assad or a Russia-friendly government in power without a massive Russian occupation, and without bombing quite the whole country. Russia keeps fueling the fires that sooner or later could escalate into the kind of war that could put an end to major opposition in the short term, generate hatred of Russia, empower ISIS, and kill millions.

The global threat is, of course, that this could escalate into a war between Russia and the United States.

What can be done? From the U.S. side that’s not hard to answer, though it may be hard to accept.

1. Apologize to the people of Iraq and Libya, abandon the overthrow of Syria, apologize to the United Nations for promoting war at the General Assembly.

2. Cease all weapons shipments to the Middle East and pull all U.S. troops out of the Middle East.

3. Launch a massive campaign of no-strings-attached aid as restitution to the region, costing of course many times less than the ongoing militarism.

4. Work to negotiate an arms embargo and a weapons-of-mass-destruction free Middle East, including Israel.

5. Work to cut off the funding to armed groups.

6. Ask the United Nations to convene peace talks with all parties, including the Syrian opposition, including Iraq, including Iran, including Russia, including Turkey, including the Syrian government, but not including nations that are not even located in the region, such as the United States.

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You Can’t Separate Empire, the State, Financialization and Crony Capitalism: It’s One Indivisible System

Disagreement is part of discourse, and pursuing differing views of the best way forward is the heart of democracy. Disagreement is abundant, democracy is scarce, despite claims to the contrary.

If you think you can surgically extract Empire from the American System, force the State to serve the working/middle classes, end the stripmining of financialization, limit crony capitalism/regulatory capture and get Big Money out of politics–go ahead and do so. I’m not standing in your way–go for it.

But while you pursue your good governance, populist, Left/ Right /Socialist/ Libertarian, etc. reforms, please understand the system is indivisible: the Deep State, the Imperial Project (hegemony and power projection), the State, finance in all its tenacled control mechanisms (greetings, debt-serfs and student-loan-serfs), crony capitalism /regulatory capture, money buying political influence, media propaganda passing as “news”, and the evisceration of democracy (something untoward could happen if the serfs could overthrow the Power Elite at the ballot box–can’t let that happen)–it’s all one system.

Should any one organ be ripped from the body, the entire body dies. The entire system defends each subsystem as integral as a matter of survival. As a result, the naive notion that big money can be excised with only positive consequences is false: restoring democracy places the entire system at risk of implosion.

No more bread and circuses, no more Social Security checks, no more state employee pensions–it all melts into air if any subsystem stops doing its job.

The system is interdependent. Each subsystem needs the others to function. I drew up a chart of the major components (but by no means all) of the system:

The system is a machine in which each gear serves the whole. So go ahead and try to “reform” the system by extracting whatever gear you don’t approve of: the Deep State components, the Security State organs, the Federal Reserve, cartels/monopolies enforced by the State, the suppression of democracy, crony capitalism, whatever.

The machine will resist your “reform” to the death because should you succeed, the machine will implode. Take out the financialization gear and the financial system collapses.

So go ahead and reform to your heart’s content. Go ahead and believe the system is reformable, if it makes you feel better. Vote for Bernie or The Donald or whomever. Go ahead and disagree with me. Prove me wrong. Prove the State really, really, really wants to serve the working/middle class rather than the Empire that it is. Pursue your Left/ Right/ Socialist/ Libertarian fantasies of righting the Imperial Project by ripping the gears out of the very center of the machine.

It doesn’t work that way. We can’t remove the gears we find distasteful. Either the machine grinds on and we get our share of the swag–bread and circuses, corporate welfare, State jobs and pensions, Medicaid and Medicare, and all the rest of the immense swag of hegemony and the Imperial Project–or the system implodes and all the swag melts into air.

The great irony is what’s unsustainable melts into thin air no matter how many people want it to keep going.

But go ahead and disagree. It’s your right, by golly. Go ahead and try to “reform” the system and see how far you get.

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Obama v. Putin: Their Debate on Crimea

The Source of the ‘New Cold War’: The Basic Disagreement Between Obama and Putin

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at


The basic disagreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the source of the economic sanctions against Russia, and ’the new cold war,’ concerns the question of whether the process by which Crimea separated from Ukraine and joined Russia was, as Obama says, “aggression” by Russia, an illegal “seizure” of Crimea by Russia; or, on the other hand, as Putin says, a thoroughly legal and democratic act by the people of Crimea, to exercise their right of self-determination, via a referendum.

Many of the points that will be referred-to, along the way here, are going to be opposite to the views that are widespread in the West; and, so, wherever that is the case, clicking onto the linked source will enable you easily to check what’s being said, if it conflicts with what you ‘know’ or have previously been told. All of the sources linked-to here are either primary evidence such as videos of the actual events, or else articles which link through to similarly high-quality primary evidence. In “politicized” and other controversial matters like this, the quality of the evidence is especially important to making a rational determination as to where the truth actually is; and this (plus the heavy prevalence of propaganda surrounding this matter) is the reason for the extensive and high-quality documentation that’s cited here. These links provide ready evidence regarding any allegation that might seem doubtful.

The alternative to such extensive and high-quality documentation would be to offer here only statements that are either bland and/or undocumented; and, regarding the present topic “Obama v. Putin,” any such article on so controversial a matter would, frankly, be a waste for readers, hardly enlightening at all — just more ‘confirmation’ of what you already ‘know,’ or else not even a credible article. The subject here is worth the trouble to understand accurately. (Or, if it’s not, then you probably woudn’t have read even this far.)


In addition to charging Russia with “aggression” regarding Crimea, Obama also accuses Russia of “aggression” against Ukraine in Ukraine’s former Donbass region (which is basically the dark purple area on this map), such as by saying, “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine makes clear that European security and the international rules and norms against territorial aggression cannot be taken for granted. In response, we have led an international effort to support the Ukrainian people as they choose their own future and develop their democracy.” However, he has never cited the justification for his overthrowing (look at that video evidence of it, but there’s lots more) the democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014 (Obama’s type  of “as they choose their own future and develop their democracy”). The head of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor admits that this was actually “the most blatant coup in history.” (Like I said: there’s lots more evidence of the coup.) Obama has never cited any justification for imposing in Ukraine instead a rabidly anti-Russian regime next-door to Russia, replacing the then-existing and democratically elected  Ukrainian government that had existed. He has always alleged that the source of the new cold war was Crimea’s transfer to Russia, not the transfer of Ukraine to the U.S. (the coup, shown here being prepared), which had immediately preceded, and precipitated, the breakaway of Crimea.

However, did this decision by Obama, to overthrow Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, really “develop their democracy,” as Obama phrased the matter? Or did it instead end  that democracy, and cause some parts of Ukraine, which had voted overwhelmingly for the man whom Obama overthrew, to separate themselves from Obama’s newly coup-imposed government of Ukraine? Crimeans had voted over 75% for Yanukovych; Donbass had voted over 90% for Yanukovych. With the coup, Ukraine’s new national government was anything but a ‘democracy’ for them. It was instead their government’s being stolen by the United States. Obama’s rhetoric, alleging his desire to help “develop their democracy,” is a blatant lie, which is something that’s actually routine for him. (Please click onto that link there for the evidence on the matter, if you disagree that he routinely lies.) To say that he rampantly lies is just a statement of fact, not one of opinion. Obama is remarkably similar to George W. Bush — though far more articulate, and though he uses rhetoric that appeals to a broader global audience.

Just because something (such as what was just documented here) is not generally reported in the press doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true. The meaning of that might instead be: the American press, on all sides of it, lies in the same direction about certain things on which all sides of the aristocracy  (since the same aristocracy controls both  the government and  the ‘news’ media) agree, such as, itself, the lie that America is a democracy, not  an aristocracy. When the national press and the national government are controlled by the same group, it’s no democracy. The nation’s aristocracy naturally don’t want the public to recognize that their government is, in fact, not a democracy. Not a republic (“republic” being another name for the system of government in any large democratic nation). It represents instead only a narrow group. It’s a dictatorship, not a democracy. For example: see this and this. Aristocrats rule here, behind the scenes. They don’t want the public to see it; so, the things that I’ve just linked to regarding Russia and Crimea, they have refused to report, and instead demonize Russia and its leader Putin. The public won’t favor this new cold war if they know it’s based instead upon their aristocracy’s grasp for expanding their own empire, at the public’s expense (in money for the military, if nothing else, to use the nation’s armed forces as their personal group’s armed international gang).

But, just because Obama has been lying about the Crimean situation doesn’t necessarily mean that the transfer of Crimea to Russia was in accord with international law. Was it? Obama says it wasn’t.

Crimea is the specific issue on which Obama imposed sanctions against Russia, saying that it was “illegal.” He has never even considered, publicly, that Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine was actually sparked by that couphis coup. Nor has the Western press discussed any of these things — the actual cause of that breakaway, by Crimea, from Ukraine. (It was, in fact, sparked directly by Obama’s thugs butchering busloads of Crimeans who were escaping from Obama’s Kiev coup. And, here is a quick summary I recently did of that butchery.) However, Obama insists that Crimea must be restored to the Ukrainian government, in order for the sanctions against Russia to end.

This is like George W. Bush’s “Saddam’s WMD” excuse for “regime change,” except that Obama’s “regime change” is occurring in Libya (Gaddafi), Syria (Assad), Ukraine (Yanukovych), and other countries that have supported Russia — all aimed ultimately to replace Putin himself. Obama paints Putin as being a modern version of Stalin.

Only Obama’s side has been presented in the West — his Administration’s lies — and the economic sanctions were imposed against Russia on that false basis, and without challenge from the Western press. But is his legal  case valid? If the legal  case is valid, even though the history of the conflict has been misrepresented, then international law itself would need to be changed. The results of Obama’s lies would then be essentially permanent. (Changing international law would take too long, if it happens at all.) But those results affect the entire world’s future. We’re heading toward a possible nuclear war. So, the legal issue needs also to be accurately understood, in order to see whether there’s any case at all to be made for continuing on this course (toward a nuclear war).

These economic sanctions constitute Obama’s punishment of Russia for that breakaway of Crimea from Ukraine; this is the foundation of the “new cold war,” entailing not just the anti-Russia sanctions but all of the military exercises on both sides with tit-for-tat training operations by each side’s military regarding the possible use of nuclear weapons in the event that one side or the other decides to be the first one to pull the nuclear plug.

Where, then, does the legal case stand?

Obama has not publicly provided any legal analysis in order to back-up his view that the breakaway of Crimea from Ukraine was illegal, but Andrei Illarionov of the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers’ Cato Institute has already done that for him, in Illarionov’s — which thus-far is the only — coherent statement regarding why Obama’s view, the West’s view, on this, is legally correct, and why Putin’s view on it is legally wrong. 

Illarionov’s 10 November 2014 article, “Annexation of Crimea Is a Litmus Test for Russian Opposition,” said that indeed the first among “the crimes that have been committed or are being committed by the Kremlin — stealing Crimea” can be rectified only by terminating Russia as we know it, totally rejecting  “Russia’s aggression in Crimea,” which, to him, means replacement of the current Russian government by “a free democratic state with the rule of law”: i.e., overthrowing it, in order to establish that very thing, “a free democratic state with the rule of law.” (His concept of “democracy” is, however, as you will see here, the opposite of the usual meaning of that term.) His case that today’s Russia has fundamentally violated “the rule of law” in the Crimean instance, and so needs not only sanctions, but much more severe treatment, will now be presented and discussed here:

He said that, “The issue of Crimea’s jurisdiction is within the competence of only one subject of international law — the owner of that territory, namely Ukraine. Only this subject, and no one else, has necessary legal rights to change this territory’s jurisdiction.” And, since Ukraine did not sell  Crimea to Russia, Russia “stole” it from Ukraine. That’s his argument.

He sees the issue of Crimea as being not an issue of people, but of land: the land-area of Crimea, which Russia “stole” from Ukraine — that Russia stole the land and everything in it, and under it, and on it, including its residents. 

According to Illarionov, Crimea’s residents are simply human property there. They belong to Ukraine, no matter what they think, because they reside on Ukraine’s land.

Illarionov’s article doesn’t even so much as discuss whether the 16 March 2014 popular vote of Crimeans, in which 97% voted to rejoin Russia (note: the Soviet Union’s dictator Khrushchev had donated Crimea from Russia, to Ukraine, in 1954, without even asking anyone in Crimea their opinion of the matter — Crimea had been part of Russia for hundreds of years prior to 1954) — whether this vote reflected accurately the public sentiment among Crimeans. It actually did reflect that (which is why Obama can’t argue on that basis — self-determination), but this question is simply ignored by Illarionov.

However, he goes further, to condemn: “bashful populism hiding behind unlimited (non-liberal) democracy. ‘Whatever the majority desires is right.’ People who hold these beliefs might admit that all possible laws and norms have been violated, that a crime has been committed, and even condemn the crime; but if the majority wants the crime’s results to be preserved, they will not do anything to stop it, protect the victim, return what was stolen, [nor] punish the criminal. This is the principle of recognizing the fait accompli resulting from the crime, the principle of subordinating one’s actions to the mob’s instincts.” In other words: he condemns “unlimited democracy” and “the mob.” (Obama himself has used similar imagery in order to state privately his support of America’s aristocratic crooks, when he told Wall Street’s CEOs who had administered and profited from the MBS and other frauds that had crashed the world’s economy, these men who were assembled together inside the White House, early in his Administration: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks [the ‘mob’] … I’m protecting you. … I’m going to sheild you from public and congressional anger.” And he did.) And, by “non-liberal,” Illarionov is using the term for libertarianism that’s used outside the United States: “liberal.” He favors only  “liberal” “democracy,” which he thinks is a “limited” form of “democracy.” Whoever rules there, it’s certainly not “the mob,” his term for the public. (It’s Obama’s “pitchforks.”)

Furthermore, Illarionov goes on to say: “The fact that most of the peninsula’s population are ethnic Russians does not matter either.”

In other words: the residents of Crimea should be entirely ignored, he says. Not only the residents’ opinions, but the possible reasons for those opinions, have nothing whatsoever to do with the legality of Crimea’s transfer, he says. Those people live on Ukraine’s land, and so are Ukraine’s property — and Russia stole this property, from Ukraine. The people there are only property.

That’s the only coherent legal theory upon which Obama’s case against the transfer of Crimea back to Russia makes sense. 

(This argument of Illarionov would apply equally to Donbass — if valid at all — though Putin has refused to accept the urgings of the residents there that they too be allowed to join Russia. Obama and Ukraine say he’s trying to grab that region, but Putin only wants the people there to be able to protect themselves from the government that’s trying to kill them, and he sends them multi-truckloads of foods and medicines so that they can survive. Those people are therefore establishing their own government, and the question now is whether that government will become accepted as constituting an “oblast” or district within a federal Ukraine. Ukraine so far has rejected that, federalism. But if Ukraine accepts, then the issues will arise of what, if any, property-rights will be restored to Ukraine, in Donbass, by the residents there, and of how those residents can be compensated for the Ukrainian government’s bombing of them — including destruction of their houses and apartments and businesses.)

(All Ukrainians except the U.S.-backing oligarchs have also been suffering enormously from America’s takeover of Ukraine. The pro-Western Razumkov Center’s periodic polling of Ukrainians finds that the latest percentage of them who think Ukraine is going “in a right direction” is 14.3%; the highest score in the past 10 years was 41.3%, in June 2010, right after the man whom Obama overthrew in 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, was elected President in 2010. The second-highest such score was 26.1%, in December 2013, which was their first poll taken after Yanukovych had turned down the EU’s offer, and was when the U.S.-planned coup and its “Maidan” demonstrations were already under way. This is the actual result of Obama’s ‘democracy.’)

Here is how Obama himself phrased his case, to the extent that he has done so at all:

Since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine — not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine — since that time, this improvisation that he’s been doing has getting — has gotten him deeper and deeper into a situation that is a violation of international law, that violates the integrity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, has isolated Russia diplomatically, has made Europe wary of doing business with Russia, has allowed the imposition of sanctions that are crippling Russia’s economy at a time when their oil revenues are dropping. There’s no formula in which this ends up being good for Russia. The annexation of Crimea is a cost, not a benefit, to Russia. The days in which conquest of land somehow was a formula for great nation status is over.

He made this statement on 1 February 2015, only a few months after the 18 September 2014 Scottish referendum on independence had been held, in which not only Britain but most of the world accepted without question the right of the people in a district of a nation to self-determination; but, he didn’t even mention that referendum, and his interviewer, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, failed to ask him about it. (It’s like the U.S. press had failed to challenge George W. Bush’s allegations about “Saddam’s WMD,” etc.)

Similarly, Obama said on 3 September 2014 (with links added here by me):

It is a brazen assault on the territorial integrity of Ukraine — a sovereign and independent European nation. It challenges that most basic of principles of our international system — that borders cannot be redrawn at the barrel of a gun; that nations have the right to determine their own future.

By “a sovereign and independent nation,” he was referring to the “nation” Ukraine possessing a right to impose whatever type of government it wishes in any region of it that it wishes — and not at all about the rights of the people in Crimea.

At the very start of his sanctions against Russia, Obama said this, on 6 March 2014, as constituting his legal case (and the AP subsequently posted the video of him saying it):

This morning I signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people. … And that includes standing up for the principle of state sovereignty. The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders. 

“Stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people” is short-form for Illarionov’s argument, but doesn’t mention what those “assets” consist of. Illarionov honed in on the land; he filled in that detail, which would have seemed too ugly to too many people if the President himself were to have stated it publicly. Few in the public would agree with Obama’s view that property takes precedence over people, so Obama ignored this detail. He didn’t make clear that he was treating “the legitimate government of Ukraine” (which he had actually just installed) as if  the people of Crimea were that government’s property, to rule as they wish. Obama’s real mental world is hereditary kings and their subjects — not  actually elected heads-of-state and their citizenry, whom no one  owns. It’s an imperial world, in Obama’s mind; but he’s smart enough not to say it publicly. He even hypocritically pontificates: “In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.” But what about “over the heads of democratic voters”?  To him, voters in a foreign country don’t even count, so he refers instead to the “leaders” as the ones who possess rights in a foreign country, to decide yea or nay for their — subjects, not  citizens. And that’s the point here: Obama cares only about “leaders,” not about such mere “pitchforks” (the citizenry). He rejects the fundamental principle of revolution: that the thing separating it from being  a coup (regressive instead of progressive) is that it must be bottom-up, not top-down (not “a coup,” but instead a type of democratic expression, an authentic representation of the public’s sentiment). He’s in the business of squashing revolutions (the real thing), and of imposing coups (the fake version). The aristocracy that placed Obama into the White House want only to control the land, and that’s what he is interested in (for examples: oil, gas, minerals, and strategic positions for gas-pipelines etc.). The people can just drop dead, for all he cares, if he’s not in fact (as in Ukraine) sending in trainers and troops to help to kill or otherwise get rid of them. (Refugees here — anybody want to take them? Oh, Russia?) And, like Obama’s competitor in 2012, Mitt Romney said, Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe,” so, the objective to conquer Russia is clearly bipartisan; the only difference between Obama and Romney is that Obama wasn’t so stupid as to assert a thing like that in public during the general-election phase of a Presidential campaign.

Internationally, too, Obama was hardly alone in his stance favoring property rights over human rights; he actually had the backing of most European leaders. For example, in a 9 February 2015 joint press conference with President Obama, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said:

One particular priority was given to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia this morning. We stand up for the same principles of inviolability of territorial integrity. For somebody who comes from Europe, I can only say if we give up this principle of territorial integrity of countries, then we will not be able to maintain the peaceful order of Europe that we’ve been able to achieve. This is not just any old point, it’s an essential, a crucial point, and we have to stand by it. And Russia has violated the territorial integrity of Ukraine in two respects: in Crimea, and also in [Donbass, which consists of] Donetsk and Luhansk. So we are called upon now to come up with solutions, but not in the sense of a mediator, but we also stand up for the interests of the European peaceful order.

She, too, was implicitly denying the democratic right of the Scots in UK, and of Catalans and others in Spain, etc., to self-determination — to separate their region into a new and democratic country, if they have come to find terminally unacceptable the country of which they have been and are a part. She, too, was starting from the ideological position that had become internationally popular under Reagan and Thatcher: the view that property rights take precedence over  human rights (rather than, as before, being subordinate to  human rights).


So: here, then, is Putin’s case on the matter, in an interview at

English: Exclusive ARD interview with Russian President Putin | Günther Jauch | ARD. 17.Nov.2014 [Jauch of ARD — German public television — interviews Putin regarding Crimea]

[10:55] JAUCH: For the West, this was a clear breach of international law. PUTIN: What’s the question? JAUCH: The question is, did you underestimate the reaction of the West? PUTIN: We find this reaction absolutely disproportionate. … When we’re confronted with the accusations that Russia has violated international law, I can hardly feel anything but astonishment. What is international law? First and foremost, it’s the charter of the United Nations. … A vivid and fresh precedent was set in Kosovo. JAUCH: You mean the judgment of the International Criminal Court, with respect to Kosovo [and here is the link to that], which said that Kosovo had the right to self-determination, and that the people of Kosovo could vote on whether they wanted to have their own state or not? PUTIN: Exactly so, but there’s more to it than that. The most important thing mentioned there was that in terms of self-determination, people populating a certain area are not obliged to ask the opinion of the central authorities of the state where they are resident. There’s no need to have permission from the central governmental authorities, in order to take the necessary steps to self-determination. This is the most crucial point, and nothing that transpired in Crimea was any different from that which happened in Kosovo. I am deeply convinced that Russia has not violated any international laws. I am very open about this. It’s a fact, and we’ve never concealed it. … Besides, what is democracy? You and I know very well, what does demos mean, it means people. Democracy means the rule by the people. In our case, it’s the people’s right to be independent.

Regarding Putin’s allegation, in the same interview, that the evidence is clear that the Crimean population were “mind-blowing” in their support of joining Russia, that evidence is so conclusive that Washington can’t challenge it, and instead avoids even referring to it; but, here it is. Just click onto the links there, and the links in those articles, and you’ll see the evidence itself: the results of the polls that were taken in Crimea, even by Western polling organizations. Obama’s pretense to being a supporter of democracy is, in a sense, even worse than Hitler’s supporting “The Big Lie” technique, because Hitler at least acknowledged  that he despised democracy (which is what Obama, but only in private, contemptuously called “the pitchforks”).

(Please note that, though the Donbass case can’t even be alleged to constitute any attempt by Russia to seize that former region of Ukraine; Putin’s argument, and the ICC’s decision, would apply also in Donbass: self-determination. The only  type of case where it would not  apply would be one like the U.S. Southern Confederacy in 1860: the breaking-away of a region in order to enable slavery to exist under the law — the type of separatism that’s intended to allow something so blatantly vile that the laws virtually everywhere do not allow it. The ICC’s ruling does not enable any separatism which violates basic human rights. It does not allow, for another example, a separatism which would enable extermination of a people. Nor would it allow a separatism which would legalize husbands raping their wives. The ICC’s ruling instead enforces  basic human rights. That’s what it was/is all about.)


Whereas Obama’s case (though it’s unstated, only implicit) presumes that this is essentally a dispute about property, and enforcing property-rights, Putin’s case presumes the exact contrary: that this is fundamentally a dispute about people, and human rights (versus property, and property-rights). Putin is saying simply that the people who reside in Crimea should determine the government in Crimea, and that owners of the land there (whatever and whomever those owners might happen to be) should not. That constitutes a fundamental ideological dispute between them. Instead of a dispute between communism versus democracy, this “new cold war” is thus a dispute between libertarianism versus democracy, where Obama takes the libertarian (or in Europe, the “liberal”) position; and Putin takes the democratic position. Instead of America’s being on the side of democracy this time around, Russia now is for, and America now is against, democracy (because, among other reasons, democracy in Crimea would inevitably defeat Obama’s aim here — his aim being to coerce the Crimeans to accept Ukraine as being their government, or else die).

For further discussion of the property-focused ideology of libertarianism, one might read the writings of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who has presented the most thorough defense of libertarianism. (But similarly, market-absolutist economists, or “neo-liberal” economists, take this extremist position.) He defines libertarianism as basing all human rights on the right to property. On page 200 of his Democracy—The God That Failed, he says, “the only social order that is just is a system of private property anarchy,” meaning, to him, 100% private property, no government at all — no elections, or at least no elections in any other than the corporate sense, in which the number of shares (politically, that would be the number of dollars in a person’s net worth) determines the number of votes (the individual’s political power). He repudiates  one-person-one-vote politics. That’s “The God That Failed.” Since that’s too extreme a position for any politician to support publicly, America’s most influential libertarian political operative, Grover Norquist, has softened it: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” That “size” would include only the police and the military — not quite as extreme as the libertarian purists. Norquist was a friend and protégée of Ronald Reagan.

Before the proud and self-proclaimed conservative Reagan became President, the Kochs’ Reason  magazine had interviewed the then-Governor Reagan in their July 1975 issue, headlining “Inside Ronald Reagan”; and he said: “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. … The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized [governmental – he wasn’t talking about corporate] authority or more individual freedom [for property], and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.” Hoppe wasn’t saying anything new. But he was being bolder, less “politic” or diplomatic, about it, than Reagan or other politicians.

Ever since Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, that view has been the dominant direction of thinking in the West (protect property but nothing else), but Putin is standing firmly against it; Putin re-asserts the pre-Reagan-era democratic capitalist ideology — democratic capitalism (with one-person-one-vote instead of one-dollar-one-vote) — and Putin claims that the International Criminal Court (which was established on 17 July 1998 by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and about which wikipedia notes “The seven countries that voted against the treaty were China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, the United States, and Yemen.[10]”; and America’s rejecting it was a perfectly libertarian thing to do) produced the definitive (and only) legal precedent regarding Crimea. This decision made clear the supremacy of human rights over property rights. Concerning the Rome Statute itself, Russia signed the Statute on 13 September 2000, shortly after Putin came to power. By contrast, that Court has been and is repudiated by both George W. Bush (the invader of Iraq etc.) and Barack Obama (the invader of Libya and Syria, and the coup-perpetrator or coup-champion in Ukraine, Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, etc.).

Actually, U.S. President Bill Clinton did sign the Statute, as he was leaving office (and just months after Putin had signed it), but then the U.S. immediately withdrew. Footnote 10 on the document itself states: “10.In a communication received on 6 May 2002, the Government of the United States of America informed the Secretary-General of the following: ‘This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary’s status lists relating to this treaty.”

Bush had almost certainly decided by that time to invade Iraq, which might be subject to prosecution by this Court; so, he withdrew the U.S. from it, in order to protect himself; and Obama has continued that immunity — both for Bush and for himself.

Hoppe’s ideology is much closer to that of Bush and Obama than it is to that of Putin. However, Hoppe is more honest about it than is any politician. (And he is much  more honest about it than is Obama.) (Obama even had his Solicitor General argue to the U.S. Supreme Court that lying in politics is a constitutional right in the United States that no state government may restrict or limit. Aristocrats can preserve their position in no other way than via lies. Obama is an expert liar, which helped him gain the financial backing from many of America’s aristocrats.)

An article by Hoppe at the libertarian website on 17 November 2000 was headlined “Down With Democracy” and opened by defending the current distribution of wealth (property), as follows: “Imagine a world government, democratically elected according to the principle of one-man-one-vote on a worldwide scale. What would the probable outcome of an election be? Most likely, we would get a Chinese-Indian coalition government. And what would this government most likely decide to do in order to satisfy its supporters and be reelected? The government would probably find that the so-called Western world had far too much wealth and the rest of the world, in particular China and India, had far too little, and hence, that a systematic wealth and income redistribution would be called for.” He condemned that. To him, the distribution of wealth is not a problem at all: the world’s richest 80 people own as much as the world’s bottom 50%, and the world’s richest 0.7% (35 million people) own $115.9 trillion, while the poorest 99.3% (4,665 million people) own $147.3 trillion; but, to libertarians, that’s no problem at all. The U.S. itself has one of the most extremely unequal wealth-distributions of all countries. But, Hoppe even invited Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn — the world’s leading proponent of returning to royalty, rule by hereditary monarchs, replacing all democracy — to write the third chapter in a book Hoppe edited, The Myth of National Defense. The closest that Obama has come to acknowledging his libertarianism publicly was when he said that inequality was a problem, but only inequality of economic opportunity is — not  inequality of wealth.

If President Obama were sincere about his verbal opposition to increasing economic inequality, he wouldn’t deceive people by saying that, as The New York Times summarized his propaganda in a headline on 3 February 2014, “In Talk of Economy, Obama Turns to ‘Opportunity’ Over ‘Inequality’.” He would instead acknowledge that equality of opportunity cannot increase while inequality of incomes is increasing (as has been the case under his Presidency), because opportunity depends very largely upon income: the bigger a person’s income is, the more economic opportunities that person tends to have. Instead of acknowledging this basic crucial economic fact, Obama, and economists, hide it, and promote “equality of opportunity” as if that would cause more equality of wealth, instead of result from it. Property is more important to them than people are, but they want to hide the beliefs that are actually driving their actions. When a nation’s leader has this belief, killing people to get their land can become policy. Whereas in Crimea, Russian protection has prevented that from happening, the people in Donbass, whose request to join Russia was declined, have suffered such slaughter and massive evacuations of refugees, most of them now living in Russia. Obama’s insistence upon subjecting the residents of Crimea to a similar fate is his intransigent requirement upon Russia, in order for him to halt economic sanctions. Obama continues to view the Crimean case as constituting a land-theft.

And yet, when Obama speaks to a global audience, as he did recently on 28 September 2015 at the United Nations, that public rhetoric affirms precisely the things that his actual policies are denying. He said, for example, “I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory. Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials. The strength of nations depends on the success of their people.”

The lying permeates not only all of the Republican Party, but also the very top, the national, level of the Democratic Party.

This ideology also drives the international policies that have placed the Greek public on the hook for the hundreds of billions of dollars that local and foreign aristocrats took out of the Greek economy and which are now being demanded by the Greek government’s bondholders to be paid back to them on those bum loans to the Greek government — basically they’re demanding to be retroactively guaranteed to be paid, by the Greek citizenry (who benefited little if at all from those loans). As the great economist Michael Hudson put the matter in an article 28 September 2015, “Bondholders … have managed to sell the idea that sovereign nations as well as individuals have a moral obligation to pay debts, even to act on behalf of creditors instead of their domestic populations.” The biggest part of the problem is that most of those loans to the government just got skimmed off and sent abroad. Part of the latest “bail out” of ‘Greece’ (actually of the aristocracy) is to be paid via privatization of practically all of the Greek government’s assets — auctioning them off to pay those bondholders. But even that won’t fully cover those debts; the rest will be paid to the bondholders by other taxpayers in the Eurozone. The Greek public will then be left paying exorbitantly high taxes, while receiving virtually no government services. (Other Eurozone taxpayers will simply have higher taxes to pay.) That’s libertarianism; that’s microeconomic theory as political Scripture. That’s political theory in which the distribution of wealth is ignored. Truth has nothing to do with it. All that matters is the dollars, not the people.

Vladimir Putin, for his part, has absorbed too much of Western economics for him to be entirely freed from the idea that a person’s worth is his net worth. He’s by no means a progressive, but he does reject outright fascism — he’s no libertarian.

Back again to the specific case of Crimea: Some efforts have been made to provide a legal case against  Crimea’s return to Russia, such as here and here, but no one has thus far been able to cite any legal precedents in support of that view. International law has not yet succumbed to the libertarian position, but Obama and most leaders in Europe and Asia are pressing hard for that to happen, such as via Obama’s proposed international treaties: TTIP, TPP, and TISA.

In any event, the dispute over Crimea is part of a much larger debate regarding libertarianism versus democracy. (I am now trying to find a trade-publisher for my new book Replacing a False Economic Theory, which goes into detail documenting this understanding of libertarianism, or “neo-liberalism,” as the modern extension from fascism. The history of libertarianism is presented there, and libertarianism is shown to be the political theory that’s based upon microeconomic theory — a false theory, for which an empirically true theory is proposed to replace it. Also, the reason why economics has settled upon that now blatantly  false theory is explained. Any publisher who might be interested may reach me at the.eric.zuesse at; however, obviously, no aristocracy will support publication of such a book; this will eliminate most publishers as prospects.)

The ideological difference in the new cold war is just as big as it was during the cold war; but, this time, America is anti-democracy, and its opponent, today’s Russia, is pro-democracy — or at least not outright fascist. America has transformed just as much as Russia did, and they’ve switched sides. This doesn’t mean that the USA’s fascism is like the USSR’s communism was, but instead that both fascism and communism are opposed to democracy. Ours is a different type of dictatorship than the USSR’s was, that’s all. That’s the bottom-line.

And that’s what the Crimea-issue is all about: it’s an ideological dispute.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Leading Cause of Climate Change is Animal Agriculture, not Fossil Fuels

There is some kind of “cowspiracy” going on…  Animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, but no one seems to want to address it.

The documentary Cowspiracy, available on Netflix and through the film’s website, etc., does, and is worth a watch, particularly for the following reasons (in addition to being entertaining/captivating throughout):

1) Learning that animal agriculture is, by far, the leading cause of climate change.

2) Awkward silences and equivocation from leading environmental groups when asked what would seem to be the most basic question about their topic of expertise: “What is the leading cause of climate change?”  Some ultimately get around to it, albeit reluctantly, and the reasons for their reticence are fascinating and revealing.

3) Visual illustrations of how much land/water it would take to “sustainably” feed the world’s current demands for meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and other animal products (ie leather).  (Hint: it’s nowhere near possible.)

4) Statistics on the easy contributions one can make to preserving the environment by simply reducing the amount of animal products one consumes.  For example:

2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.  Eating one less hamburger per month saves approximately 600 gallons of water.

477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs.  Eating three less eggs per month saves approximately 115 gallons of water.

Almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.  Eating three less 1 oz. servings of cheese per month saves approximately 168 gallons of water.

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.  Cut out ¼ gallon of milk per month and save 250 gallons of water.

(A resource for things to eat instead, if one wants to make the reductions but maintain current caloric intake level.)

These four small reductions add up to saving over 1,000 gallons of water per month. Thus, if even just one million people in the US made these reductions, it would amount to a monthly savings of over a billion gallons of water.  This is not to mention carbon and other reductions that come from reducing or abandoning animal product consumption.

The filmmakers list their facts and sources here, and have created the following info-graphic:


Reporter focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry.  Contact on Twitter.

Posted in General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | 13 Comments

Alaska Facing Tough Choices Without Arctic Oil

The disappointing exploration results in the Chukchi Sea for Royal Dutch Shell was a huge blow to the company, and will set back oil development in the Arctic indefinitely. After spending $7 billion and eight years, walking away with nothing is hard to stomach.

But, Shell can always go elsewhere. Shortly after Shell announced that it was scrapping its entire Arctic Alaska campaign, Reuters reported that Shell won a bid to explore for oil and gas in the Black Sea in Bulgarian waters. An exploration deal could be finalized in October.

So, Shell has other options. Meanwhile, Alaska has to pick up the pieces after Shell’s failed drilling campaign. The state, so dependent on oil and gas for its budget revenues, is facing austere times with the collapse in oil prices.

The Governor is aggressively pushing for the state to take an equity position in amassive natural gas pipeline, a big roll of the dice with taxpayer money. The pipeline would traverse the entire state, carrying natural gas from the North Slope to a yet-to-be-built LNG export terminal in the south. The “must-have” project could cost $45 to $65 billion, and the private sector partners are not pleased with the Governor’s attempts to take a stake in the project, which they say is injecting too much uncertainty into an already risky venture.

Related: Fund Managers Have Their Own ‘Black Monday’ Thanks To The Saudis

However, the Governor’s push illustrates the predicament the state faces with dwindling revenues from oil and gas. Alaska was already facing a bleak future before the bust in oil prices. Alaska’s North Slope, where the bulk of the state’s oil production is located, has been in long-term decline, having peaked more than twenty years ago. The fields are mature, and they have been used to feed the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline for decades, which sends oil from the North to the South.


The crash in oil prices since the middle of 2014 has turned the long-term problem of the state’s oil sector into a full-blown crisis. Oil accounts for more than 70 percent of the state’s revenue, so falling production was cutting into the state’s resources for a long time. However, the collapse in oil prices blew massive hole in the budget, with a deficit widening to more than $3.5 billion.

Related: Is This The Decade’s Most Important Mining News?

The state does have options. It may be forced to tap the Permanent Fund, a fund setup in 1976 to save oil revenues for future generations. The fund now has over $50 billion. Also, there are no income or sales taxes in Alaska, and New Hampshire is the only other state in the U.S. in such a situation. Finally, Alaskan residents get a check from the state each year as part of an oil revenue sharing program. This year was a record year for payments, as every Alaskan resident received a check for more than $2,000.

The state can look to any of these sources for revenues, but tampering with any of them is extremely unpopular, as a recent article in The Atlantic describes very well.

Whatever Alaska comes up with, the solution will probably need to be a permanent one, not a Band-Aid. The state’s oil fields are declining. Even worse, the prospect of replacing those aging fields with new sources of production is suddenly looking less likely. The failure to boost output is symbolized by Shell’s decision to withdraw from the Arctic. The enormous oil and gas reserves located off the coast of Alaska – estimated to be in the range of 30 billion barrels – promised to rescue the state from a future of declining production. But oil won’t be extracted from the Chukchi Sea anytime soon, if ever.

Crucially, Shell’s venture in Alaska was billed as a solution to the declining throughput in the Trans Alaskan Pipeline, which once exceeded 2 million barrels per day but has now fallen to just 500,000 barrels per day. Because Alaska’s oil fields are declining in production, the throughput for the pipeline is also falling by 5 percent each year. As the pipeline’s flow declines, pressure falls and the flow slows down. That presents problems for the pipeline, as water could freeze in the pipeline and corrosion becomes more of a worry. If flows drop below a certain point, the pipeline could theoretically have to shut down altogether.

Related: Is This The Mining Equipment Sector’s Last Act?

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) was irate about Shell’s decision to pull the plug on the Arctic, and she pointed the finger at federal regulations.

But for the foreseeable future, the Chukchi Sea won’t be developed. That presents huge challenges to a state so dependent on oil, and one in which oil production is declining. Sen. Murkowski quickly shifted her sights to onshore oil production, calling on the federal government to open up further development in the National Petroleum Reserve, open up development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (a highly controversial issue), extend offshore lease terms, and open up new areas in the Beaufort Sea. With the Chukchi now in the rearview mirror, we can expect a much stronger push for onshore development in sensitive areas.

None of these options are easy politically. Even if Alaska can somehow convince the federal government to open up new areas for development, it’s not clear that the oil industry will be willing to invest, given the depressed state of the industry.

Alaskans may need to come to grips with the possibility that the royalty checks may stop coming in the mail or that they might have to pay income taxes.

By Nick Cunningham of

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Following in Ancient Rome’s Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Wealth Inequality

There are many reasons why Imperial Rome declined, but two primary causes that get relatively little attention are moral decay and soaring wealth inequality. The two are of course intimately connected: once the morals of the ruling Elites degrade, what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, too.

I’ve previously covered two other key characteristics of an empire in terminal decline: complacency and intellectual sclerosis, what I have termed a failure of imagination.

Michael Grant described these causes of decline in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:

There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.

This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.

This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.

A lengthier book by Adrian Goldsworthy How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower addresses the same issues from a slightly different perspective.

Glenn Stehle, commenting on 9/16/15 on a thread in the excellent website (operated by the estimable Ron Patterson) made a number of excellent points that I am taking the liberty of excerpting: (with thanks to correspondent Paul S.)

The set of values developed by the early Romans called mos maiorum, Peter Turchin explains in War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires, was gradually replaced by one of personal greed and pursuit of self-interest.

“Probably the most important value was virtus (virtue), which derived from the word vir (man) and embodied all the qualities of a true man as a member of society,” explains Turchin.

“Virtus included the ability to distinguish between good and evil and to act in ways that promoted good, and especially the common good. Unlike Greeks, Romans did not stress individual prowess, as exhibited by Homeric heroes or Olympic champions. The ideal of hero was one whose courage, wisdom, and self-sacrifice saved his country in time of peril,” Turchin adds.

And as Turchin goes on to explain:

“Unlike the selfish elites of the later periods, the aristocracy of the early Republic did not spare its blood or treasure in the service of the common interest. When 50,000 Romans, a staggering one fifth of Rome’s total manpower, perished in the battle of Cannae, as mentioned previously, the senate lost almost one third of its membership. This suggests that the senatorial aristocracy was more likely to be killed in wars than the average citizen….

The wealthy classes were also the first to volunteer extra taxes when they were needed… A graduated scale was used in which the senators paid the most, followed by the knights, and then other citizens. In addition, officers and centurions (but not common soldiers!) served without pay, saving the state 20 percent of the legion’s payroll….

The richest 1 percent of the Romans during the early Republic was only 10 to 20 times as wealthy as an average Roman citizen.”

Now compare that to the situation in Late Antiquity when

“an average Roman noble of senatorial class had property valued in the neighborhood of 20,000 Roman pounds of gold. There was no “middle class” comparable to the small landholders of the third century B.C.; the huge majority of the population was made up of landless peasants working land that belonged to nobles. These peasants had hardly any property at all, but if we estimate it (very generously) at one tenth of a pound of gold, the wealth differential would be 200,000! Inequality grew both as a result of the rich getting richer (late imperial senators were 100 times wealthier than their Republican predecessors) and those of the middling wealth becoming poor.”

Do you see any similarities with the present-day realities depicted in these charts?

And how many congresspeople served in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan?

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Syria: “Not a Proxy War. It’s One Step Closer”

Russia started bombing jihadi bases in Syria today.

Given that the the U.S. and its allies are largely responsible for creating ISIS, and that U.S., Turkey and Israel have all been acting as ISIS’ air force – they are not taking too kindly to Russia’s actions.

This Wall Street Journal headline sums up the absurdity of the situation:  “Russian Airstrike in Syria Targeted CIA-Backed Rebels, U.S. Officials Say.”

We noted years ago that a proxy war is raging in Syria … but things are getting even more over-heated.

Political risk expert Ian Bremmer sums up the situation:

Russian forces will be striking Assad enemies, some of whom are directly supported by the US and its allies. That’s not a proxy war. It’s one step closer.

What could possibly go wrong?

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War Abolition Books Proliferate

When I wrote War Is A Lie in 2010 (second edition coming April 5th!) it was a condemnation of war, but not exactly a manifesto for abolishing it. I wrote that in War No More: The Case for Abolition in 2013. But John Horgan wrote The End of War in 2012. Douglas Fry wrote Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace in 2009. Russell Faure-Brac wrote Transition to Peace in 2012. Winslow Myers wrote Living Beyond War in 2009. Judith Hand wrote Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War in 2013. Colleagues of mine at and I wrote A Global Security System: An Alternative to War in 2015. And I’ve just picked up a copy of Roberto Vivo’s War: A Crime Against Humanity (2014). There are others out there, and others in the works. Some readers may point to Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature (2012), although it’s not so much a rallying cry to end war as a misleading claim that war is ending itself. There are other books as well that are more straightforwardly responses to the growth of war abolitionism, such as War: What Is It Good For? by Ian Morris in 2015, which, yes, argues that wars are good for us and shouldn’t be abolished.

There were a lot more war abolition books in the 1920s and 1930s, and of course there was a much bigger peace movement in the 1960s than now, but I think it can safely be argued that a new trend is emerging in opposition to the institution of war, a trend possibly brought on in part by the end of the Cold War and by the 8-year reign of a Republican U.S. President (or was it Vice President?) who engaged in aggressive war with unapologetic rhetoric and extremely careless propaganda. Certainly the end of the (Bill) Clinton years was not greeted by the publication of a pile of books seeking to rid the world of war. Some of the books above are quite explicitly reactions to the George W. Bush wars, some include misguided apologies for the Barack Obama wars, some claim weapons companies can coexist with peace, some suggest that women must end the male scourge of war, some condemn capitalism as a root problem, some are religious, some focus on scientific studies. No two agree with each other on every point. They all — certainly including mine — have flaws.

But the cumulative effect of these books is bound to be more persuasive than any one of them. They all or virtually all point to the current understanding of pre-history as a time free of war, slavery, major agriculture, cities, and other accouterments of “civilization,” although not, of course, free of violence or anger. All of these books recognize war and these other developments as relatively new in human existence and argue that if some can be ended (such as slavery, which few now dispute can be ended) then war can be ended too. All make the case that war since World War II has killed primarily civilians and cannot be morally defended. All make the case that war while nuclear weapons exist risks human annihilation. All argue that developments in peace studies and nonviolent action render war obsolete as a tool for political change. All point to examples of “primitive” and “civilized” cultures choosing to live without war for centuries on end. All point to examples of particular wars being prevented, and ask “If that war could be stopped, why not every war?” All strive to identify some of the factors facilitating war (cultural attitudes, profiteering, corruption, propaganda, etc.) and to propose courses of action that will move us toward abolition.

Roberto Vivo’s book is no exception. Its initial sections are among the best I’ve read on the evitability of war, the evil of war, and the unjustness of war. The whole book is full of intriguing nuggets for further exploration of other authors, ancient Chinese philosophers, and anecdotes from centuries gone by. The third of the four sections of Vivo’s book seemed rather irrelevant to me. We read about George Soros’ late-in-life discovery that self-identified “democracies” use propaganda; yet we read page after page about the development and politics of democracy — always credited ultimately to the ancient Greeks, never the Iroquois. And I think the short section in which Vivo claims that weapons industries can coexist with peace while generating economic benefits ought to address the serious arguments that the weapons industries are actually an economic drain, that restraining them is not easy, that they want their weapons tested and demonstrated, and that they want their weapons eliminated and replaced.

Vivo’s final chapter looks at slavery, torture, and racism as practices that are being ended — or at least we hope so, and I think the arguments used are good ones despite the significant comeback for torture in recent years. Vivo sees part of the solution to war as resting in criminalizing it. He’d like to transform the International Criminal Court into an independent and effective institution with the ability to prosecute what he calls “aggressive war” and what I would call “war.” Vivo accurately identifies the United States government as the major force working against such application of the rule of law. But he writes about the idea of criminalizing war as if it’s never been done, and claims that the effort to prosecute the crime of starting World War I failed because it has always been believed that no single individual could be held accountable for something so enormous.

But in fact roughly half the world is represented by governments that are parties to a treaty banning all war, and it was the existence of this treaty that allowed the United States to claim that war was a crime when it was committed by Germany and Japan (though, for some reason, not when it was committed by the victors of World War II). This treaty, which did not exist when World War I was launched, is called the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and I wrote about it in When the World Outlawed War. Vivo’s nation of Uruguay is not a party to the Pact, but its current president seems just the person to change that. Were Uruguay to send a letter to the U.S. State Department joining the Kellogg-Briand Pact, it would then be a party to it. That’s all that is required. Uruguay might then send a note the following week respectfully urging the United States to comply with the treaty.

Of course, bringing the nations of the world together to create something like the Kellogg-Briand Pact from scratch would work just as well, but no single country could do that alone, and no group of countries could do it in this day and age without some sort of magical powers. The victors of World War II, also known as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, think they have got a good thing going. Why would they choose to put themselves on an equal level with others and ban all war when they can maintain impunity and choose which wars are “defensive” and which are “authorized”?

The secret of Kellogg-Briand is that four of the big five are already on board with banning all war and just need to be reminded of it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Uruguay were to play that role?

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if war abolition literature were read, studied, discussed, refined, and acted on?

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Obama Lied When He Said This

Eric Zuesse

U.S. President Obama’s central case against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad (and his central argument against Assad’s supporter Russia on that matter) is that Assad was behind the sarin gas attack in Ghouta Syria on 21 August 2013 — but it’s all a well-proven lie, as will be shown here.

President Obama said this to the UN on September 24th: “The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st. U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood and landed in opposition neighborhoods.”

As I wrote in an article earlier in September, summing up the evidence on this (and you can click through all the way to the ultimate published sources here):


The great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann headlined on 7 October 2013 at his nsnbc news site, «Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria», and he opened:

«Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry». (The U.S. has been allied with the Saudi royal family since 1945.)

Lehmann discussed the chemical-weapons attack «in the Eastern Ghouta Suburb of Damascus on 21 August 2013,» which attack U.S. President Barack Obama was citing as his reason for planning to bomb to bring down Syria’s pro-Russian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama was blaming for the chemical attack. However, much like another great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh subsequently reported (using different sources) in the London Review of Books on 17 April 2014, Lehmann’s even-earlier investigation found that the U.S. had set up the chemical attack, and that it was actually carried out by Islamic jihadists that the U.S. itself was supplying in Syria, through Turkey. Lehmann reported:

«After the defeat of the predominantly Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces, which were reinforced by Libyans in June and July 2012, the U.S.-Saudi Axis was strengthened. Uncooperative Qatari-led brigades which rejected the new command structure had to be removed. The influx of Salafi-Wahhabbi fighters to Syria was documented by the International Crisis Group in their report titled «Tentative Jihad».» 

Hersh’s report added to Lehmann’s, a powerful confirmation by British intelligence, which found that the source of the chemical-weapons attack couldn’t possibly have been Assad’s forces. However, the Brits, of course, didn’t publicly expose Obama’s lie; after all, just as Tony Blair had been George W. Bush’s «lap dog» in Iraq and Afghanistan, David Cameron is Obama’s lap dog in Syria and Libya.


Regarding Obama’s statement, “These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood and landed in opposition neighborhoods,” nothing like that is stated in the report by “U.N. inspectors,” though Obama says it is. However, here is what Matthew Schofield of McClatchy reported on 15 January 2014, months after  that UN report:

A series of revelations about the rocket believed to have delivered poison sarin gas to a Damascus suburb last summer are challenging American intelligence assumptions about that attack and suggest that the case U.S. officials initially made for retaliatory military action was flawed.

A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated. …

The authors of a report released Wednesday [15 January 2014] said that their study of the rocket’s design, its likely payload and its possible trajectories show that it would have been impossible for the rocket to have been fired from inside areas controlled by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In the report, titled “Possible Implications of Faulty U.S. Technical Intelligence,” Richard Lloyd, a former United Nations weapons inspector, and Theodore Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argue that the question about the rocket’s range indicates a major weakness in the case for military action initially pressed by Obama administration officials.

That’s putting it mildly — i.e, it misrepresents what the Lloyd-Postal report found, which was (on the report’s page 11):

The US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT.

Here is the “Bottom Line” to their excruciatingly detailed analysis of the evidence:

The Syrian Improvised Chemical Munitions [the rockets] that Were Used in the August 21, Nerve Agent Attack in Damascus Have a Range of About 2 Kilometers.

This Indicates That These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at East Ghouta from the “Heart” or the Eastern Edge of the Syrian Government Controlled Area Depicted in the Intelligence Map Published by the White House on August 30, 2013 [as charged by the White House].

This faulty Intelligence Could Have Led to an Unjustified US Military Action Based on False Intelligence.

A Proper Vetting of the Fact That the Munition Was of Such Short Range Would Have Led to a Completely Different Assessment of the Situation from the Gathered Data [namely, that the attack was perpetrated by opponents to Assad’s regime].

Whatever the Reasons for the Egregious Errors in the Intelligence, the Source of These Errors Needs to Be Explained.

Just as ‘intelligence errors’ (instead of Presidential lies) were blamed for the 2003 invasion of Iraq by President George W. Bush, ‘Egregious Errors in the Intelligence’ (instead of Presidential lies) were blamed here, even though the President continues saying, now even at the UN, “The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st. U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood and landed in opposition neighborhoods.”

That whole statement is a lie. Obama in his 24 September 2015 UN speech misrepresented the UN investigators’ finding (which was that a sarin gas attack had, indeed, occurred — and not by ‘advanced rockets’ but by two rockets, each of which was an “unguided rocket”), and he lied about what the analyses of evidence, after the UN’s report was issued, actually did find — namely, that the U.S. President has been (and he still is) lying (and it called these rockets “Improvised Chemical Munitions,” and gave detailed descriptions of both of these rockets that the President called “advanced rockets”).

According to Hersh’s account, Britain’s MI6 already knew that Obama was lying, but couldn’t go public about it.

So, why were there not boos from the audience at the UN when he repeated that by-now disproven old lie, which remains believable only by suckers — people who still believe a man who by now is a rampantly repeated liar? They’re all diplomats. So, the lie lives on. (Just click through to the sources here on this, and you’ll see that Obama was lying. The “intelligence” is not wrong; he simply lies about it.)

Meanwhile, Russian volunteer troops, who are now going public inside Syria about their direct on-the-ground military actions against ISIS and al-Nusra (the latter being al-Qaeda’s local affiliate in Syria), because the Russian Armed Forces are coming there with planes and such to back them and Assad’s forces up, say, “Terrorists have many American weapons, rockets and even night vision devices. Americans teach them. USA bombed our gas plants in the East.” Putin is, in effect, daring Obama to continue his sham ‘war against ISIS,’ now that proceding further with it would expose the reality of what Obama has been doing all along. Putin is working instead with the leaders of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Israel, to kill the Islamic jihadists, who are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.S. (The way Germany’s highly reliable global-news source, German Economic News, puts the pro-jihadist alliance is: “Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qartar, Turkey, but also the United States”; but, of course it’s actually led by  the U.S.) Instead of trying to take over the world, like the U.S. is doing, Putin is trying to organize an alliance against Sunni jihadists, who constitute a real threat to peace and security in his and many other nations.

With American Presidents such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama — has this “perpetual war for” perpetual ‘indispennsable nation’ hood, ‘American exceptionalism’ (Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., and even Ukraine) become a bad habit of America’s actually heisted political system? And can a nation that’s ruled by lies — lies for which there is no personal accountability — be actually a democracy? Are not lies coercion against the victim’s mind, just as theft is coercion against the victim’s property, and just as violence is coercion against the victim’s body? The victims here are the public, including all American voters, who are deceived that the American government still represents them. Coercion comes in all three types. Not all tyrannies function the same way, yet all of them are tyrannies, none the less.

When will a stop be put to the recently emergent tyranny in America? Perhaps the first step is to call the spade a spade, not continue the lie that it’s still a ‘democracy.’ Isn’t honesty basic to any real  democracy? Doesn’t it need to be restored? Isn’t calling it what it is, the first step?

The UN isn’t set up to do that for us. No one should blame the UN for not doing that, which it cannot do. Only Americans can — if they will.

Tyranny isn’t permanent, any more than is democracy.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Trouble Ahead For The World’s Next Shale Boom?

Argentina has often been held up as the next most likely location for a shale revolution, with some of the largest shale oil and gas reserves in the world.

Argentina could hold more than 800 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, more than the U.S., and second only to China, according to the EIA. Its shale oil resources, at 27 billion barrels, are also significant.

If Argentina is to succeed in developing its shale resources, the Vaca Muerta is where it will happen. The shale basin in central Argentina has been one of the most watched shale basins outside of North America, with significant interest and investment from major international oil companies including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Wintershall, Total, and Russia’s Gazprom. Chevron’s $1.2 billion deal with Argentina’s YPF in 2013 raised expectations that the boom was not far behind. YPF says that the Vaca Muerta could require $200 billion in order for Argentina to erase its energy deficit.

Related: Oil Majors Sacrifice Production To Protect Dividends

Despite the presence of international companies and the few hundred wells drilled to date, it is still early days. Production has ticked up, but the shale region has barely been picked over. Chevron and YPF are producing around 43,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent from the Vaca Muerta.

Low oil prices, however, are dampening activity in the country. YPF’s Miguel Galuccio said in April that, with oil prices so low, some wells are not profitable. “It is not profitable with an $11 million well and prices at $50 per barrel. We drilled our vertical wells with the expectation that they would be profitable at $84 per barrel and with wells that cost between $6.5 or $7 million,” he said. YPF has succeeded in bringing down the cost of drilling, but it is still shy of its target of $4 to $5 million per well, which would be much closer to the drilling costs in North America.

Related: How Russia’s Oil Companies Are Defying Sanctions and Low Oil Prices

Producing oil in Argentina does have one unique benefit, however. The Argentine government regulates prices, allowing producers to sell oil at a set price of $77 per barrel, rather than the much lower international price. Brent crude, for example, has been selling for under $50 per barrel since early August. The fixed price effectively means that Argentine motorists are subsidizing drillers. Argentina does have much higher drilling costs and less infrastructure in and around the Vaca Muerta, but the regulated oil price offers one advantage for oil companies in Argentina when market prices collapse.

However, there could be quite a few changes in the works in Argentina with a presidential election set to take place in October. International companies in a variety of sectors, including oil and gas, are hoping that the new administration will be much friendlier to business, foreign investment, and capital flows. Current President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been blamed for slowing investment. Her government has put in place capital controls, which is reviled by the capital-intensive oil industry. The government’s confrontation with debt holders, dating back to the country’s default more than a decade ago, has also locked Argentina out of international financial markets, making borrowing costs (and as a result, drilling costs) much higher.

The potential for a change in government has raised hopes that the much-anticipated energy bonanza in Argentina will kick into a higher gear. But the change could be a mixed bag for oil and gas companies.

Related: Is This The Decade’s Most Important Mining News?

According to several experts surveyed by Bloomberg, the new government could cut the regulated price for oil down to just $66 per barrel. Whether the new president is Daniel Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires province and a member of the ruling party, or Mauricio Macri, a more business-friendly opposition candidate, changes are expected for the price of oil.

If that were to occur, it would significantly cut into revenues for oil companies operating there. YPF may be forced into spending by up to 20 percent next year, after hardly touching its budget for this year and despite major cuts by its international peers. A cut to the oil price would also force YPF to refocus its efforts on relatively more natural gas instead of oil. Natural gas prices are also regulated in Argentina, set at $7.50 per million Btu.

Ironically, while the cut to the regulated price would be negative for oil companies, it would amount to a more market-based approach for the government, something that the private sector has been clamoring for. So while the industry is eager to see a new president to replace the current one, it is not as if the drilling environment will improve on all fronts for the industry with a new government.

By Nick Cunningham of

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