Refighting the Cold War

superman
I thought the USA already won?

W.J. Astore

Within the U.S. “defense” establishment there’s an eagerness to refight the Cold War with Russia and China, notes Michael Klare at TomDispatch.com.  The “long war” on terror, although still festering, is not enough to justify enormous defense budgets and traditional weapon systems like aircraft carriers, bomber and fighter jets, and tanks and artillery.  But hyping the Russian and Chinese threats, as Defense Secretary James Mattis is doing, is a proven method of ensuring future military growth along well-trodden avenues.

Hence an article at Fox News that I saw this morning.  Its title: “Here’s why Russia would lose a second Cold War — and would be unwise to start one.”  The article happily predicts the demise of Russia if that country dares to challenge the U.S. in a Cold War-like binge of military spending.  Bring it on, Russia and China, our defense hawks are effectively saying.  But recall what happened when George W. Bush said “Bring it on” in the context of the Iraq insurgency.

Our military leaders envision Russian and Chinese threats that directly challenge America’s conventional and nuclear supremacy.  They then hype these alleged threats in the toughest war of all: budgetary battles at the Pentagon and in Congress.  The Navy wants more ships, the Air Force wants more planes, the Army wants more soldiers and more weapons — and all of these are more easily justified when you face “peer” enemies instead of guerrillas and terrorists whose heaviest weapons are usually RPGs and IEDs.

Yet Russia and China aren’t stupid.  Why should they challenge the U.S. in hyper-expensive areas like aircraft-carrier-building or ultra-modern “stealth” bombers when they can easily assert influence in unconventional and asymmetric ways?  The Russians, for example, have proven adept at exploiting social media to exacerbate political divisions within the U.S., and the Chinese too are quite skilled at cyberwar.  More than anything, however, the Chinese can exploit their financial and economic clout, their growing dominance of manufacturing and trade, as the U.S. continues to hollow itself out financially in a race for conventional and nuclear dominance in which its main rival is its own distorted reflection.

In essence, then, America’s “new” National Defense Strategy under Trump is a return to the Reagan era, circa 1980, with its much-hyped military buildup.   Yet again the U.S. is investing in military hardware, but China and Russia are investing more in software, so to speak.  It makes me think of the days of IBM versus Bill Gates. Bill Gates’ genius was recognizing the future was in the software, the operating systems, not in the hardware as IBM believed.

But the U.S. is being led by hardware guys.  A hardware guy all the way, Donald Trump is all about bigger missiles and massive bombs. Indeed, later this year he wants a parade of military hardware down Pennsylvania Avenue.  It’s as if we’re living in 1975 — time to review the troops, comrade general.

Who knew the triumphant “new world order” of 1991 would become a quarter-century later a sad and tragic quest by the USA to refight the very Cold War we claimed back then to have won?  Isn’t it easy to envision Trump boasting like an old-style Soviet leader of how, under his “very stable genius” leadership, “America is turning out missiles like sausages”?

28 thoughts on “Refighting the Cold War

  1. Great comparison between Bill Gates & IBM! Also between Tom & Michael Klare, and the (unknown to me) nasty and ill informed Mr. Kaziani. GDP’s are in US (I don’t know about Russia) very misleading: if I came down with cancer, and my house burned down, I could well increase the US ‘GDP’ by a million$ in a year, which is, unfortunately, not my puny pension. Hardly “growth and riches”. I’m presuming other ‘GDP’s are consumption, like cars & clothes.
    Living in Europe, we’re all getting sick of “Crimea”, and know full well Ukraine was overthrown by a US coup. Victoria Nuland, also spent $5Bil* in US money to help sell this disaster. (*Is that in US GDP also?) Anyone dumb enough to think Russia was going to kiss it’s deep water port good by to such folly…..must work for a US think tank.
    I won’t bore Bracing Views readers with our feelings about that “poisoned” spy & his daughter in UK*, but Ian Fleming wouldn’t be a household name if he wrote it.
    Lastly, Europe has a large share of “Snowflakes” also: but they know all about that mustached man, who broke the back of a terrible Fascist machine…..that, at the time, had their own countries & families captive. Nato better not depend on them! Thank God!
    *UK, err, “GREAT” Britain is becoming unclothed with their latest lying scandal: Let’s not forget Blair’s “shoulder to shoulder” BS with Bush over Iraq. We particularly hate him because he gave Bush & Cheney a ‘validity’ they never deserved.
    ‘Great’ Britain is no longer. They should face what previous European Empires, Portugal & Spain did: admit defeat. Become a nice tourist spot!
    Opps! I forgot! UK has miserable weather! They’ll just have to suffer -as they made us all suffer….

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  2. “The Russians, for example, have proven adept at exploiting social media to exacerbate political divisions within the U.S. …”

    Aw, come on, Bill. Not you, too.

    We Americans have damn little enough to legitimately boast about, but to try and take away our notorious incivility, petty vindictiveness, horseshit political candidates, and meaningless political savagery — not to mention centuries-old Gerrymandering and the Electoral College — and to give “the Russians” credit for these debilitating maladies instead, well, I consider that just plain mean, man. Leave us with at least the bottom of the barrel to call our own, OK?

    Thomas Jefferson once observed: “Wherever a man has cast a longing eye upon office, a rotteness begins in his conduct.” And Mr Jefferson knew from whence he spoke. “The world’s foremost theoretician on the subject of human liberty who was also the owner of human slaves,” Kurt Vonnegut called him. As a practical matter, Jefferson needed no help from “the Russians,” to opportunistically libel political opponents like John Adams, nor did many of Jefferson’s political opponents need any “Russian” help to slime him in the press for his negro mistress, Sally Hemmings. Again, to give “the Russians” credit for our very own American mud-slinging only robs us of what little we have contributed to the dark side of human political/social history.

    As a matter of fact, the Russian Tsar Alexander II peacefully freed the serfs in 1861, saying something like: “It is better to liberate the peasants from above than to wait until they win their own freedom by rising from below.” In the United States at that same time, of course, a savage Civil War broke out in which Americans slaughtered 650,000 other Americans over the issue of slavery yet still kept the negro citizen suppressed for another century (and still counting) through a host of Jim Crow laws.

    It seems to me that “the Russians” have a great deal to teach us Americans and instead of villifying them for what they haven’t done, we might try thanking them for their example of peacefully dissolving the Soviet Empire and reorganizing their society and economic system along more productive, democratic lines. What a truly astonishing achievement. We Americans can only hope that the long-overdue dissolution of our own corporate-militarist empire will go as smoothly. Unfortunately for America and the world, I see no sign of that much-needed foresight at present.

    So, lay off “the Russians,” Bill. It ill becomes you. I get all I can stomach of that credulous crap during my allotted five-minute daily “bullshit ration” on CNN International. If I wanted one more minute of it, I wouldn’t bother commenting on this blog. We Americans need to take responsibility for our own corrupt institutions rather than attributing any part of their manifest malignancy to others. As George Orwell wrote about the negative hating of some other country as a projection of our own inadequacies: “Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, allows one to achieve salvation without altering one’s conduct.” Way past time for Americans to stop scapegoating others and start altering their own deadbeat, servile, obsequious, boot-licking, ass-kissing conduct. Any country that would consider All-About-Him versus You-Know-Her as an electoral “choice” for national “leadership” needs its collective head examined for Terminal Vacuum Vapidity. As the comedian Ron Placone of the Jimmy Dore Show on youtube likes to say: “America doesn’t need a third party. It needs a second one.”

    Finally, to the extent that anyone — Chinese, Russian, Martian, Plutonian, Zoroastrian, etc. — had anything to do with “influencing” even one weak-minded American not to vote for another rerun of the Bawl and Pillory “two for the price of one” “Let’s kill the New Deal for Reagan and the Republicans” soap opera, I can only say:

    “Thanks. And don’t hesitate to let me know what I can do for you in return.”

    Do I sound suitably “exacerbated” by those “Russian” Facebook ads that I never saw and wouldn’t believe even if I did? I always thought that bungling Health Care, promoting NAFTA and other “free trade” deals, kicking mothers with dependent children off welfare, exploding the prison population through draconian drug laws, consolidating corporate media ownership, eviscerating banking regulations like the Glass-Steagall Act, voting for stupid “wars” like Deputy Dubya’s stud-hamster vendetta against the toothless Saddam Hussein, etc., etc., fully accounted for my “exacerbated” political divisions aganst You-Know-Her and husband Bubba Bill. But to think that some “Russians” actually performed a Vulcan mind-meld on me and made me do what I already had every reason in the world for doing anyway, well, I just have to take that as a studied insult to my admittedly unimpressive intelligence.

    Again, and to all Russians everywhere, I say: спасибо!

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    1. The Russian bots are coming! The Russian bots are coming!

      I agree with you, Mike, that anyone who voted based on Facebook ads or tweets or whatever is a pretty sad excuse for a voter. But one should never underestimate the gullibility of the American public.

      Again, I’m not saying the Russians threw the election or even influenced it in some profound way. I’m just saying the Russians have been savvy in using social media to feed preexisting divisiveness within American society. And why shouldn’t they? All governments use propaganda to shape public opinion, both within their own society and without.

      The Russian government is simply doing what its U.S. counterpart seeks to do — only better and at a much cheaper cost.

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      1. The activity by some Russians (not Russia) two years ago was primarily a minor click-bait commercial operation, sometimes using fake US personas to make money by using US issues. The value of the ads they were placing was miniscule in comparison to the billions spent by politicians. It was a nothingburger compared to the real issues and the real spending. The only reason it became a “somethingburger” was to explain Hillary’s loss. Given that her election was a sure thing, and Trump was a joke, it must have been the Russians!! They affected the election!! They must have!!

        Note that I have tried to differentiate between what some Russians did, and what Russia didn’t do. Citizens doing something in a country, without proof to the contrary, are acting on their own and not as government representatives. It’s the same in almost every country, given the freedom of citizens to do things. Or are we to assume there is no freedom in Russia?

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      2. I think you missed the entire point of my comment above, Bill. Let me try again.

        (1) What makes you suppose that the “pre-existing divisiveness within American society” requires “feeding” by anyone other than Americans themselves? In support of my expressed opinion above, I provided examples of two political institutions — Gerrymandering and the Electoral College — dating from Colonial times in the eighteenth century, both of which had a determining effect upon the 2016 elections and neither of which had anything to do with “Russians.”

        After the previous census in 2010, the Republican Party in all fifty states commenced to redraw their representative districts so as to cement their hold on political power, assuring a Republican majority in Congress and control of a majority of state legislatures and governorships. With these Congressional and state majorities came the power to determine electoral eligibility, further disenfranchising some classes of (potentially “Democratic”) voters while entrenching the Republican Party in its comfortable sinicures. If you can explain to me just what “the Russians” could possibly have done to “exacerbate” these anti-democratic, all-American political institutions, then please do so. I don’t think you can.

        (2) Why would “the Russians” even bother interfering in 50 uniquely corrupt state elections? Most Americans of my acquaintance don’t understand what goes on politically in their own states of residence, let alone what passes for politics one or two states distant from where they live. Just look at the shocked and outraged reaction to the surprise (s)election of Donald Trump, a political rookie, real-estate con-man, and cable-tv game show host. Like everyone else, the Russian government fully expected You-Know-Her to win the 2016 elections. Like everyone else, they expected the bumpkin brand-name billionaire Donald Trump to lose. What earthly reason would the Russian government have to risk antagonizing the likely next President of the United States by openly campaigning against her? I will answer that: None whatsoever.

        From the Russian point of view, the Seizure Class U.S. (s)elections would produce either You-Know-Her’s “experienced” belligerence and incompetence or All-About-Him’s narcissistic ignorance and incompetence. Either way, the Corporate Oligarchy, Praetorian Guard Pentagram, and “Intelligence” community (Can’t Identify Anything) would run U.S. foreign policy — as they did for eight years during the empty-suit Obama administration — no matter which preening puppet occupied the White House. Best for the Russian government to just wait it out and see which brand of American incompetence they would have to deal with next.

        For good reason, police officers dread getting involved in “domestic disturbances.” No matter how much a husband and wife may hate each other, they hate even worse any outsider who tries to interrupt their “conflict oriented” relationship. As the Afghan tribesmen like to say: “It’s me against my brother. It’s me and my brother against our cousin. It’s me and my brother and our cousin against the other tribe in the next valley. And it’s me and my brother and our cousin and the other tribe in the next valley against the foreigner (at present, meaning “American”). Americans in official government positions may not understand this human dynamic, but the Russians do. They have seen for themselves (as Soviets) and can observe numerous ongoing American examples of how interfering in the affairs of other nations generates hatred and blowback in the form of dead and wounded soldiers along with trillions of dollars in unrepayable national debt. The Russian government — especially under the leadership of that country’s intelligent and competent President, Vladimir Putin — made it more than abundantly clear that they would have to deal with whomever the American people elected and so they had nothing to say about the matter, one way or another. Why ask for more trouble than one might get anyway just leaving bad-enough alone?

        In summary: (one) The American people have only themselves to blame for the abuses they will tolerate from their own “government” and (two) The Russians have neither the ability nor the desire to “exacerbate” any American “divisiveness” that already exists and persists for reasons that only Americans can alleviate, should they ever take their glassy eyes off the shiny hypnotic “scapegoat” thing which the Ruling Corporate Oligarchy keeps dangling before their easily distracted eyes.

        A last note: Just because Americans might wish to do something at which they will most likely fail does not mean that anyone else would want to do the same thing seeing as how doing that sort of thing inevitably leads to failure. Why emulate a bad example? As the Chinese government observed recently, the “West” (meaning the US and Europe) likes to think of itself as representing the entire world and its “order,” whereas in fact it only represents about one quarter or less of a world much larger and more diverse than it can possibly imagine.

        Now, as for the next Census coming up in 2020, the possibilities seem only too obvious …

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      3. Mike: I understand your position. Let me clarify: 1) I never said divisiveness within America “needs” feeding. I’m saying elements within Russia saw a low-cost opportunity to exploit said divisiveness. And why not? 2) I never said Russia intervened in 50 state elections.

        I don’t think you’re arguing with me. I think you’re arguing with all those hyperventilating media talking heads (like Rachel Maddow) and various Democratic operatives who’ve been accusing Russia of tipping the election to Trump. I’ve never said this.

        As I’ve said countless times, the Clinton campaign lost mainly because of its own greed and incompetence. And the Russians had nothing to do with that.

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  3. The US without (1) third world “terrorist” countries to beat up on and (2) Russia as an enemy, would be the US w/o a need for a half-million person ground force, the US Army. That can’t be allowed. Visualizing an army “defending US interests” anywhere except Europe is impossible.

    So Russia is the necessary bogeyman which serves the purpose. In fact the president is now expanding the Army and given it lots of money. Russia is an enemy, a threat to US interests, to justify the existence of the useless US Army with all its tanks, self-propelled howitzers and other assorted totally obsolete hardware. It couldn’t be otherwise, as Trump is learning.

    The US National Security State by definition requires enemies in different locations, with different strategies for “threatening US interests.” Russia serves the purpose in Europe, tank country, army country. And the US without a huge army would be a military joke (okay it is now).

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  4. MICHAEL MURRY
    “The Russian government — especially under the leadership of that country’s intelligent and competent President, Vladimir Putin”
    I completely agree with you regarding the excessive exaggeration of the Russian effort to destabilize U.S. democracy, however this sentence shows that you are not entirely aware that the Russian state is at least as corrupt as the U.S.
    The role in denying to have any role in downing plane MH17 in which 300 (mostly Dutch) citizens died is one example
    I am a fan of the Jimmy Dore show too, but often, by merely focusing on how corrupt the U.S. is the corruptness of the Russian state (not its people) is often either ignored or consciously attenuated

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    1. Largely the appeal of the Jimmy Dore Show is that it asserts both political parties are corrupt. Although it may be hard to accept and fathom, this should also be applied to both Russia and U.S. as being two corrupt entities. Assange falls into the same trap, by continously exposing misconduct and crimes of the West, he largely ignores Russia and its crimes

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      1. DAAN — Thank you for your comments. Whether intended or not, you bring out into the open certain normally unexamined assumptions that deserve discussion, but rarely receive much. I will try to address these as best I can. Please pardon me if I have to take your comments one at a time over the course of several responses.

        For example: you claim a lack of “balance,” if I may use that word, on the part of those who criticize the U.S. government and its policies, without, as you claim, levelling the same criticisms — and in the same measure — at foreign countries like the Russian Federation. This assumes that there exists a one-to-one correspondence between “corruption,” in the United States and “corruption” in the Russian Federation, or any other foreign country that one might wish to name. So, OK, let us talk about “corruption.”

        I once had the honor and privilege of taking some graduate courses in Buddhism and Sanskrit from the late Professor Ananda W. P. Guruge, formerly Sri Lanka’s Minister of Education and Ambassador to both France and the United States (as well as UNESCO). He spoke something like five languages fluently and had written thirty-five books. A truly impressive man, both intellectually and as a human being. He would often share with me stories of his long and illustrious career. Consider the following anecdote on the subject of “corruption”:

        When he first arrived in the United States to take up his duties as Sri Lanka’s ambassador, Dr. Guruge found himself greeted at the airport by a lobbyist representing a certain U. S. Congressman. The lobbyist took Ambassador Guruge to a fine Washington restaurant where he made the following proposition. The lobbyist said that the U. S. Congressman in question wanted to be “Sri Lanka’s Congressman” which would involve the “standard” 35-to-1 deal. This “deal” meant that in return for each one million dollars contributed to the Conressman’s various activities, that Sri Lanka would receive thirty-five million dollars in “foreign aid.” As the conversation developed, Dr. Guruge learned that the Congressman would especially appreciate funds sufficient to maintain one of his mistresses in her expensive Washington residence. Not wishing to offend a U.S. Congressman on his first day in America, Dr. Guruge diplomatically suggested that he would have to consult with his government to see if it would authorize such expenditures. At the mention of this — possibly legal — condition, the lobbyist terminated the interview and Ambassador Guruge never heard from him again. Some time later, though, Ambassador Guruge happened to meed Pakistan’s ambassador at a diplomatic reception and this rather distinguished lady told him that she had received the same pitch from the same lobbyist representing the same Congressman. The moral of the story, as Dr. Guruge summarized it for me in his elegant and unforgettable phrasing:

        “Sure. Corruption exists everywhere. If you want the French Minister of Education to do you a favor, then you have to do a favor for him. But the sheer scale of the corruption in the United States exceeds the capacity of the human mind to comprehend it.”

        So, yes, one can use the word “corruption” in the case of most, if not all governments. But assuming without question that the word means anything like the same thing everywhere risks equating, so to speak, a killer whale with a minnow because both animals live in water. Someone once said to my fellow Vietnam veteran Daniel Ellsberg: “Iraq is not Vietnam.” To which Mr Ellsberg answered; ‘Yeah. Like in Iraq it’s a dry heat, and the language our military and diplomatic personnel don’t speak is Arabic instead of Vietnamese.” In other words, distinctions without a difference. The same thing goes for conflating superficial similarities without noting the differences that actually make a difference.

        As a matter of fact, the U.S. government has caused the death and displacement of millions of foreign persons over the last seven decades while running up a twenty-one trillion dollar debt that it can never repay just to “dominate” everyone else, anywhere that they might live, for the exclusive benefit of a tiny few billionaire oligarchs who treat entire nations like corporate-subsidiary fast-food franchises. No other nation, or any combination of other nations comes anywhere near threatening the entire globe in this manner and for such pathetically venal purposes. So one ought to take the most serious threats and dangers first and leave less critical problems for later, as time and life allow. In other words, prioritize criticism according to real — and certainly not imaginary or cynically contrived — need.

        Of course one can criticize “corruption” in the Russian Federation, and many Russians do this on a daily basis, but Americans don’t speak, read, or write Russian nor watch Russian television or films — and the mono-think U.S. corporate media wishes to keep it that way — so listening to uninformed and frankly bigoted Americans speak about “Russia” and its “corruption” requires a strong stomach and a not-easily-triggered gag reflex. Which brings me to CNN International, my go-to source for a daily five-minute “bullshit ration.” This relates to your assumptions about a lack of critical “balance” by Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and a mere handful of other individuals who commit the Crime of Journalism by actually publishing documentary evidence from which the public might glean useful information so as to reach reasonable conclusions about matters of national importance. But I will have to elaborate on this “balance” issue in another response. I trust that I have adequately dealt with the issue of comparative “corruption” through appropriate reasoning and example.

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      2. I am not sure why but I cannot reply to your posts Michael Murry, but here is my reply to your comment (by the way you write very well, original and quirky, and I liked your anecdote of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka):

        The U.S. and Russia both have fake elections, in giving the voter no real choice at all. Both engage in voter suppression. In both countries citizens have low political efficacy, either caused by gerrymandering/electoral college or in the case of Russia outright destroying of voter ballots. Bernie and Navalny are both actively dismissed as viable candidates. Both states are burning massive amounts of fossil fuel with little consideration for the consequences. Both are brainwashing their population in order to get their thought patterns in line with the federal government’s narrative. Both countries like to project their hard power in military operations. Both countries have meagre amounts of social welfare. In both countries the rich have disproportional amounts of political power. So I think the countries itself are pretty similar.

        Now of course the U.S. economy is 13x as large as that of Russia, hence has more global influence and therefore, the corruption that is present in their society will be more visible. On top of that the arrogance of having won WWII and the Cold War translates into a MIC that operates globally without constraint or morality. It does not help that “the capitalist mentality is amoral” (quoting Mr. Dore). On the other hand, Russia historically has been a very oppressive society with extremely limited margins to operate in for opponents of the state. The fact that corruption presents itself into different forms however does not mean that they are apples and oranges and cannot be compared. By mentioning one but not the other people are engaging in the way the US oligarchs want them to act, in a polarized manner. This is just like the MSM is doing, only the other way around.

        To be honest I do not think we disagree on a whole lot. I was just saying that your first and second comment to this blogpost seem to glorify the scapegoat (Russia). You compare a single positive action of a Russian Tsar to the concurrent atrocities committed in the U.S. civil war and then conclude based on this “that the Russians have a great deal to teach us Americans”. However the Tsars were highly oppressive tyrants who killed millions of people. In the same fashion you could state North Korea’s government is wonderful because it offers universal health care.

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    2. Daan, here we go again: “…denying to have any role in downing MH17…”. Is it possible they didn’t?! Definitely the most tragic event of the West’s contempt towards Russia, we still don’t know what really happened, to the shame of Holland, Ukraine, Australia, Malaysia, FCC & other supposedly prestigious international organizations. The Spanish air controller who said 2 Ukrainian jets were tailing it has since disappeared, vanished.
      I have little sympathy for a Russian Oligarch stabbed with an umbrella tip, tipped in poison, and truthfully, little also for a turn coat Russian spy who deflected to the better paying Brits. His betrayal left a slew of Russian spooks dead.
      Yet we must ask the question: Why do all these gruesome murders, like Alexander Litvinenko, take place in ‘Great’ Britain?
      I’ve done the math; They always seem to occur when storms over ‘Brexit’ break out. As for MH17, Victoria Nuland’s cookie give away was facing a harsh reality by July 2014: She backed a NeoNazi group to spite Russia, and hopefully advance Nato closer to Russia’s borders. 2 failures in one; seems Nato doesn’t want nor trust them, and Russia & Europe is building the (much denounced by US) ‘Nordstrom 2’ pipeline to cut out corrupt & criminal Ukraine entirely. That’s UK’s REAL threat: the only profitable part of UK today, City of London, (though they pay pittance in taxes) is the banksters bet wrong!
      Sounds nuts, I know, so don’t trust me. Ask Biden’s son!

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      1. BMCKS
        I cannot tell you if Russia did it but their behaviour is really suspicious, actively trying to cease the international investigations. It is the reason that when Geert Wilders recently went to the Duma (“Russians are white therefore good people”), as other far-right European leaders (Le Pen etc.) did before him, the Dutch people were disgusted.
        What do you mean these events happen “when storms over ‘Brexit’ break out”? If anything, the collaborate diplomatic response to the Salisbury attack showed that Europe still acts in a unitary fashion (or at least they want to create the impression that they do) to certain events

        By the way, I love reading this blog and its comments, which actually, contrary to most other websites/blogs, actually contain useful additions to the blog post. Keep up the good work and kind regards from Holland

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    1. Great essay, thanks. As I wrote above to Daan, I’ll say differently to you, homelessness, poverty, etc. in US, ‘Great’!? Britain, etc. are escalating! These are my concerns, not who poisoned Alexander Litvinenko* in 2006. Our homeless rates have soared; obesity I blame on the confusion: a box of cheap cookies/candies give a sugar rush to put you to sleep. Yet still better than drugs & opioids! We must worry about our own countries problems!
      *Opps! Almost forget him. His father, who saw him die, held his hand in fact, was on RT ‘World’s Apart’ hosted by Oksama Boyko April 1. He too blamed Putin, in the beginning, then changed his mind; he as a spy who got himself in a lot of trouble. He doesn’t say, but I wonder if he TOO! was involved in international smuggling. Plutonium is a VERY EXPENSIVE way to kill someone!
      We’ll never get rid of poverty & hominess’ until we rid of the MIC, MSM, which includes the “State Dept.”

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      1. Some nice replies, BMCKS, and I agree that American citizens and British subjects really ought to confine themselves to fixing the myriad and escalating problems that they face in their own countries. The Russians will take care of Russian problems as they see fit. Their business. Not ours. Every time my wife and I return to the United States for a visit, we notice more and more shuttered businesses and homeless people living in crappy “tent towns” alongside freeways and drainage canals. While the U.S. corporate media — owned and operated by just six giant multinational corporations (thank you President Bill Clinton) — obsessively pours over every midnight “tweet” (or brain fart) emanating from the destested and “illegitimate” orange orangutan living (occasionally) in the White House.

        I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie “Inherent Vice,” based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon. It features several scenes involving a phony California real-estate development called “Channel View Estates/b>” which takes its name from the drainage canal fronting the new housing construction. My wife and I like to use that name as a shorthand reference for the increasingly desperate conditions under which so many downwardly-dropping Americans now live. Which thoughts all came together this moring as inspiration for some verse that Jimmy Dore might appreciate if I could ever bring it to his attention:

        Worshipping the Whip
        (two Terza Rima sonnets in homage to Dante Alleghieri and Percy Shelley)

        “Abhorent adoration,” that’s the term:
        An oxymoron crafted to describe
        “Resistance” with the backbone of a worm

        Or, “Democrats,” the other right-wing tribe,
        Those now attacking Fascists from the right
        Who call them “Leftists” anyway, a jibe

        Full of contempt for those who will not fight
        For anything but table scraps and trash
        Who kneel for every lobbyist in sight

        Who shun the take-off but embrace the crash
        Providing cover for the donor class
        Who for a quid-pro-quo supply the stash

        The Slogan of The Owners, crude and crass:
        “You buy the Elephant and rent the Ass.”

        A contradiction joining hate and love
        Like Stockholm Syndrome, victims of abuse
        Become enablers of the one above

        Whom they profess to find lewd and obtuse
        While, in reality, they bow and scrape
        Excusing conduct lecherous and loose

        “Forgiving” rich men like the Orange Ape
        In hopes that he might “trickle down” to them
        Some funding for their Culture War escape

        So they can they can blame the poor, a strategem
        Republicans have long perfected which
        Permits the trust-fund wealthy to condemn

        As “unsuccessful” those below their niche
        In shabby tents beside the drainage ditch

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2018

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  5. I’d like to return to my theme, which is the U.S. revival of Cold war tensions vis-a-vis Russia and China. This revival will only lead to a more rapid decline of the American empire.

    Although in decline, the U.S. empire is still rich; it still has resources; it still has potential. But instead of investing in our people and country, America’s leaders are stoking fear of the other (terrorists, shadowy Russians, inscrutable Chinese) and using that fear to fund militarism and to export it as well. It seems the only power our leaders can fully understand comes from the barrel of a gun.

    It seems to me that to reform America, the impetus will have to come from below. Those on top are happy where they are; the idea of noblesse oblige is long gone, and so too is compassion. America is increasingly a struggle for survival in which fitness is measured almost entirely by wealth.

    We must reject this new Cold War rhetoric before it becomes reality — and before it leads perhaps to the nuclear war we were barely able to avoid in Cold War 1.0. We need to reject fear and the leaders who stoke it.

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    1. Ditto on reforming America from below. I keep thinking that an Article 5 Convention that goes after full-on Constitutional level reform is pretty much our best hope at this point. A fundamental restructuring of the federal government imposed by the states to update the country’s governing architecture.
      What form that takes would be the debate of a generation. And given how hard it seems to be to hold together complex countries in this day and age, I suspect our best bet is to go from one federal government to at least 5 or 6 effectively autonomous federal regions. Sort of aligning federal politics with the existing federal administrative regions. Or, to use a historical analogy, splitting up the Roman Empire (Hey, Byzantium went on its corrupt way for a millenium, until the Turks finally put an end to it. And the West got taken over by my ancestors’ tribes, so that was an improvement in my book)
      I’m convinced that we’re headed for a major war in 2020, given that a wag the dog + discourage black voters strategy (add if you like the probability that the Dems run some old hand like Biden) should be just enough to keep 270 electoral votes in Red hands. And I’m particularly pissed off that this know-nothing dirtbag gets to call himself commander-in-chief while aggressively disrespecting veterans and having never served a day in his life and so send a bunch of good people to die in whatever mess of a conflict he starts.
      Which comes back to your argument about imperial overreach. Has no one in the Pentagon yet put 2 and 2 together and realized that the US military is a lot more vulnerable than it pretends? China can now hit every US base west of Guam with a barrage of ballistic missiles, it possesses a ridiculous variety of cruise missiles with about the same operational range as the aircraft from carrier strike groups, and the US ability to stage supporting air power from Guam is limited by the distance from there to Taiwan or Okinawa. Like, game it out Red Storm Rising style, and China would be a tougher adversary in the Western Pacific than the Soviet Union could have hoped to be in the Norwegian Sea circa 1985.
      Ever since Clinton sailed carriers through the Taiwan strait in the 90s, China has worked to make sure that the US could never do it again. What can you expect from a country with a recent history of being invaded and brutalized? And they’ve succeeded. Worse, since the epic fail that was the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US has shown that it is totally willing to openly ignore all the international security norms it helped build. So China has, just like Japan did in the early 20th century, decided it has to build a military capable of winning a fight against the US. And they’re doing a damned good job. I dunno if anyone still talks about “loss of strength gradients”, but the concept is pretty useful: there’s a point, somewhere in the Western Pacific, probably running through Taiwan and Okinawa, where China is more powerful than the US. Where a conflict, if we play War Plan Orange like the Trumpists probably would (could the Pentagon restrain them? Will it in Syria, despite the US no longer having any good options or credibility there?), will play out exactly the way China has feared and planned for decades now.
      Part of the reason why I’d like the Pacific States, California-Oregon-Washington-Hawai’i to be a functionally independent country is that it’ll be personnel based in San Diego and Seattle that bear the cost of long-term foreign policy stupidity. I’m personally convinced that the Pacific States alone would provide a more effective military deterrent to China in the long run than the US as a whole, because elites in D.C. simply do not understand the Pacific as anything more than an Imperial frontier.

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  6. Getting back to my promised response to DAAN’s comments on “balance” — or the lack of it — in the U.S. and European corporate media, I just watched a typical CNN International segment where the news (i.e., rumor) repeaters (I won’t call them “reporters”) criticised President Donald Trump for saying that he wanted to withdraw U.S. military forces from Syria, now that ISIS has largely disappeared as an effective fighting force. A so-called “expert” in military affairs, a retired U.S. military officer, attacked President Trump for even suggesting such a thing, stating – incredibly – that the current “Afghan Model” of U.S. military intervention (using “local” proxi ground forces supported by U.S. airpower) had now proven itself “highly effective” (after seventeen years of ineffectiveness) and that, therefore, the U.S. would need to maintain U.S. military forces in Syria for “a long time,” no matter what the elected U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief ordered. I awaited the obvious logical rebuttal to such an absurd — if not outrageous — claim, but none came. A bunch of highly-paid human set-decorations just sat around nodding stupidly like a bunch of bobble-head dolls. Not one iota of “balance” on display among the sorry lot of them.

    So, I had to imagine for a moment that CNN International had invited me, an enlisted veteran of the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72), to point out how often we put-upon proles have had to endure the same sorry excuse for “debate” or “discussion” or “analysis” from our so-called and self-styled “elites.” I would have immediately made two points in rebuttal, just for “balance”: namely, (1) that the Syrian Arab Army, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, along with Iranian and Hezbollah (Lebanese) ground combat units had actually defeated most of ISIS and fellow-travelling jihadi terrorists, for which they deserve due credit, and (2) that the United States military forces have no business in Syria, since the U.S. Congress has not declared war against the Syrian government nor has the United Nations authorized any military attack upon a sovereign-state member of the UN. The U.S. military, therefore, has flagrantly violated International Law and risks war-crimes trials and suitable punishment for its murderous illegal activities.

    These “elite” Hothouse Orchids and Special Snowflakes of ours — many of them high-ranking military officers — like to start wars at the drop of a false-flag excuse (“Bay of Pigs,” “Gulf of Tonkin,” “Iraqi WMD,” etc.) but they never seem to end, conclude, wrap-up, bring to a close, terminate, or just finish any of them. How can one call anything “effective” that never accomplishes — in a timely and efficient manner — the purposes for which its advocates advised launching it in the first place? Anyone the least bit familiar with the South Vietnamese ARVN and Afghan National “Army” would know a sorry sick joke of an “effective Afghan Model” when they saw one. So much for the “expert” military panelists that you see on CNN. As a matter of fact, the U.S. military only trains local puppet proxies in dependance upon the American military for “help” — which means blunderbuss bombing of entire cities like Hue, Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, Raqqa, etc. — destroying foreign villages to “save” them. I say this as a former Naval Advisor to the now-long-defunct (and largely imaginary) Republic of South Vietnam. No self-respecting Vietnamese wanted or needed our American advice, and when we stopped forcing it (and ourselves) upon them and simply left, they got their act together and started the long process of repairing the immense damage that we had done to the countries and peoples of Southeast Asia. Now our Presidents visit them regularly and try to sell them weaponry.

    The bottom line here, which never gets the “balancing” air time it richly deserves, requires recognizing the stuffed-shirt, ticket-punching, commendation-accumulating careerism and bureaucratic in-fighting that drives U. S. “regime change” and “democracy promotion” interventions in the relatively “underdeveloped” (meaning unexploited) world. The only thing really at issue — following the money — concerns justifying the U.S. military’s death-grip on the U.S. Budget so that as few as possible taxpayer dollars go towards the legitimate needs of the American working-class. The United States has no greater enemy than the voracious demands for blood and money of its own military, “security,” and “intelligence” bureaucracies. Parkinson’s Law meets the Peter Principle. Expand the “work” without limit. Fuck-up-and-Move-up. Way past time to complete the long-delayed demobilization from World War II.

    When I see on CNN or MSNBC or FOX, or any of the few other mega-media-cartel outlets anything even remotely like what I have outlined here, then and only then will I admit of any “balance” in the information flow that Americans once considered a birthright. And to the retired military “experts” who bloviate so inanely on these sorry propaganda panels, I can only say, from deep and bitter personal experience:

    “You can always tell when the U.S. military has lost another war: the minute they start calling it “long.” They lie, just to keep in practice; just so they won’t forget how. If they knew what to do, they’d have done it already. If they could have, they would have; but they didn’t, so they can’t. Time’s up.” Where did these yammering yokels ever get the idea that they had forever and everything to waste proving that they don’t know their collective asses from the proverbial hole in the ground (i.e., bomb crater). I call “Bullshit” on them all.

    There. That ought to do it for a little “balance.” And until I see some sign of it in the U.S. and European media, I’ll have to rely on Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Better a little real infomation than none at all.

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    1. Mike: As you know, a big problem our media/journalists/”repeaters” have is their near-total ignorance of the military as well as history. They have no knowledge, so they are easily bamboozled by retired military talking heads. Also, the journalists themselves are encouraged by their corporate overlords to be “patriotic,” which in this case means always being pro-war and never seriously questioning the military master narrative.

      The few network journalists who questioned the Iraq war, for example (Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield), were fired or exiled. Even Jesse Ventura had a show canceled because of his opposition to that war. And this makes sense, since defense contractors often own the networks and have much money to make by saluting the flag and selling war.

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  7. Perhaps a bit off-topic, but perhaps not. “Cold” wars have a way of getting hot, starting from ill-considered actions on the part of national “leaders.”

    I just saw where President Donald Trump has threatened China with more tariffs because China had “unfairly retaliated” against the last set of tariffs that President Trump had initiated against the country that makes most of America’s stuff and loans Americans the money with which to buy it. When I saw mention of the U.S. Trade Representative, it reminded me of another story that Dr. Andanda W. P. Guruge told me once about his long and illustrious bureaucratic career.

    As Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States, Dr. Guruge once received a phone call from America’s Trade Representative complaining that Sri Lanka had embargoed imporations of American fertilizer products. Dr. Guruge explained that Sri Lankan scientists had told their government that one could make explosive bombs from petroleum-based fertilizer and that since Sri Lanka had a rather severe insurgency in progress involving the Tamil minority, the government could not take the chance of giving these people ammunition for any more of their political assassinations. The U.S. lady Trade Rep replied: “Well, if you had real scientists like we have here in America, you wouldn’t believe such nonsense.”

    As historical irony would have it, about a week after that phone call, a red-blooded American terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City using a bomb he had made from a truckload of fertilzer. With not a little sense of justifiable schadenfreude, Dr. Guruge called up the lady Trade Rep and asked her: “What do you think of our scientists now?”

    Regarding the current trade dispute with China, I don’t think that President Trump knows much at all about the nature of his trading partners whereas the Chinese have an impressive understanding of the United States, its history, its economy, its culture, and its politics. For example:

    The Chinese know which American states elected Donald Trump. They know that Donald Trump wishes to use China as a whipping boy to appease his desperate and downward-dropping “base” while the Republicans and their Democratic junior varsity assistants go on cutting taxes for the already obscenely rich, making the desperation of the impoverished working-class even more desperate. Many of these desperate people live in rural farm communities. So the Chinese target Soy Beans and other agricultural exports from the U.S. which they know will hurt Trump’s electoral-college majority and make “Red State” Republicans even more red in the face than normal.

    China — and Russia, too — has many more advantages than the current U.S. administration may know or appreciate. We shall soon see who teaches what to whom.

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  8. Shillary, is still off blaming everyone else for her loss. If she really valued the Democratic Party, she would keep her mouth shut. Shillary views her place in the sun as more important than the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party was simply an empty vessel for Shillary’s ambitions. She was right the Corporate Democratic Establishment is an empty vessel.

    China can and will overcome anything The Trumpet (Aka Agent Orange) can throw at that them. The Chinese will sell any trade attacks against them as linear line to when foreigners, including the USA carved up, dominated and occupied China.

    I would agree with the comments above concerning the attempt by our McMega-Media to portray the Russia of today as the Big Red Machine. The McMega-Media was taken by surprise when The Trumpet announced his intention to withdraw from Syria. The presenters needed a script as thoughtful comment could not be permitted until the actors knew their lines. It took awhile for the McMega-Media to assemble their panels of “experts” to weigh in on why it was a bad idea.

    I came across an informative article: Operation Flailing Empire, the author Danny Sjursen documents various Operations such as Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Unified Protector, and Freedom’s Sentinel. Boy, do these operations sound cool and altruistic. Hmm … I wonder how they actually turned out? http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/danny-sjursen/78550/operation-flailing-empire

    We also had Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. These operations have managed to keep the Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial Complex financially healthy, but another threat like the Russkies or the dreaded yellow peril (Chinese and North Koreans) is necessary – hard to sell the need for more carriers, anti-missile defenses, submarines and F-35s, if your enemy is the Taliban.

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    1. Thanks for the reference to Major Danny Sjursen’s article, ML. I try to read as much of his commentary as I can, even though, as a veteran of the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72), I already know from long and bitter experience what he has to say. With his comparatively enlightened attitude, it will surprise me greatly if he ever makes colonel before retiring.

      Good comments on You-Know-Her and the “Democrats,” too. Spot on. I especially appreciated this line: “The Democratic Party was simply an empty vessel for Shillary’s ambitions.” It reminded me of the old truism: “The Clintons are always there when they need you.” An empty vessel of a political party, indeed, but who ever did more than the Clintons to empty it? Sure, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama did their part to “help,” of course, what with their “values” and empty rhetoric and stuff, but the real credit for Democratic Party irrelevance has to go to Bawl and Pillory: “two for the price of one.”

      I’d like to go on discussing these worthy observations of yours (more on these later as time allows) but in relation to the “refighting of old wars” theme, I came across a truly insightful article by Alexander Mercouris, of the Duran (April 7, 2018) entitled:
      Latest US sanctions on Russia: incitement to a coup and a new form of protectionism
      .

      If you have the time, I’d appreciate your views on this article in relation to our theme here of fighting long ago wars in a present reality that has unalterably changed. Fighting “cold” unicorns instead of “hot” ones. The American Way.

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      1. I read the article in Duran- I found Mnuchin’s statements about justifying the sanctions laughable.

        >The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites. The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe.<< Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, as if the Koch Bros have no interest in influencing government for their benefit and their elected puppets. By the way Michael we cannot call Americans like Bezos, Zuckerberg or Gates oligarchs they are businessmen.

        I wonder at times do people like Mnuchin and the puppets on FOX MSDNC and CNN actually believe this crap. Other than the tight knit community of the TV puppets, do they think that we proles believe them??

        I suspect what else may put some panic in the pants of the Russian oligarchs is Robert Mueller. Mueller has been tasked with looking into Russian interference in our election, and I am sure the American McMega-Media would be leading the cheers if Mueller was able to somehow freeze Russian assets held outside of Russia.

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  9. I love the Internet because there are so many interesting things to find like this written in 2003:

    Iraq is invaded… and the first casualty of war is truth – https://www.independent.co.uk/30yearsoftheindependent/iraq-is-invaded-and-the-first-casualty-of-war-is-truth-a7349386.html

    The author in part writes: The military briefings must be given by one of those pathological liars you get in pubs.

    The result is that the first two weeks of this war can appear like the first four years of Vietnam with the film speeded up. They expected to be welcomed, and when they weren’t, they almost pleaded: “Can’t you see? We’re here to liberate you.” So when civilians oppose them the generals declare they’re “Republican Guard” in civilian clothing. So the whole population becomes a potential enemy, the troops get edgy and fire on women and children. And, as in Vietnam when Kissinger bombed Laos and Cambodia, the Americans are already threatening Syria and Iran.

    So I don’t follow the line that “We must support the war to back our troops”. If teenagers run off to join the mafia, you don’t say: “I was against them going but now they’re there we can’t undermine them by saying they should come home.” The only consistent way to support the troops’ safety is to demand that they come home and go back to starting fights in pubs in Colchester as normal.
    ==============================================================

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    1. Speaking of “fights in pubs” (and outside of them) I used to think of the U.S. military as that Irishman in the joke who walks by the front of a pub and sees two drunks brawling in the gutter. He leans over and asks them solicitously: “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?”

      Now I see the U.S. military as a con-artist salesman of baseball bats who invites two friends to join him for a drink at the local pub. Once inside, he convinces his friends to order several rounds of expensive alcoholic beverages, while drinking only cheap ice tea himself. As they get progressively more inebriated, he eggs them on as they grow quarrelsome over some meaningless difference of opinion about the local high school baseball team. Then, when the bar tender has them thrown out for brawling in the pub, landing them in the gutter outside, the sober con-artist salesmen of baseball bats asks if he can help them sort out their problems by offering them — at a premium — some brand-name clubs and “training” in the use of them.

      Yes. I think that extended metaphor describes the senior ranks of the U.S. miltary brass — especially the Joined Chefs of Stuff — perfectly. President Donald Trump ought to fire the lot of them, and then their replacements, and then their replacements and then … If he doesn’t, he can kiss his “Commander-in-Brief” gig goodbye, as if he hasn’t already done so by appointing these self-serving stuffed shirts in the first place.

      Candidate Trump once said that he knew more than America’s generals. Many people without experience in the U.S. military (or any military establishment) found this observation shocking. I didn’t. No matter how little Donald Trump knows about “war,” and he probably knows next to nothing, I find it eminently reasonable to conclude that U.S. generals know even less, since we do not recruit these people from the deep end of the nation’s intellectual gene pool nor promote them on the basis of actually winning wars, which none of them have done since 1945. Our generals (Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force) have always reminded me of what Admiral Lord Nelson said about the captains commanding his fleet of ships before a major battle: “I only hope that when the enemy reads the list of their names that he trembles, as I do.” Having a bullet-catcher Marine Corps general like James “mad dog” Mattis in charge of America’s “Defense” Department does not fill me with anything approaching confidence, to say the least. Just reading his name gives me the shakes. I mean, this guy levelled the Iraqi city of Falluja not once, but twice, just to avenge the deaths of four — 4 — dogs-of-war mercenaries from Blackwater, Inc. who only got what they had coming for arrogantly terrorizing the local Iraqi population. If President Trump doesn’t know more about war than this bloody bungler, then he hasn’t tried very hard to learn. As the Chinese would say: The most knowledgeable person about war wouldn’t fight one in the first place. Just because we see two drunken salesmen fighting doesn’t mean that we should consider either of them an “expert” in the art of pugilism.

      Gee. I sound just like a former enlisted swab jockey in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club (Brown Water Navy, Mekong Delta detatchment). I get fast-forward reruns of Vietnam playing in my head all the time. They hardly ever stop. The “movies” just change their names and filming locations.

      “We lost the day we started and we win the day we stop.” So just stop, for crying out loud.

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