Friday August 18, 2017
In a truly “free” society, no one gets beaten up for their political views. Laws cannot be passed against thoughts or symbols. And mob violence is not allowed to rule the day. But Florida Senator Marco Rubio, like most establishment political hacks, is not interested in a free society. He’s interested in seizing power in any way possible. And if that means excusing and encouraging mob violence, to achieve his political ends, then so be it. While Rubio may rail against dictators, his statements sound eerily like the late Fidel Castro, and other tyrants like him.
Rubio’s statement came in the form of a series of tweets he posted in response to the Charlottesville circus. Here are his exact words: “When entire movement built on anger & hatred towards people different than you, it justifies & ultimately leads to violence against them.” While the trained seals who follow hucksters like Rubio will bark their approval for his “brave words”; those who love liberty will shudder at the true ramifications of what he is saying. But let’s begin by trying to parse who exactly he is saying it about.
Like a good political opportunist, he speaks in vague terms. One might surmise that his reference to an “entire movement” is a shot at Donald Trump and his supporters. Myriads of establishment politicians have accused Trump of “anger & hatred”; yet examples of this are never forthcoming, other than disagreements over something like immigration policy. So, is Rubio saying it’s OK to physically attack any who belong to “the movement” that elected Trump? And if so, then is Rubio also saying it’s OK to physically attack Trump? The supposed leader of this “movement?” The political vagaries allow Rubio to deny this, and perhaps say that he is talking about white supremacists, neo-Nazis, or the KKK. But even if he is talking about these groups…. Is he correct in saying it’s “justifiable” to physically attack them for their views? If so, then he is no friend to freedom in general, nor to free speech in specific.
Thursday August 17, 2017
The White House readout of US President Donald Trump’s phone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday highlighted that the latter “thanked” Trump for his “strong leadership uniting the world against the North Korean menace.” Modi must be the only world leader who has given such fulsome praise to Trump for his performance vis-a-vis North Korea. And, Trump naturally felt elated.
In reality, though, it wasn’t particularly difficult for Modi to say such a strange thing, because India has no role to play in resolving the North Korea problem. What the readout betrays is Washington’s craving for endorsement by the world community for its incoherent approach to the North Korean problem. However, Modi has taken a risk here by raising new expectations in Trump’s mind. The point is, Trump is getting into a collision course with Iran.
Trump has tried to outsmart Tehran by not tearing up the Iran deal but instead undermining it systematically. But Tehran has decided to draw the ‘red line’ and challenged Trump to cross it. On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened Trump that if his administration imposes any further sanctions on Iran, Tehran will restart its nuclear programme. Period. Significantly, Rouhani issued the stark warning to Trump while addressing the Iranian Majlis...
Tuesday August 15, 2017
By suggesting that he might order a US regime-change invasion of Venezuela, President Trump has inadvertently shown why North Korea has been desperately trying to develop nuclear weapons — to serve as a deterrent or defense against one of the US national-security state storied regime-change operations. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Venezuela and, for that matter, other Third World countries who stand up to the US Empire, also seeking to put their hands on nuclear weapons. What better way to deter a US regime-change operation against them?
Think back to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The US national-security establishment had initiated a military invasion of the Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, had exhorted President Kennedy to bomb Cuba during that invasion, and then had recommended that the president implement a fraudulent pretext (i.e., Operation Northwoods) for a full-scale military invasion of Cuba.
That’s why Cuba, which had never initiated any acts of aggression against the United States, wanted Soviet nuclear missiles installed in Cuba. Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro knew that there was no way that Cuba could defeat the United States in a regular, conventional war. Everyone knows that the military establishment in the United States is so large and so powerful that it can easily smash any Third World nation, including Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.
Monday August 14, 2017
The political violence in Charlottesville yesterday was as predictable as it was futile. One person was killed and dozens badly injured, marking a new low in the political and cultural wars that are as heated as any time since in America since the 1960s.
This relentless politicization of American culture has eroded goodwill and inflamed the worst impulses in society. Antifa and the alt-right may represent simple-minded expressions of hatred and fear, but both groups are animated entirely by politics: the perception that others can impose their will on us politically. The only lasting solution to political violence is to make politics matter less.
We’ve allowed politics to invade every aspect of American life, from religion and family life to sex and sexuality, from bathrooms to ball fields to the workplace. But what has it gotten us besides identity politics on steroids? The “personal is political” is hardly the rallying cry of a free and confident nation. Even as we enjoy historically unparalleled material prosperity, we are dispirited by the 2016 election hangover and looking for scapegoats to explain the American malaise.
It’s easy to decry Antifa and its violent leftwing rhetoric. It’s easy to decry the alt-Right, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and fascists. It’s more important to understand them as exemplars of a new political age. Progressives demanded permanent revolution; conservatives responded by becoming permanent reactionaries. And the media bias (overwhelmingly anti-right) makes things worse: one “side” becomes convinced of its moral superiority, while the other becomes convinced the fix is in.
We suspect, without knowing, that a Hillary voter is just a step or two removed from a bandanna-clad Antifa, while a Mitt Romney voter is but a few degrees removed from an alt-Right nationalist marching in the streets. This may seem farcical, but the political society promoted by Clinton and Romney encourages it. Everyone must take a side, and live with the excesses.
Monday August 14, 2017
There’s something very strange and disturbing about the hype around the White House and US media’s latest obsession with North Korea. It’s not just the usual war-mongering and hot air though. We’ve seen all that before. This goes beyond sabre-rattling. There’s something uncomfortably bipartisan about this new appetite for war.
Watching CNN this week, you got the impression we’ve entered a new comic book phase in the American experiment, driven by an 24 hour media environment where facts and analysis seem like a distant nostalgic hallucination. I asked myself, is it real? Where does the show finally end, and the war begin?
We’re told that North Korea has now defied recent threats of “fire and fury” from US President Donald Trump, and that the regime has announced its plan to launch missiles at the nearest US territory, the island of Guam in the Pacific. So that’s it. It’s war then, right?
Trump’s generals wasted no time throwing petrol on the fire, led by Defense Secretary Gen. James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis who warned Kim Jung-Un that the US military “possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.”
Whatever your views might be of Trump, North Korea, US foreign policy, or ‘global security,’ at this point we’d all do well to hit the breaks.
Monday August 14, 2017
There is something unsettling about how President Trump has surrounded himself with generals. From his defense secretary to his national security advisor to his White House chief of staff, Trump looks to senior military officers to fill key positions that have been customarily filled by civilians. He’s surrounded by generals and threatens war at the drop of a hat.
President Trump began last week by threatening “fire and fury” on North Korea. He continued through the week claiming, falsely, that Iran is violating the terms of the nuclear deal. He finally ended the week by threatening a US military attack on Venezuela.
Saturday August 12, 2017
Trump was more aggressive than usual yesterday when he said that he’s not ruling out a “military option” in Venezuela, and the international media went haywire speculating that the President was considering an invasion. Nothing justifies what Trump said, but taking aside all moral considerations, his statement shouldn’t have been surprising, and interestingly enough, it might even backfire on him.
All US Presidents routinely restate the rhetoric that “all options are on the table” when dealing with the crises that their country provoked abroad, which in this case is the Hybrid War on Venezuela that seeks to attain proxy control over the world’s largest oil reserves in the Orinoco River Belt and smash the socialist-multipolar ALBA grouping.
Venezuela’s preexisting socio-political vulnerabilities and institutional weaknesses were exploited by the US’ economic machinations against the country in order to trigger a Color Revolution against the government. When that failed, the regime change movement transformed into an urban insurgency and recently expanded its operations by staging a terrorist attack against a military base in the central part of the country.
It’s very likely that the situation will devolve into an externally triggered “civil war” with the eventual intent of sparking a military coup attempt against President Maduro, but the odds of the US directly intervening in this scenario are slim. Rather, Trump’s threatened “military option” probably relates to the “Lead From Behind” role that the US is slated to play in using Colombia as its regional partner for funneling weapons and other forms of assistance to the “moderate rebels” in Venezuela just as it used Turkey to do vis-a-vis Syria for the past six years.
Additionally, it can be confidently assumed that the CIA is hard at work trying to engineer its desired military coup, though the chances of its success are unlikely unless the Hybrid War becomes a full-fledged externally triggered “civil war” like in Syria. These two interconnected reasons explain what Trump meant by refusing to rule out a “military option”, though there’s admittedly the extreme case that can’t be discounted whereby a “humanitarian intervention” of varying scale is unleashed in the final stages of the crisis in order to decisively topple the government at its weakest moment.
Saturday August 12, 2017
As the drumbeat intensifies for what might turn out to be anything but a "splendid little war" against North Korea, it is appropriate to take stock of the ongoing, seemingly successful effort to strip President Donald Trump of his authority to make any foreign and national security policies that fly against the wishes of the so-called Military-Industrial Complex, or MIC. A Google search for "Military-Industrial Complex" (in quotation marks) with "Trump" yields almost 450,000 hits from all sources and almost 26,000 from just news sources.
During the 2016 campaign and into the initial weeks of his administration, Trump was sometimes described as a threat to the MIC. But over time, with the appointment to his administration of more generals and establishment figures (including some allegedly tied to George Soros) while purging Trump loyalists, it’s no surprise that his policies increasingly seem less a departure from those of previous administrations than a continuation of them (for example, welcoming Montenegro into NATO). Some now say that Trump is the MIC’s best friend and maybe always was.
There are those who deny that the MIC exists at all. One self-described conservative blogger writing in the pro-war, pro-intervention, and mostly neoconservative National Review refers to the very existence of the MIC as a "myth" peddled by the "conspiracy-minded." Sure, it is conceded, it was appropriate to refer to such a concept back when President Dwight Eisenhower warned against it in 1961 upon his impending departure from the White House, because back then the military consumed some 10 percent of the American GDP. But now, when the percentage is nominally just 3.2 percent, less than $600 billion per year, the term supposedly is inapplicable. (There are those who argue that the real cost annually is over $1 trillion, but why quibble.)
Friday August 11, 2017
The Trump administration’s foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America’s piety exports.
Friday August 11, 2017
There is one good solution to the Korean crisis, one that the mainstream press commentators simply will not confront. It’s not a solution that is likely to be adopted, especially by a blustery and bellicose president and a national-security establishment that has a Cold War anti-communist mindset. Nonetheless, it bears pointing out.
What is the solution to the Korean crisis: For all U.S. troops to vacate South Korea immediately and come home. No more threats. No more bluster. No more regime-change activity. No more anti-communist crusade. Just exit the country and come home.
There is one — and only one — reason that North Korea has been spending years trying to get nuclear weapons — to deter a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea or to defend itself from a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea. The North Koreans have learned that that’s the best way to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from initiating one of their storied regime-change operations against North Korea.
North Korea’s actions are entirely rational. The U.S. national-security establishment has been committed to regime-change in North Korea for almost 70 years. That’s what U.S. intervention in Korea’s civil war in the early 1950s was all about — removing the North Korean communist regime from power and putting it under the control of South Korea, which was ruled by a pro-U.S. regime. It’s why the Pentagon and the CIA remained in South Korea for the next six decades. It’s why U.S. officials have imposed ever-increasing sanctions on North Korea, in the hopes that a starving populace will overthrow their regime and install a pro-U.S. regime in its stead.