Suddenly West is Failing to Overthrow “Regimes”

It used to be done regularly and it worked: The West identified a country as its enemy, unleashed its professional propaganda against it, then administered a series of sanctions, starving and murdering children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. If the country did not collapse within months or just couple of years, the bombing would begin. And the nation, totally shaken, in pain, and in disarray, would collapse like a house of cards, once the first NATO boots hit its ground.

Such scenarios were re-enacted, again and again, from Yugoslavia to Iraq.

But suddenly, something significant has happened. This horrific lawlessness, this chaos stopped; was deterred.

The West keeps using the same tactics, it tries to terrorize independent-minded countries, to frighten people into submission, to overthrow what it defines as ‘regimes’, but its power, its monstrously destructive power, has all of a sudden become ineffective.

It hits, and the attacked nation shakes, screams, sheds blood, but keeps standing, keeps proudly erect.

*****

What we are experiencing is a great moment in human history. Imperialism has not yet been defeated, but it is losing its global grip on power.

Now we have to clearly understand ‘Why?’, so we can continue our struggle, with even greater determination, with even greater effectiveness.

First of all, by now we know that the West cannot fight. It can spend trillions on ‘defense’, it can build nuclear bombs, ‘smart missiles’ and strategic warplanes. But it is too cowardly, too spoiled to risk the lives of its soldiers. It either kills remotely, or by using regional mercenaries. Whenever it becomes clear that the presence of its troops would be required, it backs up.

Secondly, it, the West, is totally horrified of the fact that there are now two super-powerful countries – China and Russia – which are unwilling to abandon their allies. Washington and London do all they can to smear Russia and to intimidate China. Russia is being provoked continuously: by propaganda, by military bases, sanctions and by new and newer bizarre mass media inventions that depict it as the villain in all imaginable circumstances. China has been provoked practically and insanely, ‘on all fronts’ – from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and the so-called ‘Uyghur Issue’, to trade.

Any strategy that could weaken these two countries, is applied. Yet, Russia and China do not crumble. They do not surrender. And they do not abandon their friends. Instead, they are building great railroads in Africa and Asia, they educate people from almost all poor and desperate countries, and stand by those who are being terrorized by both North America and Europe.

Thirdly, all the countries in the world are now clearly aware of what would happen to them, if they give up and get ‘liberated’ by the Western empire. Iraq, Honduras, Indonesia, Libya and Afghanistan, are the ‘best’ examples. Submitting themselves to the West, countries can only expect misery, absolute collapse and the ruthless extraction of their resources. The poorest country in Asia – Afghanistan – has totally collapsed under NATO occupation.

The suffering and pain of the Afghan and Iraqi people is very well known to the citizens of Iran and Venezuela. They are not giving up, because no matter how tough their life is under sanctions and the West-administered terror, they are well-aware of the fact that things could get worse, much worse, if their countries were to be occupied and governed by the Washington and London-injected maniacs.

And everyone knows the fate of the people living in Palestine or Golan Heights, places which have been overrun by the closest ally of the West in the Middle East, Israel.

*****

Of course, there are other reasons why the West cannot get any of its adversaries to kneel.

One is – that the toughest ones are left. Russia, Cuba, China, North Korea (DPRK), Iran, Syria and Venezuela are not going to run away from the battlefield. These are the most determined nations on earth. These are the countries that have already lost thousands, millions, even tens of millions of their people, in the fight against Western imperialism and colonialism.

If one is following the latest attacks of the West carefully, the scenario is pathetic, almost grotesque: Washington and often the EU, too, are trying hard; they are hitting, they are spending billions of dollars, using the local mercenaries (or call it ‘local opposition’), and then they quickly withdraw after wretched but anticipated defeat. So far, Venezuela has survived. Syria survived. Iran survived. China is fighting horrible Western-backed subversions, but it is proudly surviving. Russia is standing tall.

This is a tremendous moment in human history. For the first time, Western imperialism is being not only defeated, but fully unveiled and humiliated. Many are now laughing at it, openly.

But we should not celebrate, yet. We should understand what and why this is happening, and then continue fighting. There are many, many battles ahead of us. But we are on the right track.

Let them try. We know how to fight. We know how to prevail. We have already fought fascism in many of its forms. We know what freedom is. Their ‘freedom’ is not our freedom. Their ‘liberty’ is not our liberty. What they call ‘democracy’ is not how we want our people to rule and to be ruled. Let them go away; we, our people, do not want them!

• First published in NEO – New Eastern Outlook

One Woman’s Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions, Seaweed, Wave Energy

Symbioses — prolonged associations between organisms often widely separated phylogenetically — are more common in biology than we once thought and have been neglected as a phenomenon worthy of study on its own merits. Extending along a dynamic continuum from antagonistic to cooperative and often involving elements of both antagonism and mutualism, symbioses involve pathogens, commensals, and mutualists interacting in myriad ways over the evolutionary history of the involved ‘partners.’

— Gregory G. Dimijian, “Evolving Together: The Biology of Symbiosis”

It’s about being really committed. I tell students who are not any smarter than their peers that this takes hard work … to work on one question for five to seven years.

— Sarah Henkel on what it takes to study for and gain a doctorate in marine sciences

One never knows the waters a science-based article will dip into when a writer features one of OSU-Hatfield’s multidisciplinary researchers. Scientists look at very focused questions while naturalists and generalist ecologists look at systems from a broader range, but that interplay is less friction than analysis. As a journalist, my job is to dig deep and find those connections.

For Sarah Henkel, looking at how human-made structures affect what happens at the bottom of the sea is both fascinating and important to all human-activities in and around marine systems.

However, one scientist’s invasive species is another scientist’s opportunistic species. She’s got creed in the study of the benthic zone (what’s happening on the ocean’s bottom) and wave energy.

In her office at Hatfield, Sara and I recognize that the world of ecology is evolving due to innovative research and new questions scientists and policy makers are no longer afraid to ask.

She’s not atypical – a smart scientist who is open to fielding a wide-range of inquiries.

Because of the heavy footprint humans have put upon the environment in the form of cutting down entire forests and jungles, as well as geo-engineering the planet through fossil fuel burning and all the chemicals released in industrial processes, newer challenges to both our species’ and other species’ survival end up in the brains and labs of scientists.

To say science is changing rapidly is an understatement.

One Floating Piece of Debris Can Change an Entire Coast

For Henkel, she wonders what the effects of one pilon, one mooring anchor, and one attached buoy have on ecologies from the sea floor, upward.

The ocean, once considered immune to humanity’s despoilments, is as far as its chemical composition and ecological processes fragile with just the right forcers. HMSC is lucky to have dedicated thinkers like Sarah Henkel working on questions regarding not only this part of the world, but globally.

Students working with Sarah gain varying knowledge she’s accomplished through transitions from inland girl growing up in Roanoke, Virginia, where creeks, deciduous forest and terrestrial animals enchanted her and her sibling, to marine scientist in Oregon.

“Ever since I was in third grade, I knew I was going to be a marine biologist,” she says while we talk in her office at Hatfield. When a child, she visited a “touch tank” at a museum near her home and was completely fascinated with the horseshoe crabs.

Posters of benthic megaflora – seaweed and eel grass – adorn her office walls at HMSC. We’re talking about kelps like bull whip, feather boa, deadman’s finger, witch’s hair, studded sea balloons, and Turkish towel displayed on posters.

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Symbiosis, Cooperation, Opportunism, Invasiveness? That is the Question.

While we talk about kelp/seaweed, she shifts to invasive species like Undaria pinnatifida which hitched onto debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Over a dozen species on a worldwide list of invasive species were on broken dock moorings that washed up near Newport. Three — Undaria pinnatifida, Codium fragile, and Grateloupia turuturu — are particularly hazardous.

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Some of Henkel’s work looks at one gene expression, say, in Egregia menziesii, to uncover how the species responds to various conditions. Some big issues dovetail to Undaria pinnatifida playing havoc in Australia and New Zealand.

Her fundamental question is how can certain invasive species establish niches in very different waters from where they evolved. Looking at temperature and salinity tolerances as well as desiccation limits of species helps cities, states and countries manage opportunistic invasives that not only thrive in new places, but push out endemic species.

East Coast-West Coast: Transplantation

Henkel’s a transplant herself, from Virginia, with a science degree from the College of William and Mary. She tells me that she was lucky to have gotten into a gifted and talented high school program where she attended half a day every morning, then getting bused back to her home school in the afternoon — for three years.

“It [Virginia Governor’s School] was set up like a college, with professors and curriculum more like college-level courses.”

She then transplanted herself to California State University–Fullerton in 2000 to work on a master’s degree. Then, further north, to UC-Santa Barbara for a doctorate in marine sciences.

The final thrust northward was in 2009, to OSU, where she has been ever since.

We laugh at the idea of humans also being an invasive or transplanted species: She brings up a place like San Francisco Bay which is considered by scientists as a “global zoo” of invasive species with as many as 500 plants and animals from foreign shores taking hold in Frisco’s marine waters.

“Scientists think there are more invasives in San Francisco Bay than there are native species.”

She, her husband Will, and their six-year-old live in Toledo because, as she says, “there’s no marine layer to contend with and Toledo has a summer up there.” Mountain biking is what the family of three enjoy – from Alsea Falls, to Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Hood.

If We Build It, Will They Come, Leave or Morph?

“The biggest issue facing wind and wave energy developers in the environmental arena is the high level of uncertainty regarding environmental effects will be difficult to reduce that uncertainty.” – Sarah Henkel

After her Ph.D, from UC-Santa Barbara, Sarah sent out more than a dozen applications for professorships and research positions to universities.

What got her into the OSU Family was her work at a California-based Trust looking at decommissioning offshore oil platforms.

“What sorts of animals are living on platforms? Do you cut them off at the top to allow navigation and then preserve whatever’s grown on it?” Artificial reefs are attractive in increasing species like corals, sponges, fish and crustacean, but she emphasized that’s mostly done in tropical locations. Henkel says she was a strong candidate for OSU because of the school’s work on the effects of wave energy equipment and lines on the ecosystem up here off Newport.

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The marriage between Henkel’s knowledge of benthic ecosystems and the need to understand not only what the moorings of wave energy machines do to fauna like boney fish, crabs, and other species, but also what happens to the mechanisms that are immersed in water as they capture the wave energy was perfect for OSU.

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She points out wind turbines also have anchoring systems and superstructures; however, the actual energy-capturing mechanisms are high in the air as opposed to wave energy devices.

Wave Energy, Blue Energy: No Slam Dunk

“The industry recognizes the value of looking like they are being good environmental stewards,” she says, pointing out her ecological expertise melds well with the industry’s ideal of sustainable, renewable clean energy.

Her role with the Pacific Marine Energy Center is to coordinate all the science concerned with the ecological effects of wind energy – both the siting, building, and operation of any wave energy array.

OSU is looking at wave energy while the other members of PMEC are studying tidal energy (University of Washington) and river energy (University of Alaska).

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small energy generating device, river

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tidal

The idea of studying sediment changes caused by anchors and structures located on the bottom – at the grain size level – may not be considered “sexy” when one thinks of marine biology; however, for Henkel the benthic zone is where it’s at.

“The classic question for artificial reefs is attraction versus production: Can there be more fish overall with this additional habitat, or is that artificial habitat attracting fish away from natural reefs?”

The permitting process for the wave energy site off Newport has been both Byzantine and slow, and it’s ironic that in her 10 years at OSU, she’s not had any opportunity to do the field observations and data collecting she was hired to head up. In that decade, Henkel said a 1/3 scale wave energy device was put into the ocean out here for seven weeks.

Henkel is not stuck in limbo, however, since she is conducting research into other aspects of the benthic region with far-reaching implications for our coastal economy.


Crabs on the Move

When we think of the Dungeness crab, most realize it’s Oregon’s leading commercial seafood product; it brought in an estimated $75 million in 2018. Henkel posed a question that many crabbers have had in their minds for years: How far will crabs travel in search of food?

In 2018, Henkel and a colleague from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration superglued acoustic tags onto legal-sized Dungeness crabs near the mouth of the Columbia River and off Cape Falcon.

Acoustical receivers helped the team learn the frequency and distance crabs moved in rocky versus sandy habitat – data that, again, will help understand possible impacts of wave energy testing on marine reserves.

Those 10 tagged crabs in sandy environs near the Columbia left the region within a week; the transmitter, at a price of $300 each, went with them.

Most know that crabbers prefer sandy areas for their pots because of fewer entanglements compared to rocky bottoms.

“It’s interesting because I’ve done a lot of sampling of benthic habitat and there just isn’t a lot of food down there,” Henkel told Mark Floyd of OSU. “There’s usually only very small worms and clams, yet there’s an enormous crab harvest each year and most of that is from sandy-bottomed regions.”

Good science means marching on, so another 20 crabs were tagged and then dropped in waters near Cape Falcon, a rocky benthic zone. Her findings were surprising: “Four of those crabs left the region right away, while the other 16 stayed an average of 25.5 days. One stayed for 117 days.”

“Even though it’s a small sample size, it’s clear that habitat can influence crab movement,” Henkel told Floyd. “The crabs in the rocky areas had more to eat, but they often also have mossy bellies, which may not be as desirable commercially. Commercial crabbers like to target migrating crabs in sandy areas that tend to have smooth bellies.”

Chemical Outflows Studied

Other interesting projects she’s been involved with include a 2012 study of marine species living in Newport waters to see if the Georgia-Pacific containerboard plant outfall pipe, located 4,000 feet off Nye Beach, may be exposing some marine life to contaminants.

In fact, it was the City of Newport that requested OSU researchers look at a variety of species, including flatfish (speckled sand dab), crustaceans (Dungeness crab and Crangon shrimp), and mollusks (mussels and olive snails) because they might be bioaccumulating metals and organic pollutants at different rates.

Henkel and colleague, Scott Heppell, found contamination of those species was not at levels of concern: “There was some concern that metals and organic pollutants may be bioaccumulating in nearby marine life. We tested for 137 different chemicals and only detected 38 of them – none at levels that remotely approach concern for humans.”

New Student Archetypes: Funding at the Whim of New Anti-science Administration

We discuss what characteristics current science students possess compared to when she was a young undergraduate science major in the late 1990s. “We see a lot more students who want their science to matter … they want to be studying things that will improve society.”

This social awareness also has created more collaborative and supportive learning environments, she stresses. “When I was a student, we had the attitude that we didn’t want anyone to see our data until we publish it.”

Now, she emphasizes, there is so much data coming in from all angles; for instance, one project can get 1,000 photos a minute just of one marine species in its habitat. Part of the sharing may stem too from being more socially conscious and concerned than the cohorts for Henkel when she first started school.

Other concerns are tied to this recent shift in administrations – from Obama to Trump. There was a lot of support for renewables under previous administrations, but now under Trump so much is up in the air for scientists working on research projects tagged as “climate change” or “renewable energy,” even those research projects around species protection.

Two large grants the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management manage are at stake.

The Scientist’s Toolbox: Adaptation

To adapt, Sarah says, wave energy research is now looking at developing, promoting and deploying small machines near navigational buoys and aquaculture operations, where batteries die in six months; in the case of aquaculture, automatic feeding machines run on batteries, but with a wave-energy generating device supplying constant power, there would be no gap in the power.

On top of that, thousands of research and navigational buoys in our oceans have batteries that need constant replacing and disposal. Wave energy at the sites would be a constant energy source and reduce waste from battery disposal.

Making lemonade – new breakthroughs in blue energy — out of lemons – subsidies and tax breaks in the billions for the oil industry but none for blue energy – is also part of the scientist’s philosophy.

Sarah’s big takeaway when talking about the power of the Hatfield campus is that students get to work with other agencies and collaborate on real projects. “Not many students can be destined for a job in the Ivory Tower,” she said. Seeing other scientists from other agencies in different roles gives students at HMSC so many more avenues for career paths.

Henkel may be a sea floor expert, but she still knows that looking at how seabirds react to/interact with wind turbines and wave energy fields is important, as is studying the electromagnetic frequency fields created by blue energy generation.

She’s on a mission to get down to the granular level of things, but in the end, each little piece of the puzzle is hitched to the big thing, called the ocean!

Earth 4C Hotter

A decade ago several prominent climate scientists discussed the prospects of a 4C Earth. Their concern was qualified “… if greenhouse gases do not slow down, then expect a 4C Earth by 2055.” Of course, that would be catastrophic, and one can only assume those scientists must have recognized real risks. Otherwise, why address the issue of 4C by 2055 in the first instance?

Not only that but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, AR4 (2007) addressed the 4C issue and a 2009 International Climate Conference at Oxford, “4 Degrees and Beyond” discussed the consequences at length; e.g., deserts in southern Europe, sea levels up 2 metres by 2100, unleashing a “carbon time bomb” in the Arctic, half of the world uninhabitable, etc.

Well, well, well…now that greenhouse gas emissions have sped up by 60% since 2010, not slowed down for a minute, the IPCC is talking about holding global average temps to 2.0C, preferably 1.5C, and they say the world has 12 years to tackle global warming (actually, nowadays it’s “global heating” because of massive heat intensity in certain regions of the planet) or all bets are off.

Because prominent scientists addressed the issue of a 4C planet and because climate scientists, in general, are constantly apologizing for being too conservative, too timid in their forecasts as actual climate change buries their predictions with a dagger to the heart, it is a worthwhile exercise to look at a 4C world. It could happen within current lifetimes just like the scientists speculated 10 years ago. But, of course, nobody knows for sure. After all, it helps to brace oneself ahead of time, just in case.

In all, based upon how conservatively low scientists’ predictions have been for so long, maybe 4C is realistic by 2055. But, beware if it happens, infernal regions of the planet will consume vast swaths of ecosystems and life forms like a monster arising from the darkest of caves.

Fortunately, this article is a fictional tale of what 4C would look like based upon predictions by prominent scientists 10 years ago. And, even though it may be considered heresy to suggest 4C within current lifetimes, who knows, maybe those same scientists no longer believe 4C could happen by 2055, but with GHGs zooming up, it would appear kinda inconsistent not to believe it any longer.

In 2010 the prestigious Met Office Hadley Centre/UK said average temperatures would likely be 4C above pre-industrial by 2055, “if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) did not slow down.” Well, guess what’s happened to GHGs? Asking the question is the answer.

And, worse yet, it would bring in its wake a 16C rise in Arctic temperatures where at least twice the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere is frozen in time, waiting to be released via permafrost thawing. And, +16C would do it fast.

Accordingly, recent scientific field studies found thawing permafrost 70 years ahead of schedule in the High Arctic. Yes, 70 years ahead of schedule!1

That’s absolutely horrible news and but one more example of mind-blowing shock and awe with rapidity of climate change vis a vis scientists’ expectations.

What happens if 4C hits by 2055?

The short answer has gotta be: Pandemonium reigns supreme!

According to the scientific forum 4 Degrees Hotter: “Less than a billion people will survive.” Expect, on average, more than a million human global warming deaths every week. As such, mass graveyards stacked with bodies would become a new normal.

Prominent climate scientists were quoted in the 4 Degrees Hotter article:

According to Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of Europe’s most eminent climate scientists, director of the Potsdam Institute: “At 4C Earth’s … carrying capacity estimates are below 1 billion people.”

Echoing that opinion, professor Kevin Anderson of the prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change stated:

Only about 10% of the planet’s population would survive at 4C.

A global average of 4C means land temperatures would be 5.5C-6C hotter, especially inland from coasts. The tropics would be too hot for people to live and most of the temperate regions would be desertified.

As a result, half of the planet would be uninhabitable. Populations would be driven towards the poles. Over 136 port cities each with populations of one-half to one million would require sea walls or translocation of nearly one-half billion people.

In Europe, new deserts would spread to Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey as the Sahara figuratively leaps across the Straits of Gibraltar. In Switzerland, summer would be as hot as Baghdad today. Europe’s population would be forced into a “Great Trek North” in order to survive.

Even as recently as this century, the European heat wave of 2003 killed 35,000, but it was only a sampler of what too much heat does to the human body.2

At the time, and according to the New Scientist, in 2003:

The EPI says it is confident that the August heat wave has broken all records for heat-related deaths and says the world must cut the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

But, today, that’s a bad joke with CO2 in 2003 at 378 ppm. Today it’s 410. Therefore, “must cut the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming” has been a total bust!

Temperature bands, called iostherms, will shift towards the poles faster than ecosystems can keep up. Thus, most ecosystems will collapse with breakdown of organic material, leading to ever-greater emissions of carbon self-perpetuating hands-free on autopilot, defined as runaway global warming.

Paleoclimate research suggests that the last time temperatures were 4C above pre-industrial; eventually, there were no large ice-sheets on the planet. Sea levels were 65-70 metres (213-229 feet) higher than today. Yet, ice sheets take considerable time to lose mass, even when it’s really hot. Thus, the sea level rise to 2100 would likely be only a few metres. But, still, get serious; it only takes a couple of metres for unmitigated disaster.

In a 4C world, temperatures would vary considerably on a worldwide basis. The Amazon, the Sahara-Sahei-Arabia region, India, and northern Australia would have higher temperatures than the average at any other place on Earth.

Already, Australia gave a recent “Preview of Hot Earth” late in the year 2018 in real time when record-breaking temperatures hit hard. More than 20,000 bats dropped dead in over two days as temps in northern Australia hit 42°C (107°F). Hundreds of thousands of bony herring, golden and silver perch and Murray cod died in Darling River because of extreme climate. Fruit on trees cooked from the inside out.3

That happened in today’s world while average global temperatures have only reached approximately 1C above post-industrial. What if 4C becomes reality or anything above 1C, like 2C or 3C? Then, what of northern Australia and other overly sensitive heat regions of the planet?

Meanwhile global average temperatures for July 2019 were the hottest ever since 1880. And, CO2 in the atmosphere is at its highest reading in 400,000 years, a period of time when atmospheric CO2 ran 180 ppm (low) to 280 ppm (high).

As of today, CO2 at 410 ppm has powered thru the 280-ppm ceiling of the past 400,000 years like a hot knife thru butter, and even more remarkable yet, it only took a couple hundred years to break a 400,000-year record. Hands down, that’s an all-time geologic speed record.

Thus, the human experience has turned into a vast experiment filled with unknowns because there are no comparisons throughout human history. Earthlings have shattered all records of the past 400,000 years. What happens next is a gamble.

All in all, it’s somewhat puzzling that scientists are not beating the drums about the threat of a 4C world hitting earlier than expected. Maybe they are… but privately.

  1. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.
  2. “The 2003 European Heatwave Caused 35,000 Deaths”, New Scientist, October 10, 2003.
  3. “Thousands of Australian Animals Die in Unprecedented Heatwave”, The Scientist, January 17, 2019.

Living Among Others

A few days ago Vanity Fair,  the same outlet that once attempted to block the exposé of monster pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, published an article by Venessa Grigoriadis that provides some details of  Epstein’s friend and alleged ‘co-conspirator’ Ghislaine Maxwell.

Multiple victims claim that Maxwell often brought girls to Epstein and that she was an active sexual participant as well. According to Vanity Fair, “a source close to Maxwell says she spoke glibly and confidently about getting girls to sexually service Epstein, saying this was simply what he wanted, and describing the way she’d drive around to spas and trailer parks in Florida to recruit them. She would claim she had a phone job for them, ‘and you’ll make lots of money, meet everyone, and I’ll change your life….’”  Vanity Fair’s source added: “When I asked what she thought of the underage girls, she looked at me and said, ‘they’re nothing, these girls. They are trash.’”

This is gossipy information, but it seems consistent with what we have learned about Epstein and his ring. Those familiar with Maxwell family history won’t be shocked that Maxwell is quoted calling the girls “trash.” Daddy Maxwell plundered the lifetime pensions of his workers for his own use. He was alleged to be a Mossad agent.  Not many know that Daddy Maxwell was also under police investigation for war crimes just before he drowned. Metropolitan Detectives were preparing to interview Maxwell, once a decorated captain in the British army, about an allegation that he murdered the unarmed mayor of a German City back in 1945.

One may say ‘like father like daughter’. But the total dismissal of otherness and human life is not limited to the Maxwells. Those of us who follow the unfolding Palestinian tragedy are pretty familiar with the institutional disregard to human life that is symptomatic of Israeli policy and is supported by its forceful lobby around the world. The saga of disgraceful conduct on the part of Epstein and others in his orbit suggests that the dismissal of otherness is characteristic of a wide circuit of those affiliated ideologically, politically and spiritually with Zion.

During an interview with Miami news station WPLG, Alan Dershowitz not only bashed one of his accusers, calling her an “admitted prostitute and a serial liar” but claimed that the then-teen was not victimized and in fact “made her own decisions in life.” I am not in a position to determine whether Dershowitz is guilty of sex crimes (which he denies) but this kind of language is the last thing you would expect from a retired Ivy League law professor. One wouldn’t imagine that a law ‘scholar’ would refer to an alleged victim of sex trafficking as ‘an admitted prostitute.’ Nor would one expect a veteran ‘law scholar’ to suggest that the child victim of sexual abuse by a registered sex offender was actually ‘making her own decisions in life.’ But this is exactly what we hear from Alan Dershowitz. No doubt one of the most vocal Zionist advocates around.

Watch the entire interview:

The disregard of others and the dismissal of human life, symptomatic of the Epstein Orbit, extends beyond ethnicity, religious barriers and class. Indeed, we read in various outlets that Leslie Wexner, long standing patron of Epstein, is accused by some of having some connection to the murder of  Arthur Shapiro — a Jewish lawyer who was killed in a 1985 ‘mob-style murder’. Shapiro’s doomed soul was resurrected when the Columbus, Ohio Police released the controversial—and once believed destroyed—document investigating his death.  Presumably Shapiro knew too much.  And author Daniel Halper claims that Israel and its operators within American politics have not refrained from blackmailing even an American president.

According to Halper, Israel attempted to use tapes of former US president Bill Clinton’s steamy sex chats with intern Monica Lewinsky to leverage the release of Jonathan Pollard. Halper claims that during the Wye Plantation talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, held in Maryland in 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled Bill Clinton aside to press for Pollard’s release.  “The Israelis present at Wye River had a new tactic for their negotiations–they’d overheard Clinton and Monica and had it on tape. Not wanting to directly threaten the powerful American president, a crucial Israeli ally, Clinton was told that the Israeli government had thrown the tapes away. But the very mention of them was enough to constitute a form of blackmail,” Halper wrote,  “according to information provided by a CIA source, a stricken Clinton appeared to buckle.”

This horrific narrative of how Israel allegedly blackmailed an American president initially surfaced in 1999.  In his book  Gideon’s Spies, author Gordon Thomas claimed that the Mossad had collected some 30 hours’ worth of phone sex conversations between Lewinsky and Clinton and was using them to blackmail the US or to protect a deeply-embedded mole in the White House.

The Clintons have often been referred to in relation to the Epstein affair.  It is likely, that as with the young women Epstein abused, the Clintons and other prominent Americans were also ‘victims’ so to say.

I now believe that Epstein was just a player in a huge crime syndicate that often seems to operate in large parts of American life, its politics, culture, academia and, of course, finance. In such a vile apparatus Epstein ran an amusement park.  He was never ‘a financier.’ He specialized in accumulating filth that could be used to extract dollars or other favours. In America in 2019 just about every politician at any level except probably Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib has been reduced into a Zionist puppet. Every prominent American is subject to direct or indirect Zionist pressure of one kind or another.

Igor Ogorodnev wrote yesterday on Russia Today that, “the media has wilfully misinterpreted Donald Trump’s words to portray the most pro-Israel US president in history as an anti-Semite. It makes more sense to chide him for sacrificing US interests to please Benjamin Netanyahu.” Here is my practical advice for Americans. Instead of accusing Trump of being an ‘anti-Semite,’ ask instead why your president is more loyal to Israel than most Israelis, let alone Jews.

To follow the path that led to Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal listen to this spectacular Jake Morphonios’s podcast:

Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

Our civilization is a top-down hierarchical one, as are most large-scale ones in the past, i.e., one-to-the-many, ‘top-down’, explains Kall in an interview with Tom Hartmann. Kall’s book, The Bottom-Up Revolution: Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity, is the distillation of his experience founding and running the  website Opednews, which started as a personal blog, i.e., one-to-the-many, ‘bottom-bottom’, and morphed into a many-to-the-many, with the potential of bottom-top, as a volunteer-based collective.

Kall calls this ‘gayan’, as contributors and management are directly interconnected in a symbiotic, transparent relationship. Writers can ‘fan’ their favorite writers at Opednews and both comment, generating discussions of controversial topics, and contact other members directly.

I have been a member since 2008 and can attest that it is a unique site, allowing would-be writers to submit, learning the ropes and getting feedback to hone their skills. It struggles with the tension between being open to new ideas, but constrained by the existing zeitgeist. Writers are warned on submitting to ‘think twice’ about using red-flag words (scatology, Hitler, Zionist), and the editors can just not publish something. Publishing progressive material which is highly critical of the powers-that-be (including PCness) is not easy.

So I have bitten my share of bullets, but I understand the ‘why’ of censorship/restraint in the interests of social harmony. In Soviet days, I would warn Soviet dissenters ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ It is my mantra in face-off with Iran critics today. As a progressive, I experience (unjust) censorship every waking minute in our ‘land of freedom’.

Kall’s baby is the only ‘open source’ publishing enterprise of a professional calibre, where intelligent newcomers to politics can cut their teeth. Like open source software (which I’m using to write this review), it is a great example of ‘bottom-bottom’, ‘bottom-up’ (screw the ‘up-up’ guys!).

Kall uses his concept to look at the broader civilizational problems, especially economics, and The Bottom-Up Revolution is a thorough analysis of the Internet from an optimist’s point of view. He uses the classical depiction of the economy as generating a surplus, first in agriculture and then in industry, and who controls this surplus as technology evolves. Marx’s insight — ‘forces of production determine the relations of production’ — today, must grapple with the Internet. How does it change who we are, how we relate?

Of course, it is the top, the 1%, who shape us and any technological advances which are deemed profitable, and thus incorporated into the economy. And interactions in the economy are in the first place top-down, until, that is, there is some kind of revolution which empowers the bottom.

Bottom-up is democratic and should be our model. Are we living through such a revolution?

Kall says yes. He points out that native cultures were first seen as savages living in a world of bare survival. As indigenous cultures were conquered and destroyed with the rise of modern-day (i.e., capitalist) imperialism, anthropologists  beginning in the 19th century began to study indigenous cultures (i.e., 3/4 of the world) ‘scientifically’, and they showed that this was not the case. Those cultures worked 2-3 hours a day to survive. They are the ‘wealthy’ civilizations. Their lives had just as much (more?) meaning as our 9-to-5 civilization, and they lived with mostly symbolic fighting, and generally in harmony with nature. Yes, there are Easter Islands of disaster and Genghis Khans, but WWII killed more people than Genghis Khan (40m), and our current environmental metal down and threat of nuclear holocaust mean the sky’s the limit these days.

So is the Internet the silver bullet? Are the 99% learning the ropes, open to critical thinking, ready for action to overcome our flirtation with Armageddon?

Kall’s hope is that revolution has been ‘catalyzed’ by the Internet and the web. He sees the turning point as the 1980s, and looks to those born after 1980 for the new society, which should be more democratic, more caring, because it’s “about connection”. “The brain’s functioning differently.”

Kall makes an ambitious claim. Is the brain really functioning differently, i.e., better? My impression, returning to Canada from living abroad (the Soviet Union, Russia, Uzbekistan, Egypt) for two decades, is that most young people are shallow, mesmerized by iphones as they stumble down the street, oblivious to their real world surroundings. And the Internet is as much a swamp, full of dross, as it is a source of the ‘truth’.

In The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business (2019), David T. Courtwright points with alarm to “limbic1 capitalism”, an age of mass addiction, “addiction by design”. The corporations controlling us engineer, produce and market potentially addictive products in ways calculated to increase demand and maximize profit. They devoted a share of their profits to buying off opposition. What results is “the inversion of the forces of reason and science that made it possible.”

I personally know young guys who became addicted to video games, failing in high school and/or university. At the same time, softcore addictions (porn, alcohol, marijuana) are increasingly acceptable. While punishing users by law is wrong, encouraging such behavior is just as wrong. We need authority, structure in our lives, especially in the formative years.

Kall’s optimism is uplifting, and we should definitely look to how we can mobilize people to use the Internet for the good. But it is clear to me that responsible government, removed from corporate control, is what is most vital.

It is the chicken and egg problem. We must use the Internet to pursue responsible government. Without responsible government, the corporations will ruin this technology, just as it developed and used all previous technological advances to pursue profit and war.

Not ‘bad’ or ‘good’

Kall points to how mobile phones have already led to a ‘revolution’ in Africa, allowing a more user-friendly banking system to develop. Africans are at the forefront of this possibility of banking for the masses. There are only 5 bank branches per 100,000, vs 32 in the US, which means money sits under mattresses.

“Every dollar of cash that is moved to a digital store of value will land on the balance sheet of a financial institution which can then be lent out multiple times over.” Vahid Monadjem, the founder of the South African-based payments platform Nomanini. And there is no need for ‘too big to fail’ banks which are always bailed out by the government (i.e, the poor).

We must look for more bottom-up solutions while the ‘window of opportunity’ is still open to public use of the Internet. It’s happening in the US. 10m workers are employed in worker-owned companies, and the Internet facilitated this workers’ movement. In short, we must confront the powerful and take their place.

‘Small is Beautiful’ is Kall’s mantra, inherited from E.F. Schumacher, and many others, long before our magical computer age. I would say we’re just reinventing the wheel, though the Internet is a high-tech one which I hope can help us achieve Schumacher’s utopian vision.

In the world of biology, ‘too big’ means death. Everything has an optimal size. For people, the optimal size — as anthropologists are discovering in analyzing ‘primitive’ societies — is 150 people as an organic whole. We should be optimizing size in the economy, which will vary from agriculture, industry, banking, the arts.

This requires a new socio-anthropology, looking at our own ‘indigenous’ industrial civilization through scientific eyes and harnessing the potentially bottom-up technology of today. Can the Internet help?

In The Revolution That Wasn’t (2019), Jen Schradie argues that technology is not only failing to level the playing field for activists, it’s actually making things worse by “creating a digital activism gap.” The differences in power and organization, she says, have undercut working-class movements and bolstered authoritarian groups, creating new cleavages and reinforcing the power structure at the same time.

Countering that pessimism is the work of talented progressive individuals like Kall and a recent (Internet) acquaintance Zach Foster, whose witty Stephen Colbert-type rants are self-produced. Thank you Internet: let a hundred Colberts bloom! Sadly, such fine (progressive) efforts as Kall and Foster’s don’t ‘go viral’ like the Justin Biebers.

Our Internet heroes Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, whose efforts did ‘go viral’, have just barely survived the reach of the global mass surveillance they were exposing. The ‘good guys’ are constantly under attack. The right thrives on hierarchy, which is much more effective in wartime, which is what we live in now with the military industrial complex getting more and more powerful with each international nightmare lurch.

I hope Kall’s view is closer to the truth than my pessimism about the pluses and minuses of the Internet. Kudos to Kall for getting in on the action with Opednews. It and other progressive news and analysis sites (Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, New Cold War) and activist sites (Leadnow, Ceasefire, Avast) are my and millions of others’ bread and butter. They are only one of the means; the real work is still face-to-face, demonstrating, door-knocking, voting, board meetings …

Connecting on the Internet is no substitute for life. The ‘casualties’ of the Internet — the tech-savvy alt-right, the video games addicts and just those who dissipate their creative energies by ‘surfing the net’ — are many. Who’s winning?

The Internet can grease the wheels of society, but it is the inertial forces governing society that determine whether the Internet is used primarily for good or bad. I’m more of the Lem school of thought, his certainty that “technological development too often takes place only in service of our most primal urges, rewarding individual greed over the common good,” Courtwright’s limbic capitalism. I hope I’m wrong.

  1. The limbic system is involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory

Spending on Defense Is One Great Big Lie

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Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is worried. He thinks that maybe — just maybe — the US government is not spending enough on defense. In a column entitled, “Here’s Why We Could Be Under-Spending on Defense,” Samuelson has come up with a complicated formula that has caused him to fear that China and Russia might actually be spending more money on their militaries than the United States. Bringing to mind the famous missile-gap controversy during the Cold War, Samuelson wrote, “Our reputed military superiority might be exaggerated or a statistical fiction.”

I won’t delve into Samuelson’s complicated formula for arriving at his scary conclusion because, well, it is complicated, a point that even he concedes:
The only way to find out is to estimate our and their defense budgets, using an unconventional methodology called 'purchasing power parity' (PPP). To do that, Congress should create a task force of experts that would examine Russia’s and China’s defense spending and compare it with our own.
So, I’ll leave his main point to that task force of experts. I do wish, however, to confront the other major point in Samuelson’s analysis, one to which he, like so many others in Washington, D.C., is obviously oblivious: that US spending on the military and the rest of the national-security establishment is for defense. That is one great big delusion and falsehood.

After all, defense means that one is defending. In a personal context, that means that when someone comes up to you and throws a punch, and you respond by raising your hands to block the blow, you are defending. He is the attacker and you are the defender. In an international context, if one nation invades another nation, the invading nation is the attacker and the invaded nation is the defender.

During the last 70 years, the US government has spent trillions of dollars for “defense.” But it hasn’t really been for defense because no other nation has ever invaded the United States during that time. Of course, the US has been embroiled in several foreign wars that have cost a lot of money, but none of those wars involved defense since the opposing nations never invaded the United States.

Consider the Korean War. North Korea never attacked the United States. The same holds true for North Vietnam. And Panama. And Grenada. And Cuba. And Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Syria. And Libya. And many more. None of them ever invaded the United States.

Equally important, no nation state is threatening to invade the United States. No foreign regime even has the money to undertake such an invasion. They are all broker than the US government. No Latin American nation has the military capability or even the interest in invading the United States. And no nation state in Europe, Asia, or Africa has even the remotest military capability of successfully crossing the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans and invading and conquering the United States.

So, what have all those trillions of dollars been spent on if not defense? The answer is: empire and intervention, which oftentimes encompass instances where the US government, ironically, is the attacker and invader and the targeted nation is the defender.

Iraq is a good example. After the 9/11 attacks, which were not the first step in an invasion of the United States but rather a retaliatory act for US empire and intervention in the Middle East, President George W. Bush and the US national-security establishment decided to attack and invade Iraq, a country that had never attacked the United States. That’s because 11 years of US economic sanctions, which had killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children in the 1990s, had nonetheless failed to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power. Bush’s invasion and long occupation of Iraq made the US the aggressor power and Iraq the defending nation. There is no way that anyone can rationally argue that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War were for “defense.”

Of course, this gigantic lie is manifested in the name “Department of Defense.” It is clearly a false name but one that hardly anyone questions. It really should be named the “Department of Empire, Interventionism, and War.”

Why is it important to US officials that Americans be made to believe that all this massive military spending, year after year, is for “defense.” What better way for the national-security establishment to keep sucking ever-increasing monies from American taxpayers than to continue making them believe that US aggression, interventionism, and empire constitute “defense.”

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!

In his 22 years in Congress (1960-1982), Paul Findley achieved a sterling record for fundamental positions, proposals and breakthroughs that revealed a great man, pure and simple. He never stopped learning and applying his knowledge to advance the right course of action, regardless of political party, ideology or pressure from various groups.

Findley, a courteous, kindly, ex-World War II navy veteran passed away earlier this month at the age of 98 in his home town of Jacksonville, Illinois. The District he represented was the one Abraham Lincoln was elected from for his one term in the House of Representatives. Findley was a student of Lincoln’s life, and embraced Lincoln’s view that “a politician should be willing to reject outmoded ways of thinking that no longer fit the times.”

Findley was a thoughtful, studious legislator with a superb sense of justice. He was an early civil rights champion. His opposition to runaway Presidential war-making was reflected in his leading support for the War Powers Act of 1973, though he wanted stronger curbs on the White House’s unilateral militarism.

Having been a journalist and owner of a small-town newspaper – the Pike Press, before going to Congress in 1960, Findley used his writing skills to explain issues regarding agricultural policies, a foreign policy of diplomacy and peace, and nuclear arms controls. He was an outspoken early opponent of the Vietnam War and a critic of the Pentagon’s chronically wasteful spending. He was not a “press-release” legislator, staking out his opinions and leaving it at that. He worked hard and smart to lead, to persuade, to get down to the minute details of coalition-building, lawmaking and legislating.

Back in Jacksonville, after his Congressional career ended in 1982, Findley wrote books and articles and lectured around the country. He courageously defended Americans of the Islamic faith, after 9/11, from bias, exclusion and intimidation. He did his civic duties with local associations. He also started the Lucille Findley Educational Foundation, in memory of his beloved wife – an Army nurse – he met in war-time Guam. They had two children. He always found time to be helpful, to serve others both locally and nationally. He also played tennis daily into his mid-eighties.

Findley possessed more than a streak of mid-west populism. Agricultural subsidies disproportionately going to a few wealthy landowners upset him greatly. He got through the House, after years of rejection, and over the objections of the Republican leadership, a $20,000 yearly limit of such subsidies per farm. The measure failed in the Senate.

Once again, in 1973, he bucked his Party and introduced an impeachment resolution against Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew, who later resigned in disgrace over a bribery scandal.

It was Findley’s interest in U.S. policies and operations in the Middle East, following his 1973 successful effort to obtain the release of a constituent from South Yemen that showed his moral courage, his belief in dialogue between adversaries and his commitment to the treatment of all people with dignity and respect. It also led to his defeat by Democrat Richard J. Durbin, now Illinois’s senior Senator.

Findley learned that the dispossessed and occupied Palestinian people were being treated unfairly and deprived of their human rights and self-determination. He visited refugee camps in the region. He met with Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and he urged peaceful diplomatic resolution of that conflict. For this sensible, though rare outreach by a Congressional lawmaker, he earned the immense enmity of U.S. partisans of the Israeli government. How dare he speak out on behalf of Palestinians, even though, he continued to vote for foreign aid to a prosperous militarily advanced Israeli superpower?

As the New York Times reported: “He became convinced that the influential pro-Israel lobby known as Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had a stranglehold on American politicians that prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state and prevented rational dealings with Arab leaders in general.”

AIPAC activists, nationally and with their local affiliates, openly mobilized to defeat Findley in the 1980 election. They failed to do so. In 1982, they tried again, helping his Democratic opponent, Richard Durbin, to end Findley’s Congressional career by a margin of less than 1500 votes. AIPAC took credit for the win, raising over 80 percent of Durbin’s $750,000 in campaign funds from around the country. AIPAC’s executive director told a gathering in Texas: “We beat the odds and defeated Findley.”

Three years later, in 1985, Findley wrote and published his bold book They Dare to Speak Out, that described his efforts at peaceful advocacy for a two-state solution, which is now supported by many Israelis and Jewish Americans. In his book, he profiled other Americans who dared to speak out, and who endured intimidating slander and ostracism. Findley’s documentation of the suppression of their freedom of speech was an early precursor of what is going on now.

It was acceptable for the early patriots to boycott British tea, for civil rights leaders to boycott certain businesses in the South, for opponents of South Africa’s apartheid to launch a worldwide economic boycott. But some state governments impose sanctions on their contractors if they merely speak out in favor of the call to boycott, divest and sanction Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine and its millions of Palestinians. (Today, Palestine is only twenty two percent the size of the original Palestine).

Findley wrote his autobiography in 2011. But it will take a fuller biography to place this modest lawmaker/public citizen, and wager of peace over unlawful wars and rampant militarism, in the conforming context of his times. His career contrasts with the present big business, Wall Street over Main Street, militaristic GOP and shows that the Republican Party didn’t always demand rigid unanimity.

To his credit, Senator Durbin eulogized Paul Findley, as “An exceptional public servant and friend.” He added that the man he defeated was “an elected official who showed exceptional courage in tackling the age old controversies in the Middle East.”

Senator Durbin could not say this about a single Republican in either the Senate or the House today, nor of over 95 percent of the Democrats.

US Ambassador Grenell’s Threat to Germany Has Backfired, Driving Germany Closer to Russia

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Last week, German lawmakers sent a stark message to Washington. The argument escalated following a series of flippant comments made by US ambassador Richard Grenell who had demanded Germany increase its defense spending, claiming it was “really insulting to expect the US taxpayer to keep paying for over 50,000 Americans” stationed in Germany, and that the US would do well to move all of its military assets from Germany, and relocate eastward to Poland.

Lawmakers in Berlin reacted by welcoming a US withdrawal from German soil – and proceeded to tell the US it can take its nuclear weapons with them.

Dietmar Bartsch, chairman of the Left Party, said, “The US ambassador is right: US taxpayers should not have to pay for US troops in Germany … If the Americans pull out their soldiers, they also have to pull out their nuclear weapons.”

Other German parliamentarians spoke out. Lars Klingbeil, secretary-general of the SPD, accusing Grenell of bullying Berlin, stating, “We will not be blackmailed by the Americans.”

Clearly, this has been another epic failure of diplomacy by a seemingly directionless Trump administration.

Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time Grenell has drwn fire from Berlin. He was also accused of acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power,” by Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats (FDP).

In the end, these type of mindless antics by Washington will only result in pushing Europe and Russia closer together.

With the Nord Stream II pipeline project still underway, this could end up being an extremely costly move for the anti-Russia lobby in Washington.

Antiwar.com reports…
US relationships with several nations have faced challenges with the major priority changes of President Trump. Germany is no exception, and what was long one of the closest relationships in the West is now fragile, and steadily worsening.

There are a number of reasons why. Germany’s economic power has made it a target for Trump’s trade wars. The Trump hostility to the European Union has also put it at odds with Germany and its neighbors. And a big reason is that Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel really don’t communicate that much.

US Ambassador Richard Grenell hasn’t helped matters, spurning traditional events the German government puts on for US envoys, and feeling himself entitled to constantly issue policy demands and threaten repercussions if Germany doesn’t comply.

Grenell has made himself a lot of enemies as a result, and many see it as just typical of the way the Trump Administration generally behaves around its traditional allies. This once again adds to the communication problem, as ideally his job would be to keep the lines open between the two countries, and he’s broadly not doing that.
Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire.

Trump Fine-Tunes Peace Deal With Taliban

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The US President Donald Trump’s remarks at the Oval Office in the White House on August 20 regarding the Afghan peace talks and related issues exuded an overall sense of satisfaction that the “endless war” is finally ending —although issues still remain to be sorted out before the deal is closed.

This was also Trump’s first public assessment of the meeting he took last week with top officials, including the secretaries of state and defence, CIA director and US special representative on Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad who leads the American team of negotiators at the Doha talks with the Taliban.

Trump said more than once during his remarks to the media on Tuesday that the talks with the Taliban are going well, and he made it a point to acknowledge publicly that the Taliban genuinely want to stop fighting with the US troops. As he put it,
I will say this: The Taliban would like to stop fighting us.  They would like to stop fighting us.  They’ve lost a lot.
Trump threw light on what to expect. Clearly, the status quo is untenable and Trump intends to withdraw troops. But he is also convinced that the US should “always have somebody there.” Trump left it vague. Is Eric Prince preparing to walk in through that door?

On the other hand, Trump didn’t mince words about the US having a a strong intelligence presence in Afghanistan. That is because, as he put it, “Nobody can be trusted. Nobody can be trusted. In my world — in this world, I think nobody can be trusted.”

Trump has bought into the US military and security establishment’s plea that for ensuring that 9/11 type attacks do not repeat, a total American withdrawal from Afghanistan will be far too risky.

Interestingly, Trump taunted Russia (or any other country) to try to replace the US and NATO in Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires. He flagged that USSR shrunk to Russian Federation following its Afghan intervention. That was the nearest Trump came to admitting that the Afghan war cannot be won.

Significantly, in Trump’s estimation, Taliban does have the capability to prevent Afghanistan becoming a revolving door for international terrorists if it has the political desire to ply such a role. He seemed to imply that a peace deal that accommodates Taliban’s interests and concerns could incentivise the latter to be an ally in the fight against terrorism.

Trump never once disparagingly referred to the Taliban. On the contrary, Trump feels no particular commitment anymore to protect the Ashraf Ghani government. He even let it be known that he could “understand” why the Taliban has no respect for the Afghan government.

Does this mean that Trump may pull the plug on Ghani’s set-up? Most certainly, Trump’s remarks suggest that the US is distancing itself from the Kabul government and is gravitating toward neutral middle ground in the Afghan fratricidal strife.

This works fine for the Taliban and Ghani’s political opponents who have been demanding an interim government. Equally, the tenor of Trump’s remarks would suggest that the US no longer makes a fetish of “Afghan-led, Afghan controlled” dialogue between the Taliban and the Ghani government.

Trump carefully sidestepped any reference to Pakistan. But it goes without saying that Pakistani role is of crucial importance to his efforts in the coming weeks to reach a final agreement with the Taliban.

Looking ahead, it is inevitable that the US’ dependency on Pakistan is only going to increase, given the long-term American military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan and the imperative need to preserve good US-Taliban equations at the working level to counter terrorist threats.

Clearly, in Trump’s scheme of things, the US can learn to live with a Taliban government in Afghanistan.

In this backdrop of a US-Pakistan-Taliban triangle taking shape on the Afghan political chessboard, Pakistan is the big winner. No doubt, Pakistan will go the whole hog to instal a friendly government in Kabul. The US is unlikely to put roadblocks.

Conceivably, Pakistan’s agenda includes a settlement of the Durand Line question. The US and western allies as well as China and Russia (and Iran) will be supportive of the resolution of the dispute over Durand Line, without which the lawless Pakistan-Afghan border regions would continue to be a sanctuary for terrorist groups.

Pakistan can hope to leverage the preponderant hold of the Taliban in the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan. In turn, friendly, cooperative local governments in the Afghan border regions can be a factor of stability.

All in all, a favourable situation is at hand for Pakistan for the first time since independence in 1947. A big improvement in Pakistan’s internal security situation can be expected once a friendly government in Kabul stops promoting cross-border terrorism.

While big-power rivalries are a fact of life in world politics, the great game also allows convergence of interests between protagonists. The chances of China or Russia torpedoing the implementation of an Afghan peace settlement piloted and negotiated by the US under Trump’s watch are virtually zero.

In fact, Trump expressed no misgivings whatsoever on that score. On the other hand, the US is well aware that both China and Russia have direct links to the Taliban. The bottom line is that Afghanistan’s stabilisation is in everyone’s interests. Trump’s optimism is well-grounded that the endless war in Afghanistan is actually ending.

Reprinted with permission from Indian Punchline.

Lindsey Graham’s Blank Check. Why a Defense Agreement With Israel Would Be a Disaster for Americans

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Two world wars began because of unconditional pledges made by one country to come to assistance of another. On July 5, 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany pledged his country’s complete support for whatever response Austria-Hungary would choose to make against Serbia after the June 28th assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian nationalist during an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia. This fatal error went down in history as Germany’s carte blanche or “blank check,” assurance to Austria that led directly to WW I.

In September 1939, World War II began when Great Britain and France came to the assistance of Poland after the German Army invaded, fulfilling a “guarantee” made in March of that year. What was a regional war, and one that might have been resolved through diplomacy, became global.

One would think that after such commitments were assessed by historians as the immediate causes of two world wars, no one would ever consider going down that road again. But that would be reckoning without Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who has been calling for a “defense treaty” with Israel since last April. In his most recent foray, Graham announced late in July that he is seekingbipartisan support for providing “blank check” assurances to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is hoping to be able to push a complete defense treaty through the Senate by next year.

In making his several announcements on the subject, Graham has been acting as a front man for both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also for The Jewish Institute for the National Security of America (JINSA), which wrote the basic document that is being used to promote the treaty and then enlisted Graham to obtain congressional support.

Speaking to the press on a JINSA conference call, Graham said the proposed agreement would be a treaty that would protect Israel in case of an attack that constituted an “existential threat”. Citing Iran as an example, Graham said the pact would be an attempt to deter hostile neighbors like the Iranians who might use weapons of mass destruction against Israel. JINSA President Michael Makovsky elaborated on this, saying, “A mutual defense pact has a value in not only deterring but might also mitigate a retaliatory strike by an adversary of Israel, so it might mitigate an Iranian response (to an attack on its nuclear facilities).”

JINSA director of foreign policy Jonathan Ruhe added that “An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program would not activate this pact, but a major Iranian retaliation might. – An Israeli unilateral attack is not what the treaty covers, but rather massive Iranian retaliation is what we are addressing.”

Israel has long been reluctant to enter into any actual treaty arrangement with the United States because it might limit its options and restrain its aggressive pattern of military incursions. In that regard, the Graham-JINSA proposal is particularly dangerous as it effectively permits Israel to be interventionist with a guarantee that Washington will not seek to limit Netanyahu’s “options.” And, even though the treaty is reciprocal, there is no chance that Israel will ever be called upon to do anything to defend the United States, so it is as one-sided as most arrangements with the Jewish state tend to be.

As the agreement between the two countries would be a treaty ratified by the Senate, it would be much more difficult to scrap by subsequent administrations than was the Iran nuclear deal, which was an executive action by President Obama. And clearly the statements by Graham, Makovsky and Ruhe reveal this treaty would serve as a green light for an Israeli attack on Iran, should they opt to do so, while also serving as a red light to Tehran vis-à-vis an ironclad US commitment to “defend” Israel that would serve to discourage any serious Iranian retaliation. Given that dynamic, the treaty would be little more than a one-way security guarantee from Washington to Jerusalem.

Furthermore, in outlining what circumstances would trigger US intervention on Israel’s behalf, the JINSA/Graham document cites, inter alia, “the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction.” It also allows Netanyahu to call for assistance after defining as threatening any incident or development “that gives rise to an urgent request from the Government of Israel.” It appears then that Netanyahu could demand that the US attack Iran should he only perceive a threat, however vague that threat might in reality be.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been claiming Iran is “three to five years” and “possibly weeks” away from a nuclear weapons capability since 1992 and pushing Washington to attack Iran so he obviously would welcome such a treaty for strategic reasons as well as to shore up his upcoming re-election bid. President Trump, with whom Graham has discussed how the agreement would work, has a similar interest in appearing strong for Israel to help his own campaign in 2020.

It is worth noting that in 2010 Netanyahu ordered the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to prepare to strike Iran but ‘Israel’s security chiefs refused: Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the IDF, and Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad at the time, believed that Netanyahu and the Defense Minister Ehud Barak were trying to “steal a war” and the order was not carried out. The attacks were also rejected by two ministers, Moshe Yaalon and Yuval Steinitz, which left Netanyahu without the necessary majority to proceed.

Ashkenazi claimed in a 2012 interview about the episode that he was convinced that an attack would be have been a major strategic mistake. Meir Dagan said in 2012, after leaving his role as Mossad chief, that a strike would be “a stupid thing” as the entire region would undoubtedly be destabilized, requiring repeated Israeli and American interventions.

And there are other issues arising from a “defense treaty.” Defense means just that and treaties are generally designed to protect a country within its own borders. Israel has no defined borders as it is both expansionistic and illegally occupying Palestinian land, so the United States would in effect be obligated to defend space that Israel defines as its own. That could mean almost anything. Israel is currently bombing Syria almost daily even though it is not at war with Damascus. If Syria were to strike back and Graham’s treaty were in place, Washington would technically be obligated to come to Israel’s assistance. A similar situation prevails with Lebanon and there are also reports that Israel is bombing alleged Iranian supply lines in Iraq, where the US has 5,000 troops stationed.

The real problem is that the Trump administration is obsessed with regime change in Iran, but it has so far been unable to provoke Iran into starting a conflict. Graham’s proposed treaty just might be part of a White House plan to end-run Congress and public opinion by enabling Israel to start the desired war, whereupon the US would quickly follow in to “defend Israel,” obliged by treaty to do so. What could possibly go wrong? The correct answer is “everything.”

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.