All posts by David Stockman

Why The Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly

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Like the case of Rome before it, the Empire is bankrupting America. The true fiscal cost is upwards of $1.0 trillion per year (counting $200 billion for veterans and debt service for wars), but there is no way to pay for it.

That's because the 78-million strong Baby Boom is in the driver's seat of American politics. It plainly will not permit the $3 trillion per year retirement and health care entitlements-driven Welfare State to be curtailed.

The Trumpite/GOP has already sealed that deal by refusing to reform Social Security and Medicare and by proving to be utterly incapable of laying a glove politically on Obamacare/Medicaid. At the same time, boomers keep voting for the GOP's anti-tax allergy, thereby refusing to tax themselves to close Washington's yawning deficits.

More importantly, the generation which marched on the Pentagon in 1968 against the insanity and barbarism of LBJ's Vietnam War has long since abandoned the cause of peace. So doing, boomers have acquiesced in the final ascendancy of the Warfare State, which grew like topsy once the US became the world's sole superpower after the Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history in 1991.

Yet there is a reason why the end of the 77-year world war which incepted with the "guns of August" in 1914 did not enable the world to resume the status quo ante of relative peace and prosperous global capitalism.

To wit, the hoary ideology of American exceptionalism and the Indispensable Nation was also, ironically, liberated from the shackles of cold war realism when the iron curtain came tumbling down.

Consequently, it burst into a quest for unadulterated global hegemony. In short order (under Bush the Elder and the Clintons) Washington morphed into the Imperial City, and became a beehive not only of militarism, but of an endless complex of think-tanks, NGO's, advisories and consultancies, "law firms", lobbies, and racketeers.

The unspeakable prosperity of Washington flows from that Imperial beehive. And it is the Indispensable Nation meme that provides the political adhesive that binds the Imperial City to the work of Empire and to provisioning the massive fiscal appetites of the Warfare State.

Needless to say, Empire is a terrible thing because it is the health of the state and the profound enemy of capitalist prosperity and constitutional liberty.

It thrives and metastasizes by abandoning the republican verities of non-intervention abroad and peaceful commerce with all the nations of the world in favor of the self-appointed role of global policeman. Rather than homeland defense, the policy of Empire is that of international busybody, military hegemon and brutal enforcer of Washington's writs, sanctions, red lines and outlawed regimes.

There is nothing more emblematic of that betrayal of republican non-interventionism than the sundry hot spots which dog the Empire today. These include the Ukraine/Crimea confrontation with Russia, the regime change fiasco in Syria, the US sponsored genocide in Yemen, the failed, bloody 17-year occupation of Afghanistan, the meddling of the US Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea, and, most especially, the swiftly intensifying contretemps in Iran.

As to the latter, there is absolutely no reason for the Empire's attack on Iran. The proverbial Martian, in fact, would be sorely perplexed about why Washington is marching toward war with its puritanical and authoritarian but relatively powerless religious rulers.

After all, Iran hasn't violated the nuke deal (JPCOA) by the lights of any credible authority -- or by even less than credible ones like the CIA. Nor by the same consensus of authorities has it even had a research program for nuclear weaponization since 2003.

Likewise, its modest GDP of $430 billion is equal to just eight days of US output, thereby hardly constituting an industrial platform from which its theocratic rulers could plausibly menace America's homeland.

Nor could its tiny $14 billion defense budget -- which amounts to just seven days worth of DOD outlays -- inflict any military harm on American citizens.

In fact, Iran has no blue water navy that could effectively operate outside of the Persian Gulf; its longest range warplanes can barely get to Rome without refueling; and its array of mainly defensive medium and intermediate range missiles cannot strike most of NATO, to say nothing of the North American continent.

The answer to the Martian's question, of course, is that Iran is no threat whatsoever to the safety and security of the US homeland, but it has run badly afoul of the dictates of the American Empire.

That is to say, it has presumed to have an independent foreign policy involving Washington proscribed alliances with the sovereign state of Syria, the leading political party of Lebanon (Hezbollah), the ruling authorities (and US puppets) in Baghdad and the reining power in the Yemen capital of Sana'a (the Houthis).

These are all deemed by Washington to be sources of unsanctioned "regional instability" and Iran's alliances with them have been capriciously labeled as acts of state sponsored terrorism.

The same goes for Washington's demarche against Iran's modest array of short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles. These weapons are palpably instruments of self-defense, but Imperial Washington insists their purpose is aggression -- unlike the case of practically every other nation which offers its custom to American arms merchants.

For example, Iran's arch-rival across the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, has more advanced NATO supplied ballistic missiles with even greater range (2,600 km range). So does Israel, Pakistan, India, and a half-dozen other nations, which are either Washington allies or have been given a hall-pass in order to bolster US arms exports.

In short, Washington's escalating war on Iran is an exercise in global hegemony, not territorial self-defense. What the proverbial Martian is really asking, therefore, is how did the Empire come about?

How did the historic notion of national defense morph into Washington's arrogant claim that it constitutes the "Indispensable Nation" which stands as mankind's bulwark against global disorder and chaos among nations? 

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner. To subscribe to Stockman's website, click here.

The Donald’s Done — The Deep State Wins Its War On America First

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The Donald's action to ash-can the Iranian nuclear deal marks the War Party's complete and baleful triumph. There is now nothing much left of America First.

Trump's reckless, unwarranted and utterly irrational action will pull Washington ever deeper into an incendiary middle eastern vortex of political and religious conflict that has absolutely nothing to do with the safety and security of the America people.

To the contrary, picking a fight with Tehran is an exercise in unprovoked Imperial aggression. The Iranian regime has no means to attack America militarily and has never threatened to do so. Nor has it invaded any other country in the region where it was not invited by a sovereign government host.

Even Iran's minor skirmishes with American forces in recent years have been owing to the happenstance of Washington's far-flung imperial ventures.

For example, Washington destroyed Saddam's Sunni/secular government in Iraq and installed a Shiite regime in Baghdad, thereby leaving the Sunni lands of western Iraq in chaos. Only then did Baghdad invite their shiite co-religionists from Iran to help excise the scourge of ISIS that formed from the remnants of Saddam's army and government.

Likewise, Washington and its allies sent thousands of jihadist warriors and billions of aid and supplies into Syria to topple its dully elected government. Only then did the Alawite (Shiite) Assad regime invite help from its confessional compatriots in Tehran.

And you can't find any more ludicrous example of the cat calling the kettle black than the Donald's claim that Iran is a terrorist state because it is aligned with the Shiite population of Lebanon represented by Hezbollah.

For crying out loud. The War Party pretends Washington has turned much of the middle east into rubble and barbarism in order to spread democracy -- whether they wanted it or not, and whether they were ready for it or not.

But Lebanon is a serviceable democracy and last weekend Hezbollah and its allies -- including certain Sunni factions -- won an overwhelming election victory. They now control a clear majority in its legislature, where Hezbollah will have the power to name a new Prime Minister (a Sunni) and Speaker of the Parliament (a Shiite) -- both of whom will be pledged to work with the country's Christian president.

That particular outcome of democracy the War Party can't abide. But it fairly violates the english language itself to call it state sponsored terrorism.

In a similar vein, the Houthi tribe of Shiites have dominated much of northern and western Yemen for centuries. So when a Washington installed government in Sana'a was overthrown, the Houthi took power in northern Yemen -- as had been the case during the long expanse from 1918-1990 when the two Yemens were finally unified.

But it is the Houthis who are the victims of aggression by the brutal Saudi bombing campaign that has left more than 10,000 civilians dead and the land plagued with famine, cholera, rubble, and economic collapse.

There is no telling which faction in Yemen's fratricidal civil war and invasion by Saudi Arabia is the more barbaric, but the modest aid provided by Iran to its Shiite kinsman in northern Yemen is absolutely not a case of state sponsored terrorism.

In a word, the Donald has fallen hook, line and sinker for the War Party's lie- and propaganda-filled demonization of the Iranian regime. We have debunked this false history elsewhere, but suffice to say that it boils down to two very imperialist propositions.

To wit, that Iran is not entitled to have its own foreign policy via alliances with Iraq, Syria, the dominant party of Lebanon, or the official government in Sana'a Yemen because Washington (and Israel) say so; and that it's not allowed to have even intermediate and medium range missiles (that can't reach either the US or most of Europe) to defend itself -- even though Washington has armed its far wealthier Sunni rival across the Persian Gulf with upwards of $250 billion of America's most advanced warplanes, attack helicopters, missiles, drones and sundry other accoutrements of war.

And that is to say nothing of a tiny residual capacity to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent purity (compared to 90 percent weapons grade) for civilian power reactors on fewer than one-fifth of the oldest and slowest centrifuges it had before the 2015 nuke deal.

Nor does it consider that all 17 US intelligence agencies certified in an official NIE (national intelligence estimate) in 2007 and again in 2011 that Iran only had a small weaponization research program between 1999 and 2003, which was then abandoned and never restarted.

Moreover, the documentary proof of that was thoroughly investigated by the IAEA after the 2015 deal, which then re-validated that the Iranian weapons program was indeed disbanded in 2003.

In short, the Donald has fallen for a pack of lies and distortions that are only remotely plausible if the aim is to find enemies and territories around the planet to police, occupy or otherwise hegemonize. And to thereby keep the Warfare State in business, its $800 billion budget funded, and the Imperial City's vast beehive of think-tanks, contractors, NGOs, lobbyists, and racketeers in clover.

The invincible grip on power of the above -- the Deep State for short-hand purposes -- has now been proven. And that's a full-on tragedy because the Donald's inchoate notion of America First was an incipient challenge to its power -- the only one since the end of the cold war.

To be sure, Donald Trump never had a coherent or articulated notion of America First. But all of his impulses were in the right direction.

Perhaps like renegade Sarah Palin before him, for example, he could see Russia from his airy on the 68th floor of Trump Tower and recognize that it is no threat whatsoever to America's security.

That is, from his perch the Donald could gaze upon metro New York's $1.6 trillion of GDP, which is greater than the entirety of Russia's economy ($1.5 trillion GDP); and whether he knew the precise numbers or not, his impulse toward rapprochement with Putin was spot on.

Likewise, whether he had gotten George Bush's folly in Iraq right on day one or not -- he was loud and clear in his consistent denunciation years before Hillary sprouted her dawkish feathers.

Nor was he any less correct when he averred that NATO was obsolete. After all, the GDP of the EU-29 is 10X larger than Russia's, and their combined military spending is 4X greater.

If you're not a prisoner of Imperial Washington's twisted group think you cannot possibly believe that Russia's supremely rational leader -- Cool Hand Vlad -- intends to militarily assault his European neighbors. He'd like to supply their markets, not occupy their cities -- something that anyone except the demented, self-serving bureaucrats of NATO can easily understand.

Ditto for Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia et. al. They aren't cold war "dominoes" because the Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history 27 years ago; they don't threaten America directly, either, because they don't have two dimes to rub together economically or militarily; and whether they affiliate with the Saudi-Sunni axis or the Iran-Shiite crescent makes not one damn bit of difference for the safety and security of American citizens in Lincoln NE or Springfield MA.

In the case of the Korean Peninsula, the Donald also rightly questioned why we are still funding 29,000 US troops when the war there ended 65 years ago.

The truth is, it is a war that never should have been fought in the first place because the now open Soviet archives show both Stalin and Mao were against it. US national security was never at stake.

Rather than a domino, it originated purely as a civil war between the communist/nationalists under Kim II-sung, who had fought the Japanese occupiers to the death, and a puppet government in the South under Syngman Rhee.

The latter was an aristocratic dandy who moved to the US in 1904 and spent most of the next 40 years hob-knobbing in Washington. So doing, he promoted endless schemes to install himself in power back in Korea, which finally happened when Japan's 35-year long occupation was ended in August 1945.

At length, the two Korean political rivals got into a war that the north would have handily won -- and might well have turned itself into a cheap labor based export platform just as did Mao's heirs on the mainland. It might even have become a darling of Wall Street -- just as the Red Suzerains of Beijing are today.

That is to say, there was exactly nothing at stake in June 1950 -- until the rabid cold warriors in Washington persuaded Truman to intervene.

So doing, the US military launched the most destructive and vicious bombing campaign in history under the blood-thirsty top Air Force general, Curtis LeMay. By the 1953 armistice, North Korea had become a bombed-out wasteland with hardly a city or town not reduced to rubble and with millions of civilians dead or starving.

But it was not merely a pointless war and waste of American blood and treasure; it also became forever embraced by the people of the north as the patriotic war of resistance that paved the way for six decades of the brutal Kim family dictatorship and a life of poverty and misery for its 25 million people, who could otherwise be working in Apple factories and auto plants today.

Needless to say, Imperial Washington has no regard for honest history -- only its own self-serving narrative and imperative need for enemies and missions to justify nearly $800 billion per year for the machinery of war and empire. In the case of North Korea, in fact, its imperial pretensions and penchant for "regime change" under the neocons in recent decades, unleashed a veritable monster.

That is, a drive by the Kim family to obtain nuclear weapons, thereby hoping to avoid Saddam's fate at the end of a rope or Khadafy's bloody demise with a shive up his rectum.

Fortunately, the Donald has been blessed with a historic serendipity. His military bluster and name-calling apparently caused Kim Jong-un to stage so many nuclear bomb tests culminating in a huge (for N. Korea) 160 kiloton explosion last September that the Fat Boy of Pyongyang has literally destroyed the mountains which house his Punggye-ri test site.

A recent authoritative study actually warns that if North Korea were to use the same area for another test it could cause an "environmental catastrophe."

North Korea's past tests have altered the tectonic stress in the region to the extent that previously inactive tectonic faults in the region have reached their state of critical failure. Any further disturbance from a future test could generate earthquakes that may be damaging by their own force or crack the nuclear test sites of the past or the present.

Of course, Kim Jong-un is now attempting to make a virtue out of necessity by ostentatiously shuttering the no longer useable site and inviting the world to witness its entombment. But if that leads to a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, so be it.

And let it also be an occasion to reverse the mistake of June 1950, and get American forces off the peninsula once and for all: Return Korea to the Koreans to work out their own governance as they see fit!

Yet even on this matter, where the Donald has recently tried to explore a drastic reduction, if not complete removal, of US troops as part of the pending deal with Kim Jong-un, the Deep State has come down on him with all fours.

In that regard, here is what former "peace" candidate Barack Obama's leading advisor on the topic had this to say:

Kelly E. Magsamen, a top Asia policy official at the Pentagon during the Obama administration, said, 'U.S. presence in South Korea is a sacrosanct part of our alliance.'

In fact, apparently the entire global empire of Washington is sacrosanct -- including the ridiculous fact that in the year 2018 Washington still has military bases in the defeated powers of World War II. Yet neither Japan nor Germany have any mortal military enemies and both are utterly dependent on the trade custom of the US for their high standard of living.

So the Deep State now owns the Donald and America First is not even a slogan. It's inoperative, Nixon-style.

Indeed, it's only a matter of time before the Donald gets the ultimate Nixon treatment -- now that he has done the Deep State's dirty work and ash-canned the deal that could have opened a broad avenue toward peace in the world and drastic retrenchment of the fiscally bankrupting Warfare State at home.

That is to say, at length the ingrates of the Deep State will put the Donald on the Dick Nixon Memorial Helicopter for his final ride to Gonesville.

To paraphrase the great Randolph Bourne, Demonization of the Unwilling is the Health of the Deep State.

At least that much the Donald has now, regrettably, confirmed with his sophomoric attack on Iran.

So doing he has also lurched America drastically forward on the path to a monumental financial catastrophe. That's because taken together the Warfare State and the Welfare State are also the fiscal demise of the state.

One of these days even the lemmings of Wall Street -- which took day's calamitous news in stride -- will finally get the memo, too.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner. To subscribe to Stockman's page, click here.


America First — RIP

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When the Cold War officially ended in 1991, Washington could have pivoted back to the pre-1914 status quo ante. That is, to a national security policy of America First because there was literally no significant military threat left on the planet.

Post-Soviet Russia was an economic basket case that couldn't even meet its military payroll and was melting down and selling the Red Army's tanks and artillery for scrap. China was just emerging from the Great Helmsman's economic, political and cultural depredations and had embraced Deng Xiaoping proclamation that "to get rich is glorious."

The implications of the Red Army's fiscal demise and China's electing the path of export mercantilism and Red Capitalism were profound.

Russia couldn't invade the American homeland in a million years and China chose the route of flooding America with shoes, sheets, shirts, toys and electronics. So doing, it made the rule of the communist elites in Beijing dependent upon keeping the custom of 4,000 Wal-Marts in America, not bombing them out of existence.

In a word, god's original gift to America -- the great moats of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans -- had again become the essence of its national security.

After 1991, therefore, there was no nation on the planet that had the remotest capability to mount a conventional military assault on the US homeland; or that would not have bankrupted itself attempting to create the requisite air and sea-based power projection capabilities -- a resource drain that would be vastly larger than even the $700 billion the US currently spends on its global armada.

Indeed, in the post-cold war world the only thing the US needed was a modest conventional capacity to defend the shorelines and airspace against any possible rogue assault and a reliable nuclear deterrent against any state foolish enough to attempt nuclear blackmail.

Needless to say, those capacities had already been bought and paid for during the cold war. The triad of minutemen ICBMs, Trident SLBMs (submarines launched nuclear missiles) and long-range stealth bombers cost only a few ten billions annually for operations and maintenance and were more than adequate for the task of deterrence.

Likewise, conventional defense of the US shoreline and airspace against rogues would not require a fraction of today's 1.3 million active uniformed force -- to say nothing of the 800,000 additional reserves and national guard forces and  the 765,000 DOD civilians on top of that. Rather than funding 2.9 million personnel, the whole job of national security under a homeland-based America First concept could be done with less than 500,000 military and civilian payrollers.

In fact, much of the 475,000 US army could be eliminated and most of the Navy's carrier strike groups and power projection capabilities could be mothballed. So, too, the air force's homeland defense missions could be accomplished for well less than $50 billion per annum compared to the current $145 billion.

Overall, the constant dollar defense budget (2017$) was $610 billion in 1989 when the cold war ended and the Soviet Union disappeared from the face of the earth. Had Washington pivoted to an America First national security policy at the time, defense spending could have been downsized to perhaps $250 billion per year.

Instead, the Imperial City went in an opposite direction and ended up embracing a de facto policy of Empire First. The latter will cost $700 billion during the current year and is heading for $900 billion annually a few years down the road.

In a word, Empire First easily consumes one-half trillion dollars more in annual budgetary resources than would America First. And that giant barrel of weapons contracts, consulting and support jobs, lobbying booty and Congressional pork explains everything you need to know about why the Swamp is so deep and intractable.

Obviously, it's also why Imperial Washington has appointed itself global policeman. Functioning as the gendarme of the planet is the only possible justification for the extra $500 billion per year cost of Empire First.

For example, why does the US still deploy 90,000 US forces and their dependents in Japan and Okinawa and 30,000 in South Korea?

These two counties have a combined GDP of $7 trillion -- or 235 times more than North Korea and they are light-years ahead of the latter in technology and military capability. Also, they don't go around the world engaging in regime change, thereby spooking fear on the north side of the DMZ.

Accordingly, Japan and South Korea could more than provide for their own national security in a manner they see fit without any help whatsoever from Imperial Washington. That's especially the case because North Korea would seek a rapprochement and economic help, and their relationship with China is based on business, not military confrontation.

Indeed, sixty-five years after the unnecessary war in Korea ended, there is only one reason why the Kim family is still in power in Pyongyang and why the Fat Boy now noisily brandishes his incipient nuclear weapons and missiles. To wit, it's because the Empire still occupies the Korean peninsula and surrounds its waters with more lethal firepower than was brought to bear against the industrial might of Nazi Germany during the whole of WWII.

And speaking of Germany, why is it that its modest $60 billion defense budget amounts to only 1.5 percent of GDP if Russia -- with a defense budget of $46 billion -- is some kind of expansionist military threat?

The Germans clearly don't believe it and see Russia as a vital market for exports and as a source of supply for natural gas, other natural resources and food stuffs. Besides, with a GDP of $4 trillion or nearly 3 times Russia's $1.6 trillion GDP, Germany could more than handle its own defenses if Russia should ever become foolish enough to threaten it.

From there you get to the even more preposterous case for the Empire's NATO outposts in eastern Europe. The history books are absolutely clear that in 1989 George H. W. Bush promised Gorbachev that NATO would not be expanded by a "single inch" in return for his acquiescence to German unification.

At the time, NATO had 16 member nations bound by the Article 5 obligation of mutual defense, but when the Soviet Union and the Red Army perished, there was nothing left to defend against. NATO should have declared "mission accomplished" and dissolved itself.

Instead, it has become a political jackhammer for Empire First policies by expanding to 29 nations -- many of them on Russia's doorstep.

Yet if your perception is not distorted by Washington's self-justifying imperial beer-goggles, the question is obvious. Exactly what is gained for the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE or Springfield MA by obtaining the defense services of the pint-sized militaries of Latvia (6,000), Croatia (14,500), Estonia (6,400), Slovenia (7,300) or Montenegro (1,950)?

Indeed, the whole post-1991 NATO expansion is so preposterous as a matter of national security that its true function as a fig-leaf for Empire First fairly screams outloud. Not one of these pint-sized nations would matter for US security if they decided to have a cozier relationship with Russia -- voluntarily or not so voluntarily.

But the point is, there is no threat in eastern Europe unless such as Montenegro, Slovenia, or Latvia became the invasion route to Russian occupation of Germany, France, the Benelux and England. And that's just plain crazy.

Yet aside from that utterly far-fetched and economically and militarily impossible scenario, there is no reason whatsoever for the US to be in a mutual defense pact with any of the new, and, for that matter, old NATO members.

And that gets us to most ridiculous NATO fig leaf of all. The patently bogus claim that Russia's self-evidently defensive actions in Crimea and the Donbass (eastern Ukraine) prove that it is an aggressive expansionist. But on that score, Washington's imperial beer goggles are utterly blind to history and geopolitical logic.

Sevastopol in Crimea has been the homeport of the Russian Naval Fleet under czars and commissars alike and was purchased from the Ottomans for good money by Catherine the Great in 1783. It is the site of one of Russia greatest patriotic events -- the defeat of the English invaders in 1854 made famous by Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade -- and is 80 percent Russian speaking.

It only technically became part of Ukraine during a Kruschev inspired shuffle in 1954 driven by his maneuvers to consolidate power in post-Stalin Soviet Union. To wit:
On April 26, 1954. The decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring the Crimea Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.....Taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet decrees:

To approve the joint presentation of the Presidium of the Russian SFSR Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet on the transfer of the Crimea Province from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.
That's right. The dead-hand of the Soviet presidium most be defended at all costs by Washington because the security of North Dakota depends upon it!

The fact is, only 10 percent of the Crimean population is Ukrainian speaking, and it was the coup on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 by extremist anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists and proto-fascists that caused the Russian speakers in Crimea to panic and Moscow to become alarmed about the status of its historic naval base.

In a word, 83 percent of eligible Crimeans turned out to vote and 97 percent of those approved cancelling the 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium and rejoining mother Russia during the March 2014 referendum. There is absolutely no evidence that the 80 percent of Crimeans who thus voted to sever their historically short-lived affiliation with Ukraine were threatened or coerced by Moscow.

Indeed, what they actually feared were the anti-Russian edicts coming out of Kiev in the aftermath of the Washington funded, supported and instantly recognized overthrow of the legally elected government. And exactly the same thing is true of the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas.

After all, the good folks of that industrial heartland of the former Soviet Union had always been an integral part of its iron, steel, chemical and munitions industries, and, indeed, their grandparents had been put there by Stalin because most native Ukrainians had not cottoned to his bloody rule.

By the same token, Uncle Joe's 1930s Russian transplants forever hated the Ukrainian nationalists who rampaged though their towns and homes in the Donbas with Hitler's Wehrmacht on the way to Stalingrad.

So it boils down to this: By Washington's edict the grand-sons and grand-daughters of Stalin's industrial army in the Donbas will be ruled by the grand-sons and grand-daughters of Hitler's collaborators in Kiev, whether they like it or not.

Likewise, the 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium is now apparently under the stewardship of Washington. So the Crimeans' short-lived marriage to Ukraine will be enforced with sanctions, threats and demonizations of Moscow -- notwithstanding an 80 percent referendum against it.

Here's the thing. You simply can't make up $500 billion worth of phony reasons for an Empire First national security policy without going off the deep-end. You have to invent missions, mandates and threats that are just plain stupid (like the purported Russian "occupation" of Crimea) or flat out lies (like Saddam's alleged WMDs).

Indeed, you must invent, nourish and enforce an entire universal narrative based on completely implausible and invalid propositions, such as the "indispensable nation" meme and the claim that global peace and stability depend overwhelmingly on Washington's leadership?

Is there not a more cruel joke than that?

Was the Washington inflicted carnage and genocide in Vietnam a case of "American leadership" and making the world more peaceful or stable?

Did the two wars against Iraq accomplish anything except destroy the tenuous peace between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurds, thereby opening up the gates of hell and the bloody rampages of ISIS?

Did the billions Washington illegally channeled into the rebel and jihadist forces in Syria do anything except destroy the country, create millions of refugees and force the Assad regime to engage in tit-for-tat brutalities, as well as call-in aid from his Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah allies.

In a word, Imperial Washington's over-arching narratives and the instances of its specific interventions alike rest on a threadbare and implausible foundation; and more often than not, they consist of arrogant fabrications and claims that are an insult to the intelligence of anyone paying even loose attention to the facts.

Then again, Imperial Washington no longer cares about facts, logic, history or truth. At the time of the Bush War on Saddam's WMD's, Karl Rove explained the Empire's new Creed without pulling any punches.
That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
There you have it. And Rove is no out-of-the-way academic scribbler inventing some high-flutin' rationalization for American global hegemony. To the contrary, he's a lifetime Swamp creature, leading beltway racketeer and the strategic brain trust of the GOP establishment.

Needless to say, Washington has yet again created its "own reality" with respect to its hideously unjustified bombing attack on Syria last Friday night. So doing, it literally took our dim-witted President captive by exploiting his macho delusions, thereby decreeing that no one -- not even the Donald -- may brook with the War Party narrative.

Yet the case for launching a spanking attack on Assad was so threadbare that it might as well have been derived from a Washington claim of full spectrum dominance over planet Earth. Or as one astute observer noted:
(Those who have) been properly following the situation in Syria for the last few years will know the truth, which is that the US and its allies have been arming, funding and supporting Islamist terrorists, and using them as proxies to topple the Syrian Government. Not 'moderate rebels,' as the dutiful stenographers in the Mainstream Media have been telling you, but fanatical head-choppers who want to see Syria turned into a Wahhabi state replete with Sharia Law.
In Part 2, we will assemble the evidence that if the Douma chlorine attack actually occurred, it was likely a false flag attack staged by the rebels. After all, the evidence for it comes from unverified social media accounts, the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).

The latter is a tool of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, which for better or worse had been banned from Syria by Assad's father way back in the early 1980's owing to its opposition to the secularist rule of the Alawite-based coalition of nationalists, socialists, Christians and other non-Sunni minorities.

Not surprisingly, SAMS has only operated in jihadist and rebel occupied territories -- just as has been the case with the vaunted White Helmets, which have been repeatedly caught in the act of staging and fabricating false flag attacks.

We posted a compilation of 20 such incidents from social media yesterday, but here are three which give the flavor. In the last one, for example, it is obvious that the mainstream media, which played this image over and over, was duped by chicken blood!

In the very best case for Washington, we have a case of dueling liars. Why would you believe the White Helmets, but not Halil Ajiji, a medical student who worked at the only functioning hospital in Douma?

He described the origin of the chemical victims being desperately sprayed in a hospital as follows:
'On April 8, a bomb hit a building. The upper floors were damaged and a fire broke at the lower floors. Victims of that bombing were brought to us. People from the upper floors had smoke poisoning. We treated them, based on their suffocation.'

Ajij said that a man unknown to him came and said there was a chemical attack and panic ensued. 'Relatives of the victims started dousing each other with water. Other people, who didn’t seem to have medical training, started administering anti-asthma medicine to children. We didn’t see any patient with symptoms of a chemical weapons poisoning,' he said.
The point is, before Washington turned loose the cruise missiles and bombers, it could have sent a delegation to Douma with the blessing of Putin and Assad, and interviewed Ajij and several thousand more to find out what actually happened.

Unlike all of the past "gas attack" incidents, this one happened in what is now safe government controlled territory, and any Washington delegation of investigators could have even been accompanied by CNN's own Baghdad Bob -- that is, Wolf Blitzer himself.

Perhaps the latter would have ascetained whether the chemical protection gear pictured below and found in an abandoned rebel site was just staged by the Assad government; and  also whether or not the rooms full of rockets and components also pictured below were used by the rebels strictly for killing people with good old fashioned shrapnel and percussion effects, rather than chlorine gas.

Likewise, maybe Washington could have demanded that the chief paint and plastics engineer at the Barzeh research center give international investigators who were arriving from the OPCW the next morning a tour of every room in that largely empty facility before they blew it to smithereens with 71 missiles.

After all, the man stood on the rubble within an hour or two of the attack and was not overcome with any kind of toxic agent chemical release. Thus said, Mr. Said Said:
'The building had three storeys: a basement, ground floor, and second floor,' said Said Said, an engineer who identified himself as head of the centre's paint and plastics department.

'If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here. I've been here since 5:30 am in full health -- I'm not coughing,' he added.

Said said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had visited the site in Barzeh in recent years and had declared it free of any toxic weapons.

'The OPCW used to stay in the two upper rooms, and use the labs, and we would cooperate with them completely,' he said.

'The OPCW has proven in two reports that this building and the centre as a whole are empty and do not produce any chemical weapons.'
We leave it to the French, however, to spill the beans. Their proof was surmise, and social media pictures!
On the basis of this overall assessment and on the intelligence collected by our services, and in the absence to date of chemical samples analysed by our own laboratories, France therefore considers (i) that, beyond possible doubt, a chemical attack was carried out against civilians at Douma on 7 April 2018; and (ii) that there is no plausible scenario other than that of an attack by Syrian armed forces as part of a wider offensive in the Eastern Ghouta enclave.

Non-governmental medical organizations active in Ghouta (the Syrian American Medical Society) and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations), whose information is generally reliable, publicly stated that strikes had targeted in particular local medical infrastructure on 6 and 7 April.

The French services analysed the testimonies, photos and videos that spontaneously appeared on specialized websites, in the press and on social media in the hours and days following the attack.

Testimonies obtained by theFrench services were also analysed. After examining the videos and images of victims published online, they were able to conclude with a high degree of confidence that the vast majority are recent and not fabricated. The spontaneous circulation of these images across all social networks confirms that they were not video montages or recycled images. Lastly, some of the entities that published this information are generally considered reliable.
Say again?

"Some of the entities" that were the basis for attacking a country that has never harmed France, England or the US are "generally considered reliable."

Goodness gracious me!

Fortunately, General Mattis talked the Donald into attacking several nothing-burger sites as we will document in Part 2. Meanwhile, Cool Hand Vlad apparently took the weekend in stride, popcorn in hand.

Perhaps that was the cruelest insult of all to Imperial Washington. And perhaps the absolute bunkum of these repeated video-game bombing missions will finally alert America to the fraud that is Empire First.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's ContraCorner. Subscribe to ContraCorner here.

Trump’s War Cabinet And The Fiscal Doom Loop

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Last week the Donald's incipient trade war got Wall Street's nerves jangling, but that wasn't the half of what's coming.

To wit, Trump has now essentially formed a War Cabinet and signed a Horribus spending bill that is a warrant for fiscal meltdown. Indeed, the two essentially comprise a self-fueling doom loop which means Washington’s descent into fiscal catastrophe is well-nigh unstoppable; it’s all over except for the screaming in the bond pits.

That is, Trump's new War Cabinet of John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel and Mad Dog Mattis is arguably the most interventionist, militarist, confrontationist and bellicose national security team ever assembled by a sitting President. We cannot think of a single country that has even looked cross-eyed at Washington in recent years where one or all four of them has not threatened to drone, bomb, invade or decapitate its current ruling regime.

That means Imperial Washington's rampant War Fever owing to the Dem-left declaration of war on Russia and Putin is now about to be drastically intensified by the complete victory of the neocon-right in the Trump Administration. The result will be sharpened confrontation, if not actual outbreak of hostilities, across the full spectrum of adversaries -- Iran, Russia, China, Syria and North Korea -- and an escalating tempo of military operations and procurement to implement the policy.

At the same time, the Donald's pathetic Fake Veto maneuver on Friday cemented the special interest lobbies' absolute control over domestic appropriations. Of course, Chuckles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi crowed loudly about the $63 billion annual domestic spending increase they got in return for the Donald's $80 billion defense add-on, but the victory was not partisan; it belonged to the Swamp creatures who suckle the politicians of both parties and own the appropriations committees lock, stock and barrel.

To be sure, upon folding at mid-day from his four-hour’s earlier veto tweet, the Donald promised "never again", but his reason for signing the most wasteful, pork-ridden appropriations bill of this century tells you all you need to know. To wit,

"There are a lot of things I'm unhappy about in this bill. There are a lot of things that we shouldn't have had in this bill, but we were in a sense forced if we want to build our military," Trump said. "I said to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again."

Au contraire. As long as he lasts in office, the Donald will be signing budget busters far worse than this one because the aggressive foreign policies of his War Cabinet will drive the pace of national security spending dramatically higher than the record $695 billion he signed into law last week; and these "must have" increases for pay, operations, ammo, spare parts, training, readiness and weapons replacement/augmentation will not get through the Congress until the bipartisan porkers have had their fill on the domestic side.

Your editor experienced long ago the toxic fiscal equation which arises when hawks and militarists take control of foreign policy and the defense budget. What you get is a “guns and butter” log-rolling dynamic as defense advocates on the spending committees buy the votes of colleagues whose snouts have penetrated deeply into the domestic pork barrel or whose paymasters inhabit the vast expanse of the health, education and social welfare complex.

That’s what stopped cold the Gipper’s short-lived attack on Big Government after 1981, and why the hawk-dominated GOP has been such a dismal failure on the fiscal front ever since.

But the Trumpite/GOP has brought guns and butter log-rolling to a whole new level of fiscal profligacy. And the overwhelming share of the blame for the resulting Horribus appropriations bill -- which will raise spending by $143 billion this year and $2.4 trillion over the next decade -- rests squarely with the incumbent member of Trump's new War Cabinet, SecDef James Mattis.

Not only does his brazen bellicosity and demented militarism rival that of the other three members of Trump's new War Cabinet, but Mattis also spent a 40 year career sucking the hind teats of the Warfare State, where he apparently never met a military budget that was big enough.

That is to say, Mattis is not remotely the “warrior monk” or “military intellectual” the fawning mainstream press makes him out to be. He’s actually a gung-ho bull-in-the-china-shop who defines his mission as complete obliteration of any foe who comes along; and which is to be accomplished by the assembly of overwhelming military capabilities and firepower.

Stated differently, the quotes below are not the expressions of a subtle mind. They reflect the mindset of the bombastic militarist who should have never, ever been let near the top post at the Pentagon, and who is the architect of the Donald’s hideously bloated defense budget and new long-term strategic plan for unaffordable, insensible global military dominance:
The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some a**holes in the world that just need to be shot…..I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fu*k with me, I’ll kill you all.
Unlike most of the American generals who have been waging and losing pointless wars over the last half century while cheerfully checking the boxes on the way to their post-retirement bonanzas, Mattis never got over it. He blitzed the enemy as an assault battalion commander in the first Gulf War, brought carnage to the Pashtun villages of southern Afghanistan and obliterated Fallujah (Iraq) twice -- without ever noticing that he was not winning any wars, but just dispensing random high-tech violence at huge cost in blood (theirs), treasure (ours) and blowback (throughout the Muslim world).

Indeed, Mattis' apparent lesson was that America needed massive military dominance to pacify an uncooperative world, and the Donald fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Yet in today's world, America has no industrial state enemies remotely capable of and/or motivated to threaten the homeland. Indeed, the only real homeland defense we need is our nuclear retaliatory force of land-based ICBMs, sea-based Trident missiles and DOD’s 5,000 active and standby nuclear warheads -- all of which were bought and paid for long ago.

That is, America doesn’t need no stinkin’ defense build-up, and could slash what it’s already spending by $250 billion per year without harming national security in the slightest.

That is also to say, neither Russia nor China is about to invade the American homeland with conventional forces because neither has even 5% of the necessary air-lift, sea-lift and power projection capacity that would be needed — even if they were ruled by lunatics, which they most assuredly are not.

Likewise, Russia and China are not suicidal enough to launch a first nuclear strike or attempt nuclear blackmail.

And beyond that, the even more dispositive point is that the very thought of hostile action against the American homeland would amount to an economic death warrant for either power.

That’s because in the case of the Red Ponzi, the Donald is absolutely right about its massive trade imbalance. China’s $510 billion per year of exports to the US do not represent free and fair trade in the historic sense: They are an absolute freak of economic nature stemming from the massive central bank money printing spree of the last 25-years and the egregious mercantilism that Beijing has instituted to exploit it and to build the greatest credit-fueled house of cards in human history.

Accordingly, if China were to threaten the US militarily, the resulting embargo on Chinese goods would cause its economy to plunge into a thundering collapse within six months: To wit, America’s spacious closets are already stuffed full of enough junk from China -- including every variety of Apple device -- to last for years, while China’s debt-ridden production chain on the margin survives hand-to-mouth on export orders.

And as for Russia, pulleese!

Its entire GDP of $1.5 trillion is less than that of the New York metro area, and only 8% of the US economy as a whole. The very idea that it’s a military threat to America is just flat out ludicrous; and that is in no way changed by Putin’s recent hints that Russia has developed a new class of non-ballistic strategic weapons that are not vulnerable to US ABM defenses.

But of course!

It was the US and John Bolton specifically during his stint as head of arms control at the Bush State Department that caused the expiration of Nixon’s ABM treaty. And in light of the subsequent drive toward a US missile defense system, what does another power that wishes to preserve the credibility and efficacy of its nuclear deterrent or retaliatory strike capability do?

Why, it finds a way around the ABMs to insure that no adversary is tempted to launch a pre-emptive first strike while secure from retaliation in a protective ABM cocoon. That’s exactly what the old MAD playbooks recommend, and what Russia, apparently, actually did.

So why does Mattis want $700 billion per year of force structure, readiness and massive weapons upgrades this year, which is just a down payment on an embedded defense bow-wave that will quickly rise towards $1 trillion annually?

A good part of the answer is sheer economic ignorance. Mattis along with the career national security apparatchiks who now comprise the Donald’s new War Cabinet are making the same mistake as their cold war forebears did about the old Soviet Union.

The latter was always destined to collapse under the weight of command and control centralization and ersatz socialism; it was only a matter of funding a strategic deterrent and waiting out the collapse that finally came, and swiftly, too.

There was never any need for the massive conventional forces that were kept in being during the Cold War, and especially not the huge Reagan build-up. The latter essentially funded an expeditionary armada designed for invasion and occupation -- an unneeded capability that eventually led to the follies of Washington’s serial military interventions in the Middle East.

That is even truer today. ISIS was a short-lived menace that arose from Washington’s interventions in Iraq and Syria, and has now been largely extinguished by its mortal 13-century old Shiite enemy: That is, the Shiite coalition of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and the Hezbollah fighters of Lebanon.

There is nothing else from that region that threatens the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE or Springfield MA, and most especially not the Iranians and their Shiite allies. The Iranians never had a nuclear weapons program, even by the lights of the 17-agency NIEs (national intelligence estimates) from 2007 onwards, and they have now precluded the possibility by agreeing to the Obama nuke deal.

The fact is, Iran is not a terrorist state -- even if its theocracy falls far short of democratic ideals, and even if its leaders do fulminate against the Great Satan in Washington.

After all, during the past 65 years Washington has attacked the Iranian people by installing a brutal, larcenous puppet regime under the Shah from 1953-1979; siding with Iraq when the latter invaded Iran during the 1980s; and by demonizing and attempting to destabilize it ever since.

The entire case against Iran has been concocted by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the coalition of right-wing parties upon which his rule depends. They claim the Tehran regime is an existential threat to Israel’s survival, but that’s ridiculous when they have upwards of 100 nukes and the Iranians have none, and when the Israeli air force has the capacity to turn Iran’s limited attack forces into a smoldering heap of twisted metal on a moment’s notice.

The Israeli claim that Hezbollah is a lethal Iranian dagger pointed at its survival is equally upside down. In fact, Israel’s repeated brutal occupations of the Shiite regions of southern Lebanon is what brought Hezbollah into existence, and at length has made it the largest political party in this religiously fractured country.

In that context, the main reason Iran supplies Hezbollah with arms is to deter a US/Israel attack; and also because like any other sovereign nation it is allowed to have a foreign policy, including one based on shared confessional ties.

We remonstrate on these matters because when it comes to Iran the Donald’s new War Cabinet is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bibi Netanyahu. Bolton and Pompeo are absolutely rabid in their desire to make war on Iran, and Mad Dog Mattis is not far behind.

Yet it cannot be stated strongly enough: Iran proposes no military threat to the American homeland whatsoever; it has never been involved in a terrorist incident or even plot against America or Europe for that matter; and its religious and political quarrel with the Saudis is absolutely none of Washington’s business.

As we have frequently observed, it really doesn’t matter who controls the vast hydrocarbon deposits surrounding the Persian Gulf -- Sunni or Shiite, dictators or democrats, Arabs or Persians. That’s because they all desperately need the revenue. And if oil prices should temporarily spike due to local wars or political upheaval, the cure for high prices is the global free market, not the US fifth fleet.

The truth of the matter is that a unilateral US military attack on Iran would be tantamount to a war crime -- as the Nuremberg trials defined "wars of aggression". And that is why the Donald’s mindless and groundless conviction that the Iran nuclear accord is the worst deal ever made by the US government is so pregnant with danger.

To a person, his new War Cabinet will be in the business of scratching and clawing the Donald's itch. Their modus operandi will be to sabotage the greatest breakthrough for world peace in decades on May 12 when the next certification of Iranian compliance arrives.

Once the nuclear deal is ash-canned, in turn, the War Cabinet will revive their historically false claims that the Iranian's are on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons. That's even if they merely restart their enrichment plant at Natanz, which they would have every right to do in the event of Washington's unilateral abrogation.

From there the war drums would start beating loudly in Imperial Washington for a pre-emptive attack to stop them -- a speciously Nuremburg compliant attack, as it were.

Regardless of how this scenario plays out in concrete detail and time frame, one thing is certain. A rising crescendo of tensions and confrontations with all of the War Cabinet's targets -- Iran, Syria, Russia, China and North Korea -- is fast coming down the pike. And that means an even larger burst in defense spending is not far behind.

All the while, of course, the Freedom Caucus stumbles around helping to slash tax revenues to 16.6%of GDP -- the lowest level since the late 1940s -- even as it welcomes the Donald's War Cabinet and kvetches about soaring entitlements and the Horribus appropriations bill that a good portion of its membership acquiesced to.

And they are the purported fiscal good guys!

Yes, it is a doom loop and there is not a chance in the hot place of avoiding the fast arriving bond market "yield shock" that will make mincemeat out of today's incorrigible dip buyers.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner.

Mueller’s Comic Book Indictment: How to Prosecute A Great Big Nothingburger

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We have always heard that a determined government prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich, and now we know it's true. After 38 years in the prosecution racket, Robert Mueller just made his biggest score ever -- that is, he nailed a great big Nothingburger.

But he also did a lot more than that. Mueller's 37-page comic book indictment actually unmasks -- inadvertently to be sure -- the distinctly un-terrifying essence of the whole Russian meddling narrative. In fact, the crude social media emissions (ads and posts) of the so-called troll farm were generally lame, often laughable and sometimes downright ludicrous as per this gem cited by Mueller:
a. On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account "Woke Blacks" to post the following message: '[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL.'
Notwithstanding the grave nomenclature of BLOCK CAPITALS, endless sinister "on or about" events and 99 numbered paragraphs of particulars, the true bill (charging document) is actually just a random catalogue of social media trivia like the above "Woke Blacks" post.

Most of the cited gleanings amounted to crude word bombs, often in broken English, that presumably even Kim Kardashian's 59 million Twitter followers could see through.
'Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is'
The lion's share of these postings and ads probably disappeared into cyberspace like the sound of a falling tree in an empty forest, anyway. According to Facebook itself, the seemingly ubiquitous social media ad campaign depicted in the indictment was nothing of the kind. It actually amounted to just 3,000 placements at a cost of $100,000 -- more than half of which were purchased after the election, and 25 percent of which ended-up in its dead letter office (unread).

Likewise, the handful of efforts to actually stimulate pro-Trump rallies in Florida and elsewhere were abject failures. As we document below, the Russians had absolutely no "ground game" in the US and any third-rate campaign consultant will tell you that ads alone do not produce crowds. In fact, there is virtually no evidence that anyone showed up at the rallies cited by Mueller.

Besides, the overwhelming share of the pro-Trump social media postings uncovered by Mueller's sleuths amounted to "copy and paste" relays of current partisan talking points. Thus, the indictment cites such slogans as:
'Vote Republican, vote Trump, and support the Second Amendment!'

'Trump is our only hope for a better future!'

'Donald wants to defeat terrorism...Hillary wants to sponsor it'
Really?

It took a clandestine nest of Russkie imposters and subversives to pollute the social media with this kind of tripe?

In fact, RNC, Fox News, and the Trump campaign were already saturating the internet with these messages, anyway -- along with millions of pro-Trump social media activists. The 80 Russian operatives cited by Mueller didn't add one damn bit to the massive social media messaging that was already out there.

So here's the joker in the whole deck. It seems that the nefarious "troll farm" in St. Petersburg that comprises nearly the totality of Mueller's case is not a Russian intelligence agency operation at all.

Instead, it's the relatively harmless Hobby Farm of a fanatical Russian oligarch and ultra-nationalist, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has a great big beef against Imperial Washington's demonization of Russia and Vlad Putin. Apparently, the farm was (it's apparently being disbanded) the vehicle through which he gave Washington the middle finger and buttered up his patron.

Prigozhin is otherwise known as "Putin's Cook" because he made his fortune in St. Petersburg restaurants that Putin favored and via state funded food service operations at Russian schools and military installations. Like most Russian oligarchs not in jail, he apparently tithes in gratitude to the Kremlin: In this case, by bankrolling the rinky-dink operation at 55 Savushkina Street in St Petersburg that is the object of Mueller's pretentious foray into the flotsam and jetsam of social media low life.

Prigozhin's trolling farm is grandly called the Internet Research Agency (IRA), but what it actually does is hire (apparently) unemployed 20-somethings at $4-8 per hour to pound out ham-handed political messaging on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. They bang away twelve hours at a shift on a quota-driven paint-by-the-internet-numbers basis where their output is rated for engagements, likes, retweets etc.

Whatever these keyboard drones might be, they are not professional Russian intel operators. And the collection of broken English postings strewn throughout the indictment are not one bit scary.

Indeed, the utterly stupid naiveté of the whole St. Petersburg operation is crystalized by this episode when the farm purportedly garnered some startling political insight from an unwitting Trump campaign official in Texas:
80. On or about August 19, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the false U.S. persona 'Matt Skiber' account to write to the real U.S. person affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots organization who previously had advised the false persona to focus on 'purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.' Defendants and their co-conspirators told that U.S. person, 'We were thinking about your recommendation to focus on purple states and this is what we're organizing in FL.'
Jeez Louise and goodness gracious, too. Who coulda thunk as early as August that Colorado, Virginia, and Florida would be swing states!

In any event, even Mueller's indictment proves that the farm was strictly amateurville. None of the other 12 Russians charged has an intelligence background, either.

Thus, the CEO is a retired St. Petersburg police officer. The executive director is a 31-year old website developer and internet PR promoter who previously had garnered small beans contracts ($4k-20k each) from St. Petersburg agencies to publish municipal newspapers, make video reports about their activities, or promote local programs such as one on "tolerance and prevention of drug addiction."

Likewise, two more of the operatives were graduates students in IT and advertising at St. Petersburg universities.

Then there is the husband/wife duo, Maria and Robert Bovda, who were the original heads of the US focused "translator project." Both were recent graduates in psychology from local universities, where Robert's 2011 thesis had been on "The Effects of Social-Support Conditions On Loneliness As Experienced By the Elderly".

We can't help but think they had not yet become hardened spies when the joined IRA in November 2013 and apparently left in October 2014. Whatever they did during their tenure at the farm, cooking up ways to help Donald Trump's not yet announced campaign was surely not among them, but still apparently enough to help fill out Mueller's indictment roster.

Another was Dzheykhun Aslanov, who was head of the "American department" and had graduated in 2012 from the Russian State Hydrometeorological University in St. Petersburg. He had studied economics and wildlife management!

Likewise, nowhere in the entire 37 pages is there even a clause linking Prigozhin's Hobby Farm to the SVR (foreign intelligence service), the FSB (counter-intelligence and anti-terrorism), the GRU (military intelligence service), any other agency of the Russian State -- or even some purported Kremlin back channel to Putin.

Yet there is every reason to believe that the entire Russian meddling narrative cooked up by the partisan hacks in Obama's inner circle -- John Brennan, Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes -- was based on the amateurish machinations originating in the nondescript building pictured below.

As we will show, the Hobby Farm was no Russian state secret or clandestine vehicle of its intelligence community. To the contrary, it had been fully covered in the Russian press for years as one of numerous such oligarch funded projects designed to glorify the Putin regime and vilify the Russian opposition.

It had also been the subject of a lengthy expose in The Guardian of London, as well as other western media. Even Radio Free Europe had done a lengthy profile.

All of this had happened long before Prigozhin's Hobby Farm had turned its attentions to US politics. Indeed, the IRA's pivot to the US in April 2014 occurred well before Trump's candidacy was gleam in anyone's eye except his own, but after a seminal event had occurred which Mueller's comic book narrative completely ignores.

To wit, what apparently riled up Prigozhin was Washington's heavy-handed meddling in the politics of Ukraine during the US funded and enabled coup on the streets of Kiev in February 2014.

Never mind that the incumbent pro-Russian government had come to power in an honest election and had chosen to take a more attractive economic deal from Moscow than was being offered by the West. Also ignore that fact that Ukraine was Russia's next door neighbor and had been an essential element of Greater Russia -- sometimes a full fledged constituent state -- for more than 700 years.

Likewise, when Crimea elected by 90 percent referendum vote to "rejoin" Russia, it didn't happen at gunpoint. Crimea is 85 percent Russian and had been an integral part of the Russian state ever since it was purchased from the Turks by Catherine the Great for good money in 1783.

Thereafter, its major port city of Sevastopol had functioned as the homeport for Russia's Black Sea fleet under Czars and Commissars alike. The only real reason it needed to "rejoin" Russia in March 2014 was because the Ukrainian tyrant who ruled the Soviet Union in the 1950s, Nikita Khrushchev, had gifted it to his Ukrainian compatriots during a drunken celebration of his victory over two deadly rivals who also claimed Stalin's succession.

Indeed, when Obama's neocon Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, was caught telling the American ambassador in Kiev that "Yats is the guy" with respect to the new Washington designated leader of the post-coup government and joined a chorus of Washington-based vilification of Putin and the Russian government, the die was cast.

Russian nationalists like Prigozhin were not going to take it lying down. As we document below, then and there he began to shift some of the activities of his trolling farm toward the US.

It amounted to a tit-for-tat response to the anti-Russian propaganda emanating from the Washington-funded NGOs in Kiev; and also from outright government agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy and Radio Free Europe, as well as the Deep State subservient operations of CNN and its print media imitators.

That shift was described as the "translator project" by Mueller's historically ignorant lawyers. The implication was that out of sheer aggression the Kremlin had unilaterally decided to attack America's democratic process through the IRA.

In fact, the overwhelming likelihood is that an arriviste Russian billionaire got a bee in his bonnet after Washington's Ukrainian coup -- and then went to town on America with his trolling farm exactly as he and many others had been doing in internal Russian politics for years.

From the point of view of US/Russian relations and world peace, however, the re-direction of activity at Prigozhin's Hobby Farm could not have come at a worse time. Its wholly open and widely known operations permitted Obama's hatchet-people to quickly seize on the IRA's new theatre of focus as evidence of a massive Russian attack on America's election process, thereby turning a molehill into a mountain.

At length, the partisan leaders of Obama's national security team, led by the detestable John Brennan at the CIA, selectively coopted and abused the resources and credibility of the vast US intelligence apparatus to put the imprimatur of a national security threat upon what was in fact a scary bedtime story of no real significance. That effort culminated in the phony intelligence assessment published by four US intel agencies in January 2017 based on the work of Brennan's "hand-picked" accomplices.

In what is surely a fabulous irony, therefore, the Internet Research Agency amounts to a reverse Potemkin Village. It wasn't much to look at and was nothing to worry about until Obama's national security posse falsely embellished it's innocuous façade into a mortal threat to American democracy and national security.

And then Robert Mueller brought in his gang of copywriters and illustrators to turn this entire tall tale into CNN-ready "news."

We will demonstrate below that what happened in this building was a complete farce and posed no threat to the security and liberty of the American people whatsoever; nor did it even remotely impact the 2016 election process.

But with his comic book indictment, Robert Mueller has actually made himself a mortal threat to America's democracy and national security. That's because his indictment is unleashing a rabid anti-Russian mania in the Democratic party and turning flaming liberals and leftwing progressives, who used to form the backbone of the peace party in America, into outright war-mongers.

The Donald tweeted over the weekend about Moscow "laughing its ass off"  about the Mueller indictment, but we think he missed the mark. It is the Deep State on the banks of the Potomac that is bursting with glee -- literally licking its collective chops -- about the endless budget boondoggles now assured to be coming its way.

The neocons and military/industrial complex had already taken control of the GOP lock, stock and barrel. Then, his campaign rhetoric about "America First" notwithstanding, Trump abdicated to his empire-minded generals in order to concentrate on his Twitter account. And now in the wake of the RussiaGate hysteria being given a powerful new boost from Mueller's comic book, the Dems are lining up to say we will see your $700 billion budget and crank it up from there.

The truth is, there is a screaming fiscal crisis coming hard upon Imperial Washington. That's owing to the $15 trillion of new deficits that are now built-in for the next decade -- at the very time when the Fed has shut down is massive bond-buying experiment and the Baby Boom is hitting the social security and medicare rolls in droves.

Absent the RussiaGate hoax and the Dems descent into mindless, anti-Putin hysteria, there would have been a moment of maximum danger for the Deep State's hideously inflated military, intelligence, and surveillance operations. In the coming battle against fiscal collapse, they surely would have been on the fiscal chopping block like at no time since the aftermath of Vietnam in the 1970s.

But rescue is now at hand. The Dems have been shell-shocked ever since the evening of November 8, 2016, and have worked themselves into deliriums about how it was all a big mistake enabled by Russian meddling and collusion with the Trump campaign.

To a substantial degree, however, those narratives were on their last legs until the Mueller indictment came along. For anyone who takes the trouble to read it, of course, it's just a potpourri of nonsense, marginalia, and irrelevance.

But the Dems had already gone brain dead on the RussiaGate matter -- so they are now greeting it as a "blockbuster," as are the talking heads of CNN and the mainstream media. Consequently, the drivel that came out of the building pictured below is being taken as evidence of a far-reaching attack on America that even rivals Pearl Harbor. As Pat Buchanan noted:
This Russian troll farm is 'the equivalent (of) Pearl Harbor,' says Cong. Jerrold Nadler, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee, handling any impeachment, if Democrats retake the House.

When MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pressed, Nadler doubled down: The Russians 'are destroying our democratic process.' While the Russian trolling may not equal Pearl Harbor in its violence, said Nadler, in its 'seriousness, it is very much on a par' with Japan’s surprise attack.
That's right. But unlike the vast Japanese naval armada that stealthily steamed toward Hawaii in early December 1941, the Facebook cyber-missiles that allegedly hit America in 2016 came out of this little joint hiding in plain sight:

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So let's return to the fact that Prigozhin's troll farm doesn't really look much different than countless others that dot the Russian internet landscape, and which mushroomed after 2011 in support of the Putin-ified Russian state and the crony capitalist economy it shepherds.

A New Yorker piece published by journalist Adrian Chen, no fan of Donald Trump, in late July 2016 explains about as well as any where the Internet Research Agency came from:
The (Internet Research Agency) has been widely reported in Russian media to be the brainchild of Evgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch and ally of Vladimir Putin. At the time, it employed hundreds of Russians in a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, where they produced blog posts, comments, infographics, and viral videos that pushed the Kremlin’s narrative on both the Russian and English Internet.

The agency is what is known in Russia as a 'troll farm,' a nickname given to outfits that operate armies of sock-puppet social-media accounts, in order to create the illusion of a rabid grass-roots movement. Trolling has become a key tool in a comprehensive effort by Russian authorities to rein in a previously freewheeling Internet culture, after huge anti-Putin protests in 2011 were organized largely over social media. It is used by Kremlin apparatchiks at every level of government in Russia; wherever politics are discussed online, one can expect a flood of comments from paid trolls.

The real effect, the Russian activists told me, was not to brainwash readers but to overwhelm social media with a flood of fake content, seeding doubt and paranoia, and destroying the possibility of using the Internet as a democratic space......

.......toward the end of last year (2015) I noticed something interesting: many had begun to promote right-wing news outlets, portraying themselves as conservative voters who were, increasingly, fans of Donald Trump. Exposure to even small amounts of Russian politics can induce severe bouts of paranoia and conspiracy-minded thinking, and it seemed logical to me that this new pro-Trump bent might well be an attempt by the agency to undermine the U.S. by helping to elect a racist reality-show star as our Commander-in-Chief. At the time, I found it funny. The agency was a well-funded but often hapless operation -- it created a cartoon character that was a giant buttocks to spread anti-Obama propaganda, for example -- and this seemed like another of its far-fetched schemes to poison the Internet.
In fact, it was. How it became a fearsome Russian intel operation was entirely due to what happened in Washington DC, not St. Petersburg or the Kremlin, for that matter.

That is, in the summer of 2016, when the Obama inner circle and the Deep State national security establishment alike suddenly were confronted with the theretofore unthinkable prospect that Donald Trump might actually be elected US President, they literally transformed the Hobby Farm of a second tier Russian oligarch into monumental threat to American democracy.

And that took some doing because Prigozhin was essentially a nobody in the great scheme of national security. Unlike Putin, who cut his eyeteeth in the old Soviet era KGB, Prigozhin had fancied himself a ski racer as a privileged young man in a Soviet boarding school. Failing to make the grade on the slopes, however, he had subsequently pursued various petty criminal schemes that landed him nine years in a Soviet prison during the latter's dying days.

But timing is everything -- so when he opened a hot dog stand from his mother's kitchen in newly liberated St. Petersburg in the early 1990s his entrepreneurial talents in the culinary field self-evidently flourished. Soon he branched into convenience stores and then in 1996 into a swank restaurant (Staraya Tamozhnya or "The Old Customs House") that catered to newly monied Russian who were looking for "more than cutlets with Vodka".

At length, a strategic $400k investment in a rusting harbor boat was turned into a floating hot spot called "The New Island Restaurant." From there flowed catering contracts for lavish state banquets after he gained the gastronomical favor of the post-Soviet St. Petersburg political operative, who became prime minister of Russia.

Putin held lavish state dinners on Prigozhin's floating emporium, where he played host to world leaders like George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac. He also apparently heaped business into Prigozhin's budding empire with a $177 million catering contract with Moscow's schools, and then the real jackpot: A two year contract in 2012 worth more than $1.6 billion to supply 90 percent of all food orders to Russian soldiers.

Folks, that's where the troll factory came from. It opened the next year in 2013 as the kind of token of appreciation expected from oligarchs favored by the Russian state.

Still, it wasn't the KGB incarnate -- just a tweet-by-the-numbers body shop designed to flood Russian media and internet forums with messages extolling Russian greatness, the iniquities and hypocrisies of the morally corrupt West and the glorious works of Vlad Putin.

At this stage the troll farm was involved in strictly Russian business -- the handiwork of an oligarch who had thrived on Russia's particular brand of crony capitalism and was more than happy to shill for his patron in the Kremlin.

Here is how the previously referenced Guardian article from mid-2015 described the farm before some of its modest resources were later shifted to the "American Department" in 2016:
Just after 9pm each day, a long line of workers files out of 55 Savushkina Street, a modern four-storey office complex with a small sign outside that reads 'Business centre.' Having spent 12 hours in the building, the workers are replaced by another large group, who will work through the night.

They painted a picture of a work environment that was humourless and draconian, with fines for being a few minutes late or not reaching the required number of posts each day. Trolls worked in rooms of about 20 people, each controlled by three editors, who would check posts and impose fines if they found the words had been cut and pasted, or were ideologically deviant.

The LiveJournal blogger, who spent two months working at the centre until mid-March, said she was paid 45,000 roubles ($790) a month, to run a number of accounts on the site.

'We had to write "ordinary posts," about making cakes or music tracks we liked, but then every now and then throw in a political post about how the Kiev government is fascist, or that sort of thing,' she said.

Scrolling through one of the LiveJournal accounts she ran, the pattern is clear. There are posts about 'Europe’s 20 most beautiful castles' and 'signs that show you are dating the wrong girl,' interspersed with political posts about Ukraine or suggesting that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is corrupt.

The desired conclusion of one reads: 'The majority of experts agree that the US is deliberately trying to weaken Russia, and Ukraine is being used only as a way to achieve this goal. If the Ukrainian people had not panicked and backed a coup, the west would have found another way to pressure Russia. But our country is not going to go ahead with the US plans, and we will fight for our sovereignty on the international stage.'

To add colour to their posts, websites have been set up to aid the troll army. One features thousands of pasteable images, mainly of European leaders in humiliating photoshopped incidents or with captions pointing out their weakness and stupidity, or showing Putin making hilarious wisecracks and winning the day.

'When I got the job there in 2013 it was a small building, I was working in the basement, and it was clear they didn’t have enough space,' said Andrei Soshnikov, a St Petersburg journalist who infiltrated the company two years ago and has continued to cover it. He linked the move to a much bigger office with increased online activity around the Ukraine crisis....
As we explained above, it was only after Washington massively intervened in the domestic politics of Ukraine in February 2104 that Prigozhin's Hobby Farm branched into external operations focused on Russian adversaries like the new anti-Russian Ukrainian government and the United States.

Even then, however, the mainstream media headline writers, who have been intellectually lobotomized by a constant diet of anti-Russian mania, cannot seem to grasp that their hyperbolic headlines are in no way, shape or form supported by the actual written words in Mueller's indictment.

In a word, eighty twenty-somethings sitting cheek-by-jowl at banks of computer screens and banging out social media tripe in English as a (third) language did not impact anything in America, let alone the 2016 election outcome.

That is to say, what in the world is so hard to understand about the fact that the pathetic output of this group could not have amounted to 0.000001 pecent of the content that rumbled through these social media channels during 2016?

Yet here is Mueller -- writing in indictment black and white -- admitting that the troll farm had deployed precious few trolls to the American department:
spread (ing) distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.....By approximately July 2016, more than eighty ORGANIZATION employees were assigned to the translator project.
Besides the infinitesimal volume and generally crude and unoriginal nature of the troll farm's output, this tiny 80-person contingent points to another huge flaw in the entire Mueller narrative -- especially as it has been embellished and exaggerated by the mainstream media since last Friday afternoon. To wit, all of these posts were destined to get lost in the vast sea of cyberspace without a ground game in the US.

Yet the indictment is clear on that crucial point as well. The Russian meddlers had "no ground game" whatsoever aside from a 22 day visit in June 2014 by two operatives who were not trained spies and who had apparently never even been to America previously.

Yet they visited nine states during that brief interval and thereby "cased-out" the entirety of the American electoral scene:
Only KRYLOVA and BOGACHEVA received visas, and from approximately June 4, 2014 through June 26, 2014, KRYLOVA and BOGACHEVA traveled in and around the United States, including stops in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York to gather intelligence. After the trip, KRYLOVA and BURCHIK exchanged an intelligence report regarding the trip.
The above paragraph is itself a smoking bratwurst!

Aside from sleeping, passing through countless airports, checking into a dozen or more hotels and perhaps visiting the chamber of Commerce in Dallas or Denver, what possibly could these two travelers have done to lay the groundwork for "influencing" 133 million voters two years hence?

Mueller doesn't say and the talking heads jabber on about this trip as if it were some kind of invasion, not the pointless needle-in-the-haystack type of undertaking that it actually was.

And that gets us to the ballyhooed efforts to organize and promote Trump rallies in Florida, Washington DC, New York City and elsewhere. Once again, however, Mueller spills large amounts of ink citing the emails and social media posts that describe the aims of these long-distance media trolls. But there is not a shred of evidence presented about what actually happened on the ground.

We would be so bold as to suggest that we know why Mueller didn't document this core element of the alleged meddling campaign. Namely, because nobody came to the rallies and flash mob events called for by the keyboard jockeys in St. Petersburg.

Take the case of the "Florida Goes Trump" rallies on August 20, which the indictment dwells on at length. So doing, it purports to explain how real Trump supporters in the state were duped into cooperating, how bloggers back in Russia used social media posts to promote 13 rallies across the state of Florida and bought ads to the same end on Facebook.

In fact, compared to fleeting references with respect to similar rallies allegedly staged in Washington DC and New York City, the Florida rallies take up far more ink in the indictment and come across as exhibit #1  on Russia ground game in the US election process.

Indeed, the liberal hatch-people at Politico made the singular importance of the Florida meddling operation abundantly clear:
But the document makes clear that the operation in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, was in a class by itself. The indictment is packed with details of how Russian nationals duped Donald Trump campaign volunteers and grass-roots organizations in Florida into holding rallies they organized and helped fund with foreign cash.
Here's the problem. There seems to be scant evidence that these rallies actually happened or that anyone showed up to the ones that did occur. For instance, here is a photo of one in St. Petersburg (Florida) posted on social media at the time.

We doubt whether Vlad got his money's worth on this one:

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Then there's the case of Jim Frishe of Clearwater, Florida. He was a real estate development consultant and candidate for county office, who organized a sign-waving event in response to the Russian entreaties that attracted barely a dozen people:
Frishe, 68, said he was called by someone identifying themselves as with a group called 'Florida for Trump' and asked to organize a sign-waving rally. He said between 15 and 18 people showed up and that he didn't receive any signs or money or other support. He never heard from them again.

'I was going to do what I was going to do anyway. I was a Trump supporter, they didn't convince me.'
Then there is the case of the "Hillary in stripes" caper allegedly promoted by the Russians. According to the indictment:
'For example, defendants and their co-conspirators asked one U.S. person to build a cage on on a flatbed truck … and another U. person to wear a costume portraying Clinton in a prison uniform,'
The thing is, the main evidence for that is that the "cage" appeared about a month later as the handiwork of a Trump supporter, Gary Howd, who did it all on his own -- without any prompting, encouragement or money from the Russians.

Even the Politico account of the purported Florida invasion by the Russians let that much slip out:
The caged Clinton stunt was a hit among Trump supporters. On Sept. 23, for instance, NBC2 reported that a Cape Coral man erected a caged Clinton display in his front yard.

'I feel like I'm doing my little part at least in my little neck of the woods,' homeowner Gary Howd said.
As it happened, even the Washington Post admits that the "Florida Goes Trump" rallies didn't amount to much.
The efforts in Florida that August day did not turn out to be particularly impressive. No people showed up to at least one of the proposed rallies, and online photos of some of the other events reveal ragtag groups with Trump signs staking out patches of grass or traffic medians.
As to the "Down With Hillary" demonstration on July 23, 2016, to take another example, here is what you get from Google on this particular element of the indictment:
No results found for "Down with Hillary" rally in New York City on July 23, 2016.
Finally, and as long was we are on the topic, here is what a real troll farm looks like. Yet this vast suite of offices in Fort Meade, Maryland, where 20,000 SIGINT spies and technicians work for the NSA, is only the tip of the iceberg.

The US actually spends $75 billion per year -- more than Russia's entire $69 billion defense budget -- spying on and meddling in the politics of virtually every nation on earth. An outfit within NSA called Tailored Access Operations (TAO) has a multi-billion annual budget and does nothing put troll the global internet and does so with highly educated, highly paid professionals, not $4 per hour keyboard jockeys.

Indeed, the cafeterias in the NSA buildings cost far more per year to operate than did Prigozhin's troll farm during it entire short lived existence (its apparently now being closed down with two of the 3.5 floors already dark).

In that context, Charles Hugh Smith cogently reminds that the real farce in the Mueller comic book is that it is the ultimate case of the pot-calling-the-kettle black:
America's foreign policy is one of absolute entitlement to influence the domestic affairs and politics of every nation of interest, which to a truly global empire includes every nation on the planet to the degree every nation is a market and/or a potential threat to U.S. interests.

Assassination of elected leaders -- no problem. Funding the emergence of new U.S.-directed political parties -- just another day at the office. Inciting dissent and discord to destabilize regimes -- it's what we do, folks. Funding outright propaganda -- one of our enduring specialties.
Finally, as Pat Buchanan further observed in his post on the Mueller indictment, political and election meddling is what Imperial Washington does. And now we are surprised that others do the same -- even that pathetic efforts of a Russian oligarch laid out in Mueller's ham sandwich indictment:
Are the CIA and National Endowment for Democracy under orders not to try to influence the outcome of elections in nations in whose ruling regimes we believe we have a stake?

'Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?' Laura Ingraham asked former CIA Director James Woolsey this weekend.

With a grin, Woolsey replied, 'Oh, probably.'

'We don’t do that anymore though?' Ingraham interrupted. 'We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?'

'Well,' Woolsey said with a smile. 'Only for a very good cause.'

Indeed, what is the National Endowment for Democracy all about, if not aiding the pro-American side in foreign nations and their elections?

Did America have no active role in the 'color-coded revolutions' that have changed regimes from Serbia to Ukraine to Georgia?

When Republicans discuss Iran on Capitol Hill, the phrase 'regime change' is frequently heard. When the 'Green Revolution' took to the streets of Tehran to protest massively the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, Republicans denounced President Obama for not intervening more energetically to alter the outcome.

When China, Russia and Egypt expel NGOs, are their suspicions that some have been seeded with U.S. agents merely marks of paranoia?
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner.

Steve Bannon’s Done – But It’s Way Too Late

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Good riddance to Steve Bannon. The last thing America needed was a conservative/populist/statist alternative to the Welfare State/Warfare State/Bailout State status quo. Yet what Bannonism boiled down to was essentially acquiescence to the latter -- even as it drove politicization deeper into the sphere of culture, communications and commerce.

Stated differently, the heavy hand of the Imperial City in traditional domestic, foreign and financial matters was already bad enough: Bannonism just gave a thin veneer of ersatz nationalism to what was otherwise the Donald's own dogs' breakfast of protectionism, nativism, xenophobia, jingoism and strong-man bombast.

By the latter, of course, we mean Trump's essentially content free notion that America was falling from greatness mainly due to stupidity, corruption and a penchant for bad deals among Washington pols; and that the undeniable economic malaise, if not decline, of Flyover America was due to some kind of grand global zero sum-game.

That is, what rightly belonged to America was being stolen by immigrants, imports, and the nefarious doings of foreign governments and globalist elites. What was needed to make America Great Again (MAGA), therefore, was a Washington-erected moat to hold back the tide of bad people and unfair foreign economic assaults and a new sheriff in the Oval Office with the "smarts" (with which he believed himself amply endowed) to start "winning" again.

In truth, Trump had it upside down from the beginning. The unfortunate arrival of Steve Bannon to his campaign in August 2016 only served to give the Donald's disheveled basket of bromides, braggadocio, and bile a rightist political edge and proto-intellectual rationalization.

The real problem, in fact, was not the evil flowing into the American homeland from abroad -- whether imports, illegals or terrorists. Rather, it was the outward flow of Washington's monetary and military imperialism that was gutting capitalist prosperity domestically and generating terrorist blowback abroad.

Needless to say, Bannonism never identified the real culprits: Namely, the Wall Street-enriching Bubble Finance policies of the Fed, which forced foreign central banks to buy dollars and trash their own currencies to keep exports "competitive"; the military-industrial-intelligence-foreign aid complex of the American Imperium; and the massively insolvent institutions of the Welfare State social insurance system (Social Security and Medicare) and prodigious spending on means-tested entitlements (Medicaid, food stamps EITC, etc.).

Consequently, the Bannonized agenda had no inkling, either, that fiscal catastrophe was imminent. And that the Trump administration had no real choice except the politically unpalatable path of cutting spending and/or raising taxes -- or eventually getting buried by the inherited fiscal tidal wave cresting at the end of a failed ((102 month old) recovery.

Nor did it grasp that the real cause of Flyover America's distress is the Fed's multi-decade regime of financial repression and Wall Street price-keeping policies which: (1) deplete the real pay of workers via the FOMC's absurd 2 percent inflation target; (2) savage the bank balances of savers and retirees via ZIRP; (3) gut jobs, investment and real pay in the business sector via the C-suites' strip-mining of corporate balance sheets and cash flows to fund Wall Street-pleasing stock buybacks, fatter dividends and M&A empire building; and 4) impale the bottom 80 percent of households on a unrepayable treadmill of (temporarily) cheap debt in order to sustain a simulacrum of middle class living standards.

At the same time, these pernicious monetary central planning policies did fuel the greatest (unsustainable) financial asset inflation in recorded history, thereby showering the top one percent and 10 percent with upwards of $35 trillion of windfall wealth (on paper). At bottom, Fed policy amounted to "trickle-up" with malice aforethought, and it was sponsored and endorsed by the beltway bipartisan consensus.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Trump's flawed candidacy and pastiche of palliatives and pettifoggery appealed to the left-behind working classes of western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa---as well as to the retirees of Florida and culturally-threatened main streeters domiciled in the small towns and countryside of Red State America.

In these precincts, the election was not especially won by Trump. Rather, the electoral college was essentially defaulted to him by a lifetime denizen of the Imperial City who had no clue that war, welfare and windfalls to the wealthy were no longer selling in Flyover America.

Reprinted excerpt with permission from David Stockman's ContraCorner.

The War Party’s Desperate Assault On ‘America First’

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The major -- perhaps only -- redeeming virtue of the Donald's ersatz campaign platform was his clear intent to seek a rapprochement with Russia, revamp America's commitments to NATO and other cold war relics and to discard "Regime Change" as the core tenant of foreign policy in favor of an "America First" approach to domestic security and safety.

Those eminently sensible notions struck the Deep State's raison d'etre to the quick. The fact is, there would be no justification for the $800 billion defense, intelligence and foreign aid apparatus on which the very prosperity of the Imperial City depends in the absence of a large state-based enemy; or, better still, without an imperial foreign policy that is implicitly designed to either bully or remove recalcitrant governments anywhere on the planet -- whether or not they have the intent or capacity to harm the US homeland.

And that's not the half of it. Lurking not far below the surface of the "America First" slogan was the ghost of Senator Robert Taft's profoundly correct understanding that free enterprise prosperity, minimal government and maximum personal liberty were incompatible with a permanent, fiscally debilitating Warfare State leviathan designed to function as the world's boots-&-suits-on-the-ground hegemon.

Consequently, Taft strongly opposed a big peacetime navy, a large standing army with forward stationing and rapid global deployment capacities and the proliferation of foreign treaties and aid commitments. To the contrary, he reasoned that in the nuclear age a US-based bomber and missile force of unquestioned striking capacity would more than adequately protect the homeland from foreign military aggression, and at a fraction of the cost of what amounted to permanent imperial legions assigned to patrolling the better part of the planet.

Today Taft's vision of a homeland defense would be more apt than ever. It would constitute an even cheaper and more efficacious guarantor of the safety and security of the American people than in his time because there are now no rival super-powers with the military and economic might of the Soviet Union. Moreover, missile technology has become so advanced that a relative handful of submarines and hardened domestic launch sites can deter any conceivable foreign threat, which is inherently a nuclear one.

That is, in this day and age there is absolutely no conventional military threat to the safety and security of citizens in Omaha NE, Spokane WA or Springfield MA.

That's because there is no nation on earth that could mount a giant Naval and Air Armada sufficient to invade the American homeland. Or, if it were foolish enough to try, could it survive the guided missile blitz that would send its forces to Davy Jones' locker long before they crossed the blue waters which surround the North American continent.

Stated differently, nuclear deterrence, the great ocean moats and a territorial military defense is all that it would take to keep America secure in today's world. There is no need for Pax Americana, even if it could succeed, which manifestly it has not; and even if it could be afforded, which clearly it can't be.

To be sure, the Donald is too full of egotistical bluster and too infatuated with militarist trappings to go the full Taft-isolationist route, but given a fair chance his campaign slogans might have shimmied policy in that direction. Clearly a rapprochement with Russia would have enabled a de-escalation of Washington's imperial presence in the middle east and avoided a dangerous build-up of military tensions and expense in eastern Europe.

In any event, the Deep State was not taking any chances. Trump's crude and bombastic articulation of the America First proposition amounted to a frontal attack on the intellectual superstructure which keeps the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf, 35,000 troops in Germany, 28,000 of America's military personal in harm's way on the Korean peninsula, 11 carrier battle groups on the oceans, a continued expeditionary force of 100,000 troops, dependents and support personnel in Japan and military operations and economic and military aid in more than 100 other nations around the planet.

We are referring here to the utterly bogus notion that Washington represents the indispensable super-power and that American Leadership is always and everywhere the sine quo non of stability, order and peace all around the planet. Indeed, even though Trump has been totally throttled by the War Party in his discombobulated and amateurish pursuit of America First, that has not stopped its leading spokesman and institutions from lambasting him for allegedly sullying Washington's self-assigned "leadership" role in the world.

In that respect there are few grand poobahs of the War Party who better embody the arrogant pretensions of the American Imperium than the odious president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Hass. According to the latter, the trouble with Trump after one year in office is that he still doesn't get it; he's turned his back on the core predicate that animates the Imperial City:
Trump is the first post-WWII president to view the burdens of world leadership as outweighing the benefits. The United States has changed from the principal preserver of order to a principal disrupter.
Exactly what hay wagon does he think we fell off from?

How did the war on Vietnam, the First Gulf War to save the Emir of Kuwait's oil wealth, the futile 17-year occupation of Afghanistan, the destruction of Iraq, the double-cross of Khadafy after he gave up his nukes, the obliteration of much of civil society and economic life in Syria, the US-supplied Saudi genocide in Yemen and the Washington sponsored coup and civil war on Russia's doorstep in Ukraine, to name just a few instances of Washington's putative "world leadership," have anything to do with preserving "order" on the planet?

And exactly how did the "benefits" of these serial instigations of mayhem outweigh the "burdens" to America's taxpayers---to say nothing of the terminal costs to the dead and maimed citizens in their millions who had the misfortune to be domiciled in these traumatized lands?

Likewise, have the refugees who have been flushed out of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere in the middle east by Washington's wars done anything for the peace and stability of Europe, where Washington's victims have desperately fled in their millions?

Yet, there would have been no long-lasting civil war in Syria without the billions of cash and weapons supplied to the so-called rebels and the real jihadis by Washington and its Persian Gulf vassals; nor would Yemen by sinking into famine and cholera plagues without the American bombs, missiles and drone dispatched by the Saudi pilots essentially functioning as hired Pentagon mercenaries.

Indeed, the smoldering ruins of Mosul, Aleppo, Fallujah, Benghazi and lesser places in their thousands hardly speak to a beneficent hegemony. Yet had Washington never brought its fleets and occupying forces to the Middle East after 1970 and had the region not come under the heavy boot of the Central Command and Washington's assorted proconsuls and plenipotentiaries, the plague of radical Sunni jidhadism would never have arisen, nor is it likely that the ancient rift between the Sunni and Shiite confessions of Islam would have erupted into today's lethal conflicts.

It is well to note that before 1970, no American soldiers were killed in the middle east; after 1990 virtually all US serviceman who were killed or wounded in combat were stationed in the greater middle east.

It is also worth noting that the answer to high oil prices is high prices, not the Fifth Fleet. In fact, global oil production today has doubled since 1973 owing to price, technology and the worldwide quest for profits by state and private oil companies alike----even as constant dollar prices per barrel stand far below the peaks reached during that decade. There never was any economic imperative whatsoever to bring the American armada into the region.

So when candidate Trump said the Iraq invasion was a stupid mistake, that Hillary's war on Khadafy was misbegotten, that he would like to cooperate with Putin on pacifying Syria and that NATO was obsolete, he was actually calling into question the fundamental predicates of the American Imperium.

And that gets us to the Russian threat bogeyman, the War Party's risible demonization of Vladimir Putin and the cocked-up narrative about the Kremlin's meddling in the 2016 election.

When Trump captured the GOP nomination against all odds and expectations in the spring of 2016, the War Party went into hyper-drive. Each of these bogus themes were promoted to a fare-the-well through the MSM in order to derail his candidacy; and then, after the fact, to delegitimize and imperil his presidency.

Yet when you examine the thin gruel behind each of these memes, its is fair to say that the Donald has caused the Imperial City itself to become: Unhinged.

In the case of the election meddling meme, there are few more hypocritical instances of the cat-calling-the-kettle-black than this one. The total US intelligence community (IC) budget is upwards of $75 billion -- 25% more than Russia's entire military budget including ships, planes, tanks, ammo, fuel, rations, operations, maintenance and even spare boots -- and a big part of that giant IC spend goes to, well, meddling, hacking and sabotage of foreign nations!

The Targeted Access Operations (TAO) unit inside NSA alone has a multi-billion budget which funds thousands of in-house and contractor personnel who spend day and night hacking the communications channels of virtually every government in the world, friend, foe and enemy alike. The very purpose of these intrusions is to interfere with the domestic politics and governance of most of the planet's population, and in some cases to actually sabotage perfectly appropriate operations, such as the Natanz centrifuges in Iran which were destroyed by Washington's stuxnet virus.

If you are not caught up in the War Party's self-serving groupthink, of course, it seems entirely plausible that in the face of these massive Washington cyber-assaults that targeted nations might indeed seek to counterattack, as apparently the Russian security services have done. But for all the beltway bluster, what military or intelligence secrets have actually been compromised by the Russians?

In fact, none have been claimed or have been made public in recent years, and you can be sure that LeakyTown would have made it known had any material national security breaches actually happened.

So what the whole Russian meddling meme boils down to is an assertion that Kremlin operatives have been attacking America in plain sight. That is, they hacked the DNC's gossip and intrigue-ridden computers and breached the content of Podesta's password protected political skull-duggery. But airing intra-party skull-duggery is neither a national security matter nor does its disclosure jeopardize American democracy in the slightest.

For crying out loud, if political parties and operatives don't want to be embarrassed owing to being hacked by commercial blackmailers, political adversaries, just plain misanthropes or foreign security services, as the case may be, they can do what every business in America is required to do. That is, purchase the requisite protective services and software on offer from the world's $200 billion internet security business.

The very idea that these two alleged hacks amount to some grand assault on American democracy is just plain laughable; and it surely does not take a dozen congressional investigations and the rogue Mueller witch-hunt to preclude any future recurrence. The DNC can just buy some protection -- or maybe even run a level playing field during the next presidential primary.

Besides, as the Donald rightly said, any 400-pound fat guy laying in a bed in Brooklyn could have figured out "password" to gain entrance to Podesta's computer; and if Russian operatives actually penetrated the DNC computers why weren't they even examined by the FBI or any other IC agency?

Instead, we have only the word of the Russophobic proprietor of a cyber-security company named Crowdstrike. Need we mention that he is in the business of selling computer security services and software and promoting his apparently dubious products in a field bustling with first rate competitors?

In that context, the $50k of pre-election Facebook ads allegedly purchased by a mythical Russian troll farm are not even a bad joke. That is, not in an election that saw $6 billion of registered campaign expenditures and multiples of that by independent committees and the anti-Trump media.

At the end of the day, we are supposed to believe that a country with a puny $1.3 trillion GDP, which is just 7% of the US' $19.5 trillion GDP, and which consists largely of aged hydrocarbon provinces, endless wheat fields, modest industrial capacities and a stagnant Vodka-favoring workforce, is actually a threat to America's security.

And we are also supposed to fear the military capacity of a country that has no blue water Navy to speak of and no conventional air-lift and air-attack capacity which could remotely threaten the New Jersey shores, and that spends less in a full year than the Pentagon consumes every 35 days.

Oh, yes, and this midget military is run with an apparent iron-hand by the Cool Hand Luke of the modern world. Putin may well jail his adversaries in ways that offend western sensibilities, but the last thing he is going to do is commit Russian national suicide by launching a nuclear attack on America.

Yet that's all he's got: To wit, a non-existent military threat and a justifiable desire to protect the Russian-speaking populations on his doorstep in Crimea and the Donbas from the depredations of the Civil War that was instigated on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 by the advance guards -- the CIA, NED, State Department and Washington funded NGOs -- of the American Imperium.

But here's the thing. The Dems were caught so flat-footed and befuddled by the Donald's "impossible" win that they have succumbed to the rank anti-Russian propaganda that was fed to them by Brennan, Clapper, Comey and the rest of the Obama inner circle on the eve and aftermath of the November 8th election.

They have now turned this preposterous malarkey into a fevered witch-hunt that has made them -- and most especially the MSNBC-following progressive Left -- handmaidens of the Warfare State, even as the baseless claim that Trump colluded with the Russians paralyzes the White House and blocks any movement at all toward the America First promise that flickered briefly during the Donald's run for the Oval Office.

Needless to say, we know how this movie will end. The Donald is destined to be shown the way by his GOP Capitol Hill "friends" to his last ride on the Richard Nixon Memorial Helicopter. That is, when the polls indicate a Republican mid-term election massacre is in the making.

And that will leave the neocon War Party firmly in control of the GOP and the hysterical Russophobes on top of what was once the Peace Party in post-Vietnam America.

Throughout the length and breadth of the Imperial City, the military-industrial-intelligence-think tank-War Party complex will be laughing all the way to the bank.

It is American democracy and the disenfranchised citizens of Flyover American that will be hung out to dry. Again.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's ContraCorner.

The RussiaGate Witch-Hunt – The Deep State’s ‘Insurance Policy’

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There was a sinister plot to meddle in the 2016 election, after all. But it was not orchestrated from the Kremlin; it was an entirely homegrown affair conducted from the inner sanctums -- the White House, DOJ, the Hoover Building and Langley -- of the Imperial City.

Likewise, the perpetrators didn't speak Russian or write in the Cyrillic script. In fact, they were lifetime beltway insiders occupying the highest positions of power in the US government.

Here are the names and rank of the principal conspirators: John Brennan, CIA director; Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; Samantha Power, UN Ambassador; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; James Comey, FBI director; Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI director; Sally Yates, deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr, associate deputy AG; Peter Strzok, deputy assistant director of FBI counterintelligence; Lisa Page, FBI lawyer; and countless other lessor and greater poobahs of Washington power, including President Obama himself.

To a person, the participants in this illicit cabal shared the core trait that made Obama such a blight on the nation's well-being. To wit, he never held an honest job outside the halls of government in his entire adult life; and as a careerist agent of the state and practitioner of its purported goods works, he exuded a sanctimonious disdain for everyday citizens who make their living along the capitalist highways and by-ways of America.

The above cast of election-meddlers, of course, comes from the same mold. If Wikipedia is roughly correct, just these 10 named perpetrators have punched in about 300 years of post-graduate employment -- and 260 of those years (87%) were on government payrolls or government contractor jobs.

As to whether they shared Obama's political class arrogance, Peter Strzok left nothing to the imagination in his now celebrated texts to his gal-pal, Lisa Page:
Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support......I LOATHE congress....And F Trump.
You really didn't need the ALL CAPS to get the gist.

In a word, the anti-Trump cabal is comprised of creatures of the state.

Their now obvious effort to alter the outcome of the 2016 election was nothing less than the Imperial City's immune system attacking an alien threat, which embodied the very opposite trait: That is, the Donald had never spent one moment on the state's payroll, had been elected to no government office and displayed a spirited contempt for the groupthink and verities of officialdom in the Imperial City.

But it is the vehemence and flagrant transparency of this conspiracy to prevent Trump's ascension to the Oval Office that reveals the profound threat to capitalism and democracy posed by the Deep State and its prosperous elites and fellow travelers domiciled in the Imperial City.

That is to say, Donald Trump was no kind of anti-statist and only a skin-deep populist, at best. His signature anti-immigrant meme was apparently discovered by accident when in the early days of the campaign he went off on Mexican thugs, rapists and murderers -- only to find that it resonated strongly among a certain element of the GOP grass roots.

But a harsh line on immigrants, refugees and Muslims would not have incited the Deep State into an attempted coup d'état; it wouldn't have mobilized so overtly against Ted Cruz, for example, whose positions on the ballyhooed terrorist/immigrant threat were not much different.

No, what sent the Imperial City establishment into a fit of apoplexy was exactly two things that struck at the core of its raison d' etre.

First was Trump's stated intentions to seek rapprochement with Putin's Russia and his embrace of an isolationist "America First" view of Washington's role in the world. And secondly, and even more importantly, was he very persona.

That is to say, the role of today's president is to function as the suave, reliable maître d' of the Imperial City and the lead spokesman for Washington's purported good works at home and abroad. And for that role the slovenly, loud-mouthed, narcissistic, bombastic, ill-informed and crudely-mannered Donald Trump was utterly unqualified.

Stated differently, welfare statism and warfare statism is the secular religion of the Imperial City and its collaborators in the mainstream media; and the Oval Office is the bully pulpit from which its catechisms, bromides and self-justifications are propagandized to the unwashed masses -- the tax-and-debt-slaves of Flyover America who bear the burden of its continuation.

Needless to say, the Never Trumpers were eminently correct in their worry that Trump would sully, degrade and weaken the Imperial Presidency. That he has done in spades with his endless tweet storms that consist mainly of petty score settling, self-justification, unseemly boasting and shrill partisanship; and on top of that you can pile his impetuous attacks on friend, foe and bystanders (e.g. NFL kneelers) alike.

Yet that is exactly what has the Deep State and its media collaborators running scared. To wit, Trump's entire modus operandi is not about governing or a serious policy agenda -- and most certainly not about Making America's Economy Great Again. (MAEGA)

By appointing a passel of Keynesian monetary central planners to the Fed and launching an orgy of fiscal recklessness via his massive defense spending and tax-cutting initiatives, the Donald has more than sealed his own doom: There will unavoidably be a massive financial and economic crisis in the years just ahead and the rulers of the Imperial City will most certainly heap the blame upon him with malice aforethought.

In the interim, however, what the Donald is actually doing is sharply polarizing the country and using the Bully Pulpit for the very opposite function assigned to it by Washington's permanent political class. Namely, to discredit and vilify the ruling elites of government and the media and thereby undermine the docility and acquiescence of the unwashed masses upon which the Imperial City's rule and hideous prosperity depend.

It is no wonder, then, that the inner circle of the Obama Administration plotted an "insurance policy". They saw it coming -- that is, an offensive rogue disrupter who was soft on Russia, to boot -- and out of that alarm the entire hoax of RussiaGate was born.

As is now well known from the recent dump of 375 Strzok/Gates text messages, there occurred on August 15, 2016 a meeting in the office of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who is still there) to kick off the RussiaGate campaign. As Strzok later wrote to Page, who was also at the meeting:
I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk......It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.
They will try to spin this money quote seven-ways to Sunday, but in the context of everything else now known there is only one possible meaning: The national security and law enforcement machinery of  Imperial Washington was being activated then and there in behalf of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Indeed, the trail of proof is quite clear. At the very time of this August meeting, the FBI was already being fed the initial elements of the Steele dossier, and the latter had nothing to do with any kind of national security investigation.

For crying out loud, it was plain old "oppo research" paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. And the only way that it bore on Russian involvement in the US election was that virtually all of the salacious material and false narratives about Trump emissaries meeting with high level Russian officials was disinformation sourced in Moscow, and was completely untrue.

As former senior FBI official, Andrew McCarthy, neatly summarized the sequence of action recently:
The Clinton campaign generated the Steele dossier through lawyers who retained Fusion GPS. Fusion, in turn, hired Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had FBI contacts from prior collaborative investigations. The dossier was steered into the FBI’s hands as it began to be compiled in the summer of 2016. A Fusion Russia expert, Nellie Ohr, worked with Steele on Fusion’s anti-Trump research. She is the wife of Bruce Ohr, then the deputy associate attorney general — the top subordinate of Sally Yates, then Obama’s deputy attorney general (later acting AG). Ohr was a direct pipeline to Yates.....

Based on the publication this week of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair, we have learned of a meeting convened in the office of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe...... right around the time the Page FISA warrant was obtained......

Bruce Ohr met personally with Steele. And after Trump was elected, according to Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, he requested and got a meeting with Simpson to, as Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee, 'discuss our findings regarding Russia and the election.'

This, of course, was the precise time Democrats began peddling the public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. It is the time frame during which Ohr’s boss, Yates, was pushing an absurd Logan Act investigation of Trump transition official Michael Flynn (then slotted to become Trump’s national-security adviser) over Flynn’s meetings with the Russian ambassador.
Here's the thing. There is almost nothing in the Steele dossiers which is true. At the same time, there is no real alternative evidence based on hard NSA intercepts that show Russian government agents were behind the only two acts -- the leaks of the DNC emails and the Podesta emails -- that were of even minimal import to the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign.

As to the veracity of the dossier, the raving anti-Trumper and former CIA interim chief, Michael Morrell,  settled the matter. If you are paying ex-FSA agents for information on the back streets of Moscow, the more you pay, the more "information" you will get:
Then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former [Russian Federal Security Service] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more,’ Morrell said.
Far from being “verified,” the dossier is best described as a pack of lies, gossip, innuendo and irrelevancies. Take, for example, the claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Russian Federation Council foreign affairs head Konstantin Kosachev in Prague during August 2016. That claim is verifiably false as proven by Cohen's own passport.

Likewise, the dossier 's claim that Carter Page was offered a giant bribe by the head of Rosneft, the Russian state energy company, in return for lifting the sanctions is downright laughable. That's because Carter Page never had any serious role in the Trump campaign and was one of hundreds of unpaid informal advisors who hung around the basket hoping for some role in a future Trump government.

Like the hapless George Papadopoulos, in fact, Page apparently never met Trump, had no foreign policy credentials and had been drafted onto the campaign's so-called foreign policy advisory committee out of sheer desperation.

That is, because the mainstream GOP foreign policy establishment had so completely boycotted the Trump campaign, the latter was forced to fill its advisory committee essentially from the phone book; and that desperation move in March 2016, in turn, had been undertaken in order to damp-down the media uproar over the Donald's assertion that he got his foreign policy advise from watching TV!

The truth of the matter is that Page was a former Merrill Lynch stockbrokers who had plied his trade in Russia several years earlier. He had gone to Moscow in July 2016 on his own dime and without any mandate from the Trump campaign; and his "meeting" with Rosneft actually consisted of drinks with an old buddy from his broker days who had become head of investor relations at Rosneft.

Nevertheless, it is pretty evident that the Steele dossier's tale about Page's alleged bribery scheme was the basis for the FISA warrant that resulted in wiretaps on Page and other officials in Trump Tower during September and October.

And that's your insurance policy at work: The Deep State and its allies in the Obama administration were desperately looking for dirt with which to crucify the Donald, and thereby insure that the establishment's anointed candidate would not fail at the polls.

So the question recurs as to why did the conspirators resort to the outlandish and even cartoonish disinformation contained in the Steele dossier?

The answer to that question cuts to the quick of the entire RussiaGate hoax. To wit, that's all they had!

Notwithstanding, the massive machinery and communications vacuum cleaners operated by the $75 billion US intelligence communities and its vaunted 17 agencies, there are no digital intercepts proving that Russian state operatives hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. Yet when it comes to anything that even remotely smacks of "meddling" in the US election campaign, that's all she wrote.

There is nothing else of moment, and most especially not the alleged phishing expeditions directed at 20 or so state election boards. Most of these have been discredited, denied by local officials or were simply the work of everyday hackers looking for voter registration lists that could be sold.

The patently obvious point that in America there is no on-line network of voting machines on either an intra-state or interstate basis, in fact, renders the whole election machinery hacking meme null and void.  Not even the treacherous Russians are stupid enough to waste there time trying to hack that which is unhackable.

In that vein, the Facebook ad buying scheme is even more ridiculous. In the context of an election  campaign in which upwards of $7 billion of spending was reported by candidates and their committees to the FEC and easily double that amount was spent by independent committees and issue campaigns, the notion that just $44,000 of Facebook ads made any difference to anything is not worthy of adult thought.

And, yes, of the ballyhooed $100,000 of Facebook ads, the majority occurred after the election was over and none of them named candidates, anyway: The ads consisted of issue messages that reflected all points on the political spectrum from pro-choice to anti-gun control.

And even this so-called effort at polarizing the American electorate was "discovered" only after Facebook failed to find any “Russian-linked” ads during its first two searches. Instead, this complete drivel was only detected after the Senate's modern day Joseph McCarthy, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading legislator on Internet regulation, showed up on Mark Zuckerberg's doorstep at Facebook headquarters.

In any event, we can be sure their are no NSA intercepts proving the Russians hacked the Dem emails for one simple reason: They would have been leaked long ago by the vast network of Imperial City operatives plotting to bring the Donald down.

Moreover, the original architect and godfather of NSA vast spying apparatus, William Binney, has essentially proved that the DNC emails were leaked by an insider who downloaded them on a memory stick. By conducting his own experiments he showed that the known download speed of one batch of DNC emails could not have occurred over the Internet from a remote location in Russia or anywhere else on the planet, and actually matched what was possible only via a local USB-connected thumb drive.

So the real meaning of the Strzok/Gates text messages straight foreword. There was a conspiracy to prevent Trump's election, and then after the shocking results of November 8 the campaign to discredit the honest winner of the 2016 election intensified.

For instance, Susan Rice got Obama to lower the classification level of the information obtained from the Trump campaign intercepts and other dirt-gathering actions by the Intelligence Community (IC) -- so that it could be disseminated to all Washington intelligence agencies.

In short order, the IC was leaking like a sieve, paving the way for the post-election hysteria and the implication that any contact must be collusion -- including calls to the Russian ambassador by the president-elect's own national security advisor designate.

Should there by any surprise, therefore, that it turns out the Andrew McCabe bushwhacked General Flynn on January 24 when he said that FBI agents were on the way to the White House for what Flynn presumed to be more security clearance work with his incipient staff.

No at all. The FBI team was there to interrogate Flynn about the transcripts of his perfectly appropriate and legal conversations with Ambassador Kislyak about two matters of state -- the UN resolution on Israel and the spiteful new sanctions on certain Russian citizens that Obama announced on December 28 in a fit of pique over the Dems election loss.

And that insidious team of FBI gotcha cops was led by none other than Peter Strzok!

But after all the recent leaks -- and these text messages are just the tip of the iceberg -- the die is now cast. Either the Deep State and its minions and collaborators in the media and he Republican party will soon succeed in putting Mike Pence into the Oval Office, or the Imperial City is about ready to break-out in partisan warfare like no other before.

Either way, economic and fiscal governance is about ready to collapse entirely, making the tax bill the kind of last hurrah before they mayhem really begins.

In that context, selling the rip may become one of the most profitable speculations ever imagined.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner.

The FBI’s Perjury Trap Of The Century

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If you were a Martian visitor just disembarked from of one of Elon Musk's rocket ships and were therefore uninfected by earth-based fake news, the culprits in Washington's witch-hunt de jure would be damn obvious.

They include John Brennan, Jim Comey, Sally Yates, Peter Strzok and a passel of deep state operatives -- all of whom baldly abused their offices. After Brennan had concocted the whole Russian election meddling meme to sully the Donald's shocking election win, the latter three holdovers -- functioning as a political fifth column in the new Administration -- set a perjury trap designed to snare Mike Flynn as a first step in relitigating and reversing the voters' verdict.

The smoking gun on their guilt is so flamingly obvious that the ability of the Trump-hating media to ignore it is itself a wonder to behold.

After all, anyone fresh off Elon's rocket ship would learn upon even cursory investigation of the matter that the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts electronically every single communication of the Russian Ambassador with any person on US  soil -- whether by email, text or phone call.

So the clear-minded visitor's simple question would be: What do the transcripts say?

In fact, a Martian visitor would also quickly understand that the entire world -- friend, rival, foe and enemy, alike -- already knows of NSA's giant digital spying operation owing to Snowden's leaks, and that therefore there are no "sources and methods" on the SIGINT (signals intelligence) front to protect.

Accordingly, the disinterested Martian would undoubtedly insist: Declassify the NSA intercepts and publish them on Facebook (and, for old timers, on the front page of the New York Times) so that the truth would be known to all.

Of course, that would punch a deep hole in the entire RussiaGate witchhunt because NSA, in fact, did record Flynn's late December conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. And there was not a single word in them that related to alleged campaign collusion or otherwise inappropriate communications by the in-coming national security adviser to a newly-elected President who was three-weeks from inauguration.

Indeed, as explained below, Mueller has effectively told us that Flynn's communications with Kislyak were clean as a whistle.

Accordingly, there was no reason whatsoever -- as in none, nichts, nada and nugatory, too -- for the FBI's January 24th interview of Flynn. Four days after the inauguration,  Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and the FBI were wasting the time of the new President's national security advisor for no earthly reason except to administer a "gotcha quiz" on what they knew from the transcripts to be completely innocent conversations with the Russian Ambassador

The content of the calls was entirely about pending policy matters. That is, the UN security council resolution condemning Israel's settlements policy and Obama's belligerent new anti-Russia sanctions. With respect to both of these matters, the incoming President had a publicly known policy position different from the incumbent's, and about which his team was completely entitled to communicate with official foreign ambassadors.

So the January 24th interview itself was a Nixonesque abuse of the nation's law enforcement machinery to strike at a political enemy -- albeit a mighty legitimate one who had just become occupant of the Oval Office by will of the American people.

These new-style Deep State "plumbers" who openly broke into the White House that day, in fact, conducted a blatant entrapment exercise with malice aforethought. Its only possible purpose was to bait Flynn into contradicting the word-for-word transcripts in the FBI's possession -- intercepts which had been illegally "unmasked" by Brennan's political witch-hunt for Russian election malefactors.

And we use the "illegal" word purposefully to underscore that the only ultimate justice here is for Obama's rogue CIA director to be locked-up.

Brennan's post-election leakathon of phony Russian meddling accusations was so threadbare of valid national security evidence that it even included falsehoods from the completely discredited and ludicrous Steele dossier -- which was paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign. And it culminated in the evidence-free screed of January 6th that was nosily presented to Obama as an intelligence community's assessment but was actually a hatchet-job authored by Brennan and a hand-picked silo of anti-Trump analysts and fiction-writers like the now outed Peter Strzok of the FBI.

Issued under cover of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Director of National Intelligence (the confirmed liar, James Clapper), this document amounted to a sweeping abuse of the national security apparatus in furtherance of purely political purposes and vengeance against Deep State critics. It capped a 5-month long, Brennan led campaign of naked political exploitation of the national security machinery that made the Nixon White House look like a Boy Scout Jamboree.

As we will demonstrate below, Brennan never had hard proof of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians to influence the election because if it existed it would have leaked in full "smoking gun" splendor long ago.

We are referring here, again, to NSA digital intercept evidence that Russian state actors used the internet to remotely hack the Podesta and DNC servers in order to steal and then disseminate their politically embarrassing contents and thereby "influence" the US election in Trump's favor.

Yet aside from the asinine claims about Russian troll farms and trivial amounts of Facebook ads and other such social media monkey business, that's all she wrote. There has been no other tangible allegations of election "meddling" that rise to even minimal plausibility.

And you don't have to be fresh off Musk's Martian rocket ship to recognize it; you can google it yourself, but nothing -- we mean -- nothing comes up on the screen.

Yet as to the DNC emails, there has already been a compelling demonstration by ex-NSA super SIGNET sleuth, William Binney, that the DNC emails were downloaded on a memory stick by a staff insider from his own computer, not remotely hacked by Russian trolls.

That's because the download speed of 22.7 megabytes per second embedded in the Guccifer publication of the DNC email trove was impossible to achieve from Russia or Romania or anywhere else outside of the DNC offices in July 2016 when the "hack" allegedly occurred. The highest average ISP speeds in the US during the first-half of 2016 were achieved by Xfinity and Cox Communications at 15.6 megabytes per second and 14.7 megabytes per second, respectively, while average speeds on US systems were in the order of 11 megabytes per second.

In short, the embarrassing DNC emails about election-rigging against Bernie Sanders by the Democratic Party apparatus were almost surely sucked out of the DNC's servers by an insider with a thumb drive (which can download at the indicated speeds), not some nefarious Kremlin operative 3,000 miles away.

And as for Podesta's emails, the Donald was surely right all along: Any 400-pound slob on a couch could have hacked an email account protected by a password called, well, "password".

Stated differently, if either of these email troves were "hacked" by remote Russian agents the digital footprint of that action is stored at one of the massive NSA server farms. 

Accordingly, it would have been unmasked at the get-go by Brennan's hand-picked apparatchiks, thereby giving rise to another virtual certainty: Namely, such NSA intercepts, if they actually existed, would be such politically radioactive "proof" of Trump collusion that they would have been leaked from the endlessly porous US government long ago.

Moreover, any such digital evidence -- which must exist or there was never a hack in the first place -- would have drastically foreshortened Mueller's investigation, too. That is, Mueller would have gotten NSA's digital logs the day he opened up shop in May and would have had no other investigative task than to track down any digital evidence of Trump campaign involvement with such a Russian hacking operation.

We say "digital evidence" because unless one of Trump's inner circle traveled to Moscow to secretly collude with the Kremlin in an off-the-grid manner on the DNC/Podesta hacks, NSA would also have the intercepts to prove it. To wit, the schedules, phone calls, text messages and emails of the Trump family and inner circle are all out there in the NSA server farms. Every one of them.

Were there a shred of evidence on these digital logs proving or even hinting at Trump campaign complicity in the alleged DNC/Podesta hacks, it would not have been overlooked by the Brennan's inquisitors; and it would have been dispatched by Mueller's gunslingers in no time at all.

So let's be clear on the matter. The Donald is the ultimate seat-of-the-pants one man show who essentially relies upon his four family members (Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Jared Kushner) and a few trusted advisors. Yet none of them were sent to Russia during the relevant time frame -- and had they colluded in any other way Mueller would have nailed them for any untoward digitized interactions with the Russians in a heartbeat.

That's right. Anyone disembarking from Elon's rocket ship could also google the fact that only two people -- Carter Page and George Papadopoulos -- even remotely involved with the Trump campaign went to Russia or tried to go there.

But Carter Page was a no-count volunteer who went to Moscow on his own dime and who never even met Trump.

Likewise, Baby George Papadopoulos was a 29-year old kid who got drafted onto Trump's foreign policy advisory panel from, apparently, the phone book when the GOP foreign policy establishment boycotted to nearly a man/women the Trump campaign prior to the convention.

Accordingly, Baby George's claim to fame is that he appeared in exactly one photo with the Donald on the day the foreign policy advisory committee was announced in order to appease an endlessly nagging gaggle in the press and among Trump's legions of opponents.

If Papadopoulos had done anything more serious than sit for a photo op designed to prove Trump got his foreign policy advise other than from "watching TV," as the Donald had previously averred, his guilty plea would have hinted at it.

But, no, what Mueller's high priced legal gun-slingers got him on was -- again -- technical perjury. So as we review Mike Flynn's alleged crimes just recall that the Baby George's sin was to say he meet some dufus UK professor -- who was also a phony expert on Russian affairs -- before Papadopoulos was announced as a foreign policy advisor on March 19, 2016.

As it happened, he actually meet him about a week earlier and was therefore truthful with the FBI. But these modern-day, hair-splitting Torquemadas nailed him for the "crime" of not mentioning that he knew on March 10 that he was to be appointed to the Trump committee, and that knowledge somehow colored his March 15 meeting with this no-count English go-between.

You can't make this stuff up!

In any event, how do we know that every word on the Flynn transcripts were perfectly legal and appropriate and did not in the slightest manner compromise so-called national security?

Simple. Mueller's "Statement Of The Offense" tells us so.

In the case of the Russia sanctions conversation Flynn was trying to make peace, and in the case of the UN censure resolution against Israel he was trying to make trouble. But the latter is what presidents and their advisors do all the time, and the former is a wonderful idea that Washington should try far more often.

In fact, just consider the words of Mueller's charge:
....FLYNN falsely stated that he did not ask Russia's Ambassador to the United States ('Russian Ambassador') to refrain from escalating in response to sanctions that the United States has imposed against Russia. FLYNN also falsely stated that he did not remember a follow-up conversation in which the Russian Ambassador stated that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of FLYNN's request.
In fact, this criminal charge actually narrates the actual tick-tock of a more peaceful world struggling to be born in real time.

Accordingly, Mueller charges that on December 28th the Russian Ambassador first called Flynn after the Obama White House announced another spiteful round of petty sanctions against Putin associates.

The in-coming national security advisor, in turn, discussed "what if anything, to communicate to the Russian Ambassador" with a senior official of the Trump transition; and according to Mueller's criminal complaint, the two agreed that "members of the Presidential Transition Team a Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation."

Good for them!

There upon the very same day Flynn dialed-up Kislyak and, as the felony charging document contends, "requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. Sanctions in a reciprocal manner."

Self-evidently, the wheels of peace began to turn because the complaint notes that on December 30 "Russian President Vladimir Putin released a statement indicating that Russia would not take retaliatory measures in response to the U.S. Sanctions at the time."

Indeed, Russia didn't merely take "reciprocal" actions, as Flynn requested, but did absolutely nothing at all. Even more progress!

Then on the last day of the year, Kislyak called Flynn back and "informed him that Russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to FLYNN's request".

And then there is just white space in the Russia-related section of the charging document. Not a single word or hint that the Kremlin was paying off the Trump Administration for nefarious promises it had made in return for Russia's campaign help.

For crying out loud, that white space itself proves there was not so much as a single clause or veiled code word in the transcripts about pre-election collusion or other untoward arrangements between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin -- or the FBI plumbers would have asked about it on January 24, Flynn would have lied, and it would be in the plea deal.

Indeed, the possibility that there is something untoward in the Flynn intercepts which Mueller chose to keep under wraps and did not stipulate in the plea is preposterous in the extreme.

After more than one year of investigation that has produced exactly zero hard evidence of pre-election collusion it is beyond impossible that at long last Mueller would have abjured. That is, refrained from putting a grain of content into what anyone getting off Musk's Mars rocket can see is an utterly bogus Russia meddling case.

At the end of the day, Mueller's perjury did occur in the context of a crime. But the felony was the Brennan-led Russian meddling inquisition.

Especially after the shocking result on November 8, the Deep State and its collaborators and shills in the Democratic Party, official Washington and the mainstream media were not about to be rebuked by the unwashed demos of Flyover America.

Indeed, if you are not caught up in the RussiaGate hysteria and witch-hunt, it's as plain as the nose on your face

To be sure, the perjury trap sprung on Flynn was justified by Hillary partisan, Sally Yates, on the grounds that Flynn's alleged "lie" to the Vice President left him vulnerable to "blackmail" by the Russians.

What undiluted hogwash!

The best poker player on today's international stage, Vlad Putin, finally gets a US President with a rational attitude about Russia, and he plans to burn him day one?

C'mon. Whether she intended it or not or had gamed it out thoroughly, the history records will show that the sanctimonious Hillary partisan and politically ambitious, Sally Yates, then and there killed the best chance for peace on earth since the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

Sally Yates, James Comey, and John Brennan are the real criminals here.

As Justin Raimondo so eloquently put it:
Think about it, folks: both the US and the Russians possess enough nuclear firepower to destroy all life on earth several times over. This sword of Damocles is hanging over us by a thread, just as it loomed large during the last cold war with Moscow. It’s a  machinery of annihilation that is set on hair-trigger alert, and any number of events could unleash it: a miscalculation, a foolish bluff, a misunderstanding, a technical glitch, a showdown similar to the Cuban missile crisis. All that stands between us and utter extinction is the hope that this apparatus of death can be restrained by mutual agreement. Bravo to the Trump administration for making peace a priority. If this is now a crime, and even “treason,” as the mouth-breathers of #TheResistance would have it, well then let the Washington Inquisition make the most of it.
The point was also underscored cogently by Andrew McCarthy of the National Review.

As McCarthy argues below, differences on foreign policy are essentially now being criminalized; and the Donald's justified desire to shutdown the Brennan-inspired political witch-hunt called RussiaGate is being falsely characterized as obstruction of justice rather than what it actually is -- an effort to prevent the Deep State's insidious assault on American democracy from going any further.
While all that plays out, though, behold the frightening thing Mueller’s investigation has become: a criminalization of politics. In the new order of things, policy differences are the grist for investigation and prosecution.

Nevertheless, Trump’s victory caused consternation in the Obama administration for two reasons. First, and most obviously, Obama did not want his policies reversed. Second, neither Obama nor his party could abide a judgment of history holding that the election of Trump, the bane of their existence, was a result of the American people’s rejection of the Obama agenda and of Hillary Clinton, the hapless candidate nominated by Democrats to carry that agenda forward.

...The ongoing Mueller probe is not a good-faith investigation of suspected espionage or other crime. It is the exploitation of the executive’s intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement powers in order to (a) criminalize Trump political policies with which the Obama administration disagreed and (b) frame Clinton’s electoral defeat as the product of a traitorous scheme rather than a rejection of Democratic-party priorities.
Finally, we couldn't agree more with McCarthy that General Flynn is a very foolish man. He was not required to speak to the FBI when agents came to interview him on January 24.

Moreover, as the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency he surely knew that the FBI would have been monitoring Kislyak and that the FBI had recordings of the conversations the agents wanted to ask him about.

That he agreed to submit to the interview anyway, and then to lie, is surely one of the stupidest acts coming out of official Washington that we can recall from 47 years of observation. But perhaps it does explain why America's legions of puffed-up generals have been such abysmal failures for onwards of a half-century now.

So it is fair enough to say that Flynn has no one to blame but himself, and that a person of such poor judgment should never have been chosen to be the president’s principal national security adviser in the first place.

Then again, the American people should also understand why Flynn has gone down and why the Donald's political scalp is fairly waiting to be lofted from the Washington Monument.

To wit, the Deep State has turned its own crimes during and after the 2016 election into nothing less than a coup d'etat against American democracy.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner.

Thanksgiving 2017 – Why There Is No Peace On Earth



After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow's White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.

To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

We have elaborated more fully on this proposition in "The Epochal Consequences Of Woodrow Wilson's War", but the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 26 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

In fact, the War Party entrenched in the nation's capital is dedicated to economic interests and ideological perversions that guarantee perpetual war; they ensure endless waste on armaments and the inestimable death and human suffering that stems from 21st century high tech warfare and the terrorist blowback it inherently generates among those upon which the War Party inflicts its violent hegemony.

In short, there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77-year war ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch.

So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world.

In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1991 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.

In fact, during the past 26 years Imperial Washington has lost all memory that peace was ever possible at the end of the cold war. Today it is as feckless, misguided and bloodthirsty as were Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna and London in August 1914.

Back then a few months after the slaughter had been unleashed, soldiers along the western front broke into spontaneous truces of Christmas celebration, singing and even exchange of gifts. For a brief moment they wondered why they were juxtaposed in lethal combat along the jaws of hell.

The truthful answer is that there was no good reason. The world had stumbled into war based on false narratives and the institutional imperatives of military mobilization plans, alliances and treaties arrayed into a doomsday machine and petty short-term diplomatic maneuvers and political calculus. Yet it took more than three-quarters of a century for all the consequential impacts and evils to be purged from the life of the planet.

The peace that was lost last time has not been regained this time for the same reasons. Historians can readily name the culprits from 100 years ago, such as the German general staff's plan for a lightening mobilization and strike on the western front called the Schlieffen Plan or Britain's secret commitments to France to guard the North Sea while the latter covered the Mediterranean.

Since these casus belli of 1914 were criminally trivial in light of all that metastisized thereafter, it might do well to name the institutions and false narratives that block the return of peace today. The fact is, these impediments are even more contemptible than the forces that crushed the Christmas truces one century ago.

Imperial Washington: Global Menace

There is no peace on earth today for reasons mainly rooted in Imperial Washington -- not Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Damascus, Mosul or Raqqah. The former has become a global menace owing to what didn't happen in 1991.

What should have happened is that Bush the elder should have declared "mission accomplished" and slashed the Pentagon budget from $600 billion to $200 billion; demobilized the military-industrial complex by putting a moratorium on all new weapons development, procurement and export sales; dissolved NATO and dismantled the far-flung network of US military bases; slashed the US standing armed forces from 1.5 million to a few hundred thousand; and organized and led a world disarmament and peace campaign, as did his Republican predecessors during the 1920s.

Unfortunately, George H.W. Bush was not a man of peace, vision, or even mediocre intelligence. He was the malleable tool of the War Party, and it was he who single-handedly blew the peace when he plunged America into a petty argument between the impetuous dictator of Iraq and the gluttonous Emir of Kuwait that was none of our business.

By contrast, even though liberal historians have reviled Warren G. Harding as some kind of dumbkopf politician, he well understood that the Great War had been for naught, and that to insure it never happened again the nations of the world needed to rid themselves of their huge navies and standing armies.

To that end, he achieved the largest global disarmament agreement ever during the Washington Naval conference of 1921, which halted the construction of new battleships for more than a decade.

And while he was at it, President Harding also pardoned Eugene Debs. So doing, he gave witness to the truth that the intrepid socialist candidate for president and vehement anti-war protestor, who Wilson had thrown in prison for exercising his first amendment right to speak against US entry into a pointless European war, had been right all along.

In short, Warren G. Harding knew the war was over, and the folly of Wilson's 1917 plunge into Europe's bloodbath should not be repeated at all hazards.

Not George H.W. Bush. The man should never be forgiven for enabling the likes of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Gates and their neocon pack of jackals to come to power -- even if he has denounced them in his bumbling old age.

Even more to the point, by opting not for peace but for war and oil in the Persian Gulf in 1991 he opened the gates to an unnecessary confrontation with Islam and nurtured the rise of jihadist terrorism that would not haunt the world today save for forces unleashed by George Bush's petulant quarrel with Saddam Hussein.

We will momentarily get to the 45-year old error that holds the Persian Gulf is an American Lake and that the answer to high old prices and energy security is the Fifth Fleet. Actually, the answer to high oil prices everywhere and always is high oil prices -- a truth driven home in spades again two years ago when the Brent oil price plunged below $35 per barrel.

But first it is well to remember that there was no plausible threat anywhere on the planet to the safety and security of the citizens of Springfield MA, Lincoln NE or Spokane WA when the cold war ended.

The Warsaw Pact had dissolved into more than a dozen woebegone sovereign statelets; the Soviet Union was now unscrambled into 15 independent and far-flung Republics from Belarus to Tajikistan; and the Russian motherland would soon plunge into an economic depression that would leave it with a GDP about the size of the Philadelphia SMSA.

Likewise, China's GDP was even smaller and more primitive than Russia's. Even as Mr. Deng was discovering the PBOC printing press that would enable it to become a great mercantilist exporter, an incipient threat to national security was never in the cards. After all, it was 4,000 Wal-Marts in America upon which the prosperity of the new red capitalism inextricably depended and upon which the rule of the communist oligarchs in Beijing was ultimately anchored.

No Islamic Or Jihadi Terrorist Threat Circa 1990

In 1991 there was no global Islamic threat or jihadi terrorist menace at all. What existed under those headings were sundry fragments and deposits of middle eastern religious, ethnic and tribal history that were of moment in their immediate region, but no threat to America whatsoever.

The Shiite/Sunni divide had co-existed since 671AD, but its episodic eruptions into battles and wars over the centuries had rarely extended beyond the region, and certainly had no reason to fester into open conflict in 1991.

Inside the artificial state of Iraq, which had been drawn on a map by historically ignorant European diplomats in 1916, for instance, the Shiite and Sunni got along tolerably well. That's because the nation was ruled by Saddam Hussein's Baathist brand of secular Arab nationalism.

The latter championed law and order, state driven economic development and, politically apportioned distribution from the spoils of the extensive government controlled oil sector. To be sure, Baathist socialism didn't bring much prosperity to the well-endowed lands of Mesopotamia, but Hussein did have a Christian foreign minister and no sympathy for religious extremism or violent pursuit of sectarian causes.

As it happened, the bloody Shiite/Sunni strife that plagues Iraq today and functions as a hatchery for angry young jihadi terrorists in their thousands was unleashed only after Hussein had been driven from Kuwait and the CIA had instigated an armed uprising in the Shiite heartland around Basra. That revolt was brutally suppressed by Hussein's republican guards, but it left an undertow of resentment and revenge boiling below the surface.

Needless to say, the younger Bush and his cabal of neocon warmongers could not leave well enough alone. When they foolishly destroyed Saddam Hussein and his entire regime in the pursuit of nonexistent WMDs and ties with al-Qaeda, they literally opened the gates of hell, leaving Iraq as a lawless failed state where both recent and ancient religious and tribal animosities are given unlimited violent vent.

Likewise, the Shiite theocracy ensconced in Tehran was an unfortunate albatross on the Persian people, but it was no threat to America's safety and security. The very idea that Tehran is an expansionist power bent on exporting terrorism to the rest of the world is a giant fiction and tissue of lies invented by the Washington War Party and its Bibi Netanyahu branch in order to win political support for their confrontationist policies.

Indeed, the three decade long demonization of Iran has served one over-arching purpose. Namely, it enabled both branches of the War Party to conjure up a fearsome enemy, thereby justifying aggressive policies that call for a constant state of war and military mobilization.

When the cold-war officially ended in 1991, the Cheney/neocon cabal feared the kind of drastic demobilization of the US military-industrial complex that was warranted by the suddenly more pacific strategic environment. In response, they developed an anti-Iranian doctrine that was explicitly described as a way of keeping defense spending at high cold war levels.

And the narrative they developed to this end is one of the more egregious Big Lies ever to come out of the beltway. It puts you in mind of the young boy who killed his parents, and then threw himself on the mercy of the courts on the grounds that he was an orphan!

To wit, during the 1980s the neocons in the Reagan Administration issued their own fatwa again the Islamic Republic based on its rhetorical hostility to America. Yet that enmity was grounded in Washington’s 25-year support for the tyrannical and illegitimate regime of the Shah, and constituted a founding narrative of the Islamic Republic that was not much different than America's revolutionary castigation of King George.

That the Iranians had a case is beyond doubt. The open US archives now prove that the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953 and put the utterly unsuited and megalomaniacal Mohammad Reza Shah on the peacock throne to rule as a puppet in behalf of US security and oil interests.

During the subsequent decades the Shah not only massively and baldly plundered the wealth of the Persian nation; with the help of the CIA and US military, he also created a brutal secret police force known as the Savak. The latter made the East German Stasi look civilized by comparison.

All elements of Iranian society including universities, labor unions, businesses, civic organizations, peasant farmers and many more were subjected to intense surveillance by the Savak agents and paid informants. As one critic described it:
Over the years, Savak became a law unto itself, having legal authority to arrest, detain, brutally interrogate and torture suspected people indefinitely. Savak operated its own prisons in Tehran, such as Qezel-Qalaeh and Evin facilities and many suspected places throughout the country as well. Many of those activities were carried out without any institutional checks.
Ironically, among his many grandiose follies, the Shah embarked on a massive civilian nuclear power campaign in the 1970s, which envisioned literally paving the Iranian landscape with dozens of nuclear power plants.

He would use Iran’s surging oil revenues after 1973 to buy all the equipment required from Western companies -- and also fuel cycle support services such as uranium enrichment -- in order to provide his kingdom with cheap power for centuries.

At the time of the Revolution, the first of these plants at Bushehr was nearly complete, but the whole grandiose project was put on hold amidst the turmoil of the new regime and the onset of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran in September 1980. As a consequence, a $2 billion deposit languished at the French nuclear agency that had originally obtained it from the Shah to fund a ramp-up of its enrichment capacity to supply his planned battery of reactors.

Indeed, in this very context the new Iranian regime proved quite dramatically that it was not hell bent on obtaining nuclear bombs or any other weapons of mass destruction. In the midst of Iraq's unprovoked invasion of Iran in the early 1980s the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against biological and chemical weapons.

Yet at that very time, Saddam was dropping these horrific weapons on Iranian battle forces -- some of them barely armed teenage boys -- with the spotting help of CIA tracking satellites and the concurrence of Washington. So from the very beginning, the Iranian posture was wholly contrary to the War Party’s endless blizzard of false charges about its quest for nukes.

However benighted and medieval its religious views, the theocracy which rules Iran does not consist of demented war mongers. In the heat of battle they were willing to sacrifice their own forces rather than violate their religious scruples to counter Saddam’s WMDs.

Then in 1983 the new Iranian regime decided to complete the Bushehr power plant and some additional elements of the Shah’s grand plan. But when they attempted to reactivate the French enrichment services contract and buy necessary power plant equipment from the original German suppliers they were stopped cold by Washington. And when the tried to get their $2 billion deposit back, they were curtly denied that, too.

To make a long story short, the entire subsequent history of off again/on again efforts by the Iranians to purchase dual use equipment and components on the international market, often from black market sources like Pakistan, was in response to Washington’s relentless efforts to block its legitimate rights as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to complete some parts of the Shah’s civilian nuclear project.

Needless to say, it did not take much effort by the neocon “regime change” fanatics which inhabited the national security machinery, especially after the 2000 election, to spin every attempt by Iran to purchase even a lowly pump or pipe fitting as evidence of a secret campaign to get the bomb.

The exaggerations, lies, distortions and fear-mongering which came out of this neocon campaign are truly disgusting. Yet they incepted way back in the early 1990s when George H.W. Bush actually did reach out to the newly elected government of Hashemi Rafsanjani to bury the hatchet after it had cooperated in obtaining the release of American prisoners being held in Lebanon in 1989.

The latter was self-evidently a pragmatist who did not want conflict with the United States and the West; and after the devastation of the eight year war with Iraq was wholly focused on economic reconstruction and even free market reforms of Iran's faltering economy.

It is one of the great tragedies of history that the neocons managed to squelch even George Bush's better instincts with respect to rapprochement with Tehran.

So the prisoner release opening was short-lived -- especially after the top post at the CIA was assumed in 1991 by Robert Gates. He was one of the very worst of the unreconstructed cold war apparatchiks who looked peace in the eye, and elected, instead, to pervert John Quincy Adams' wise maxim by searching the globe for monsters to fabricate.

In this case the motivation was especially loathsome. Gates had been Bill Casey's right hand man during the latter's rogue tenure at the CIA in the Reagan administration. Among the many untoward projects that Gates shepherded was the Iran-Contra affair that nearly destroyed his career when it blew-up, and for which he blamed the Iranian's for its public disclosure.

From his post as deputy national security director in 1989 and then as CIA head Gates pulled out all the stops to get even. Almost single-handedly he killed-off the White House goodwill from the prisoner release, and launched the blatant myth that Iran was both sponsoring terrorism and seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.

Indeed, it was Gates who was the architect of the demonization of Iran that became a staple of War Party propaganda after the 1991. In time that morphed into the utterly false claim that Iran is an aggressive would be hegemon that is a fount of terrorism and is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, among other treacherous purposes.

That giant lie was almost single-handedly fashioned by the neocons and Bibi Netanyahu's coterie of power-hungry henchman after the mid-1990s. Indeed, the false claim that Iran posses an “existential threat” to Israel is a product of the pure red meat domestic Israeli politics that have kept Bibi in power for much of the last two decades.

But the truth is Iran has only a tiny fraction of Israel's conventional military capability. And compared to the latter's 200 odd nukes, Iran has never had a nuclear weaponization program after a small scale research program was ended in 2003.

That is not merely our opinion. It's been the sober assessment of the nation's top 17 intelligence agencies in the official National Intelligence Estimates ever since 2007. And now in conjunction with a further study in conjunction with the nuclear accord that will straight-jacket even Iran's civilian program and eliminate most of its enriched uranium stock piles and spinning capacity, the IAEA has also concluded the Iran had no secret program after 2003.

On the political and foreign policy front, Iran is no better or worse than any of the other major powers in the Middle East. In many ways it is far less of a threat to regional peace and stability than the military butchers who now run Egypt on $1.5 billion per year of US aid.

And it is surely no worse than the corpulent tyrants who squander the massive oil resources of Saudi Arabia in pursuit of unspeakable opulence and decadence to the detriment of the 30 million citizens which are not part of the regime, and who one day may well reach the point of revolt.

When it comes to the support of terrorism, the Saudis have funded more jihadists and terrorists throughout the region than Iran ever even imagined.

Myth Of The Shiite Crescent

In this context, the War Party’s bloviation about Iran’s leadership of the so-called Shiite Crescent is another component of Imperial Washington's 26-year long roadblock to peace. Iran wasn't a threat to American security in 1991, and it has never since then organized a hostile coalition of terrorists that require Washington's intervention.

Start with Iran's long-standing support of Bashir Assad's government in Syria. That alliance that goes back to his father’s era and is rooted in the historic confessional politics of the Islamic world.

The Assad regime is Alawite, a branch of the Shiite, and despite the regime’s brutality, it has been a bulwark of protection for all of Syria’s minority sects, including Christians, against a majority-Sunni ethnic cleansing. The latter would surely have occurred if the Saudi (and Washington) supported rebels, led by the Nusra Front and ISIS, had succeeded in taking power.

Likewise, the fact that the Baghdad government of the broken state of Iraq -- that is, the artificial 1916 concoction of two stripped pants European diplomats (Messrs. Sykes and Picot of the British and French foreign offices, respectively) -- is now aligned with Iran is also a result of confessional politics and geo-economic propinquity.

For all practical purposes, the Kurds of the northeast have declared their independence; and the now "liberated" western Sunni lands of the upper Euphrates have been physically and economically destroyed -- after first being conquered by ISIS with American weapons dropped in place by the hapless $25 billion Iraqi army minted by Washington’s departing proconsuls.

Accordingly, what is left of Iraq is a population that is overwhelmingly Shiite, and which nurses bitter resentments after two decades of violent conflict with the Sunni forces. Why in the world, therefore, wouldn’t they ally with their Shiite neighbor?

Likewise, the claim that Iran is now trying to annex Yemen is pure claptrap. The ancient territory of Yemen has been racked by civil war off and on since the early 1970s. And a major driving force of that conflict has been confessional differences between the Sunni south and the Shiite north.

In more recent times, Washington’s blatant drone war inside Yemen against alleged terrorists and its domination and financing of Yemen’s governments eventually produced the same old outcome. That is, another failed state and an illegitimate government which fled at the 11th hour, leaving another vast cache of American arms and equipment behind.

Accordingly, the Houthi forces now in control of substantial parts of the country are not some kind of advanced guard sent in by Tehran. They are indigenous partisans who share a confessional tie with Iran, but which have actually been armed by the US.

And the real invaders in this destructive civil war are the Saudis, whose vicious bombing campaign against civilian populations controlled by the Houthis are outright war crimes if the word has any meaning at all.

Finally, there is the fourth element of the purported Iranian axis -- the Hezbollah controlled Shiite communities of southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. Like everything else in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a product of historical European imperialism, Islamic confessional politics and the frequently misguided and counterproductive security policies of Israel.

In the first place, Lebanon was not any more a real country than Iraq was when Sykes and Picot laid their straight-edged rulers on a map. The result was a stew of religious and ethnic divisions -- Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Copts, Druse, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Kurds, Armenians, Jews and countless more -- that made the fashioning of a viable state virtually impossible.

At length, an alliance of Christians and Sunnis gained control of the country, leaving the 40% Shiite population disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged, as well. But it was the inflow of Palestinian refugees in the 1960s and 1970s that eventually upset the balance of sectarian forces and triggered a civil war that essentially lasted from 1975 until the turn of the century.

It also triggered a catastrophically wrong-headed Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, and a subsequent repressive occupation of mostly Shiite territories for the next eighteen years. The alleged purpose of this invasion was to chase the PLO and Yassir Arafat out of the enclave in southern Lebanon that they had established after being driven out of Jordan in 1970.

Eventually Israel succeeded in sending Arafat packing to north Africa, but in the process created a militant, Shiite-based resistance movement that did not even exist in 1982, and which in due course became the strongest single force in Lebanon’s fractured domestic political arrangements.

After Israel withdrew in 2000, the then Christian President of the county made abundantly clear that Hezbollah had become a legitimate and respected force within the Lebanese polity, not merely some subversive agent of Tehran:

“For us Lebanese, and I can tell you the majority of Lebanese, Hezbollah is a national resistance movement. If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have liberated our land. And because of that, we have big esteem for the Hezbollah movement.”

So, yes, Hezbollah is an integral component of the so-called Shiite Crescent and its confessional and political alignment with Tehran is entirely plausible. But that arrangement -- however uncomfortable for Israel -- does not represent unprovoked Iranian aggression on Israel’s northern border.

Instead, it’s actually the blowback from the stubborn refusal of Israeli governments -- especially the rightwing Likud governments of modern times -- to deal constructively with the Palestinian question.

In lieu of a two-state solution in the territory of Palestine, therefore, Israeli policy has produced a chronic state of war with nearly half the Lebanese population represented by Hezbollah.

The latter is surely no agency of peaceful governance and has committed its share of atrocities. But the point at hand is that given the last 35 years of history and Israeli policy, Hezbollah would exist as a menacing force on its northern border even if the theocracy didn't exist and the Shah or his heir was still on the Peacock Throne.

In short, there is no alliance of terrorism in the Shiite Crescent that threatens American security. That proposition is simply one of the Big Lies that was promulgated by the War Party after 1991; and which has been happily embraced by Imperial Washington since then in order to keep the military/industrial/security complex alive, and justify its self-appointed role as policeman of the world.

Washington's Erroneous View That The Persian Gulf Should Be An American Lake -- The Root Of Sunni Jihaddism

Likewise, the terrorist threat that has arisen from the Sunni side of the Islamic divide is largely of Washington's own making; and it is being nurtured by endless US meddling in the region's politics and by the bombing and droning campaigns against Washington's self-created enemies.

At the root of Sunni based terrorism is the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.

That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 42 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market.

Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Revolutionary Guards of Iran has produced oil—-and all they could because they desperately needed the revenue.

For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milk every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east, and most especially for its long-time alliance with the despicable regime of Saudi Arabia.

The truth is, there is no such thing as an OPEC cartel——virtually every member produces all they can and cheats whenever possible. The only thing that resembles production control in the global oil market is the fact that the Saudi princes treat their oil reserves not much differently than Exxon.

That is, they attempt to maximize the present value of their 270 billion barrels of reserves, but ultimately are no more clairvoyant at calibrating the best oil price to accomplish that than are the economists at Exxon or the IEA.

The Saudis over-estimated the staying power of China’s temporarily surging call on global supply; and under-estimated how rapidly and extensively the $100 per barrel marker reached in early 2008 would trigger a flow of investment, technology and cheap debt into the US shale patch, the Canadian tar sands, the tired petroleum provinces of Russia, the deep offshore of Brazil etc. And that’s to say nothing of solar, wind and all the other government subsidized alternative source of BTUs.

Way back when Jimmy Carter was telling us to turn down the thermostats and put on our cardigan sweaters, those of us on the free market side of the so-called energy shortage debate said the best cure for high oil prices is high prices. Now we know.

So the Fifth Fleet and its overt and covert auxiliaries should never have been there—–going all the way back to the CIA’s coup against Iranian democracy in 1953.

But having turned Iran into an enemy, Imperial Washington was just getting started when 1990 rolled around. Once again in the name of “oil security” it plunged the American war machine into the politics and religious fissures of the Persian Gulf; and did so on account of a local small potatoes conflict that had no bearing whatsoever on the safety and security of American citizens.

As US ambassador Glaspie rightly told Saddam Hussein on the eve of his Kuwait invasion, America had no dog in that hunt.

Kuwait wasn’t even a country; it was a bank account sitting on a swath of oilfields surrounding an ancient trading city that had been abandoned by Ibn Saud in the early 20th century.

That’s because he didn’t know what oil was or that it was there; and, in any event, it had been made a separate protectorate by the British in 1913 for reasons that are lost in the fog of diplomatic history.

Likewise, Iraq’s contentious dispute with Kuwait had been over its claim that the Emir of Kuwait was “slant drilling” across his border into Iraq’s Rumaila field. Yet it was a wholly elastic boundary of no significance whatsoever.

In fact, the dispute over the Rumaila field started in 1960 when an Arab League declaration arbitrarily marked the Iraq–Kuwait border two miles north of the southernmost tip of the Rumaila field.

And that newly defined boundary, in turn, had come only 44 years after a pair of English and French diplomats had carved up their winnings from the Ottoman Empire’s demise by laying a straight edged ruler on the map. So doing, they thereby confected the artificial country of Iraq from the historically independent and hostile Mesopotamian provinces of the Shiite in the south, the Sunni in the west and the Kurds in the north.

In short, it did not matter who controlled the southern tip of the Rumaila field—–the brutal dictator of Baghdad or the opulent Emir of Kuwait. Not the price of oil, nor the peace of America nor the security of Europe nor the future of Asia depended upon it.

The First Gulf War - A Catastrophic Error

But once again Bush the Elder got persuaded to take the path of war. This time it was by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the national security council and his Texas oilman Secretary of State. They falsely claimed that the will-o-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia.

That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of crusader boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-trained Mujahedeen of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The 1991 CNN glorified war games in the Gulf also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national security fanatics who had mislead Ronald Reagan into a massive military build-up to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear war winning capabilities and global conquest.

All things being equal, the sight of Boris Yeltsin, Vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army a few months later should have sent them into the permanent repudiation and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz managed to extract from Washington’s pyric victory in Kuwait a whole new lease on life for Imperial Washington.

Right then and there came the second erroneous predicate. To wit, that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the middle east was in America’s national interest.

More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the Gulf War proved it could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation.

What the neocon doctrine of regime change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that utlimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world which threaten normal civilian life in the West are the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the middle east.

The CIA trained and armed Mujahedeen mutated into al-Qaeda not because Bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty.

His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the Sunni regime in Bagdad after 1991.

Yes, Bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history.

The younger Bush’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled-up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But Shock and Awe blew the lid and the de-baathification campaign unleashed the furies.

Indeed, no sooner had George Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a CIA recruit to the Afghan war a decade earlier and small-time specialist in hostage-taking and poisons, fled his no count redoubt in Kurdistan to emerge as a flamboyant agitator in the now disposed Sunni heartland.

The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers.

Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about the demise of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized Republican Guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners.

As one former US Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it:
'You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,' Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. 'When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, "If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood."'
What Gray didn’t know — but might have expected — was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca.

And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history.

Early in Bucca’s existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound — and, in any event, the guards didn’t speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice.

Bucca also housed Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air-defense force. Bakr was no religious zealot. He was just a guy who lost his job when the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi military and instituted de-Baathification, a policy of banning Saddam’s past supporters from government work.

According to documents recently obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Bakr was the real mastermind behind ISIS’s organizational structure and also mapped out the strategies that fueled its early successes. Bakr, who died in fighting in 2014, was incarcerated at Bucca from 2006-’08, along with a dozen or more of ISIS’s top lieutenants.

The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities.

In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal, but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to the Shiite majority.

After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA? Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan that had been denied their 30 million strong tribe way back at Versailles and ever since?

Yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a national army.

In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. It wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria.

ISIS Is Washington's Frankenstein

Its instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters.

And that wasn’t the half of it. The newly proclaimed Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington inspired and financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The latter were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door; they are the living embodiment of it. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying gas pipelines to Europe across the upper Euphrates Valley.

In any event, ISIS soon had troves of additional American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Gaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey. And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side.

So that the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene 18 months ago. But even then the Washington war party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century.

But if bombing really worked, the Islamic State would be sand and gravel by now. Indeed, as shown by the map below, it is really not much more than that anyway.

The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed out precincts of Anbar province do not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the middle east and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offers prosperity, salvation or any future at all.

What recruits them is outrage at the bombs and drones being dropped on Sunni communities by the US air force; and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean which rip apart homes, shops, offices and mosques containing as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists.

The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It was contained by the Kurds in the north and east and by Turkey with NATO’s second largest army and air force in the northwest. And it was surrounded by the Shiite crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq.

So absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiesce in their horrific rule in due course.

But with the US Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell have been opened wide. What has been puked out is not an organized war on Western civilization as Hollande so hysterically proclaimed in response to the mayhem in Paris.

It was just blowback carried out by that infinitesimally small salient of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt.

Needless to say, bombing wont stop them; it will just make more of them.

Ironically, what can stop them is the Assad government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies. Its time to let them settle an ancient quarrel that has never been any of America’s business anyway.

But Imperial Washington is so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it can not see the obvious.

And that is why a quarter century after the cold war ended peace still hasn’t been given a chance and the reason that horrific events like November's barbarism in Paris still keep happening.

Even the so-called "inspired" terrorists like the pair who attacked San Bernardino emerge episodically because the terror that the American military visits upon Muslim lands is actually what inspires them. After all, whatever the Koran has to say about purging the infidel, it inspired no attacks on American soil until Imperial Washington went into the regime change and military intervention business in the middle east.

Another False Demon - Putin's Russia

At the end of the day there now exists a huge irony. The only force that can effectively contain and eventually eliminate the Islamic State is the so-called Shiite Crescent-----------the alliance of Iran, Baghdad, Assad and Hezbollah. But since they are allied with Putin's Russia, still another unnecessary barrier to peace on earth comes into play.

The fact is, there is no basis whatsoever for Imperial Washington's relentless campaign against Putin, and Washington-NATO's blatant intervention in Ukraine.

Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America has no interest in the current spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014.

For several centuries the Crimea has been Russian; for even longer, the Ukraine has been a cauldron of ethnic and tribal conflict, rarely an organized, independent state, and always a meandering set of borders looking for a redrawn map.

Like everything reviewed above, the source of the current calamity-howling about Russia is the Warfare State–that is, the existence of vast machinery of military, diplomatic and economic maneuver that is ever on the prowl for missions and mandates and that can mobilize a massive propaganda campaign on the slightest excitement.

The post-1991 absurdity of bolstering NATO and extending it into eastern Europe, rather than liquidating it after attaining “mission accomplished”, is just another manifestation of its baleful impact. In truth, the expansion of NATO is one of the underlying causes of America’s needless tension with Russia and Putin’s paranoia about his borders and neighbors. Indeed, what juvenile minds actually determined that America needs a military alliance with Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, and now Montenegro!

So the resounding clatter for action against Russia emanating from Washington and its house-trained media is not even a semi-rational response to the facts at hand; its just another destructive spasm of the nation’s Warfare State and its beltway machinery of diplomatic meddling, economic warfare and military intervention.

Memo To Obama: It’s Their Red Line

Not only does Washington’s relentless meddling in the current Russian- Ukrainian food fight have nothing to do with the safety and security of the American people, it also betrays woeful disregard for the elementary facts of that region’s turbulent and often bloody history.

In fact, the allegedly “occupied” territory of Crimea was actually annexed by Catherine the Great in 1783, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. Over the ages Sevastopol then emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the commissars.

For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia—a span that exceeds the 166 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego.

While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian and Polish rifles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland from Turks, Europeans and Brits.

And the portrait of the Russian “hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I—whose brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith, and who was revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans.

At the end of the day, it’s their Red Line. When the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945 he did at least know that he was in Soviet Russia.

Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev in honor of the decision by their ancestors 300 years earlier to accept the inevitable and become a vassal of Russia.

Self-evidently, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of the Ukraine—with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990’s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.

In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848 and in the 166-year interval since then, our national security has depended not one wit on the status of the Russian-speaking Crimea.

That the local population has now chosen fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev is their business, not ours.

The real threat to peace is not Putin, but the screeching sanctimony and mindless meddling of Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Obama should have sent them back to geography class long ago -- and before they could draw anymore new Red Lines.

The one in the Ukraine has been morphing for centuries among the quarreling tribes, peoples, potentates, Patriarchs and pretenders of a small region that is none of our damn business.

The current Ukrainian policy farce emanating from Washington is not only a reminder that the military-industrial-beltway complex is still alive and well, but also demonstrates why the forces of crony capitalism and money politics which sustain it are so lamentable. The fact is, the modern Warfare State has been the incubator of American imperialism since the Cold War, and is now proving itself utterly invulnerable to fiscal containment, even in the face of a $19 trillion national debt.

So 101 years after the Christmas truces along the Western Front there is still no peace on earth. And the long suffering American taxpayers, who foot the massive bills generated by the War Party's demented and destructive policies, have no clue that Imperial Washington is the principal reason.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's ContraCorner.