Nixon’s Dollar Destruction at 50 – Join Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, and Special Guests in Houston!

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Join RPI founder Ron Paul, Ludwig von Mises Institute founder (and former Rep. Ron Paul chief-of-staff) Lew Rockwell, and special guests to be announced for a small, intimate luncheon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nixon closing the gold window and severing that last bit of connection between that green piece of paper called the US dollar and gold.

The Ron Paul Institute in the business of bringing people together, and what a way to jump back in the saddle than this terrific seminar one of Houston's most enjoyable and interesting venues: the Karbach Brewery. There will be a luncheon buffet, soft drinks, and a no-host bar right in the room to sample Karbach's tasty brews.

The booms and busts, the endless wars, the explosion of the welfare state, the destruction of the dollar, the expansion of the dangerous US empire - these have all come about due to the reckless act of Tricky Dick back in 1971. Tickets are very limited so be a part of this historic event by getting yours today!

The Real January 6th ‘Insurrection’?

Yesterday Fox News' Tucker Carlson reported on an explosive investigative article appearing in the conservative news website "Revolver News" regarding the high number of "unindicted co-conspirators" who were deeply involved in the Capitol breach and who acted alongside others who face decades in prison but were not themselves charged. Is this yet another case of the FBI infiltrating and even leading a "terror plot" that they later "foil"? Also, conveniently, the White House yesterday released a strategy to combat "domestic terrorism." Watch today's Liberty Report:

Ahead of Yalta II, Putin recommits to Russian-Chinese alliance

Days prior to the US-Russia summit in Geneva, the “Yalta II”, Russian President Vladimir Poutin was interviewed by US television network, NBC News. Conducting the interview, journalist Keir Simmons asked him about the increasing power of the Chinese military, China's absence from the nuclear arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia, China's internal issue concerning Xinjiang, Russia's cooperation in the space program with China and the United States, and what Russia would (...)

Old and New Official Enemies

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Doing his best to justify President Biden’s $750 billion military budget, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that China’s military has been building its military capabilities at “a very serious and sustained rate.”

Well, of course it has been. How else would the US national-security establishment justify its ever-increasing budgets? I’m just surprised that Milley didn’t mention Russia in the same breath, as well as North Korea, Cuba, the Taliban, Venezuela, Iran, and all the other minor official enemies, maybe even communist Vietnam too.

China and Russia were the two official enemies — or “rivals,” “opponents,” “enemies” — during the Cold War that kept the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA in high cotton. That was when both countries were supposedly part of an international communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow. If increasing amounts of US taxpayer money were not shifted into the coffers of the US national-security establishment, it was argued, America would end up falling to this international communist conspiracy.

In fact, it was this supposed threat of “godless communism” that was emanating from Moscow that was the justification for converting the federal government to a national-security state in the first place. For more than 150 years, the federal government operated as a limited-government republic with limited powers. After World War II, it was converted to a national-security state to wage the Cold War against China, Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union, other communist countries, and communism in general. That’s when the US national-security establishment acquired omnipotent powers, including the power of assassination.

As we pointed out in our recent online conference “The National Security State and the Kennedy Assassination,” by the summer of 1963 President Kennedy had achieved a breakthrough and recognized that this Cold War fear-mongering was nothing more than a racket. At his Peace Speech at American University, he threw the gauntlet down by declaring an end to the Cold War and an intention to have the United States exist in peaceful harmony with the communist world. 

That sealed John Kennedy’s fate. No president since Kennedy has dared to do that. 

After Kennedy was removed from office, Americans got the Vietnam War and another 25 years of ever-increasing money, influence, and power for the national-security establishment, 

It was always assumed by most everyone that the Cold War racket would go on forever. To the shock of the US national-security establishment, the Soviet Union unilaterally called it quits in 1989. China was, of course, still around, just as North Korea and Cuba were. But the Pentagon and the CIA knew that without the Soviet Union, their Cold War racket would no longer be sufficiently powerful to justify ever-increasing budgets.

That’s when they went into the Middle East and began killing, destroying, and humiliating people, knowing that this would almost certainly produce terrorist “blowback” or retaliation. And sure enough, it did: the World Trade Center in 1993, the USS Cole, and the US embassies in East Africa. But none of them was large enough to become a gigantic new official enemy that would replace the Soviet Union and godless communism. 

But then the 9/11 attacks came, which provided the new official enemy to replace communism — “terrorism.” The Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA were back in high cotton again with ever-increasing annual budgets to wage their “global war on terrorism.”

The 9/11 terrorist attacks were then used as the excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, where US forces wreaked massive death and destruction over many years, which guaranteed more anger and rage, which ensured a never-ending supply of new terrorists. 

Thus, the Pentagon and the CIA had found another official enemy, one that was likely to last for decades, perhaps even longer than the Soviet Union and godless communism. 

But after 20 years of interventionism in Afghanistan and the Middle East, US forces are now in retreat, which means that all the fear-mongering about how the terrorists are coming to get us will lack the impact it had on Americans in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

What to do now? The answer is obvious: It’s now time to return to China and Russia as America’s old and new official enemies. Oh, sure, the threat of an international conspiracy involving godless communism supposedly emanating from Moscow will not be available but the hope is that Americans will nonetheless be just as afraid, so that they don’t question the ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer largess going into the military-intelligence coffers.

There is only one solution to this sordid, deadly, destructive, and corrupt racket: the dismantling, not the reform, of the national-security state apparatus and the restoration of America’s founding governmental system of a limited-government republic. That’s the way to lead America to peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Has the Media’s Russiagate Reckoning Finally Begun?

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Glenn Simpson, the former Wall Street Journal reporter turned high-priced “oppo” merchant, didn’t like to think of himself as a private investigator. He preferred to describe what he and his firm, Fusion-GPS, did as “journalism for rent,” an activity a class above spying, because a journalist can’t just say what he or she thinks.

“You have to prove it,” Simpson said. “And that imposes a discipline to the investigative process that people in other fields don’t really absorb… When you’re a spy, you really don’t have to get into a lot of that stuff.”

Spooked, the meticulous new book on private spying by former New York Times reporter Barry Meier, reads like a direct rebuttal to Simpson, the book’s central character. “There is little question that private investigators take on legitimate assignments,” writes Meier at one point. “Still, everyone in the industry knows its secret — that the big money is made not by exposing the truth but by papering it over.”

Meier, a two-time Polk award winner who was also part of a team that won a Pulitzer in 2017, is the first mainstream press figure to break the industry omerta over the reporting failures of Russiagate. That Spooked is an important book can be judged by the nervous reaction to it. Though the Times did publish an excerpt and a review by William Cohan, and the Wall Street Journal commended him for saying “what hardly anyone else in his circle of elite mainstream journalists has had the courage to say,” much of the rest of the business has looked askance. This reveals how much industry discomfort remains about the Steele story, still treated by media critics as a minor fender-bender and not the epic crackup Spooked describes.

Much of the point of Meier’s book is that there can be no such thing as “journalism for rent,” because the mere act of putting information up for sale corrupts the process Simpson claims to love. As Meier put it to me, “People who think of themselves as journalists and rent out those talents are no longer journalists.”

Although Spooked covers other private agencies like Black Cube (hired by Harvey Weinstein to dirty up his accusers) and K2 (the corporate descendant of Kroll Associates, who planted a phony documentarian to investigate health activists), the spine of the book is the story of Glenn Simpson’s Fusion-GPS. Simpson is the kind of half-absurd, half villainous character who makes for a great character study, and Spooked readers are fortunate he made the mistake of leaving a trail of unflattering stories before very gossipy witnesses across his years in the media business. Meier coldly gathers these tales together in a way that makes for a particularly entertaining read for anyone who’s ever worked in a newsroom (Simpson imploring his “dachsund-beagle mix named Irving” to take a dump on his editors’ desks on his last day at the Journal is just one of many amusing anecdotes).

Simpson had a rocky relationship to the journalism profession when he was in it. On one level, he apparently was well-liked, funny, a prankster. On another, editors were wary, finding him combative and, as Meier writes, “quick to see conspiracies where they didn’t exist”:

One Journal editor became so concerned about the conclusionary leaps that Simpson was capable of making that he asked another journalist on the paper’s staff to double-check Simpson’s reporting. His response to any pushback he got from editors was usually the same: they could go fuck themselves…

As Simpson soldiered on in a business whose ranks were shrinking, he drifted into a world where a thinker prone to “conclusionary leaps” might feel more comfortable, filling his rolodex with the names of private operatives who became his top sources. He did a series of reports about a fierce (if uninteresting) squabble between Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev and his former son-in-law and political rival, Rakhat Aliyev, with Aliyev’s lawyers and operatives serving as Simpson’s sources.

Feeling less wanted in the newsroom, and tempted by the money and allure of the private spy world, Simpson made the jump to become an informational Pinkerton, to disastrous effect. Meier emphasizes that for all its flaws, the journalism business at least once imposed some constraints on personalities like Simpson’s, forcing them to stay stuck in the world of evidence. In private spying, those constraints are removed, and a person prone to skipping steps in the proof process can get themselves into some very nasty situations. As Meier put it, “things could go really wrong.”

As the world knows by now, things did go wrong, in what Meier describes as “a media clusterfuck of epic proportions.”

Fair Use Excerpt. To read the rest, subscribe here.

Identities

So much depends
on what you see
reflected in the mirror

old young father child
brown black white
male female cis trans privileged marginalized

happy/sad

victim/predator

loved

or abandoned

In a binary world, just 8 such pairs
will reflect up to
256 possibilities

but really
what we see reflected
is not a product, but a process
and the possible combinations
are innumerable

The post Identities first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Publicity and Exploitation: Fortress Australia and the Family from Biloela

Australian officials and paper mad types are running out of ideas as to how to be cruel towards refugees.  We need to give them some credit: for years they have tried to do what most autocratic and murderous regimes do in a heartbeat: ignore international law, treat it with disdain and use those feeble excuses in the service of sovereignty.

As with any system of harm and torture, the justifiers cite a hard form of kindness to prolong the depravity of their conduct.  The drivel of humanitarian falseness abounds: We need to prevent people from drowning.  We hate seeing children perish.  So, lock them up.  We do not want to see parents separated from their children.  So, separate them.  No Australian politician can ever be in a position to criticise any other country on this point, largely because they inspired the rash of demagogic policies that typify a shift away from the principles of the UN Refugee Convention.  (The Danish parliament recently approved legislation that will enable the bribing of third countries to prevent refugees and asylum seekers seeking settlement in Denmark.)

The ways Australian governments of either conservative or Labor persuasion have pecked away and subserved international refugee guarantees are impressively thuggish.  Legally excising the mainland to make sure that boat arrivals could never be settled as refugees under the Migration Act was particularly devilish.  Then came the system of Pacific island concentration camps to ensure that applications for asylum could be kept in cold storage while deals with third countries could be brokered.

But something of late has changed.  The jaded oppressors are fearing that the cruelty-is-good mantra is running its course.  At the very least, it might permit exceptions.  It centres on the fate of a Sri Lankan family, deported to Christmas Island after settling in the small Central Queensland town of Biloela.  Nadesalingam Murugappan and Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam married in Australia after separately arriving from Sri Lanka by boat in 2012 and 2013 separately.  They had two Australian-born children, Tharnicaa and Kopika.  In Biloela, they made friends, cultivated relationships.

Then, Fortress Australia intervened.  Arguments by Nadesalingam and Priya that they would be put in harm’s way should they be returned to Sri Lanka as ethnic Tamils were rejected.  In 2018, the family was removed from Biloela and detained in Melbourne.  An attempt to deport them by the Department of Home Affairs to Sri Lanka was frustrated by a Federal Court injunction.  The court processes were duly triggered; the family was then moved to Christmas Island in August 2019.

The legal issues have become needlessly, and brutally entangling.  Current interest centres on the finding by Federal Court Justice Mark Moshinsky that Tharnicaa was not awarded “procedural fairness” when she requested permission to apply for a protection visa in September 2018.  The decision was upheld in February by the Full Court of the Federal Court, though the judges were keen to point out that the Immigration Minister had no obligation to allow Tharnicaa to make that application for protection in the first place.

The poor conditions on Christmas Island were telling.  Both children became vitamin D deficient.  Bouts of infection followed.  Tharnicaa, the youngest, had surgery to remove her decayed teeth.  At the start of this month, she contracted pneumonia and a blood infection.  Medical staff on Christmas Island proved indifferent: she looked “active and fine”.  A contrarian and increasingly desperate Nadesalingam urged the prescription of antibiotics.  With her condition eventually deemed critical, Tharnicaa was evacuated with her mother to Perth Children’s Hospital, Western Australia.

The most obvious point was, at least initially, avoided: return the family to the mainland.  Various government ministers, including Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, raised the possibility that the family might be resettled in New Zealand or the United States.  These options were then scotched by Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.  The arrangements with both countries were only in respect to refugees.  “This family does not have refugee status.”

But certain politicians sensed a change of mood and wanted a new music sheet.  The accountant types worried about the cost: AU$6.7 million over three years had been spent keeping a family on a remote island.  The poor optic types feared the publicity, and the potential damage to votes, caused by a suffering family.  Papers such as the West Australian ran headlines such as, “It only took 1198 days.”  The chief executive of the Child and Adolescent Health Service claimed that the improvement of Tharnicaa’s physical and psychological wellbeing was dependent on family reunification.

Previously closeted government backbenchers came out.  There was modest Trent Zimmerman, startling ABC News audiences barely able to get their coffee down on Sunday morning before realising the content of his suggestion.  “This week or in the next couple of weeks, [Immigration Minister Alex Hawke] will be considering an application to use his powers to give an exemption to the normal requirements.”  There was Ken O’Dowd, whose federal seat takes in Biloela, lobbying Hawke to let the family settle in Australia.  He thought that “everyone’s just about had enough” and wanted “to move on.”  He claimed to have “always been supportive of the family”, realising “from the word go that it was always going to be an issue.”

Having discovered her inner morality, Liberal backbencher Katie Allen wanted this to be resolved with swift urgency. “This has gone on for too long,” she tweeted. “We urgently need a timely resolution to a situation that is endangering the health and well-being of innocent children.”  Typically, Allen’s morality encased itself with bureaucratic sensibility.  She did not want to give the impression that she embraced opening the gates for any biblical flood of suffering. “We must look at alternatives such as Section 195A of the Migration Act to solve the legal impasse and give this family a chance.”

Priceless was the tittering contribution from Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, fair weather reactionary prone to soft moderations of tone and a radar for votes. “Tharnicaa and Kopika were born in Australia,” he observed with shattering obviousness.  “Maybe if their names were Jane and Sally we’d think twice about sending them back to another country which they’re not from.”  Throwing in the inevitable qualification, Joyce also wanted all to know that no “encouragement” was intended for “people smugglers to start their vile trade again”.  We, he assured critics, were “a very humanitarian government.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was visibly alarmed by this wobbliness on Fortress Australia’s ideals.  In platitudes, he spoke of not wanting “to see the boats return”.  He chided Zimmerman for not being “in parliament when some of those ships were lost at sea, some of those leaky boats were dashed up against rocks and all lives lost.  I was.  I remember the heartache, I remember the loss.”  Poor, suffering McCormack.

The reliably spineless Labor Party, ever willing to criticise and simultaneously agree with the border protection regime, was also there.  They had found a voice from the wilderness of irrelevance, despite most party members knowing they would have done precisely the same thing to such a family.  Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese moralised.  “I visited Biloela,” he tweeted in February.  “This community isn’t interested in politics.  They just want their friends back.”

On the morning of June 15, the Immigration Minister released a statement on his decision.  The family would be able to “reside in the Perth community.”  Hawke’s decision balanced “the government’s ongoing commitment to strong border protection policies with appropriate compassion in circumstances in children in held detention.”  During the course of their community detention placement, the family would have access to schools and support services, with Tharnicaa able to receive medical treatment from the Perth Children’s Hospital as the legal disputes continued. But nothing here signalled a change to government policy.  “Importantly, today’s decision does not create a pathway to a visa.”

Most obscene in this affair is that the decision makers, having fashioned a policy that has harmed, killed and ensured the mental ruination of boat arrivals, should now suddenly make this family an example of compassion.  Former Liberal MP Julia Banks, disgusted by her party’s own policies, was in little doubt that this was an electioneering ploy.  It was precisely electoral politics that created one of the world’s most hostile, antithetical refugee regimes.  Electoral politics will now carve out an exception for this traumatised family.

The post Publicity and Exploitation: Fortress Australia and the Family from Biloela first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Democracies in G7 and NATO Should Reject U.S. Leadership

Photo credit: BPM Media – Protest at G7 summit in Cornwall UK

The world has been treated to successive spectacles of national leaders gathering at a G7 Summit in Cornwall and a NATO Summit in Brussels.

The U.S. corporate media have portrayed these summits as chances for President Biden to rally the leaders of the world’s democratic nations in a coordinated response to the most serious problems facing the world, from the COVID pandemic, climate change and global inequality to ill-defined “threats to democracy” from Russia and China.

But there’s something seriously wrong with this picture. Democracy means “rule by the people.” While that can take different forms in different countries and cultures, there is a growing consensus in the United States that the exceptional power of wealthy Americans and corporations to influence election results and government policies has led to a de facto system of government that fails to reflect the will of the American people on many critical issues.

So when President Biden meets with the leaders of democratic countries, he represents a country that is, in many ways, an undemocratic outlier rather than a leader among democratic nations. This is evident in:

– the “legalized bribery” of 2020’s $14.4 billion federal election, compared with recent elections in Canada and the U.K. that cost less than 1% of that, under strict rules that ensure more democratic results;

– a defeated President proclaiming baseless accusations of fraud and inciting a mob to invade the U.S. Congress on January 6 2021;

– news media that have been commercialized, consolidated, gutted and dumbed down by their corporate owners, making Americans easy prey for misinformation by unscrupulous interest groups, and leaving the U.S. in 44th place on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index;

– the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with over two million people behind bars, and systemic police violence on a scale never seen in other wealthy nations;

– the injustice of extreme inequality, poverty and cradle-to-grave debt for millions in an otherwise wealthy nation;

– an exceptional lack of economic and social mobility compared to other wealthy countries that is the antithesis of the mythical “American Dream”;

– privatized, undemocratic and failing education and healthcare systems;

– a recent history of illegal invasions, massacres of civilians, torture, drone assassinations, extraordinary renditions and indefinite detention at Guantanamo—with no accountabllity;

– and, last but not least, a gargantuan war machine capable of destroying the world, in the hands of this dysfunctional political system.

Fortunately, though, Americans are not the only ones asking what is wrong with American democracy. The Alliance of Democracies Foundation (ADF), founded by former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, conducted a poll of 50,000 people in 53 countries between February and April 2021, and found that people around the world share our concerns about America’s dystopian political system and imperial outrages.

Probably the most startling result of the poll to Americans would be its finding that more people around the world (44%) see the United States as a threat to democracy in their countries than China (38%) or Russia (28%), which makes nonsense of U.S. efforts to justify its revived Cold War on Russia and China in the name of democracy.

In a larger poll of 124,000 people that ADF conducted in 2020, countries where large majorities saw the United States as a danger to democracy included China, but also Germany, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, France, Greece, Belgium, Sweden and Canada.

After tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle, Biden swooped into Brussels on Air Force One for a NATO summit to advance its new “Strategic Concept,” which is nothing more than a war plan for World War III against both Russia and China.

But we take solace from evidence that the people of Europe, whom the NATO war plan counts on as front-line troops and mass casualty victims, are not ready to follow President Biden to war. A January 2021 survey by the European Council on Foreign Affairs found that large majorities of Europeans want to remain neutral in any U.S. war on Russia or China. Only 22% would want their country to take the U.S. side in a war on China, and 23% in a war on Russia.

Few Americans realize that Biden already came close to war with Russia in March and April, when the United States and NATO supported a new Ukrainian offensive in its civil war against Russian-allied separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Russia moved tens of thousands of heavily-armed troops to its borders with Ukraine, to make it clear that it was ready to defend its Ukrainian allies and was quite capable of doing so. On April 13th, Biden blinked, turned round two U.S. destroyers that were steaming into the Black Sea and called Putin to request the summit that is now taking place.

The antipathy of ordinary people everywhere toward the U.S. determination to provoke military confrontation with Russia and China begs serious questions about the complicity of their leaders in these incredibly dangerous, possibly suicidal, U.S. policies. When ordinary people all over the world can see the dangers and pitfalls of following the United States as a model and a leader, why do their neoliberal leaders keep showing up to lend credibility to the posturing of U.S. leaders at summits like the G7 and NATO?

Maybe it is precisely because the United States has succeeded in what the corporate ruling classes of other nations also aspire to, namely, greater concentrations of wealth and power and less public interference in their “freedom” to accumulate and control them.

Maybe the leaders of other wealthy countries and military powers are genuinely awed by the dystopian American Dream as the example par excellence of how to sell inequality, injustice and war to the public in the name of freedom and democracy.

In that case, the fact that people in other wealthy countries are not so easily led to war or lured into political passivity and impotence would only increase the awe of their leaders for their American counterparts, who literally laugh all the way to the bank as they pay lip service to the sanctity of the American Dream and the American People.

Ordinary people in other countries are right to be wary of the Pied Piper of American “leadership,” but their rulers should be too. The fracturing and disintegration of American society should stand as a warning to neoliberal governments and ruling classes everywhere to be more careful what they wish for.

Instead of a world in which other countries emulate or fall victim to America’s failed experiment in extreme neoliberalism, the key to a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous future for all the world’s people, including Americans, lies in working together, learning from each other and adopting policies that serve the public good and improve the lives of all, especially those most in need. There’s a name for that. It’s called democracy.

 

The post Why Democracies in G7 and NATO Should Reject U.S. Leadership first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Democracies in G7 and NATO Should Reject U.S. Leadership

Photo credit: BPM Media – Protest at G7 summit in Cornwall UK

The world has been treated to successive spectacles of national leaders gathering at a G7 Summit in Cornwall and a NATO Summit in Brussels.

The U.S. corporate media have portrayed these summits as chances for President Biden to rally the leaders of the world’s democratic nations in a coordinated response to the most serious problems facing the world, from the COVID pandemic, climate change and global inequality to ill-defined “threats to democracy” from Russia and China.

But there’s something seriously wrong with this picture. Democracy means “rule by the people.” While that can take different forms in different countries and cultures, there is a growing consensus in the United States that the exceptional power of wealthy Americans and corporations to influence election results and government policies has led to a de facto system of government that fails to reflect the will of the American people on many critical issues.

So when President Biden meets with the leaders of democratic countries, he represents a country that is, in many ways, an undemocratic outlier rather than a leader among democratic nations. This is evident in:

– the “legalized bribery” of 2020’s $14.4 billion federal election, compared with recent elections in Canada and the U.K. that cost less than 1% of that, under strict rules that ensure more democratic results;

– a defeated President proclaiming baseless accusations of fraud and inciting a mob to invade the U.S. Congress on January 6 2021;

– news media that have been commercialized, consolidated, gutted and dumbed down by their corporate owners, making Americans easy prey for misinformation by unscrupulous interest groups, and leaving the U.S. in 44th place on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index;

– the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with over two million people behind bars, and systemic police violence on a scale never seen in other wealthy nations;

– the injustice of extreme inequality, poverty and cradle-to-grave debt for millions in an otherwise wealthy nation;

– an exceptional lack of economic and social mobility compared to other wealthy countries that is the antithesis of the mythical “American Dream”;

– privatized, undemocratic and failing education and healthcare systems;

– a recent history of illegal invasions, massacres of civilians, torture, drone assassinations, extraordinary renditions and indefinite detention at Guantanamo—with no accountabllity;

– and, last but not least, a gargantuan war machine capable of destroying the world, in the hands of this dysfunctional political system.

Fortunately, though, Americans are not the only ones asking what is wrong with American democracy. The Alliance of Democracies Foundation (ADF), founded by former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, conducted a poll of 50,000 people in 53 countries between February and April 2021, and found that people around the world share our concerns about America’s dystopian political system and imperial outrages.

Probably the most startling result of the poll to Americans would be its finding that more people around the world (44%) see the United States as a threat to democracy in their countries than China (38%) or Russia (28%), which makes nonsense of U.S. efforts to justify its revived Cold War on Russia and China in the name of democracy.

In a larger poll of 124,000 people that ADF conducted in 2020, countries where large majorities saw the United States as a danger to democracy included China, but also Germany, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, France, Greece, Belgium, Sweden and Canada.

After tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle, Biden swooped into Brussels on Air Force One for a NATO summit to advance its new “Strategic Concept,” which is nothing more than a war plan for World War III against both Russia and China.

But we take solace from evidence that the people of Europe, whom the NATO war plan counts on as front-line troops and mass casualty victims, are not ready to follow President Biden to war. A January 2021 survey by the European Council on Foreign Affairs found that large majorities of Europeans want to remain neutral in any U.S. war on Russia or China. Only 22% would want their country to take the U.S. side in a war on China, and 23% in a war on Russia.

Few Americans realize that Biden already came close to war with Russia in March and April, when the United States and NATO supported a new Ukrainian offensive in its civil war against Russian-allied separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Russia moved tens of thousands of heavily-armed troops to its borders with Ukraine, to make it clear that it was ready to defend its Ukrainian allies and was quite capable of doing so. On April 13th, Biden blinked, turned round two U.S. destroyers that were steaming into the Black Sea and called Putin to request the summit that is now taking place.

The antipathy of ordinary people everywhere toward the U.S. determination to provoke military confrontation with Russia and China begs serious questions about the complicity of their leaders in these incredibly dangerous, possibly suicidal, U.S. policies. When ordinary people all over the world can see the dangers and pitfalls of following the United States as a model and a leader, why do their neoliberal leaders keep showing up to lend credibility to the posturing of U.S. leaders at summits like the G7 and NATO?

Maybe it is precisely because the United States has succeeded in what the corporate ruling classes of other nations also aspire to, namely, greater concentrations of wealth and power and less public interference in their “freedom” to accumulate and control them.

Maybe the leaders of other wealthy countries and military powers are genuinely awed by the dystopian American Dream as the example par excellence of how to sell inequality, injustice and war to the public in the name of freedom and democracy.

In that case, the fact that people in other wealthy countries are not so easily led to war or lured into political passivity and impotence would only increase the awe of their leaders for their American counterparts, who literally laugh all the way to the bank as they pay lip service to the sanctity of the American Dream and the American People.

Ordinary people in other countries are right to be wary of the Pied Piper of American “leadership,” but their rulers should be too. The fracturing and disintegration of American society should stand as a warning to neoliberal governments and ruling classes everywhere to be more careful what they wish for.

Instead of a world in which other countries emulate or fall victim to America’s failed experiment in extreme neoliberalism, the key to a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous future for all the world’s people, including Americans, lies in working together, learning from each other and adopting policies that serve the public good and improve the lives of all, especially those most in need. There’s a name for that. It’s called democracy.

 

The post Why Democracies in G7 and NATO Should Reject U.S. Leadership first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Biden wants NATO to project the strength it doesn’t have

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Joe Biden travelled to Brussels riding the wave of his “America is back” mantra. Far from rebuilding the US-NATO relationship, he used NATO as a prop to help set the stage for his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin.

The United States is facing a perfect storm of crises of its own making. On the domestic front, the American democratic institution is collapsing under the weight of centuries of unresolved societal inequities that threaten to divide the country into two irreconcilable factions. In the Pacific, decades of geopolitical neglect fundamentally ceded the strategic advantage to a surging China, allowing the momentum of that country’s economic and military expansion to challenge and, in some areas, surpass what had previously been a region of uncontested American influence and control. In Europe, the post-9/11 focus on the Middle East and South Asia left a once dominant American military posture in ruins, and with it the influence 300,000 troops once forward-deployed on European soil used to bring. Lacking an American military spine, the NATO alliance withered into virtual irrelevance, unable to meaningfully project power or mount a credible defensive deterrence. 

This storm is still raging, and despite all the rhetoric and flexing being done by the administration of President Joe Biden, will continue to do so, unabated, for the foreseeable future. One of the root causes of this storm is the disconnect between policy and action on the part of the US over the course of the past 30-odd years. In 1991, the US had the world’s most powerful economy backed by the world’s most powerful military, sustained by the world’s most vibrant democracy. The deterioration of these three pillars of US credibility and strength was gradual yet steady, unnoticed by most outside (and internal) observers who opted to dig no deeper than the gilded façade offered up by the American establishment, rather than examine the deteriorating framework that held the American behemoth together. 

Military power inherited and squandered

Joe Biden is a veteran American politician who was part of the establishment which squandered the inheritance of wealth, prestige and power America had accumulated in the aftermath of the Second World War. He is the living embodiment of American political hubris, where words speak louder than results. As the senior Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he helped oversee the post-Cold War physical expansion of NATO void of any existential reason for doing so. In this way he helped create the bloated edifice that exists today, 30 nations united in everything except a viable military alliance. He also helped frame the current poisonous situation with Russia, denigrating post-Soviet Russia by supporting and sustaining the political career of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and then expressing resentment when Vladimir Putin took over in the wake of Yeltsin’s physical, mental and moral collapse and refused to continue the Yeltsin policy of lying prostrate before the US and Europe.

The rise of Putin coincided with America’s strategic shift from a Euro-centric power focus to pursuing regional transformation fantasies in the Middle East and South Asia, seeking to use the US military as a vehicle for nation building in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. This 20-year experiment has failed, leaving the US fiscally and morally bankrupt, and its military in Europe a mere shadow of its former self in terms of capability and reach – where in 1990 we could deploy four divisions to Europe in 10 days, today it takes us four months to deploy one brigade. The administration of George W. Bush initiated this process (with a substantial assist from the Clinton administration), and the Obama-Biden administration sustained it. While tactless and inept in his execution, Donald Trump was realistic regarding the situation he had inherited, seeking to repair relations with Russia while approaching the issue of NATO with a more realistic perspective born of fiscal and geopolitical reality. This approach incurred the wrath of the American establishment, resulting in a single term presidency and the ascension of Joe Biden to his status as American commander in chief.

Biden has shown no real appreciation for the state of affairs he has inherited, formulating a foreign policy premised on the mantra of “America is back” without having an appreciation of what “back” means. His rhetoric and posturing suggest that he believes the dominance and prestige America enjoyed in 1991 can be replicated today simply by willing it to be so. This is irresponsible fantasy, something even Biden seems to realize in the aftermath of his “Putin is a killer” comments to the US media. The reality check that followed Biden’s impolitic chest thumping, manifested in the withdrawal of Russia’s ambassador and the snap mobilization of 100,000 Russian troops on Russia’s border with Ukraine, drove home the reality that the US and its NATO allies were not in any position to confront Russia militarily. Moreover, more sober assessments coming out of both Europe and the US held that the rise of an expansionist China represented a greater threat to the geopolitical positioning of the transatlantic partnership than Russia.

Projecting weakness

The problem confronting Biden was that the issue of NATO expansion had left the alliance held hostage by both the anti-Russian posturing of its relatively new Polish and Baltic members and notions of a potential NATO membership on the part of post-Maidan Ukraine. One of the goals of the recently completed NATO summit was to create a framework of action which would provide political cover for both issues, while allowing for enough latitude to realistically apportion the political and economic resources necessary to pivot to China. This is the heart of the NATO joint statement – a commitment to a new military posture which seeks to rebuild NATO’s crumbling military component while expanding the reach of NATO’s Article 5 defensive umbrella to include space, cyber and so-called “hybrid” activities. 

The notion of NATO building a 30-battalion combat force capable of full mobilization in 30 days is an indication of a reality that NATO knows it cannot, and will not, be fighting a ground war in Europe against a Russian foe. The 30-battalion figure is a goal, not a reality, one that will be impacted by fiscal realities driven by the domestic imperatives of 30 separate nations, some more committed to the concept than others. And the 30-day mobilization figure is likewise purely political, given that Russian can mobilize many times that number in half the time, and that most scenarios involving Russia-NATO combat have the Russians prevailing in a period of one week or less. The 30-battlaion concept is a political fig leaf designed to demonstrate resolve without really having to do so.

The same can be said about expanding the scope of NATO’s Article 5 commitment to self-defense. The old formula had NATO automatically coming to the defense of a member state if it were attacked by a hostile power. The purpose of this clause was to confront any potential threat – namely the Soviet Union and, later, its Warsaw Pact allies – with the reality that any attack against one NATO member would be treated as an attack against all. The deterrence value of this posture was significantly enhanced by the presence of a combined NATO air-sea-ground force possessing unified command, communications, logistics and operational structures, so that any attack would be met immediately with the full weight of NATO’s military capability – there was no “30-day” period of mobilization involved.

By expanding Article 5 protection guarantees into the fields of space, cyber and “hybrid”, NATO is projecting the sad state of its current deterrence posture. The feeling in Brussels is that Russia could degrade NATO communications and interoperability capabilities by shutting down satellites in space, degrade and disrupt critical infrastructure using cyber-attacks, and exploit internal political and ethnic unrest through so-called “hybrid” fifth columnists. The fact that these concerns are self-created, formed by either mirror-imaging NATO intent onto Russian capability or, in the case of the “hybrid” concerns, manufacturing a doctrine where no such doctrine exists, is beside the point. Perception creates its own reality, and currently NATO is in the grips of a panic driven by the perception of a Russian threat where none exists.

No détente expected – only more posturing

From the perspective of Joe Biden, the NATO Summit was not so much about fixing the myriad of problems facing NATO, but rather creating the impression that NATO was united in the face of Russian aggression. The perception of strength, from the perspective of the Biden administration, is more important than reality, because the long-term focus of NATO cannot be on Russia if it ever hopes to muster the political and economic resources necessary to confront China. Joe Biden simply needs to take this perception of NATO unity and strength with him to Geneva, where he will use it as a prop in the political theater that will transpire when he sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16. 

In Geneva, Joe Biden will not try to reset relations with Russia, or repair relations with Putin. There will be no détente. Instead, the goal is to prevent the continued worsening of relations between the two nations, to create a sense of stability and predictability that will maintain the present chill in relations without continuing to a deep freeze or, worse, a hot war. To accomplish this, certain perceptions must be maintained, most important of which is that NATO is ready, willing, and able to stand up to any military threat posed by Russia. This is the real purpose behind the NATO Summit – to construct a fiction capable of bolstering Biden’s posturing during his meeting with Putin. The fact that Russia is fully aware of this reality only underscores the theatrics of the entire affair. That, more than anything, defines the current situation between the US and Russia – theater posing as reality, to cover for weakness in order to project strength, all in an effort to avoid a conflict no one wants.

Reprinted with permission from RT.